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Britain’s National Health Service is in Critical Condition

Last month, CNN asked ‘Why is Britain’s health service, a much-loved national treasure, falling apart?’:

Scenes that would until recently have…



Last month, CNN asked ‘Why is Britain’s health service, a much-loved national treasure, falling apart?’:

Scenes that would until recently have been unthinkable have now become commonplace. Hospitals are running well over capacity. Many patients don’t get treated in wards, but in the back of ambulances or in corridors, waiting rooms and cupboards – or not at all. “It’s like a war zone,” an NHS worker at a hospital in Liverpool told CNN.

 These stories are borne out by the data. In December, 54,000 people in England had to wait more than 12 hours for an emergency admission. The figure was virtually zero before the pandemic, according to data from NHS England. The average wait time for an ambulance to attend a “category 2” condition – like a stroke or heart attack – exceeded 90 minutes. The target is 18 minutes. There were 1,474 (20%) more excess deaths in the week ending December 30 than the 5-year average.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) might be experiencing a particularly acute episode this winter, but its ailments are not new. ‘The NHS winter crisis explained,’ wrote the Guardian in 2000. A decade later it warned: ‘Hospital bed crisis ‘could leave neediest patients untreated‘. The policies of the present government may or may not make the malady worse, but such long standing problems indicate a more fundamental sickness.

The NHS is old. It was founded in 1948 to provide healthcare to all ‘free at the point of use’ funded by a payroll tax – National Insurance – and general taxation. But Britons, too, have grown old. In 1950, 21% of Britons were aged over 55; the figure is now 32%. In addition, the NHS now has to provide an array of treatments which its founders could scarcely have imagined. Demand for healthcare in Britain has become both more extensive and more intensive.

But while Britain has changed, the NHS has not, it has simply expanded. In the mid-1950s, the NHS cost 2% of GDP; that had risen to 10.2% on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic. OECD data show that Britain has one of the highest rates among rich countries of Government/compulsory health spending as a share of GDP. The NHS is the fifth biggest employer on earth.




Yet, even with all these resources – and aside from the current crisis – the NHS is failing. As Kristian Niemietz notes:

The NHS remains an international laggard in terms of health outcomes. Survival rates for the most common types of cancer are several percentage points behind those achieved by the best performers. The same is true for strokes, as well as for the more holistic measure of amenable mortality.

The NHS simply isn’t very good at turning its inputs into outputs. OECD data show Britain ranks near the bottom among rich countries for the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people. And, while the NHS ranks high on the number of hospital staff per 1,000 of the population, it ranks much lower when we look at just the number doctors and nurses.



The NHS is suffering in acute form from the problems that are dooming other programs like state pensions. Implemented in an era when there were many more young people paying for them relative to older people using them, they become unsustainable as that relative number of young people falls. And the situation is only going to become more acute. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, Britain’s fiscal watchdog, government spending on the NHS will rise even further, to 13.8%, by 2067.

The NHS requires radical surgery. Indeed, it is doubtful that it can survive in its present form. But it remains, like Social Security in the United States, the ‘third rail’ of politics. Nigel Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister, famously said: “The NHS is the closest thing the English people have now to a religion”. In 2018 it polled better than the queen. When President Trump criticized the system in 2018, the Conservative government leapt to its defense.

But the NHS won’t be healed by faith. The point of health care is to improve the health of the population and the NHS fails to do that relative to other systems, several of which require fewer inputs to generate superior outputs. The NHS does not require more resources but needs to use the resources it has more productively. And Britons should be prepared to countenance the possibility that the NHS simply cannot achieve that. We Brits need to be less sentimental and recognize that the NHS is simply a tool meant to achieve an end – improved health – and is not an end in itself. In the clash between sentiment and fiscal reality, fiscal reality – ultimately – wins every time.



