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Record high two million people at risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Around two million people in England are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the highest on record, according to new NHS figures.

The new figures come as the NHS ramps up efforts to treat, prevent and even put the illness in remission, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Latest stats show there are 1,969,610 people registered with a GP who have non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, a condition which puts people at high risk of Type 2, which is the highest on record.

The scale of the problem is likely to be even greater as the growing obesity crisis is exposing millions more to the condition.

NHS action to combat the problem includes the world-first Diabetes Prevention Programme which identifies people at high risk of diabetes and supports them in living a healthier lifestyle, has had around half a million referrals and seen patients who have so far finished it lose the combined weight of 43 ambulances.

Radical low calorie diets, that have been shown to stamp out recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, will be rolled out by the NHS to 5,000 people from April.

Patients will be prescribed a liquid diet of just over 800 calories a day for three months which will support many to achieve remission of their Type 2 diabetes, followed by a further nine months of support to help maintain their weight loss.

NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens said: “Our bulging waistlines mean two million people are now at risk of joining the expanding ranks of those living with largely preventable Type 2 diabetes.

“The NHS’s highly successful, world-leading diabetes prevention programme is helping hundreds of thousands of people take small common sense steps to get control of their own health. But unless many more of us make a change, obesity-related illnesses will end up costing hundreds of thousands more lives and billions of pounds in higher treatment costs.”

NHS national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, Professor Jonathan Valabhji said: “As these stark figures show it is wrong to think that the obesity and diabetes crisis is limited to those in middle and old age – there around 115,000 younger people suffering Type 2 diabetes or at risk of developing the condition.

“The NHS Long Term Plan sets out the part we are playing to tackle the situation including piloting low calorie diets to achieve Type 2 diabetes remission, and doubling capacity of our world leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme that can prevent people developing in the first place.”

The Diabetes Prevention Programme, which lasts between nine and 12 months, is designed to stop or delay the onset of illness through advice and support on healthier eating and physical exercise.

The increasing numbers of people receiving help from the programme come alongside an announcement last year that more will now benefit from digital services, including wearable tech and online peer support groups, to help more people to benefit from the programme.

Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 and there were over a million obesity diagnoses in hospital admissions last year, 884,000 the year before.

Projections show that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 extra people suffering a heart attack in 2035, over 50,000 experiencing a stroke, while one in six hospital beds now occupied with someone with diabetes.

Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “The record number of people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes demonstrates the need for urgent action to stop its rapid growth. More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes − and the devastating complications it can lead to − could be prevented or delayed by supporting people to reduce their risk by losing weight where appropriate, eating healthy food and being more active.

“The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, designed to help prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of developing the condition, is currently reaching ambitious targets both for numbers undertaking the programme, and for the weight loss they achieve. This much awaited expansion is a great step towards the right direction. Piloting a low calorie weight management programme, making it possible to put the condition into remission, has the potential to completely transform the lives of those already living with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.”



Medtronic Makes Noise in Surgical Robotics with New M&A

The stakes are being raised in surgical robotics with Medtronic’s acquisition of Digital Surgery, a company that specializes in digitizing surgical protocols to use computing and to support the delivery of consistent, data-driven, and evidence-based surgical care. The deal follows Intuitive Surgical acquiring Orpheus Medical, a firm that provides clinical video capture and imaging documentation solutions.

Dr. Jean Nehme, surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Digital Surgery spoke with MD+DI about the acquisition and noted the two companies were a good fit.

Next-gen robotic-assisted platforms must be more Compact, Flexible, and Cost-Effective while leveraging cutting–edge technologies. This allows for enhanced pre-operative planning, intra-operative guidance, and ultimately- better patient outcomes.

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“For the past five or six years we have been building out an organization which has really pioneered robot-based training for surgery,” Nehme told MD+DI. “… As well as being the first to really build out a specialty and pioneer surgical AI.”

He noted that many surgeons use Digital Surgery’s products for training and education. He added, that the company has also been using AI to identify surgical steps.

