Multi-Cancer Blood Test

“The SYMPLIFY study is the first large-scale evaluation of a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test in individuals who presented to their GP for diagnostic follow-up for suspected cancer.

The study enrolled 6,238 patients, aged 18 and older, in England and Wales who were referred for urgent imaging, endoscopy or other diagnostic modalities to investigate symptoms suspicious for possible gynaecological, lung, lower GI or upper GI cancer, or who had presented with non-specific symptoms. Participants provided a blood sample, from which DNA was isolated and tested. The most commonly reported symptoms leading to referral were unexpected weight loss (24.1%), change in bowel habit (22.0%), post-menopausal bleeding (16.0%), rectal bleeding (15.7%), abdominal pain (14.5%), pain (10.6%), difficulty swallowing (8.8%) and anaemia (7.1%).”

Learn more on Multi-Cancer Blood Test Shows Real Promise in NHS trial via University of Oxford News.

Resource Crisis

“The list of physicians speaking out about a resourcing crisis at hospitals in B.C.’s Lower Mainland grew Monday to include dozens of doctors working within the obstetrician and gynecology units at Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).

More than two-thirds of women’s health providers at the hospital have signed a letter saying critically inadequate resources are compromising patient safety, resulting in an untold number of close calls and the death of a newborn in 2021.

‘It’s scary. I’ve had many colleagues come to me and say, ‘Every day I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to our patients. I’m afraid of litigation. I’m afraid for our nursing colleagues,’ said Dr. Claudine Storness-Bliss, an obstetrician and gynecologist who is co-lead at the department.

‘It’s a storm.'”

Read more on Resource crisis has led to 1 newborn’s death and ‘countless’ close calls at Surrey Memorial, OBGYNs say via CBC News.

Let Your Patients Know!

“In time for GoByBike Week, the Province is offering rebates on the purchase of eligible new e-bikes for people who want to add some power to their pedal and start commuting by bike.

‘E-bikes are becoming commonplace in B.C. as a convenient alternative to motor-vehicle trips, but their price can put them out of reach for people,’ said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. ‘By making rebates available and basing the rebate amount on income, we can make e-bikes and clean transportation more affordable and accessible for everyone.’

Beginning June 1, 2023, rebates on the purchase of an approved e-bike will be available to B.C. residents older than 19 and will be based on a person’s income. Rebates will range from $350 to a maximum of $1,400. Unlike previous programs, there is no need to scrap a car to access the rebate. The Province is investing more than $6 million in rebates, which will allow as many as 9,000 people to lower the cost of their e-bike purchase. The rebate program will be administered by the Scrap-It Society.”

Read more on Rebates make new e-bike purchases more affordable via BC Gov News.

AI & Antibiotics

Acinetobacter baumannii is a nosocomial Gram-negative pathogen that often displays multidrug resistance. Discovering new antibiotics against A. baumannii has proven challenging through conventional screening approaches.

Fortunately, machine learning methods allow for the rapid exploration of chemical space, increasing the probability of discovering new antibacterial molecules. Here we screened ~7,500 molecules for those that inhibited the growth of A. baumannii in vitro.

We trained a neural network with this growth inhibition dataset and performed in silico predictions for structurally new molecules with activity against A. baumannii. Through this approach, we discovered abaucin, an antibacterial compound with narrow-spectrum activity against A. baumannii.

Further investigations revealed that abaucin perturbs lipoprotein trafficking through a mechanism involving LolE. Moreover, abaucin could control an A. baumannii infection in a mouse wound model. This work highlights the utility of machine learning in antibiotic discovery and describes a promising lead with targeted activity against a challenging Gram-negative pathogen.

Read more on Deep learning-guided discovery of an antibiotic targeting Acinetobacter baumannii via Nature Chemical Biology.

Nuclear Medicine & Cancer

“Radiation has been a staple of cancer treatment for decades, with approximately 50 per cent of cancer patients receiving radiation therapy at some point in their journey.

While effective, traditional radiation therapies rely on intense beams of energy shot from outside the body. These beams can kill cancer cells, but their use is limited to select locations, making them less suited for difficult-to-treat metastatic cancers that have spread to multiple sites.

Now, a UBC-led team of Canadian researchers has received $23.7 million in federal funding to develop a new generation of radiation therapy, known as radiopharmaceutical therapy, that delivers highly targeted doses of radiation from within.”

Learn more on “Nuclear medicine can cure cancer, and Canadian researchers are stepping up the fight” via UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

BCCFP Awards

On behalf of the UBC FP Residency Program, we would like to congratulate our residents on receiving several 2023 BCCFP awards as announced by the BC College of Family Physicians yesterday!

Rachel Cook: R2 Resident Award
Robin Craven: R2 Resident Award
Cassia Tremblay: R2 Resident Award
Arielle Roberts: Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award
Nique Seper: Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award

Please join us in celebrating our residents’ achievements!  You can read more on these (and other, such as BC Physician of the Year) awards here.

Jana Ogdenova
Senior Co-Manager, Faculty of Medicine
Department of Family Practice, Postgraduate Program

One Million Babies a Year

“The fact that every fourth baby in the world
is born too soon or born too small is a
concern for human rights, public health
the national economy, and development.
By not addressing this priority, we are
jeopardising our collective future.”

The lives of more than a million babies a year could be saved across the developing world if mothers were given access to simple, low-cost health measures such as vitamins, antimalarials and aspirin, a new analysis has found.

The study, focused on the “silent public health disaster” of babies being born “too small or too soon”, comes as the United Nations warns that progress on reducing newborn deaths and stillbirths has flatlined since 2015, and that patchy, underfunded antenatal care is partially to blame.

The authors of the analysis, published in the Lancet, estimate that 476,000 newborn deaths and 566,000 stillbirths could be avoided every year if a handful of predominantly antenatal measures were fully implemented in 81 low- and middle-income countries.

Learn more on Small Vulnerable Newborns via The Lancet.

Health Care & Housing


Background: We explored health care services in three supportive housing sites in Kelowna, British Columbia, to identify tenants’ health needs and determine whether their needs were perceived as being met, and, if their needs were perceived as not being met, which health areas were being underserved.

Methods: We invited all tenants and staff at the supportive housing sites to provide information on their health needs and related support. In-depth interviews were conducted between 1 August and 2 September 2020, including both closed-ended and open-ended questions.

Results: In total, 42 tenants (38%) and 30 staff members (75%) were interviewed. Seventy-two percent of tenants interviewed had unmet health needs; those with developmental disabilities experienced the highest percentage of unmet needs. Long-term conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease were also associated with unmet needs. Tenants were often unaware of available health care services or were unwilling or unable to access them. Both tenants and staff emphasized that stigma and discrimination within health services are a barrier to receiving care. Existing health services were also seen as ill-equipped to deal with concurrent conditions, such as mental health issues, substance use, and/or physical disability.

Conclusions: We recommend that further research be conducted on the needs of other populations in supportive housing across BC and that additional funding be provided to create a wide range of housing options to address the diverse health, social, and other needs of tenants.

Read more on Health care in supportive housing facilities via BCMJ.