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Kezar Life Sciences changes CEOs, lays off 41% of staff and halts preclinical R&D to extend cash runway

Kezar Life Sciences, a 2015 spinout from Amgen, is laying off 41% of its workforce and pausing all preclinical R&D in a bid to extend its cash runway…



Kezar Life Sciences, a 2015 spinout from Amgen, is laying off 41% of its workforce and pausing all preclinical R&D in a bid to extend its cash runway into late 2026 and move select clinical programs forward, the biotech said Tuesday.

There are also several executive shakeups: Kezar said co-founder John Fowler will resign as CEO on Nov. 7 and former president and CSO Christopher Kirk will take over as CEO. CMO Noreen Henig is resigning on Oct. 6 and Zung To, the senior VP of clinical development operations, will take over trial execution and development operations.

The freed-up cash will be used to get data readouts for its candidates. This includes PALIZADE, Kezar’s Phase IIb trial in lupus nephritis with its drug zetomipzomib, as well as Phase I data for KZR-261 in solid tumors that is expected in 2024.

The company added that it is looking for ways to reduce the number of planned expansion cohorts to conserve cash resources.

Kezar previously expected its cash runway to last through the beginning of 2026, according to William Blair analysts. Its stock $KZR was trading down nearly 10% in premarket trading at $1.04.

Topline data for its Phase IIa PORTOLA trial with zetomipzomib for autoimmune hepatitis is expected in mid-2025 and topline data from PALIZADE is expected in mid-2026.

Kezar’s preclinical efforts, like its protein secretion platform and candidate KZR-540, are halted for now, though Kezar said it is looking to partner or license on its protein platform.

John Fowler

“These difficult but necessary decisions to streamline our operations and align resources around our clinical programs should put us on a path to long-term success, extending our runway past key data points, particularly the readout for our PALIZADE trial,” Fowler said in a statement.

TD Cowen analysts called the move to focus on clinical programs “necessary” and “makes much more strategic sense” in a note on Wednesday morning. The analysts added that investors had been concerned about the company’s ability to fund operations through the release of Phase IIb data for zetomipzomib, “and therefore we expect the restructuring to remove the financing overhang on the stock. We think the cash runway extension and previously announced collaboration with Everest Medicines will help set Kezar up for success” in zetomipzomib’s “potentially pivotal” Phase IIb trial in lupus nephritis, which the analysts called the “major value-driver” for Kezar.

Kezar announced its licensing agreement with China-based Everest Medicines in late September. Everest is licensing zetomipzomib in Greater China, South Korea and some Southeast Asian countries with a $7 million upfront payout and up to $125 million in clinical and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties. Everest will help Kezar with a Phase IIb zetomipzomib trial in patients with active lupus nephritis that began earlier this year.

In Kezar’s latest SEC financial filing in August, the company said it had $236.6 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of June 30, though the company added it had operating losses and negative cash flows since its inception and anticipated that it will “continue to incur losses for at least the foreseeable future.” Kezar’s net loss was $46.5 million for the six months ended June 30, with an accumulated deficit of $295.4 million.

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Graphene oxide reduces the toxicity of Alzheimer’s proteins

A probable early driver of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of molecules called amyloid peptides. These cause cell death, and are commonly found…



A probable early driver of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of molecules called amyloid peptides. These cause cell death, and are commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have now shown that yeast cells that accumulate these misfolded amyloid peptides can recover after being treated with graphene oxide nanoflakes.

Credit: Illustration: Chalmers University of Technology / Katharina Merl

A probable early driver of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of molecules called amyloid peptides. These cause cell death, and are commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have now shown that yeast cells that accumulate these misfolded amyloid peptides can recover after being treated with graphene oxide nanoflakes.

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable brain disease, leading to dementia and death, that causes suffering for both the patients and their families. It is estimated that over 40 million people worldwide are living with the disease or a related form of dementia. According to Alzheimer’s News Today, the estimated global cost of these diseases is one percent of the global gross domestic product.

