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Weight Loss: Harnessing the Power of Genetic Testing

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February 23, 2021

By: Dr. Natasha Vani, B.Sc, M.Sc, ND, Director of Exercise and Nutrition at Newtopia.

Weight Loss: Most people know that excess weight is a major risk factor for many serious health conditions — including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer — but obesity rates have continued to rise for decades.

Today, more than 40% of U.S. adults are obese, and another 30% are overweight.[1] Also, having a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30 is also an indicator of obesity. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing additional health problems.

Why is it so hard to lose weight and keep it off? Part of the answer involves genetics. While there is no one gene that predicts obesity, there are hundreds linked to our choices about nutrition and exercise, which contribute to weight gain. Research suggests that for some individuals, genes account for just 25% of the predisposition to be overweight, while for others the genetic influence is as high as 70% to 80%.[2]

This may explain why some people can eat whatever they want and stay slim while others measure every morsel and still struggle to lose weight. It may also explain why obesity tends to run in families. Although the basic principle of calories in / calories out still applies, genetics can influence how efficiently the body burns those calories and what types of foods an individual craves.

Genetic testing for greater personalization

New technologies that allow genetics to be taken into account in designing weight-loss or health and well-being programs enable more customized interventions and maximum impact.

Newtopia, a tech-enabled habit change provider, incorporates testing for several key gene variants into its hyper-personalized employee disease prevention experiences. Based on the test results, trained coaches create customized tactics that help individuals reduce the impact or harness the benefits of their unique genes. Through ongoing virtual meetings, these coaches support the participants, track their progress and make adjustments as necessary throughout the program. These regular meetings also help hold the participants accountable, which is critical to long-term success.

At the beginning of the program, participants receive an easy-to-use saliva test kit — they simply swab the inside of each cheek and return the swabs in a postage-paid envelope. When the lab results are ready, their personal coach schedules two “genetic reveal” sessions to explain the results and discuss the lifestyle implications.

Participation in the genetic testing component of the program is voluntary, but Newtopia addresses potential privacy concerns by ensuring that all genetic information is securely stored, in compliance with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and only the participant and their accountability coach see the information — never the employer or insurance provider.

Coaches also ease fear by emphasizing that the results are not in any way prescriptive — having certain gene variants does not mean a person will inevitably gain weight, for example. Genetic knowledge simply takes some of the guesswork out of designing a targeted program. Coaches can use genetics to understand a personal bar code of action, helping the coach determine what approaches will be most effective. Participants will still see results without the genetic testing, but access to this information makes it likely that improvements will come more easily and more quickly.

The key genes

While hundreds of genes can influence weight — both directly and by affecting the decisions people make about physical activity and nutrition — three are particularly relevant to food choices: MC4R, FTO, and DRD2.

  • MC4R (aka “the appetite gene”) regulates how quickly a person feels satiated after eating. A variant of this gene is linked to obesity because a person who does not feel full will continue to eat — often to the point of being uncomfortable afterward when the brain catches up to the stomach.

To offset the impact of this variant, the coach would work with the individual to identify portion-control strategies and ways to eat more slowly and mindfully. They might also recommend drinking more water to increase the feeling of satiation.

  • An FTO (aka “the fat gene”) variant is associated with an increased risk of obesity[3] because it is linked to a difficulty in breaking down and using carbohydrates, which tend to be stored as fat instead.

If an individual has the FTO variant, the coach might recommend eating less sugar and simple carbohydrates, and more healthy fats and proteins. Eating smaller meals throughout the day can also help. In terms of physical activity, the coach might suggest exercising at a higher intensity.

  • DRD2 (aka “the cravings gene”) encodes the D2 dopamine receptor, which plays a role in regulating motivation and reward.[4] Studies have identified the presence of a DRD2 variant in individuals who preferred carbohydrates,[5] which suggests that eating carbs leads to an increase in dopamine, bringing a greater feeling of gratification. Another study found that the interaction of DRD2 with genes that influence addiction, such as the leptin receptor gene (LEPR) and the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), markedly influences the development of clinically severe obesity.[6] An individual with a DRD2 variant may be susceptible to eating to stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers (say, when stressed), rather than eating only when hungry.

