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needle-free covid-19 vaccineA trial has begun of a new needle-free Covid-19 vaccine to protect against future variants of the virus. The jab uses a jet of air that pushes the vaccine into the skin, which could prove an alternative to those who have a fear of needles and used as a COVID-19 booster shot.

The University of Southampton said in a statement “If successful it could be scaled up and manufactured as a powder to boost global vaccination efforts, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.”

The NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is delivering the first trial of the vaccine candidate, DIOS-CoVax. The trial team are calling for healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 50 in the Southampton area. Participants must have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but not their third dose booster. The first participant was given the vaccine in the CRF facility at University Hospital Southampton on Tuesday 14 December.

blood glucose meterHalf of NHS Type 1 diabetes patients in England are now benefiting from the use of “life-changing” flash monitors that allow them to check their glucose levels more easily and regularly, paving the way for more people to benefit. Health service chief executive Amanda Pritchard, patient groups and senior clinicians have welcomed the milestone, showing that the NHS is ahead of target to roll-out the monitors, as the independent health advisory NICE, confirmed it was beginning to consult on expanding access to the convenient and effective kit.

The most recent figures show that around 125,000, or half, of patients living with Type 1 diabetes are now using these monitors to help control their condition. The insight from the successful roll-out by NHS England has helped to inform the case for potential wider use of these technologies to benefit patients living with Type 1 diabetes, and potentially those living with Type 2 diabetes, as the health service continues to improve care for people with both forms of the condition.

The NHS Long Term Plan included a target to ensure 20% of people with Type 1 diabetes were benefiting from flash monitors by March 2021. Data for March shows the NHS significantly exceeded that goal, with the actual percentage of those benefiting hitting more than 45% – double the target, with uptake by July hitting half of eligible people. Eligible patients are currently able to access the monitors on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team, helping them to better manage their blood sugar levels. The wearable gadgets have a sensor that easily attaches to the back of the arm, allowing patients to check their glucose quickly and easily with a simple one-second scan. The monitors link to an easy-to-use app on your phone, where patients can access the data gathered by the device.

Infrared light therapyInfrared light therapy could potentially be used to help people living with dementia, scientists have said. A pilot study used a helmet to beam the light into healthy volunteers' brains and found improvements in their memory, motor function and processing skills. The researchers found a significant improvement in performance in motor function (finger tapping), memory performance (mathematical processing, a type of working memory), delayed memory and brain processing speed, in healthy people who had received PBM-T compared to those in the control placebo group.

The research team, led by Dr Paul Chazot of Durham University and GP Dr Gordon Dougal, say transcranial photobiomodulation therapy (PBM-T) could benefit people with dementia. In the study, published in the journal Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine And Laser Surgery, 14 healthy people aged 45 and over received six minutes of PBM-T at a wavelength of 2068 nanometres twice a day for a month. A control group of 13 people were given a dummy helmet to use. Tests on both groups revealed a significant improvement in performance in motor function, memory and brain processing speed in those who used the real helmet compared to those who were given the placebo.

Prostate cancerMen could benefit from faster diagnosis and quicker treatment of prostate cancer following the expansion of a pioneering trial of Artificial Intelligence to analyse biopsies. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. In the UK, nearly 100,000 men undergo a prostate biopsy every year - a number expected to double in the next ten years. More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in England every year.

The technology, which has been developed by health tech company Ibex Medical Analytics, is designed to help reduce diagnostic errors and speed up diagnosis. Clinicians will compare the results of the AI analysis to current diagnosis methods, where biopsies are meticulously reviewed by a pathologist.

NICEThe National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the way it assesses health technology.

The consultation is open until 13 October and includes several changes which will ensure the institute (NICE) evolves alongside the technological advances being seen in medicines and data.

Several key opportunities for improvement have been identified and NICE is now seeking feedback on potential changes.

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