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Cue Health awarded $481 million to scale up production of COVID-19 test: HHS

(Reuters) – The U.S. government has awarded diagnostic testing company Cue Health Inc $481 million to scale up the production of rapid COVID-19 molecular test, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday.

The company will raise the domestic production of COVID-19 test kits to 100,000 per day by March 2021 under the deal and deliver 6 million tests and 30,000 instruments to the government to support its response to the pandemic, the health agency said.

The point-of-care test can detect the novel coronavirus in about 20 minutes with nasal swab samples collected using a Sample Wand from the lower part of the nose, the HHS said.

The system also allows results to be sent to a mobile phone via an app.

The company’s test kit was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June for emergency use in patient care settings under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

The development of the company’s health platform was supported by funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for a molecular influenza test, starting in 2018, the department said.

BARDA later expanded the collaboration with the company to include the development of Cue’s COVID-19 test, it added.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Tim McGraw Awarded the Tom Hanks Caregiver Champion for His Support of the Military and Veterans Community

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Tim Mcgraw, you never fail to put a smile on our faces, especially now during these exceedingly challenging times. Off the top of our heads, we recall how the country star has comforted us with his poignant commencement speech for this year’s graduates this past May. Then, in July, he surprised health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis by dropping in on their video meeting. In August, he performed at a virtual St. Jude festival alongside other country music greats like Keith Urban.

Whether we hear it in his music or see it in his sweet relationship with wife Faith Hill, it’s clear McGraw has a very big heart. Now, the country singer is wowing us again, this time with his dedication to helping the veterans community. As we learned from SoundsLikeNashville.com, McGraw is being honored with the Tom Hanks Caregiver Champion Award by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The award will be presented to McGraw at the foundation’s Heroes and History Makers virtual event on October 20, at 8 p.m. ET, which will be hosted by Senators Elizabeth and Bob Dole and also include appearances by Tom Hanks, Darius Rucker, and Savannah Guthrie, among other notable celebrities.

Having lost his own father to brain cancer, McGraw acts as the Honorary Chair of the Tug McGraw Foundation, which provides help to those with brain conditions, coming to the aid of many veterans and their caregivers through their work. “We are thrilled to honor Tim McGraw this year. He understands from both his personal experiences, and his support of other caregivers, exactly what our military and veteran caregivers go through on a daily basis,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in a statement posted on SoundsLikeNashville.com. “Inspired by what he learned from caring for his father, Tim has used his platform as one of our nation’s top entertainers to help the military community find resources for invisible injuries. This continues to be a critical need for caregivers, and an important component of our work at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.”

Previous recipients of the award are the award’s namesake, Tom Hanks himself, and former First Lady Michelle Obama. If you’d like to learn more or sign up for the event, click here.

WATCH: Alabama Man Who Mows Lawns for the Elderly and Veterans, Now Delivering Free Meals Too

Alabama Man Who Mows Lawns for the Elderly and Veterans, Now Delivering Free Meals Too

“I’m just mowing and doing what I love to do best: helping others.”

Congratulations on another amazing achievement, Mr.McGraw. Both on the music charts and off, it’s clear you’re an incredible person.

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Nobel prize in medicine awarded to US-UK trio for work on hepatitis C

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Two Americans and a British scientist have won the 2020 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for their groundbreaking work on blood-borne hepatitis, a health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer around the world.



a man standing in front of a flat screen television: Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Harvey J Alter at the US National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Charles M Rice from Rockefeller University in New York, and Michael Houghton, a British virologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, were honoured for their joint discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a major cause of liver disease.

The award, announced on Monday by the Nobel assembly from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is worth 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000), which will be shared among the winners.

“Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health,” the Nobel committee said.

Speaking of how he heard the news, Alter said he ignored the phone twice when it rang before 5am local time. “The third time I got up angrily to answer it and it was Stockholm. It’s a weird experience,” he said. “It’s the best alarm clock I’ve ever had.” Rice said he was “absolutely stunned” on receiving the call, adding “it is a success story for team science.”



a man standing in front of a flat screen television: Nobel committee member Patrik Ernfors sits in front of a screen displaying the winners, (from left) Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday.


© Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Nobel committee member Patrik Ernfors sits in front of a screen displaying the winners, (from left) Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday.

