What We're Reading: Air Pollution Affects Minorities; Pfizer to Test Coronavirus Vaccine; New Liquid Biopsy Shows Promise

April 29, 2020
AJMC Staff

Racial disparities are a leading factor in the impact of pollution on concentrated populations; Pfizer could begin initial testing of its coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week; study results of a new liquid biopsy point to the ability to detect cancers before they have spread.

Exposure to Long-term Air Pollution Concentrated in Minority Communities

Using the West Coast as a prime example, Forbes reports on how the over 14 million people of color (Hispanics, Asians, American Indian/Alaska Natives, African Americans) who live there are disproportionately affected by long-term air pollution. Children can be especially hard hit in these areas because of interference with their lung development. In its latest State of the Air report, the American Lung Association points to such contributing factors as low income levels, persistent racial segregation, and areas with greater pollution exposure tend to have higher populations of African Americans.

Pfizer Joins the Fray to Put Out a Coronavirus Vaccine

Pfizer is the newest entrant in the race to test and put out to market a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, joining Oxford University, Moderna Inc, and Johnson & Johnson, according to The Wall Street Journal. The vaccine’s mechanism of action is based on messenger RNA. Despite facing such daunting statistics as a mere 6% chance of actually making it to market and the quick spread of the virus, researchers are being assisted by the myriad of ongoing research on the virus and numerous vaccine-making technologies. Pfizer is working with BioNTech SE from Germany, where testing has already begun, to develop the vaccine, with hopes to commence emergency distribution in the fall.

Are Liquid Biopsies the Future of Earlier Cancer Detection?

In research presented this week at the American Academy of Cancer Research’s annual meeting, Thrive Earlier Detection presented its exploratory study results showing the promise of a new liquid biopsy at detecting cancers earlier than ever before, notes Biopharma Dive. The study looked at the new test’s effectiveness among 10,000 patients, all seemingly healthy. With these data, Thrive joins rival GRAIL in the race to alter the landscape of cancer detection offerings, both hoping their blood tests will become part of such standard cancer screenings as mammograms and colonoscopies.