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29th November 2023

Beyond the Stache: Movember-inspired innovation in MedTech

As November wraps up and the holiday season starts rolling in, let’s shed some light on Movember—an annual, month-long event devoted to raising awareness about a number of men’s health issues that seem to have a soft spot for the male population. Why don’t we take a glance at the MedTech industry’s-driven efforts in the past year to tackle these issues head-on?

Beyond twinkling lights: Men’s health

Amidst shared gender-related health concerns, certain issues cast a more ominous shadow over men—ones that bear significant consequences. 

Worldometer’s 2023 life expectancy data reveals a stark truth: men, on average, live about 5 years less than women. Beyond genetic and cultural nuances, this under-discussed dilemma carries preventable tragedies. 

Originating predominantly in Australia, the Movember campaign takes the stage, directing attention to three formidable threats predominantly targeting men: Prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. With the supervillains unmasked, let’s get into their metaphorical dossiers and look at some heartening advancements made in each sphere.

Cancer: Destroying cancer cells

Last June marked a watershed moment as the FDA greenlit a revolutionary treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), the most advanced form of the disease. This cutting-edge therapy marries enzalutamide, an anti-androgen drug, with talazoparib, a PARP-inhibiting drug, resulting in a remarkable 55% reduction in the risk of death or visible tumour progression.

Four months later, The Guardian broke news about a scientific breakthrough, revealing a method to reverse prostate cancer’s resistance to therapy. By intercepting the secret messages cancer cells use to manipulate healthy white blood cells, researchers successfully reversed therapy resistance in a select group of patients, achieving tumour shrinkage or halting growth in some cases.

Around the same time, investigators unveiled two promising treatments for men grappling with recurrent prostate cancer, outperforming the current standard treatment and offering extended periods without disease progression. Dr. Stephen Freedland, associate director for Training and Education and the Warschaw, Robertson, Law Families Chair in Prostate Cancer at Cedars-Sinai, expressed optimism, stating “If these treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, our results will be practice-changing.” 

Simultaneously, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center lit the path forward for those grappling with advanced prostate cancer. Their cutting-edge therapy introduces a molecule with surgical precision, zeroing in on a specific protein on cancer cell surfaces, executing a targeted obliteration.

Likewise, precision oncology continues to emerge as a formidable weapon against cancer. This transformative approach delves deep into the genetic makeup and molecular characteristics unique to individual cancer tumours. By scrutinising these specific nuances, the precision oncology approach identifies aberrations in cells that fuel the cancer’s growth and spread. 

Armed with this knowledge, personalised treatments are meticulously crafted to annihilate the identified cancer cells

Knowing is half the battle 

Within the MedTech sector, there’s a growing emphasis on wellness, steering individuals toward a health-conscious mindset through insightful nudges in the right direction.

For instance, in October, a pioneering team of UVA Health researchers showcased the potential of wearable and mobile devices, such as smartwatches and smartphones, in tailoring treatments to the unique needs of individual patients. Philip I. Chow, PhD, and his collaborators from the University of Virginia School of Medicine highlighted the untapped power in harnessing people’s mobile sensing data to deepen our understanding of cellular and biologically based diseases. 

Recent breakthroughs in modelling cancer tumours have paved the way for unlocking this strong, yet unrealised potential.

Simultaneously, in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) testing, using blood or saliva samples for rapid results, is gaining traction. Integrated smartwatches can offer real-time information on heart rate, oxygen intake, caloric expenditure, and step count. Wearers can actively track these metrics throughout the day, fostering a sense of ownership over their health and alleviating the strain on healthcare services, including general practitioners.

Furthermore, the dynamic duo of AI and machine learning is reshaping the landscape of cancer care. Scientists are harnessing the power of these technologies, along with DNA sequencing and precision oncology, to revolutionise cancer treatment and diagnosis.

Mental Health: Mindful Tech

Back in June, Apple’s futuristic Vision Pro stole the spotlight as the talk of the town following the company’s 2023 Keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). While the $3,500 virtual reality headset grabbed headlines, Apple’s announcement extended beyond hardware to unveil a new suite of physical and mental health tools soon to be available for iPhone and Apple Watch users.

The Health app in the now-released iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, along with the introduction of the all-new Mindfulness app in watchOS 10, offers users the ability to log their momentary emotions and daily moods. Apple stated during the panel that these updates will empower users to gain valuable insights, access assessments, and resources seamlessly.

The tools prompt users to identify their emotions, encouraging them to log their feelings in the app by selecting from a spectrum ranging from ‘very pleasant’ to ‘very unpleasant.’ Users are then presented with insightful analyses to discern contributing factors to their state of mind, whether rooted in associations or lifestyle elements like sleep or exercise. 

Furthermore, users can articulate their feelings, whether grateful or worried.

Apple emphasises that providing users the means to reflect on their mental state can foster emotional awareness and resilience, aiding individuals in identifying and addressing factors influencing their overall state of mind.

Cultivating solutions 

Around the same time, investors were buzzing with anticipation as a medicinal cannabis startup based on the Isle of Man gained substantial traction, securing a noteworthy £1 million in seed funding.

Grow Lab Organics, spearheaded by founders Alex Fray, Charlie Price, and Charlie Lyons, is at the forefront of researching and cultivating various strains of medicinal cannabis. The budding startup sets its sights on capitalising on a market it deems limited in choice, despite the UK’s legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes back in November 2018.

Beyond growing its own product range, Grow Lab Organics positions itself as a collaborative player in the industry, forging partnerships with third parties. Notably, the startup has developed proprietary intellectual property to meticulously track its products, ensuring quality and consistency.

The significance of innovation in this field is underscored by studies referenced by the American Psychological Association, revealing that patients using cannabis for various medical issues, including anxiety, experienced notable improvements in cognitive performance, reduced clinical symptoms, decreased anxiety-related symptoms, and a decreased reliance on conventional medications, including opioids and benzodiazepines.

More about Movember

If the notion hasn’t quite sunk in yet, Movember is not merely about cultivating a glorious moustache; it stands as a crucial, worldwide movement with a mission to advocate for healthier, longer lives for men who, tragically, succumb prematurely to deadly yet preventable diseases.

Originating as a movement in Australia under the auspices of the world’s sole charity exclusively dedicated to men’s health, the Movember Foundation, the event has evolved into a global force since its inception in 2003. With a steadfast commitment to fostering positive change, the foundation has funded over 1,200 groundbreaking men’s health projects and amassed a staggering $500 million for research.

Beyond the month of Movember, the foundation persistently strives to create enduring improvements in men’s health. By spotlighting their distinctive health issues and imparting valuable insights on self-care, the foundation seeks to empower men to take charge of their well-being. The overarching goal remains ambitious yet profoundly impactful: to curtail premature deaths among men by a substantial 25 percent before the year 2030.

Owen Sharp, CEO of the Movember Foundation, is known to have said “By engaging with men where they are and understanding what works best, the Foundation is helping make change happen sooner, before it’s too late.”

Mark your calendars for Med-Tech World 2024!

Gear up for an exhilarating global roadshow series with Med-Tech World in 2024! The adventure kicks off with a dazzling event in Dubai on February 26th. As the year unfolds, the Med-Tech World Summit will embark on an exciting journey into uncharted territories, introducing events in Barcelona and Berlin.