The deal is for an undisclosed sum and is set to close today.  Digital Surgery will join the Surgical Robotics business as part of the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group, said Megan Rosengarten, vice president and general manager of Medtronic’s Surgical Robotics business.

“Within the Surgical Robotics business, we’ve prioritized a few areas where we are intent on investing; and data and analytics is one of those, because we know how critical that capability is to the future of surgery,” Rosengarten told MD+DI in an email.  “Through this acquisition, we will grow and commercialize Digital Surgery’s products that are in development or currently on the market – using Medtronic’s breadth and scale to share Digital Surgery’s industry-leading digital education offerings more broadly, and working together to bring forth tools that support intraoperative surgeon decision making and reduce unwarranted variability. This acquisition is a great strategic fit, but also a great cultural fit as we share a strong passion around advancing minimally invasive surgery and increasing access to high-quality surgical outcomes for patients around the world.”

Organized Noise

There has been a lot of noise in the surgical robotics space over the last few months – mostly coming from Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson.

Recently, New Brunswick, NJ-based J&J beat heavily on the surgical robotics drum when it said it would give a demonstration of its system in May. Prior to announcing the reveal, J&J acquired the remaining stake in the Verb surgical robotic joint venture with Verily Life Sciences.

After delays and a few teases, Medtronic had a reveal announcement of its own. In September of 2019, the medtech giant said it would unveil its surgical robotics system.

The big takeaway from this news is that both Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson understand the high bar that Intuitive Surgical has raised in the surgical robotics. The Sunnyvale, CA-based company has been the only game in town and has held that position since 2000. It has had time to refine and make improvements to its system.

Intuitive isn’t resting on its laurels though. The company is still raising the bar with tuck-in acquisitions. Recently, Intuitive made a plan to acquire Orpheus Medical, a firm that provides clinical video capture and imaging documentation solutions. The platform offers the ability to capture and share clinical video and imaging from many sources, which may help improve physician and OR care team workflow and enable an analysis of their interventions.


ANGLE device shows promise in assessing melanoma patients

Parsortix was also shown to be superior to other methods at picking up the tell-tale signs of cancer

Researchers in Western Australia using the Parsortix liquid biopsy system have found another use for the ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) cancer detection device.

A team at Edith Cowan University in Perth deployed the technology to monitor people with melanoma and were able to sort them into high risk and low-risk groups.

This has opened the possibility of assessing the prognosis and tailoring the treatment approach “taking into account disease status”, ANGLE investors were told.

Parsortix was also shown to be superior to other methods looked at by the Edith Cowan team at picking up the tell-tale signs of cancer assessed.

“This work clearly demonstrates the promising clinical utility of the Parsortix system for metastatic melanoma prognostication and monitoring treatment response,” said Elin Gray, an associate professor at the university.

“We now intend to progress our work with Parsortix to identify ways in which we can improve the treatment of melanoma patients.”

ANGLE chief executive Andrew Newland said the latest update revealed another great example of Parsortix customers developing new cancer applications for the device.

“Melanoma is an important opportunity for future use of Parsortix,” he added.

Statement from NHS England and NHS Improvement on Coronavirus

The director of the NHS’ response to the coronavirus outbreak has reminded people concerned about infection to call NHS 111 for advice.

The intervention from Professor Keith Willett follows inaccurate reports that the third patient in the UK to be confirmed as having the virus had gone to A&E for help.

The NHS has today confirmed that the third patient took the right approach in calling NHS 111 when they had concerns, and so got help quickly while avoiding any risk to other people.

Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, said: “This patient did the right thing when they had concerns about coronavirus by calling NHS 111 for advice.

“After a telephone assessment, they were advised to make their way to Royal Sussex County Hospital Brighton for testing. Following a pre-arranged plan with the NHS they drove themselves to the hospital, were tested in isolation and away from public areas of the hospital, and returned home in isolation in their own car.

“Any travellers from China and the other specified countries who have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath are advised to follow the example of this patient and call NHS 111 for advice.”

