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Pharma news in March 2024

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After the usual wind-down in news around the end-of-year break, things started to get back up to speed in February, with newsworthy breakthroughs in medical technology and pharmaceuticals. The following is a short overview of what made pharma news in March 2024 that we thought would be most interesting for general readers. March 24 Pharma News Round up

1. Developing vaccines with mRNA Technology

mRNA (messenger RNA) is the channel through which chemical instructions are passed from a cell’s DNA to perform some function. Everything that goes on in the body, at the molecular level, depends on how mRNA works. mRNA-based diagnostic tests have allowed doctors to make fast and accurate identifications of invaders that can cause infections and diseases, leading to faster vaccine development.  Even with the great success that came from using mRNA technology to design the vaccines against COVID-19, which came within a matter of only a few months after the pandemic, scientists still believed that using mRNA techniques to create vaccines against bacteria was still several years off. Bacteria are generally more complex and larger than viruses. They are living organisms that can survive and reproduce independently, unlike viruses, which are much smaller and simpler and need to hijack a host’s cellular machinery to propagate. This complexity means that bacteria can have a wide variety of components, each one of which might have to be targeted by a vaccine, making identifying the best target more challenging. But researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Laboratory of Precision Nano-Medicine have made news in March 2024 following on their announcement that it is possible to develop mRNA vaccines that are completely effective against deadly bacteria. By using entirely new techniques to identify the string of mRNA that is emitted from the nucleus of the infecting bacteria, it will be possible to create vaccines that allow a vaccinated person to build up resistance before infection can set in. This is extremely important because, owing to the excessive use of antibiotics since the discovery of penicillin, many bacteria have developed resistance to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. Now, antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a big threat to human health worldwide. Developing a new type of vaccine may provide an answer to this global problem.

2. Widespread acceptance of Telehealth

According to a survey conducted by Elevance Health, many people are now using remote access to their healthcare providers (telehealth) more often. The survey found that “of those who have used virtual primary care, the vast majority of them (94%) are satisfied with their experience, and nearly four in five (79%) say it has allowed them to take charge of their health.” Telehealth is where people and healthcare providers meet online. More and more people are becoming aware of just how easy, convenient, and safe a way this is to get access to healthcare services using common telecommunications devices. These medical interactions use video consultations and remote monitoring to create virtual care platforms that bring the doctors into your home, eliminating the requirement for in-person visits. Healthcare professionals can use simple everyday techniques to interact with and diagnose patients remotely. Doctors can also share medical images such as X-rays or scans with their specialist colleagues for remote interpretation without requiring their patients to make additional visits. Telehealth has particular benefits for people who are denied access to care due to distance or limited mobility. Instead, they can get prompt medical advice, diagnosis, and prescriptions without traveling. Telehealth also benefits healthcare providers, who can now provide their services efficiently. It also reduces the risk of spreading contagious diseases that come from people sharing waiting rooms To experience just how easy it is to use telehealth services to get prescriptions and supplies of essential medications, visit our sister website, rxfor.me, where there is a simple process for connecting to a caring doctor. 3. CRISPR Technology Back in 2022, we wrote an article that heralded the exciting breakthroughs in research that brought about the possibility of vaccines targeting AIDS, some cancers, and infections. The focus of the article was on a Tel Aviv University study targeting both viral vectors and infectious bacteria (staphylococcus aureus). This was a cutting-edge development using clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR) to introduce genetic mutation at a selected site in the cell’s DNA. CRISPR is unique in the DNA of bacteria and archaea.  Scientists were developing a gene-editing tool that allows them to modify or delete specific genes within a cell’s DNA so that the organism can then detect and destroy bacteriophages during subsequent infections. Working with CRISPR holds out the prospect of enhancing the efficiency of healthcare by allowing for personalized treatment plans based on a patient’s unique genetic profile. In December 2023, the FDA approved the world’s first CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing therapy targeting sickle cell anemia. This disease is endemic in Africa. People with the disease cannot produce normal hemoglobin, which causes red blood cells to become crescent-shaped and hard,  sticking together and clogging blood vessels. This deprives tissues of oxygen and can result in severe pain.  There is an expectation that the FDA will annouce news in March 2024 whether the same therapy can be used to treat beta-thalassemia, another disorder that reduces hemoglobin production.

4. Guarding against RSV

Several new ways to protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) came into focus last year. The FDA approved Arexvy as the first vaccine against RSV in the U.S., effective for adults aged 60 and older. One of the limitations of Arexvy was that the clinical trials had only been conducted on individuals 60 years of age and older, so there was not enough data to allow them to be used for younger people. In August, a different vaccine called Abrysvo was approved that is effective both for the seniors age group (60 and older) and for pregnant women to prevent lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) and severe LRTD caused by RSV in infants up to 6 months of age.   So far, there have been no major developments in treatments for people that the virus has infected. As we reported last year, the number of children and people at risk of having to be hospitalized owing to RSV has been soaring all over the world. This is why so much attention is being paid to developing vaccines to protect against infection in the first place. If a virus can be stopped from entering the airways and replicating before reaching the lungs the chances of infection will significantly decrease. That is what makes using Enovid Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) specifically recommended. It can stop the infection from progressing to the lungs by creating a barrier in the nasal passages and upper airways that hinders viruses such as RSV, influenza, and SaRS-CoV-2 from reaching the lungs. Extensive laboratory tests have proven its efficacy against COVID-19 mutations and ‘flu (h1N1) and RSV, achieving 99.9% inactivation within two minutes. The portability of the Enovid spray allows you to carry it with you as a shield against infections during high-risk situations. A single dose sprayed into each nostril protects against infection for around four to five hours.
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