MD Magazine's Top 10 Stories for October

OCTOBER 29, 2017
Kevin Kunzmann
The MD Magazine staff is currently jet-setting. With teams making international travels to Paris for the seventh Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting, as well as Toronto for the CHEST Annual Meeting, the staff is kicking off November meeting with some of the world’s leaders in clinical development.

But the previous month’s coverage deserves its own reflection. Bookended by a chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) biomarker discovery and a slew of rare condition and treatment decisions from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), October clinical news started fast and kept pace.

Relive it all with our Top 10 Stories for October!

Ebola Vaccines Provide Year-Long Immune Response

The Liberia 2014 Ebola outbreak led to the successful trial of 2 candidate vaccines that pose no major safety concerns and elicit immune responses within 1 month of initial vaccination. The candidate vaccines have shown capability to last for at least a year, and have given researchers belief that an effective Ebola vaccine is a feasible goal.

First mRNA Vaccine Holds Great Promise

There is now documented proof that infectious disease outbreaks can be fought with faster vaccine productions which retain potency for longer periods and in wider temperature range, with the success of the first mRNA prophylaxis. The investigative vaccine reported “generally safe with a reasonable tolerability profile,” according to researchers.

FDA Approves Zika Virus Blood Test

The approved qualitative nucleic acid test could be used to detect the virus in whole blood and blood component donations, as well as from living organ donors. It was the first approval of such a detection test for national blood supplies, and will be used as such by various organizations.

The "Universal Flu Vaccine" Undergoes 2,000-patient Trial

A 2-year England clinical trial will test a combination vaccine that was designed with proteins from virus cores — rather than virus surfaces — in order to make a potentially more stable strain for patients. The first investigational universal-use vaccine to reach phase 2b testing, the trial will also test the vaccine’s ability to boost T-cells instead of antibodies to combat viruses.

Infections, Illnesses Loom in Puerto Rico Aftermath

The damages of Category 5 Hurricane Maria were almost exponential following its strike through the Commonwealth of Dominica. Three weeks following its touch-down, 90% of Puerto Rico was without power and there was expressed concern for the island’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sites. Matt Zahn, MD, Public Health Committee chair at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told MD Magazine what public health crises could still come in the wake of the island’s destroyed infrastructure.

FDA Generic Approvals Are Rising Without Plans to Stop

According to the most recent FDA data, the administration approved 763 generic drugs in the 2017 fiscal year, an 18.7% boost from the previous fiscal year (651), and is the highest annual rate since the FDA began recording the data under the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments in 2012. The approval count is nearly double that of the 2013 fiscal year total (409). In fact, generic approvals exceeded the 2013 rate just midway through the 2017 fiscal year.

Air Pollution Deaths Reach New Global Highs

Diseases linked to air pollution now account for more deaths every year than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Uncontrolled city growth, increased energy demands, gasoline use and the “globalization of industry against the backdrop of an expanding, ageing global population” are to blame, researchers said. By their account, aggressive intervention is needed immediately if pollution-related deaths are not to increase by more than 50% by 2050.

Opioid-Related Deaths Reduced by Legalized Cannabis

A study of cannabis use in Colorado shows the legislative decision to legalize the drug has clinical benefits. Researchers mapped out the rate of opioid-related deaths from 2000 to 2013 and compared the mean to the mean through 2015, and found that there was a decrease of 0.7 opioid-related deaths every month due to marijuana.

CDC: Suicide Rates Increase in US Rural Areas

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published a "Surveillance Summary" showing that suicide accounted for over 44,000 deaths in the US in 2015. Those rates are higher in rural areas compared to urban areas, and that the gap in suicide rates between these demographic areas is widening.

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