Eating disorders often start at a younger age, but they don’t solely affect this population. Recognizing this, virtual eating disorder support company Equip announced Tuesday that it is now treating adults as well as adolescents. The company also announced an investment from General Catalyst, which helped expand its platform to adults. The amount was not disclosed.
“There is a very pervasive, really dense stereotype that eating disorders only affect 15- to 25-year-old thin, White girls,” said Dr. Erin Parks, chief clinical officer and co-founder of Equip, in an interview. “That is true, it does affect them. But it is not only them.”
She added that because so few people have access to treatment, many older adults have had their eating disorder for a very long time and need support.
San Diego-based Equip, which was founded in 2019, previously focused on those ages 6 to 24. The startup is now expanding to serve people of all ages. The virtual company operates in all 50 states and is in-network with several insurance companies, including Aetna, Elevance, Optum, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. It connects patients with a care team that includes a therapist, dietitian, physician and peer and family mentor.
Different ages require different kinds of treatment, according to Parks. With its younger patients, the company uses family-based treatment, in which the family is brought in to help care for the patient. For adults, the company is using a method called enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a highly individualized treatment that addresses thoughts, feelings and behaviors affecting the patient’s eating disorder.
Parks said that when it comes to adults, individual treatment is often the best way to go because they may not have a support group. Sometimes when adults have been sick for a long time, they’ve “pushed away” a lot of their family and peers, or they may be too busy with work to build that support group.
There are other virtual solutions for eating disorders as well, including Arise and Within. Arise offers coaching with a care advocate who has lived experience with an eating disorder, therapy, nutrition counseling, group support and psychiatry. Within provides access to a care team that includes dietitians, therapists, nurses and peers.
The expansion to adults was powered by a recent investment by General Catalyst. In total, Equip has raised more than $75 million. With the funding, the company brought on a new president, Nikia Bergan. It also updated its technology and trained its providers in treating adults. In addition, it’s planning to use the funding to gain more Medicaid contracts, Parks said.
Equip considers itself an alternative to brick-and-mortar eating disorder treatments, which often require patients to stay at the treatment facility for a certain period. Parks said the benefit of a virtual program is that patients can be treated as they live their normal lives.
“[If you take] someone out of their life and give them a bunch of skills, then all of the sudden they plop back into their life and have all these triggers that they aren’t equipped to deal with,” Parks argued. “One of the great things about getting treatment while still being able to go to school, still being able to go to your job, still being able to parent your kids, is that you get to work with your providers on your real-life triggers as they come up.”
Parks is likely looking to replicate the positive results it claims to have achieved in the adolescent population in this new, adult population. In its annual outcomes report published earlier this year, the company cited that 81% of its adolescent patients reached or maintained their target weight within one year.
Photo credit: Bohdan Skrypnyk, Getty Images
The commercial market has been slower to adopt value-based care than the public market, but there are ways to move the process along successfully, executives said Monday.
During a panel at the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit 2023 held in Chicago, healthcare leaders discussed the challenges and opportunities in advancing value-based care in commercial health plans. The panelists were Mark Hansberry, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of HealthPartners; Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of Business Group on Health; and Tiffany Albert, senior vice president of health plan business at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Bloomington, Minnesota-based HealthPartners, which is an integrated healthcare organization serving more than 1.8 million members, has had some success with value-based care in the commercial space, Hansberry claimed. He shared five rules for scaling value-based care in the commercial market:
1. Payers and providers in a value-based arrangement need to have a shared understanding of what value is for patients, Hansberry said.
“You have to have a universal definition of what value means so that when clinicians look at you as a payer … they need to acknowledge that what you’re saying a clinical outcome is is actually a good clinical outcome, a good measure of performance,” he stated.
2. It’s important to ensure that the providers in the value-based arrangement are able to and willing to take the risk associated with value-based care.
