The U.K.’s National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending Celgene Corp.’s Revlimid (lenalidomide), used in combination with Roche Holding AG’s Mabthera (rituximab), as a new treatment option for patients with previously treated grade 1 to 3A follicular lymphoma. In clinical trials, the chemo-free regimen increased the length of time before disease progression by about 39.4 months, compared with about 13.8 months with a Mabthera/chemo regimen that’s the current standard of care. “The use of lenalidomide with rituximab is more toxic to cancer cells than the singular use of either drug,” said Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation. “Importantly, patients have also been seen to overcome previous resistance to rituximab when it’s taken with lenalidomide.”

The NIH launched a $1 million Technology Accelerator Challenge to spur the design and development of noninvasive, handheld, digital technologies to detect, diagnose and guide therapies for sickle cell disease, malaria and anemia. The NIH will award up to $500,000 for a top finalist and smaller awards to about five semifinalists. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will separately review winners and honorable mentions and consider them for follow-on support, which may include a grant of up to $500,000 or consultations, partnerships for clinical data collection, software development, scale-up and manufacturing. The challenge is designed to stimulate the development of a platform technology that could be used to rapidly screen large populations and give doctors a practical tool for optimizing therapy in individual patients. Applications will be accepted through June 2, 2020, via the challenge website.

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