What We’re Reading: Genomic Indicators Predict Prostate Cancer Outcomes; FDA Authorizes At-Home COVID-19 Test; Herd Immunity Possible by Spring 2021

December 16, 2020
AJMC Staff

Samples show certain subgroups of men with prostate cancer are more receptive to radiation therapy; FDA grants emergency use authorization to an at-home coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test; Anthony Fauci, MD, says COVID-19 herd immunity is possible by spring 2021.

Genomic Markers Predict Prostate Cancer Treatment Reception

Although prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among American men, there are currently no immunologic or genomic indicators that can aid physicians in determining the best course of treatment for patients. However, through a series of studies, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center found that a certain subset of samples collected from more than 8000 patients were genomically more radiosensitive, meaning these tumors would respond well to radiation therapy, according to a company statement. Study results were published in European Urology and can be validated in various ongoing clinical trials. Researchers expect the findings will be “practice-changing” in the near future.

EUA Granted for At-Home COVID-19 Test

The FDA granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first over-the-counter diagnostic test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The test, developed by Ellume, is indicated for individuals 2 years and older, including those who are asymptomatic. The diagnostic test is a rapid, lateral flow antigen test that runs a liquid sample along a surface with reactive molecules, according to an FDA press release. A nasal swab sample is used to detect fragments of proteins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the release noted that a small percentage of positive or negative results from the antigen test may be false, and asymptomatic patients who tested positive should be treated as such until a second test can confirm results.

Herd Immunity Could Be Possible Depending on Vaccine Uptake

According to Anthony Fauci, MD, the nation’s top official on infectious diseases, the United States could begin to achieve early stages of herd immunity by late spring or summer of 2021, NPR reports. Fauci estimates 50% of Americans would need to get vaccinated for the country to see an impact on cases. However, 75% to 85% of Americans would need to receive the vaccine for a “blanket of herd immunity,” defined as when enough individuals become immune to a disease that transmission of the virus becomes unlikely. Should everything run smoothly, Fauci predicted more vaccines will be available to the general public by the end of March or beginning of April 2021.