News in brief: Melbourne researchers develop world’s largest prostate cancer collection; COVID-19 vaccination now mandatory for healthcare workers in NSW; Top 10 Choosing Wisely recs for COVID-19

30 Aug 2021

Melbourne has world’s largest prostate cancer collection 

Melbourne researchers have established one of the world’s largest prostate cancer biospecimen collections with the hope of accelerating treatment testing and time to patient benefit.

The collection features 59 tumours taken from 30 patients between 2012 and 2020 and represents “the clinico-pathological and genomic spectrum of prostate cancer, from treatment-naïve primary tumours to castration-resistant metastases,” the authors wrote in Nature Communications.

The patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) are an “enduring resource of new cancer models that can be shared with other academic investigators or pharmaceutical companies” via the Melbourne Urological Research Alliance (MURAL), comprising researchers, clinicians and patient advocates at Monash University and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Despite being one of the most common malignancies, prostate cancer PDXs and organoids have been difficult to grow, with frequently-used models derived more than 40 years ago, they stated.

“Our goal was to create a PDX biospecimen resource for collaborative, investigator-led research for use in peer-reviewed, ethically approved, and funded research projects in urology and oncology,” the research paper read.

“This PDX collection is a substantial resource, expanding the capacity to test and prioritize effective treatments for prospective clinical trials in prostate cancer.”

COVID-19 vaccination now mandatory for healthcare workers in NSW

NSW has become the first state to introduce mandatory vaccination against against COVID-19 for al healthcare staff working in public and private hospitals.

Under a new Public Health Order, health staff must have a first dose of vaccine by 30 September 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 30 November 2021, or at least have their second appointment booked to continue working.

Staff will be required to provide evidence they have received their first dose to their employer by 30 September 2021 or they will be excluded from the workplace.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 80% of staff already vaccinated and the new requirement was similar to existing mandatory vaccination requirements for frontline health staff for influenza, chicken pox, measles and pertussis.

“National Cabinet agreed in June to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for aged care workers, and NSW will now ensure the same protections exist for all our health workers,” he said.

“It will also ease pressure on our health system during this challenging time. More than 1,200 healthcare workers have been in isolation each day over the past seven days and we cannot afford that right now. Vaccinations will help ensure our fantastic staff can continue to care for patients.

Top 10 Choosing Wisely recs for COVID-19

An international taskforce on Choosing Wisely for COVID-19 has released its top ten recommendation for the general public and for physicians.

The 18-member taskforce from India, Canada, the US and UK, encompassed the disciplines of public health, primary care, infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, critical care and more.

The five recommendations for the general public reinforce prevention messages, when to get tested and when to seek medical help.

The five recommendations for physicians focus on the management of COVID-19. They are:

  • Do not use prescribe unproven or ineffective therapies for COVID-19
  • Do not use drugs like remdesivir and tocilizumab except in specific circumstance where they may be of use
  • Do use steroids prudently only in patients with hypoxia, and monitor blood sugar levels to keep them in normal range
  • Do not routinely perform investigations that do not guide treatment, such as CT scans and inflammatory markers
  • Do not ignore the management of critical non-COVID-19 disease during the pandemic.

Read more in Nature Medicine

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