Misfolded amyloid-beta peptides, Aβ peptides, that accumulate and aggregate in the brain, are believed to be the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. They trigger a series of harmful processes in the neurons (brain cells) – causing the loss of many vital cell functions or cell death, and thus a loss of brain function in the affected area. To date, there are no effective strategies to treat amyloid accumulation in the brain.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have now shown that treatment with graphene oxide leads to reduced levels of aggregated amyloid peptides in a yeast cell model.

“This effect of graphene oxide has recently also been shown by other researchers, but not in yeast cells”, says Xin Chen, Researcher in Systems Biology at Chalmers and first author of the study. “Our study also explains the mechanism behind the effect. Graphene oxide affects the metabolism of the cells, in a way that increases their resistance to misfolded proteins and oxidative stress. This has not been previously reported.”

Investigating the mechanisms using baker’s yeast affected by Alzheimer’s disease
In Alzheimer’s disease, the amyloid aggregates exert their neurotoxic effects by causing various cellular metabolic disorders, such as stress in the endoplasmic reticulum – a major part of the cell, in which many of its proteins are produced. This can reduce cells’ ability to handle misfolded proteins, and consequently increase the accumulation of these proteins.

The aggregates also affect the function of the mitochondria, the cells’ powerhouses. Therefore, the neurons are exposed to increased oxidative stress (reactive molecules called oxygen radicals, which damage other molecules); something to which brain cells are particularly sensitive.

The Chalmers researchers have conducted the study by a combination of protein analysis (proteomics) and follow-up experiments. They have used baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as an in vivo model for human cells. Both cell types have very similar systems for controlling protein quality. This yeast cell model was previously established by the research group to mimic human neurons affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

“The yeast cells in our model resemble neurons affected by the accumulation of amyloid-beta42, which is the form of amyloid peptide most prone to aggregate formation”, says Xin Chen. “These cells age faster than normal, show endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, and have elevated production of harmful reactive oxygen radicals.”

High hopes for graphene oxide nanoflakes
Graphene oxide nanoflakes are two-dimensional carbon nanomaterials with unique properties, including outstanding conductivity and high biocompatibility. They are used extensively in various research projects, including the development of cancer treatments, drug delivery systems and biosensors.

The nanoflakes are hydrophilic (water soluble) and interact well with biomolecules such as proteins. When graphene oxide enters living cells, it is able to interfere with the self-assembly processes of proteins.

“As a result, it can hinder the formation of protein aggregates and promote the disintegration of existing aggregates”, says Santosh Pandit, Researcher in Systems Biology at Chalmers and co-author of the study. “We believe that the nanoflakes act via two independent pathways to mitigate the toxic effects of amyloid-beta42 in the yeast cells.”

In one pathway, graphene oxide acts directly to prevent amyloid-beta42 accumulation. In the other, graphene oxide acts indirectly by a (currently unknown) mechanism, in which specific genes for stress response are activated. This increases the cell’s ability to handle misfolded proteins and oxidative stress.

How to treat Alzheimer’s patients is still a question for the future. However, according to the research group at Chalmers, graphene oxide holds great potential for future research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. The research group has already been able to show that treatment with graphene oxide also reduces the toxic effects of protein aggregates specific to Huntington’s disease in a yeast model.

“The next step is to investigate whether it is possible to develop a drug delivery system based on graphene oxide for Alzheimer’s disease.” says Xin Chen. “We also want to test whether graphene oxide has beneficial effects in additional models of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease.”

More about: proteins and peptides
Proteins and peptides are fundamentally the same type of molecule and are made up of amino acids. Peptide molecules are smaller – typically containing less than 50 amino acids – and have a less complicated structure. Proteins and peptides can both become deformed if they fold in the wrong way during formation in the cell. When many amyloid-beta peptides accumulate in the brain, the aggregates are classified as proteins.

