May 17, 2020

Canada breaks ground on pill to make gluten accessible for Celiac sufferers

gluten-free
diet
food trends
research
Admin
3 min
Egg yolks could be the key to helping millions with Celiac disease enjoy bread and other gluten-filled products.
Diet has been a subject of major concern in the healthcare sector in recent years, and the issue of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance has been at th...

Diet has been a subject of major concern in the healthcare sector in recent years, and the issue of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance has been at the forefront of issues where food and health meet. While gluten sensitivity has become a pop diet fad to some degree, that fad has also helped to shine a much greater spotlight on the millions of people living with the complications and diet restrictions of Celiac disease or other gluten intolerance-inducing autoimmune disorders. But relief could be close at hand. Researchers at Canada’s University of Alberta are developing a pill that could make foods containing gluten accessible and safe for those with gluten intolerance.

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This new “gluten pill” was developed by Hoon Sunwoo, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with colleague Jeong Sim, a retired former professor from the school’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. As Sunwoo told CBC News, research began 10 years ago as a search for a way to help a friend:

"My friend is celiac. We haven't had any entertaining with beers. So, that's why I develop this pill -- for my friend."

The key ingredient of the pill is chicken egg yolk that has been to a powder form. The egg yolk antibodies reportedly coat gliadin—which is the key component of gluten that Celiacs have trouble digesting—allowing it to leave the body without doing its usual damage. As such, the pill is not to be thought of as a cure for Celiac or for gluten intolerance. Rather, it’s more of a gluten analog to lactase enzyme supplements like Lactaid that help sufferers of lactose intolerance eat the occasional ice cream sundae:

"This is not treating the celiac disease or curing celiac disease," he told Edmonton AM host Tim Adams. "It's just to try to help them improve their quality of life so when they want to socialize with peers or friends."

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In another similarity to dairy relief supplements, Sunwoo has also related to the press that, once the treatment goes through human trials and is approved by Health Canada, it will be available over the counter as a supplement instead of through prescription as a drug:

“This is not a drug, this is a food supplement that will be over the counter so it will be available for everyone,” he said. “In two years, I expect this product to be available on the market for a reasonable, affordable cost.”

It may not be a cure. But it’s certainly an important step in the right direction toward making food healthier and more accessible to all.  

[SOURCE: Metro News; CBC News via Huffington Post]

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Jul 25, 2021

Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare

Data
healthcare
CloudComputing
Technology
 Joe Gaska
4 min
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
 Joe Gaska, CEO of GRAX, tells us how healthcare providers can become cloud-based and data-driven organisations

As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025. 

At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance. 

Meeting regulation requirements

It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.

Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.

However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.

Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk. 

With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?

Data ownership

Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.

Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.

Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools. 

When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole. 

To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone. 

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