The prize may prove controversial. In 2013, Houghton refused a major award for his hepatitis C work because it excluded two former co-workers, George Quo and Qui-Lim Choo who helped him identify the virus. Houghton, who received his PhD from King’s College London in 1977, said his colleagues did not get the recognition they deserved.

David Pendlebury, a citation analyst at Clarivate, a scientific data firm, said he was surprised the Nobel committee had made the award. “There’s no question about the importance of this work and the worthiness of this prize, but one assumes the Nobel committee tries to avoid controversy where possible,” he said. The award threw into high relief the perennial issue of the Nobel’s rule of three, he added, where no more than three researchers can be named for discoveries that have often been team efforts.

Houghton accepted the Nobel but said he hoped future award committees would recognise larger groups of scientists. “Great science, often, is a group of people and I think going forward we somehow need to acknowledge that,” he said.

The scientists’ work transformed the understanding and treatment of hepatitis C, a virus that infects more than 70 million people, and kills 400,000 a year, according to the World Health Organization.

In the 1940s, doctors knew there were two

Nobel prize in medicine awarded to US-UK trio for work on hepatitis C | Science

Two Americans and a British scientist have been awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for their groundbreaking work on blood-borne hepatitis, a health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer around the world.

Harvey J Alter at the US National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Charles M Rice from Rockefeller University in New York, and Michael Houghton, a British virologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, were honoured for their joint discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a major cause of liver disease.

The award may prove controversial as Houghton recently turned down a major prize because it excluded two co-workers at the pharmaceutical firm Chiron who helped him identify the virus. In 2013, he refused the Canada Gairdner international award sometimes known as the “baby Nobel” because it did not recognise the work of his former colleagues George Quo and Qui-Lim Choo.

After reluctantly accepting the prestigious Lasker award in 2000, Houghton, who received his PhD from King’s College London in 1977, said his co-workers did not get the recognition they deserved and decided “I really shouldn’t do this any more.”

David Pendlebury, a citation analyst at Clarivate, a scientific data firm, said he was surprised the Nobel committee made the award knowing it would be problematic. “There’s no question about the importance of this work and the worthiness of this prize, but one assumes the Nobel committee tries to avoid controversy where possible,” he said.

The difficulty, he said, threw into high relief the perennial issue of the Nobel’s rule of three, where no more than three researchers can be named for discoveries that have often been team efforts.

The award, announced on Monday by the Nobel assembly from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is worth 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000), to be shared among the winners.

At a press briefing after the announcement, Thomas Perlmann, the secretary of the Nobel committee, told reporters he had told Alter and Rice the news by telephone but had not reached Houghton. Alter said he ignored the phone twice when it rang before 5am local time. “The third time I got up angrily to answer it and it was Stockholm. It’s a weird experience,” he said. “It’s the best alarm clock I’ve ever had.”

The scientists’ work transformed the understanding and treatment of hepatitis C. The virus infects more than 70 million people, with 400,000 dying each year from related conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

In the 1940s, doctors knew there were two main types of infectious hepatitis. The first, transmitted by the hepatitis A virus, spread via contaminated food and water and tended to have little long-term impact on people. The second, spread by blood and body fluids, was more insidious. Patients could be silently infected for years before serious complications emerged – liver cancer and liver scarring known as cirrhosis.

Researchers discovered hepatitis B in the 1960s, but it quickly became clear that it was not the only cause of the

Nobel Prize in medicine awarded for discovery of hepatitis C

Years later, British-born virologist Michael Houghton — then working for the pharmaceutical company Chiron — found a way to clone the virus and identified antibodies created against it by the host’s immune system; this led to the development of screening mechanisms to eliminate the virus in the blood supply. Through genetic analysis, then-Washington University in St. Louis researcher Charles M. Rice characterized the virus and set scientists on a path to finding a cure.

Hepatitis C, which is often transmitted through blood transfusions, causes severe inflammation of the liver and is blamed for 400,000 deaths annually.

The Nobel Committee called the three researchers’ work “a landmark achievement in our battle against viral infections.”

“It’s hard to find something that is of such benefit to mankind as what we are awarding this year,” said Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Nobel Committee. “This discovery … has led to improvements for millions of people around the world.”

