May 17, 2020

Healthcare faces uncertainties with new ransomware strain

Cyber Attacks
Cyber Attacks
Catherine Sturman
2 min
A new strain of ransomware is set to cause increased concerns within the healthcare sector. Named ‘Defray’, users fall foul to the virus through ope...

A new strain of ransomware is set to cause increased concerns within the healthcare sector. Named ‘Defray’, users fall foul to the virus through opening Microsoft Word documents, with attachments which unleash the virus when opened. Virtually undetectable, as the document is personalised to look authentic, it highlights the lengths in which technology is becoming not only more sophisticated, but the need for increased cybersecurity across the board.

Discovered by cybersecurity company Proofpoint, the virus is disguised as an attachment, named ‘Patient Report’. Its look is authentic, with a professional looking logo, which is able to deceive the majority of users who come across this new virus.

The UK has been hit by a number of cybersecurity attacks in the last year, which have all had the potential to impact on the delivery of patient care with the shutdown of essential services.

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The WannaCry ransomware attack affected a large number of countries, alongside the Petya virus which affected healthcare services globally.

All cybersecurity attacks have resulted in a large bitcoin ransom in order for the virus to be stopped, with several email addresses in order for the user to ask any potential questions they may have. Such increases in potential cyber hacks have therefore led to hospitals increasing their cybersecurity budgets in order to protect patient data and the ongoing delivery of patient services.

In a blog post, Proofpoint have stated that the ransomware only looks like it will be utilised in singular attacks, as the technology is personalised to fit the potential user., and is “not for sale, either as a service or as a licensed application.”

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Jun 16, 2021

NHS opens 8 clinical trial sites to assess cancer treatment

2 min
NHS and OncoHost to launch clinical trials analysing cancer patients response to immunotherapy

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is opening eight clinical trial sites to assess patients' responses to personalised cancer therapy. 

The trials will analyse how patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma or non-small cell lung cancer respond to immunotherapy, to help predict their response to treatment.  They will be hosted at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust facilities. 

Immunotherapy helps the body's own immune system fight cancer, but while it has achieved good results for some cancer patients, it is not successful for everyone. Finding ways to predict which people will respond to the treatment is a major area of research.

OncoHost, an oncology startup,  will provide advanced machine learning technology to develop personalised strategies aiming to improve the success rate of the cancer therapy. The trials will contribute to OncoHost’s ongoing PROPHETIC study, which uses the company’s host response profiling platform, PROphet®

“Immunotherapy has achieved excellent results in certain situations for several cancers, allowing patients to achieve longer control of their cancer with maintained quality of life and longer survival,” said Dr David Farrugia, Consultant Medical Oncologist at NHS, and chief investigator of all eight NHS clinical trial sites.

“However, success with immunotherapy is not guaranteed in every patient, so this PROPHETIC study is seeking to identify changes in proteins circulating in the blood which may help doctors to choose the best treatment for each patient." 

"I am excited that Gloucestershire Oncology Centre and its research department have this opportunity to contribute to this growing field of research and I am determined that our centre will make a leading national contribution in patient recruitment.”

Previous studies in the US and Israel have shown that PROphet® has high accuracy in predicting how patients with cancer will respond to various therapies.

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