“Most care systems weren’t built to actually manage risk,” Hansberry said. “That wasn’t their job. Their job was to take care of sick people. Now we’re asking them to do something else. How do you actually support those individuals on that journey?”
3. Payers need to support providers engaging in value-based care with “real-time, actionable data and consultation,” Hansberry said.
“It’s not just a data dump or a big Excel file that you pass over and you say good luck with it,” he stated. “Because, by the way, if they perform well in those value-based contracts, you do too as a payer. You want them to perform well. So you want to provide them with good, insightful, actionable data that’s risk-adjusted, that is connected to their practice — not just an amorphous health system — but to their practice so they can take action on those insights. But then you also want to supplement that with that consultation along the way.”
4. The incentives in the value-based contract must be aligned to “enable that [provider] to reap the benefits of the value that they’re creating for those members,” according to Hansberry.
5. Ultimately, a value-based contract comes down to trust between all the parties. But Hansberry noted that this is easier for HealthPartners as an integrated health system.
“We’re fortunate because we’re both a health plan and a care system,” he said.
He added that success in value-based care doesn’t happen overnight, which is partially why it’s difficult to scale.
“It takes time to build trust,” Hansberry stated.
Photo: atibodyphoto, Getty Images
It’s no secret that hospitals and health systems have been facing severe financial woes in the past couple years. These money problems have forced many providers to make what they likely felt were tough but necessary choices — such as shuttering underperforming service lines, laying off staff and using debt collection agencies to obtain payment from patients.
Some of these tactics have even invited negative scrutiny
. However, a new report argued that commercial payers should shoulder some of the blame when it comes to how hospitals are managing their dire financial circumstances.
Compared to government payers, commercial payers take significantly longer to pay hospitals and deny claims at a higher frequency — often without a justifiable reason to do so — according to the report published by consulting firm Crowe. These delays mean that hospitals are waiting longer than they need to receive commercial payments — during a time when they need cash flow to be expedited, not needlessly delayed, the report said.
Crowe analyzed data from the more than 1,800 hospitals that use its revenue cycle analytics platform and found that about 45% of a typical hospital’s patient population is covered by a commercial health insurance carrier.
Commercially insured patients have conventionally been thought of as hospitals’ preferred population. This is because hospitals can negotiate prices with commercial payers, and these payers usually pay higher rates than government payers like Medicare and Medicaid. For the average net revenue per inpatient case, commercial plans pay $18,156.50 compared to $14,887.10 from Medicare. For outpatients, commercial plans pay $1,606.86 for the average patient case, compared to $707.30 paid by Medicare.
Reimbursement rates may be higher among commercial payers, but getting them to pay in a timely manner is an entirely different story, per the report. During the first quarter of this year, commercial payers initially denied 15.1% of inpatient and outpatient claims compared to 3.9% for Medicare over the same period, according to the report.
Crowe analyzed the claim denial category of prior authorization and precertification denials. These occur when a payer denies a claim based on their decision that a provider did not get prior approval for care before it was delivered or that the care rendered wasn’t necessary based on the patient’s medical diagnosis.
Last year, the prior authorization/precertification denial rate for inpatient claims among commercial payers was 2.8%, up from 2.4% in 2021. This rate increased to 3% during the first three months of 2023, but the denial rate for traditional Medicare was just 0.2% during the same period.
Another claim denial category that the report examined is the request for information (RFI). RFI denials happen when a payer decides not to process a claim because it is missing some type of required documentation, such as a signature or copy of the medical record. In this category, commercial payers’ denial rate is 12 times higher than Medicare, the report found.
Most of the claims that commercial payers deny eventually get paid. However, the administrative effort required for hospitals to turn an initially-denied claim into a payment costs a good deal of time and money — two things in short supply at hospitals
To obtain payment from a denied claim, a provider must investigate the claim, determine what they have to do to rectify the problem and resubmit the claim — a process that can take weeks — said Colleen Hall, the managing principal for Crowe’s healthcare consulting group, in a recent interview. This process creates “an aging accounts receivable situation” for the provider and delays them from receiving much-needed cash.
