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Lizzie Wright, Ph.D.

Recent Posts by Lizzie Wright, Ph.D.

July 19, 2017


Categories: Health

Med-Sci Matters by Dr. Lizzie

In this week’s edition of Med-Sci Matters, we discuss the FDA’s green light for CAR-T therapy, how house dust could be contributing to weight gain, how smartphones are providing insights into global activity levels and new data showing that artificial sweeteners could lead to increased health risks. Edging closer to the first CAR-T approval 019 is now likely to be the first CAR-T therapy approved for use and could pave the way for a new era in personalized immunotherapy. CAR-T, which stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, involves removing T-cells from a patient’s blood, genetically engineering them to attack specific antigens on the tumor, and then infusing them back into the patient to specifically target the immune system against the cancer. Patients in the Novartis trial showed a high rate of remission; however trials from other companies investigating CAR-T therapies have been plagued with set-backs, resulting in high numbers of patient deaths and trials being shut down. Apart from potential long-term safety issues, the logistical issues of collecting and engineering each individual patient’s cells prior to reinfusing may be a challenge. The positive vote was welcomed by several companies working in the field and heralded as a major breakthroughContinue Reading

Dr. Lizzie’s Med-Sci Matters

Mind-reading device shows “locked-in” patients are happy and offers way to communicate A non-invasive device has been developed that can detect yes/no answers in people who are completely paralyzed but otherwise healthy with normal cognitive function (“locked-in syndrome”). The Swiss study, published in PLOS Biology combines two techniques – one that measures blood flow in regions of the brain via a light beam and the other an EEG cap, which measures electrical brainwave activity. Four patients with locked-in syndrome due to advanced ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) participated in the study. The device was trained to recognize yes and no answer patterns based on known facts, then used to ask new questions. All four patients reported they were happy – one patient stated she wished to visit New York and one man repeatedly denied his daughter permission to marry (although they went on to marry anyway!). Some patients in the study had not communicated since 2014. This technology is a huge development for patients with no options to communicate, although other technologies are also being developed (previously reported here). This tech could completely change the way that we treat and view these patients and broaden our understandingContinue Reading