The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launches a new non-profit biotech startup
The Bill and & Melinda Gates Foundation has revealed that it has established a new biotech start up, with the aim to eradicate diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, alongside enteric diseases which remain responsible for up to three million deaths per annum yet provide limited financial incentives for profit driven companies.
To bolster its efforts, the organisation does not seek to make money from the venture, STAT has reported.
Placing significant investment in developing new drugs and vaccines, the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (MRI) will therefore take any new development through to clinical proof of concept and bring new treatments to market.
“We don’t have to worry about revenue, return on investment. Our bottom line is lives saved. So, it’s a pretty exciting place to be,” explained Dr Penny Heaton, Novavax’s former Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Development.
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“Our mission is to develop products that will enable the end of diarrheal disease deaths, eradication of malaria … and to accelerate the end of the TB epidemic.”
With an annual budget of $100mn, the organisation will be led by experienced individuals, such as Trevor Mundel, Head of the Gates Foundation’s global health operations and David Kaufman from Merck Research Labs, and many more, which will also filter into its continual recruitment drive.
“TB still has 1.7mn deaths every year. Malaria accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths every year. You look at enteric disease and while the rotavirus vaccines have done amazing things, we still have 500,000 deaths from enteric diseases every year in children under five,” explained Heaton.
By breaking down silos, the organisation will first aim to tackle tuberculosis and will look at providing a booster hot of the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine for adolescents to reduce escalating figures.
However, any advancements within the production of new drugs will come with a caveat, to ensure all developments are provided at affordable prices and can be developed rapidly to prevent potential outbreaks.
Solent NHS launches UK's first sexual health self-service
Solent NHS Trust in the south of England has become the first in the UK to launch an integrated sexual health self-service system.
The national health service trust has launched a new Personal Health Record (PHR) that will enable patients to book and amend appointments online. This will allow clinicians to triage patients digitally, saving them time. If patients miss appointments then staff are alerted via simple push notifications.
Once it's fully implemented, Solent will be able to use the system for patients to easily access to repeat contraception, postal testing kits, results and prescriptions. PHR will also be used to anonymously notify partners who could be at risk of a sexually transmitted infection.
The PHR has been designed by healthcare IT provider Inform Health. Solent hopes the system will alleviate pressure on clinics that are currently reliant on traditional methods of booking appointments via the telephone. It will also provide holistic visibility of patient data, and allow patients to self-manage their sexual health by registering on a secure website and creating their own patient record.
PHR will further support Solent’s Sexual Health Services through the creation of joined-up, electronic patient records – a key benefit according to Ynez Symonds, Solent’s Sexual Health Services’ Head of Quality and Professions: “Our patients are at the heart of everything we do, so making their lives easier and being able to drill down to see what’s happening with patients in our area, so we can effectively target services, is really important" she said.
"We previously used a system that required patients to input the same demographic information every time they needed to request a testing kit or access condoms online. We know from patient feedback that for some this was a barrier to accessing services.
"Additionally, our previous system didn’t integrate with our Inform EPR (electronic patient record), used in clinics. This meant there was no easy way to see what patients were requesting and when they were returning kits, so it was near enough impossible to obtain a clear picture, assess trends and effectively tailor our future provision."
Symonds adds that the PHR system will also help them to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection. "Like all NHS providers, we’re focused on resetting our services. We need to continue to adapt to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission, so PHR remains a top priority for us. I see it marking a real turning point for how patients access services and take greater control of their sexual health and wellbeing. I also think PHR will play an integral role in helping us to better target health promotion through quality data delivered through system integration.”