“There certainly are several for-profit insurers out there. I won’t name names, but I think that those for-profit entities are in direct conflict with the nonprofit hospitals. I don’t know what goes on in the for-profit payer side of things, but could there be actions that they’re deploying to delay payments? Potentially. There have certainly been denials that our clients, as providers, have to manage only to find were denied for no reason,” Hall declared.
In the first quarter of this year, about a third of the claims that providers submitted to commercial payers took more than three months to get paid, the report found.
It’s difficult for hospitals to gain steady financial footing when the payers that have the best reimbursement rates are holding onto a third of their claims payments for more than 90 days, Hall pointed out.
Photo: santima.studio, Getty Images
Oshi Health — a virtual care provider for patients with digestive disorders — announced its first contract with a commercial insurer on Thursday. The New York-based company has entered into a value-based contract that provides Aetna members with in-network access to its specialized treatment.
Founded in 2019, Oshi built a virtual-first care platform designed to help patients achieve lasting control over chronic digestive conditions. The company hires gastroenterologists, nurse practitioners, dieticians and GI-specialized behavioral healthcare providers to quickly reach a diagnosis and guide individualized treatment. Patients are also assigned a care coordinator, who can help them find in-network providers if they need services like a colonoscopy or endoscopy.
The startup prides itself on providing whole-person care, which includes often-neglected dietary and psychosocial interventions, Oshi CEO Sam Holliday said in a recent interview.
“Over the past decade, there’s been a recognition that many gastrointestinal disorders are actually triggered by the signaling between your gut and your brain. A whole class of GI conditions has actually been renamed as disorders of the gut-brain interaction, or DGBIs,” he explained. “Things like gut-directed cognitive behavioral therapy can really reframe patients’ thought patterns and dampen the brain signaling that causes their symptoms, making symptoms feel less severe.”
Dietary interventions and behavioral therapy are proven methods to alleviate GI patients’ symptoms, and they’re often more effective than medication, Holliday pointed out. But these services are rarely available to GI patients because they haven’t been reimbursed historically, he added.
That’s why these interventions are a core part of the care patients receive under Oshi’s new contract with Aetna.
“One of the challenges in GI is that there aren’t very good quality measures. Really, the main things we focus on as a country is getting people screened for colorectal cancer, But we don’t really have measures for what matters to patients, who are the people suffering. What we think is the best measure to use is symptom control,” Holliday explained.
The root cause of GI symptoms usually stems from dietary or behavioral health reasons, and traditional, medication-centric GI care does not address those underlying causes, he declared. Patients end up continually seeking care — and driving costs up — because their symptoms are still bothering them. Through Oshi’s value-based contract with Aetna, “the value aspect being measured is Oshi’s ability to reduce that utilization downstream,” Holliday said.
Oshi will measure its care teams’ ability to sustainably control patients’ symptoms through a mix of medication, dietary adjustments and gut-brain psychology interventions. The company will track metrics such as reductions in emergency department visits and patients’ reported symptoms.
“We get paid a certain amount as we’re providing the care. Then, if we’ve gotten to a good level of patient satisfaction, symptom control and reduced utilization at the end of the measurement period, we have a bonus opportunity. And if we don’t achieve certain levels, there is a downside,” Holliday explained.
Aetna shares in the upside if Oshi hits its goals, but the payer is protected against potential downside. If Oshi doesn’t achieve as good outcomes as the partners had hoped, Aetna won’t have to pay the startup the full amount for care, Holliday declared.
The partnership is in its first phase, meaning Aetna members can access Oshi’s services in the following six states: Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Photo: TLFurrer, Getty Images
Paragonix Technologies — a company that launched in 2010 as a response to the lack of innovation in the donor organ preservation and transport process — closed a Series B funding round on Tuesday. The $24 million round was led by Signet Healthcare Partners.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company provides transplant centers and organ procurement organizations (OPOs) with medical devices designed for the preservation and transportation of donor organs.