Hepatitis viruses come in two main forms: hepatitis A, which is transmitted through contaminated water or food and is rarely deadly; and hepatitis B and C, which are carried in blood and bodily fluids and can be far more dangerous. The latter viruses are “insidious,” the Nobel Committee said, because they can linger for years in the blood of an apparently healthy person before erupting into a dangerous disease.

Before these Nobel-winning discoveries, the world had struggled to control these blood-borne pathogens. Geneticist Baruch Blumberg discovered hepatitis B in the 1960s (and was awarded a Nobel the following decade). But patients who received blood transfusions were still coming down with severe liver disease, even after the donor blood had been screened for the hepatitis B virus.

“The situation was becoming alarming,” said Nobel Committee member Gunilla Karlsson-Hedestam. “Because the disease was silent but progressive, it was impossible to know who of all the apparently healthy blood donors were carriers of the disease.”

Alter, who had worked with Blumberg, spearheaded a new NIH project to create a storehouse of blood samples, which could be used to uncover the causes of the transfusion-associated disease. He also tracked people who developed hepatitis after receiving a blood transfusion. His work showed that most illnesses weren’t caused by the A or B virus but “another infectious agent,” Karlsson-Hedestam said.

In 1978, Alter showed that plasma from patients carrying this unknown form of hepatitis could transmit the disease to chimpanzees. A dangerous new virus was clearly hiding in human blood.

But much about the pathogen remained unknown — a fact that frustrated Alter so much he was moved to write poetry. “No antigen or DNA / No little test to mark its way,” he wrote in 1988.

“… Oh GREAT LIVER in the sky

Show us where and tell us why

Send us thoughts that will inspire us.

Let us see this elusive virus.”

The answer to Alter’s lament would come not from a “great liver in the sky” but from Houghton, the British scientist.

From the blood of an infected chimpanzee,

Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Scientists Who Discovered Hepatitis C

Numerous life saving treatments have also been developed for the hepatitis C virus, many of which are in regular use today. When available, hepatitis C antivirals can block the virus from multiplying in the body, and can cure people of the infection in weeks. Researchers around the world are now at work on a vaccine that could prevent future hepatitis C virus infections and disease.

“For the longest time, we had nothing to treat this virus with,” said Dr. Guadalupe Garcia Tsao, a cirrhosis expert at Yale University. Preventing the disease, she added, was also nearly impossible without accurate tests. “For most of my career, it was the bane of my existence. But from the moment they made these discoveries, the numbers of sick people went down dramatically.”

Even hepatitis C drugs that originally failed to clear the approval pipeline have found new use in modern times: Remdesivir, one of only a handful of treatments with emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to treat severely sick Covid-19 patients, was originally developed as an antiviral against the hepatitis C virus.

“That’s really the story of investing in basic science, and having it pay off later down the road,” said Stephanie Langel, a virologist and immunologist at Duke University.

Dr. Alter, an American, is a medical researcher for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. Born in 1935 in New York, he earned a medical degree at the University of Rochester before joining the N.I.H. in 1961.

Dr. Rice, born in Sacramento in 1952, is a professor at Rockefeller University in New York. From 2001 to 2018, he was the scientific and executive director at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C. He earned his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1981.

In an interview Monday morning, Dr. Rice described the utter shock he felt at receiving the early morning phone call notifying him of the award.

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Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded for discovery of Hepatitis C to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice

The Nobel Prize in Medicine has been jointly awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.



a person standing in front of a television: Thomas Perlmann (right), the Secretary of the Nobel Committee, announces the winners.


© JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images
Thomas Perlmann (right), the Secretary of the Nobel Committee, announces the winners.

The award is one of the most sought-after global accolades and grants entry into one of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

The Nobel Assembly said in a news release Monday that the three scientists “made seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus.”

It said the trio had “made a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world.”

Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, according to the World Health Organization. A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Gilbert Thompson, professor emeritus of clinical lipidology at Imperial College London, told CNN: “It’s long overdue. Hep C arguably has caused just as much, if not more deaths, than the current coronavirus pandemic. It was a major problem and this (work) was an enormous step forward.”



diagram: The 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet on Monday.