To offset the impact of this gene, the coach might help the individual identify other mechanisms to manage stress, such as meditation or walking, and help them choose foods with less salt and sugar to reduce cravings for highly processed foods over time.

Putting it all together

Obesity is extremely complex, and weight gain is influenced by a wide range of factors. Losing weight is hard, for many reasons. But moving beyond fad diets and one-size-fits-all programs to embrace a personalized approach — one that takes an individual’s unique genetic influencers into account — can support the development of lifestyle habits that lead to more successful weight loss and long-term health improvements.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-adult-17-18/obesity-adult.htm

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-people-become-overweight

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17434869/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8260195/

[5] https://www.foodaddictionsummit.org/docs/2Noble.pdf

[6] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.20202

Source: https://infomeddnews.com/weight-loss-genetic-testing/

Medical Devices

New York Bone & Joint Specialists: New Invention Stops or Delays the Progression of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

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Source: https://infomeddnews.com/new-york-bone-joint-specialists/

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Medical Devices

Ping An AskBob Doctor’s Smart Imaging Model for Diagnosis of Pelvic and Hip Injuries is a Breakthrough for Artificial Intelligence

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April 1, 2021

Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd. “Ping An” announced that Ping An AskBob Doctor’s smart imaging model for diagnosing pelvic and hip injuries is the first of its kind to accurately detect all kinds of trauma-related findings simultaneously in X-ray images.

In a research paper published in the international journal Nature Communications, the model is shown to overcome the limitation of other artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which can only detect individual fractures.

The model, a deep learning algorithm, can help physicians make faster, more accurate diagnoses and save lives. Hip fractures mainly occur in elderly people and patients with major trauma. Although they are not directly fatal, complications can lead to a high mortality rate. Reducing the rate of missed diagnoses, improving the comprehensiveness of the detection, and providing accurate diagnoses is critical.

Ping An Health Technology Research Institute, Ping An Smart City, Ping An Good Doctor and the Department of Trauma and Emergency Surgery of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan jointly released the research paper “A scalable physician-level deep learning algorithm detects universal trauma on pelvic radiographs”. The research team gathered the pelvic X-ray data of 1,888 emergency room patients to evaluate the model’s performance in obtain the fracture results and locations. It achieved an overall accuracy of 92.4%. Compared with general clinical diagnoses, the model substantially improves detection accuracy, speeds up the treatment progress, improves the treatment effectiveness on high-risk patients, and reduces the economic cost to patients through earlier detection and treatment.

This is the first AI algorithm to detect all fracture types captured on the X-ray images, including, but not limited to, hip fractures, pelvic fractures, femoral fractures, hip dislocation and artificial joint peripheral fractures.

As of March, 2021, the AskBob Doctor AI pelvic trauma detection technology has been used in the real-life clinical environment in Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan for nearly eight months. The results have shown that the misdiagnosis rate has significantly reduced. Since adopting the AI system, the misdiagnosis rate has dropped from 9.7% to 0.7% among emergency physicians, 11.3% to 1.58% among resident physicians and 6% to 0.5% among specialist physicians. The model has performed comparably to radiologists and certain orthopedic specialists in terms of quantitative indicators such as sensitivity and specificity.

The smart imaging model for the diagnosis of pelvis and hip injuries is Ping An’s latest achievement in smart imaging technology. Ping An’s smart imaging technology covers nine major systems of human body — the motor, digestive, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, endocrine, immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems. It supports various equipment including computed tomography (CT,) X-ray, ultrasound and fundus optical coherence tomography (OCT).

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Source: https://infomeddnews.com/ping-an-askbob-doctors-smart-imaging-model/

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Medical Devices

Sander de Vos Is Appointed Chief Business Officer of IME Medical

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April 1, 2021

Sander de Vos will be responsible for the worldwide roll-out of the company’s medical electrospinning strategy, based on IME’s ground-breaking MediSpin™XL industrial production platform.