The traditional method of preservation requires the organ to be transported in a cooler of crushed ice. Due to unstable temperatures, many facilities that receive organs preserved in this manner report that they arrive frozen and damaged, said Paragonix CEO Lisa Anderson.
“Paragonix determined there was an opportunity for a more scientifically reproducible, measurable and reliable solution to transporting an organ from a donor to recipient,” she said. “We set out to create a new standard for organ preservation and transport that would provide the care and quality of handling commensurate with transporting such a valuable gift and improve patient outcomes worldwide.”
Paragonix’s devices are made from a series of interconnected systems that work together to provide a cool and sterile environment within a consistent range of 4-8° Celsius. The company sells three devices, each designed for a different organ (heart, lung and liver). All have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
Each device works slightly differently based on specific user needs related to the organ type, Anderson said. For example, the heart preservation device has pouches filled with proprietary cooling solutions that keep the organ at optimal temperatures during transport. The heart is contained within a nested canister and is then housed in a wheeled shipper container that works to protect and insulate the inner contents.
All of Paragonix’s devices display the organ’s temperature while it is being transported. They also use bluetooth monitoring and tracking technology to allow surgeons to track the organ’s exact location throughout its journey, even in flight, Anderson pointed out.
Paragonix markets and sells its devices to transplant centers and OPOs across the U.S. and Europe. Last year, over one in five thoracic donor organs transplanted in the U.S. were preserved using a Paragonix device, Anderson declared. She also said that 19 out of the 30 largest U.S. heart transplant programs rely on Paragonix devices to safely preserve, track and transport organs to their intended recipients.
“Most other organ preservation devices are extremely complicated, labor intensive and require special personal or extensive training, while Paragonix’s devices are lightweight, user friendly, and a user can be trained in less than an hour,” she declared.
Anderson explained that her company’s main competition is the legacy way of transporting organs, as many organizations still receive damaged organs that were transported using the over-ice method. The medical industry needs to move away from this method of organ preservation because devices like the ones that Paragonix sells are clinically proven to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of post-surgical complications, she declared.
Picture: Getty Images, ThomasVogel
All zodiac signs have their own characteristics and traits which define someone’s personality. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you started your day by already knowing about what’s going to come your way? Read on to find out whether the odds will be in your favour today.
ARIES (Mar 21-Apr 20)
Aries, keep your health in check. You may have to give time and efforts to your physical and mental stability. You could keep an emergency fund from the regular expenses for the times ahead. It may be a day full of exciting news and new beginnings at work. Family may also be the best support for your endeavours today. Travel may help you soothe the soul but be cautious enough. Time to investment on property may be right. Make your decisions confidently as it may bear you benefits.
Love Focus: Make sure to devote a lot of time and attention to your partner.
Lucky Number: 17
Lucky Colour: Green
TAURUS (Apr 21-May20)
Taurus, your health may be giving you some tough time making it difficult to maintain a mental and physical equilibrium. Workday blues may give you unnecessary thoughts leading to an unhealthy mindset. Your loved ones may be giving you positive vibes, you may want to reciprocate it for the bonds to stay intact. You may get away to a faraway place with your loved ones for a while and it may just make everything so much better. You may make deals to buy and sell property. Take each step with caution.
Love Focus: Love seems to be in the air.
Lucky Number: 1
Lucky Colour: Pink
GEMINI (May 21-Jun 21)
Gemini, your health seems to be commendable. Focussing on your daily calorie intake and exercise may clearly help you through the day. Workday could be impeccable with the best comments and praises by your seniors. Going on a small work trip might help you in bonding back with your special one after an intense argument with your folks. Your property deals to sell the ancestral property may be something to deliberate on. Try to strive for success in every other aspect of your lifestyle.
Love Focus: Your lovely gestures may melt your partner’s heart away.