© Niklaus Elmehed/Nobel Prize
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet on Monday.

Secretary of the Nobel Assembly Thomas Perlmann said he had to call the winners several times before he finally reached Alter and Rice.

“I woke them up and they were very surprised, they were definitely not sitting by the phone because I called them a couple of times before without any answer,” he said after making the announcement.

“But once I reached them they were extremely surprised and really happy and speechless almost, so it was really fun to talk to them.”

The methodical studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis by US scientist Alter demonstrated that an unknown virus was a common cause of chronic hepatitis.

Houghton — a British scientist — used an untested strategy to isolate the genome of the new virus that was named Hepatitis C.

Rice, another American, provided the final evidence showing that Hepatitis C virus alone could cause hepatitis.

Alfred Nobel — the inventor of dynamite — in 1895 created a fund that would give the largest portion of his fortune to those who serve humanity. Today, the Nobels recognize outstanding achievements in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace and Economic Sciences. Between 1901 and 2019, almost 600 awards were given.

Nobel’s will stated that one part of his fund would be dedicated to “the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine.”

The main inscription on one side of the Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Literature Nobel Prize medals is the same: “Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes,” loosely translated as: “And they who bettered life on earth by new found mastery.”

The Nobel Prizes for Medicine, Physics and Chemistry are the acme of scientific

Nobel Prize for medicine awarded to trio who discovered Hepatitis C virus

The Nobel Committee announced Monday that three scientists will split the 2020 Nobel Price for Physiology or Medicine for their joint discovery of the virus that causes Hepatitis C, a blood-borne illness that damages the liver. The three scientists — Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice plus Michael Houghton of Britain — built on the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses, the Nobel Committee said, and their “discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.”

The discovery of the Hepatitis C virus allowed for sensitive tests that have “essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health,” and “also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at Hepatitis C,” the committee explained. “For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world population.”

Alter, Rice, and Houghton will split the $1.1 million award. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s laureates will be awarded their prizes in televised ceremonies in their home countries, then invited to celebrate at the traditional banquet in Stockholm alongside the 2021 laureates, assuming the pandemic is sufficiently contained.

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Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to 2 Americans and a Briton for discovering Hepatitis C

Stockholm — Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology on Monday for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus. The head of the Nobel Committee, Thomas Perlmann, announced the winners in Stockholm.
 
The World Health Organization estimates there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide and 400,000 deaths each year. The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver inflammation and cancer.

The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1,118,000), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
 
The medicine prize carried particular significance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the importance that medical research has for societies and economies around the world.
 
Despite the global interest in medical science and research this year, it was always unlikely that the winners of the 2020 prize would have been directly involved in researching the new virus, as the prize generally goes to discoveries made many years or even decades earlier.


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The award is the first of six prizes being announced through October 12. The other prizes are for outstanding work in the fields of physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.

Often the Nobel Assembly recognizes basic science that has laid the foundations for practical applications in common use today.

 Last year, British scientist Peter Ratcliffe and Americans William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza received the award for discovering details of how the body’s cells sense and react to low oxygen levels.

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Nobel prize in medicine awarded to trio for work on hepatitis C

Two Americans and a British scientist have been awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for their groundbreaking work on blood-borne hepatitis, a health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer around the world.



a man standing in front of a flat screen television: Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Harvey J Alter at the US National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Charles M Rice from Rockefeller University in New York, and Michael Houghton, a British virologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, discovered the hepatitis C virus, a major cause of liver inflammation.

The three researchers share the 10m Swedish kronor award (£870,000) that was announced on Monday by the Nobel assembly from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Thomas Perlmann, the secretary of the Nobel committee, described the hepatitis C virus as a “plague” that affected millions. At a press briefing, he told reporters he had told Alter and Rice the news by telephone. “I woke them up and they were very surprised,” he said. He did not immediately reach Houghton.



a man standing in front of a flat screen television: Nobel committee member Patrik Ernfors sits in front of a screen displaying the winners, (from left) Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday.


© Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Nobel committee member Patrik Ernfors sits in front of a screen displaying the winners, (from left) Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 70 million people are infected with hepatitis C, with 400,000 dying each year from related conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The physics prize will be announced on Tuesday and the prize for chemistry on Wednesday, both from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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