Contura wins FDA premarket approval for hydrogel injection

Contura announced that it won FDA premarket approval for its Bulkamid hydrogel injection for treating stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Bulkamid is Contura’s proprietary device designed for treating SUI due to intrinsic sphincter deficiency in adult women with SUI or stress predominant mixed incontinence. According to a news release, the product is currently marketed in more than 25 countries, while an ongoing North American pivotal study on the efficacy and safety of Bulkamid formed the basis of Contura’s approval.




ountry’s top mental health nurse warns video games pushing young people into ‘under the radar’ gambling

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch has today called on gaming companies to crack down on gambling addiction risks by banning loot boxes from their products.

Ms Murdoch has warned video game firms that they risk “setting kids up for addiction” by building gambling tasks into their games.

In response to growing concerns about addiction to gaming, the NHS has confirmed the opening of a new treatment centre, alongside up to 14 new NHS gambling clinics nationwide, to address significant mental ill health linked to addiction.

The investment is part of the NHS Long Term Plan to improve mental health, backed by at least £2.3 billion extra funding within the next five years, helping hundreds of thousands more children and adults to get timely, expert care.

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end.

“Young people’s health is at stake, and although the NHS is stepping up with these new, innovative services available to families through our Long Term Plan, we cannot do this alone, so other parts of society must do what they can to limit risks and safeguard children’s wellbeing.”

Concerns have been raised about children playing video games which involve spending significant amounts of money – often without parents’ knowledge or consent – on so-called ‘loot boxes’, which are virtual collections of in-game purchases and other add-ons.

To progress in the game, players can collect extra items and content, but do not know what items they will be given until they’ve paid – which encourages users to keep spending and playing.

Investigations have found numerous cases of children spending money without their parents’ knowledge, including a 16-year-old paying £2,000 on a basketball game and a 15-year-old losing £1,000 in a shooting game.

A report by the Royal Society of Public Health in December found that over half of young people believe that playing a video game could lead to gambling and that the link between gaming and gambling is a negative one.

Ms Murdoch has called on gaming companies to:

  • Ban sales of games with loot boxes that encourage children to gamble
  • Introduce fair and realistic spending limits to prevent people from spending thousands in games
  • Make clear to users what percentage chance they have of obtaining the items they want before they purchase loot boxes
  • Support parents by increasing their awareness on the risks of in-game spending

Latest figures from the Gambling Commission show 55,000 children are classed as having a gambling problem and the NHS estimates there are around 400,000 people with a serious gambling problem in England.

Recent data shows that more than half of UK parents allow their children to play video games intended for people aged 18 or over, without supervision or having played the game themselves.

86% of parents believed playing games aimed at people aged 18 or over would have no influence on their children but 62% of parents ended up trying to take games back from their kids after they noticed a problem.

Once referred to one of the new NHS specialist clinics, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists will work with patients who could have a range of complex problems including persistent gambling, compulsive behaviours, development disorders and difficulties earlier in childhood that underlie addiction.

The Gambling Commission does not regulate some loot boxes due to a loophole meaning it is not classed as gambling. Under current gambling legislation, this is because there is no official way to monetise what is inside of loot boxes.

Despite this, third party websites selling gaming accounts and rare items are commonplace and easy to find on places such as eBay across the internet.

One game even launched a virtual casino which lets players invest real money to gamble on games such as blackjack and poker.

Players are unable to convert any winnings from the casino back into real money, creating a cycle of gambling hard cash in a virtual world.

A recent parliamentary report called for loot boxes to be regulated under gambling law, along with a ban on loot boxes being sold to children.

The report also called for:

  • The gaming industry to face up to responsibilities to protect players from potential harms
  • An industry levy to support independent research on long-term effects of gaming
  • Serious concern at the lack of an effective system to keep children off age-restricted platforms and games

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, psychiatrist and founder of CNWL’s National Problem Gambling Clinic said: “As the Director of the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, the first NHS clinic to treat gaming addiction, I am fully in favour of taking a public health approach and bringing in a regulatory body to oversee the gaming industry products currently causing great concerns to parents and professionals. Loot boxes are only one of several features that will need to be investigated and indeed researched. We need an evidence-based approach to ensure our young people and gamers in general do not continue to be subjected to new and increasingly harmful  products without our intervention.



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