Lucky Number: 9
Lucky Colour: Peach
CANCER (Jun 22-Jul 22)
Travelling with family and friends is likely to ring in a good time. You might be able to make out the differences between your priorities and lavishes. Your focus could turn towards health now. Some of you may plan to develop a property in collaboration with a reputed builder. Make sure your resources are divided properly, so that it is not exhausted. Your employer may not seem absolutely gracious and give you a tough time at work. Extraneous things may be avoided for they may not yield any benefits.
Love Focus: Dwindling thoughts over love may prevail, do not stop trying.
Lucky Number: 18
Lucky Colour: Red
LEO (Jul 23-Aug 23)
Leo, it may be the right time for a family vacation. Your health and wealth may also equally contribute so that you can devote virtuous time to them. Even though your hard work at the projects allotted to may not be up to the mark, continue to be smart and do the needful all the time. You may continue to build up your assets confidently and that might surely bear benefits. Focus on academics seem to be improving.
Love Focus: Unexpectedly, love may come across you hold on to it for sure.
Lucky Number: 22
Lucky Colour: Navy Blue
VIRGO (Aug 24-Sep 23)
Virgo, your health and wealth may keep your spirits high for the day. Professional and family life may be drawn equal. Workday may give you thrills but you may take that in a positive stride. Stay lively and fit today, it will be persistent, just be cautious to not intake much amount of junk. Property investment may not bring any significant gains. The traveller within you may be guided properly to be careful enough while travelling. Students may be surrounded with much accessible options to march towards your goals.
Love Focus: Dedicate your time and efforts efficiently to avoid any confusion in your relationship.
Lucky Number: 11
Lucky Colour: White
LIBRA (Sep 24-Oct 23)
An excellent time with the family is foreseen. Being at their service is likely to bring you satisfaction. Health might be spectacularly insightful and full of energy. Some important guidance about finance by an elder can make the profits better. Property financing may be done after some contemplation. Those planning to sell a household item can get some good offers. Your travel plans may need to be reconsidered, keep your emergency kit nearby. You may have fun at the competition after very likely win.
Love Focus: Scope for better bonding in a relationship may be awaited by some.
Lucky Number: 4
Lucky Colour: Brown
SCORPIO (Oct 24-Nov 22)
Scorpio, happy news in family is anticipated. You may be surrounded by the happiness of your family and feel delighted. Travelling may not be the best idea at this time, being around your family, indoors, could also be precious and preserved. Your income and parallel expenses may be adjusted well. Property investment may not bring any harm, you could go further with your ongoing deals. Take some time out for your health today by doing yoga or regular stretches. Double check your applications for university before you send it.
Love Focus: Deep conversations with your partner may be pulling off well.
Lucky Number: 17
Lucky Colour: Orange
SAGITTARIUS (Nov 23-Dec 21)
Sagittarius, you may have a bright day at work. Those working in IT or software sector may need to keep up with their rhythms as the deadlines may be approaching. Savings may see a dent after defining the day-to-day expenditure. Be the alternative energy in your family to make them smile wider. Take time out of your routine for your family rather than taking a long trip. Low trends on property on the whole may be giving you blues. Proof read everything before its due for submission.
Love Focus: Try to be a listener and empathetic towards your love.
Lucky Number: 8
Lucky Colour: Saffron
CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 21)
Capricorn, health needs care today and you must do something about it. If you are experiencing any signals already – get it diagnosed before it becomes alarming. Having a good, productive day at work may be foreseen with progress in your punctuality and quality of work. Family’s compassion towards you may make you feel blessed, it’s time you must do something for them. A good vacation is seen for some. Your hard work might have paid off in the course you were pursuing. Property might not turn out to be as favourable as you expected it to be.
Love Focus: It’s your time to make efforts to uphold your love.