Judith Heikoop, CEO of IME Medical Electrospinning said, “We at IME are thrilled to welcome Sander to our fast-growing team of professionals. Sander clearly brings a wealth of well-needed life science experience into the company, that will certainly be of key-value to the further development of our electrospun medical device franchises. Our aim is to become the first partner of choice worldwide for the development of a novel, groundbreaking class of medical devices and pharma products based on nanofibers. Our ever-growing portfolio of customers and partners includes the Medtech and Pharma industry, universities, hospitals, and medical institutes.”

Sander de Vos (46) is an accomplished executive with more than 15 years of leadership experience across healthcare and biotech commercial and business development positions. Prior to joining IME, Sander worked at Mimetas, an innovative Dutch start-up company providing novel human cell biology models for improved therapies, where he played a key role in expanding the collaborations with its pharma and biotech partners.

In previous roles, Sander led the commercial team of Isogen Life Science and acquired experience as an entrepreneur growing a private business. His commercial career started at Westburg Life Sciences and for more than 10 years he shaped and directed the sales strategy and commercial development of part of their life science business.

Sander has a background in molecular biology, co-developed a molecular diagnostic test for simultaneous detection of tick-borne pathogens, and contributed to the development of a vaccine against ticks at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Utrecht University.

Sander de Vos, Chief Business Officer of IME Medical Electrospinning, said: “With the potential of becoming the global leader in large-scale production of best-in-class nanofiber based medical devices and drug delivery solutions, I’m proud, gratified and delighted to become a member of the IME management team. The company’s technology enables faster and better recovery of tissues and body structures, and therefore IME is uniquely positioned to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.”

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Source: https://infomeddnews.com/sander-de-vos-ime-medical/

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Medical Devices

Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC: New American College of Cardiology President

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April 1, 2021

Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC, today begins her term as president of the American College of Cardiology.

During her one-year presidency, she will lead the over 54,000-member global organization in its mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health.

“From the moment I became a Fellow of the ACC, I’ve been excited about being a part of this community and contributing to advancing the field of cardiology and the patients we serve,” Itchhaporia said. “I’m looking forward to connecting the cardiovascular community over the next year, as we emerge from a mostly virtual world, to make strides in our strategic priorities and improve the lives of heart disease patients. We must be prepared as a profession to embrace and move to center stage our solutions and vision of digital transformation and health equity.”

Itchhaporia is an interventional cardiologist who is the Eric and Sheila Samson Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Health, director of disease management for Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute in Newport Beach, California, and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine. She has been a leader in the College for over 20 years, previously holding positions both nationally and in the ACC California Chapter.

Most recently, Itchhaporia held the position of ACC vice president. She previously served as a member of the ACC’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, secretary of the ACC as chair of the Board of Governors, and president of the ACC California Chapter. She has also served on multiple ACC committees and helped to advance the College’s education, science and innovation efforts, including as a member of the ACC Lifelong Learning Oversight Committee, Science and Quality Committee, Governance Committee, Practice Administrator Workgroup and as an advisor for the ACC’s Innovation Program.

Itchhaporia’s professional interests include quality measurement and improvement in cardiovascular disease, focusing on emerging risk factors and medical and lifestyle interventions to prevent coronary heart disease. She is also extensively involved in advancing technology and innovations that will advance the digital transformation of cardiovascular medicine to ultimately improve the lives of patients and clinicians, while helping to achieve health equity.

Itchhaporia’s professional passions have led to leadership roles in advancing the ACC’s strategic priorities, including serving as chair of the ACC Board of Trustees Health Equity Task Force, which addresses issues of health disparities, the social determinants of health and improving access to care for underserved patients. Further work toward health equity will be at the forefront of her presidential year.

“Health equity has been a priority for the College for a long time and for the first time we are feeling like this could be actualized,” Itchhaporia said. “In cardiology we need to have the mindset to prioritize health equity issues, and I’m excited that this is in our reach.”

She received her medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine and completed her residency in internal medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. She then joined the general medicine faculty at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), ultimately pursuing a cardiology fellowship at Georgetown University and an interventional cardiology fellowship at Stanford University.

Other ACC officers for 2021-2022 are Vice President Edward T. A. Fry, MD, FACC; Board of Governors Chair Joseph Marine, MD, FACC; and Treasurer Christopher M. Kramer, MD, FACC.

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Source: https://infomeddnews.com/dipti-itchhaporia-president-acc/

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