Lucky Number: 6
Lucky Colour: Green
AQUARIUS (Jan 22-Feb 19)
Aquarius, you may not want to expect the unthinkable. Let things take its own time and avoid taking downward trends too seriously. You could try to do an activity that could soothe your mind and body at the same time. Do not enter into a clouded zone before you get to work, keep everything simple. Complexity might give you a hard time to comprehend the task to oneself. Thinking twice before investing in property could be a wise thought. Taking a break away from the chaos in the city might shed some clarity. You may be on the victorious side of the team.
Love Focus: Trust and confidence in the relationship could bring your love closer to you.
Lucky Number: 2
Lucky Colour: Silver
PISCES (Feb 20-Mar 20)
Pisces, sleep and a balanced diet was much needed to you at this time. Your time and sweat you’ve spent on your projects and tasks were for the best. Expect some monetary benefits on it, that might just be on time for your financial support. Adjust your expenses into that and drive forward. You may want to take the perfect time for dinner out in a faraway scenic place. Your family may be your driving force today, they’re right there to push you ahead. Close your eyes and put your resources into that property deal.
Love Focus: Be available to hear out your love.
Lucky Number: 7
Lucky Colour: Golden
TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There is large nationwide variation in commercial rates for breast reconstruction, according to a study published online Dec. 14 in JAMA Surgery.
Danielle H. Rochlin, M.D., from Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues evaluated the extent of commercial price variation for breast reconstruction using data from Turquoise Health, a platform that aggregates price disclosures from hospital websites. The analysis included 69,834 unique commercial rates extracted from 978 facilities across 335 metropolitan areas.
The researchers found that commercial rates increased as health care markets became less competitive (coefficient, $4,037.52 for Herfindahl-Hirschman Index [HHI] 1,501 to 2,500; coefficient, $3,290.21 for HHI >2,500; both compared with HHI ≤1,500). There were economically insignificant associations observed between commercial rates and Medicare and Medicaid rates (Medicare coefficient, −$0.05; Medicaid coefficient, $0.14). Lower commercial rates were seen at safety-net and nonprofit hospitals. Compared with smaller hospitals, extra-large hospitals (400+ beds) reported higher commercial rates.
“Commercial insurance rates did not increase in relation to lower public payer rates, suggesting that facilities do not offset lower Medicaid and Medicare rates with higher negotiated commercial rates. Instead, it appears facilities maximize commercial rates regardless of public payer rates,” the authors write. “Future studies should continue to investigate drivers of commercial prices in surgery, with the ultimate objective of facilitating cost-based competition and reducing the cost of health care.”
Cancer care doesn’t make anyone’s list of “things I want to do.”
But for patients at the OSF Bobette Steely Hegeler Cancer Care Center in Danville, visits will soon be more comfortable and streamlined thanks to $750,000 worth of interior renovations.
Phase two of the cancer center expansion project started in December and will continue for around five months. Patient care will continue while work is underway.
“Everybody’s excited,” said Judi Miles, patient care manager of medical oncology and radiation oncology at the center.
“We’ve been planning this for quite some time. It brings some hope to everything here. It shows we’re here to stay, and we’re going to take care of our patients,” Miles added.
Phase two expansion upgrades include:
Increasing the number of exam rooms from two to five. One room will be larger to accommodate bariatric patients and people who have trouble getting around. Each room will have new furniture and equipment, sliding doors and touch screen wall monitors.
“The monitors will be an interactive tool that we can use to show patients 3D anatomy. We can resource information from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute,” said Miles. “It’s as simple as putting in their email, then we can send information to them. A lot of companies don’t print booklets anymore.”
“The digital board makes the process more comprehensive. It makes it more easily understandable to patients,” said JoMel Labayog, MD, oncologist and medical director at the cancer center. “You can just tell patients. But it’s different when you see where your cancer is, how it’s responding to treatment and what the plan is. Visual stimulation is always the best.”
The patient discharge room will also be renovated and moved from the back of the building to the front to allow for better flow and more privacy.
Cancer center Mission Partners (employees) will have new and improved workstations.
Three private bays for infusion therapy will be walled off by doors instead of curtains for increased privacy.
“Some people like to be around others and share stories during treatment,” said Labayog. “But we have the private bays for people who are more confined and want their loved ones to be with them.”
The cancer center is also aggressively recruiting another physician to get the most out of these phase two improvements, which are funded by community donations.
Phase one of the cancer center expansion saw installation of a state-of-the-art linear accelerator for radiation treatment in March 2022. Phase three is planned for three to four years down the road. OSF HealthCare leaders hope to expand the cancer center’s physical footprint to offer new services and amenities, such as visiting oncologists, an education room, pastoral care and physical therapy. People interested in contributing to the phase three improvements should contact the OSF HealthCare Foundation.
“When people come here, they know we’re comprehensive. We’re compassionate. We’re professional. We have the facilities that can accommodate care for most diseases,” said Labayog. “So, not only do the patients feel comfortable, but the family feels confident that their loved ones are taken care of.”
THE COVID pandemic has revealed just how delicate our public health is in terms of overcoming infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Over the last decade small proteins known as Anti-microbial peptides (AMPs) have delivered promising results in helping anti-infectives overcome increasing antibiotic resistance problems but have proven difficult to commercially produce.
Now, a radical research project involving experts from the University of Huddersfield aims to develop a new method for the commercial production of AMPs which if successful will open up a whole new range of opportunities for the use of bio-active peptides.
The RADOV project
Titled RADOV or ‘RADiation harvesting of bioactive peptides from egg prOteins and their integration in adVanced functional products’, the four-year project features an international consortium of partners and has been awarded € 2 million from the European Union’s Euratom Research and Training Programme (EURATOM) Horizon Europe to carry out the necessary research.
Heading the team from the University is Professor Robert Edgecock from the University’s School of Computing and Engineering. He revealed why AMPs have aroused great interest as potential next-generation antibiotics and how because long-term chemotherapy in cancer patients can lead to resistance to conventional cancer treatments and a susceptibility to pathogenic infection, due to AMPs’ antibacterial and anticancer properties, they could also become a new treatment option for cancer patients.
What are anti-microbial peptides?
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small proteins present in different lifeforms in nature, or that result from enzymatic digestion of proteins, which provides these lifeforms with a natural defense against microbial infections.”
Professor Robert Edgecock, University of Huddersfield
“In addition to the more specific antibacterial and anti-viral actions, they have shown immune-modulatory activities, antifungal actions, anti-inflammatory properties and even possess the ability to disintegrate cancerous cell membranes,” he added.
What makes AMPs viable and important alternative antimicrobial agents, explained Professor Edgecock, is the fact that the development of resistance by the microbes against the AMPs is relatively slow or delayed compared to that against conventional antibiotics.
“However, despite their promise,” he said, “very few of the AMPs have been commercialized so far, mainly due to technical difficulties in their manufacture.”
To begin with, the researchers will use beams of electrons to synthesize the AMPs from egg proteins, and the results acquired regarding the peptide structure, irradiation conditions, and related bioactivity properties will become a vital output of the project.
The researchers will then use electron beam irradiation to further integrate the AMPs into two new products, peptide-laden antimicrobial/antioxidant hydrogel wound dressings and peptide-grafted active plastic foils for food packaging. This will effectively demonstrate the potential of the technique and the benefit of the antimicrobial properties of egg-derived bioactive peptides manufactured by radiation-induced fragmentation.
Co-ordinating the project is Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology, who will be assisted by the University of Huddersfield, Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Italy’s University of Palermo, the Italian National Research Council and Portugal’s Association of Instituto Superior Técnico for Research and Development.
Also playing a crucial role in the successful implementation of the project will be three industrial partners: Kikgel Sp. z o.o. and Dekofilm Polska Sp. z o.o. from Poland and Italy’s E.P.S. S.p.A. Egg Powder Specialists.