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Proving up high-grade gold at district scale

Westhaven Gold (TSXV:WHN) has hit high-grade gold, pointing to potential discoveries that could make Shovelnose a multi-million-ounce project.
The post…



The gold-hosting trend on Westhaven Gold’s flagship Shovelnose project in British Columbia covers just a small fraction of the district-scale property. Now, Westhaven has hit high-grade gold well off that trend … and it’s pointing the way to potential discoveries that could make Shovelnose a multi-million-ounce gold project.

High-grade gold, in a great location … in size.

That’s the essence of the Westhaven Gold (TSXV:WHN; OTC:WTHVF) story.

The company has a dominant position on the Spences Bridge Gold Belt in south-central British Columbia, with no less than four large properties.

That portfolio is led by flagship project Shovelnose, which has district-scale size and potential.

Since it made the high-grade gold discovery at the project in 2018, Westhaven has drilled off an 830,000-ounce gold-equivalent resource on the project’s South zone (654,000 indicated ounces of gold equivalent and 176,000 ounces of inferred gold equivalent).

It has also established the presence of high-grade gold further along to the northwest on the Zone One Trend, on the FMN and Franz targets.

That zone now spans 4 kilometres in strike … and yet it still covers only a small fraction of Shovelnose.

Now, for the first time, Westhaven has hit high-grade gold off the Zone One Trend, with the compelling implication that it can find even more high-grade deposits elsewhere on the property.

A high-grade hit at MIK

The hit in question came from the MIK target at Shovelnose.

Located about 150 metres southwest of the Zone One Trend, MIK just hit the highest-grade gold intercept off the main trend that hosts all the major discoveries to date.

Hole 360 from this program at MIK returned an impressive 3.7 metres of 17.6 g/t gold, including 1.7 metres of 27.6 g/t gold.

Hole 362, another hole of note from this program, cut 2.4 metres of 3.4 g/t gold and 15.7 g/t silver, including 0.44 metres of 12.9 g/t gold and 73.2 g/t silver.

MIK has so far been traced for 120 metres along strike and remains open to the north and south.

Mineralization was encountered in all three holes reported with an additional five holes pending assay. The gap between MIK and the Zone One Trend is now viewed as prospective for additional near-surface, vein-hosted gold.

The company will look to mobilize the drill back to the MIK target in the near term and remains fully financed for the program.

World-class potential

Stepping back from the Zone One Trend proper, you can see from the graphic below that Shovelnose’s mineralization bears remarkable similarities with the world-class Hishikari Mine vein swarm in Japan.

(Source: Westhaven Gold)

That deposit has produced 7.75 million ounces of gold at eye-popping grades of 30 g/t-40 g/t.

Shovelnose is obviously at a much earlier stage than Hishikari, but as you can see from the following field map of the project, the red line that is the Zone One Trend covers just a very small portion of the property.

(Source: Westhaven Gold)

Recent surface sampling on Shovelnose has identified several promising targets for further drilling, including an area of hydrothermal outcrop located approximately three kilometres southeast of the South zone.

The “re-discovery” hit at MIK provides an example that Westhaven’s geologists can use to target similar surface expressions of gold elsewhere on the property.

Bottom line: The exploration upside at Shovelnose remains wide open and Westhaven will continue to aggressively test new targets with the drill bit.

An ideal location

As far as a site for a future mine goes, this project could hardly be in a better location.

Shovelnose is a mere 2.5-hour drive from Vancouver and a 30-minute drive from the town of Merritt. Its just 5 kilometres from the Coquihalla Highway.

A powerline is on the property, and the area has been heavily logged, so an abundance of forestry roads are in place.

Shovelnose’s location in south-central British Columbia sets it up for year-round exploration, and Westhaven is fully financed for its 25,000-metre drilling program in 2023.

More drill results are on the way

What makes now a great time to be looking closely at Westhaven Gold?

Only this: The company has assays at the lab from the remaining five holes drilled at MIK.

If these holes return similar grades to Hole 360, it could light a fire under Westhaven’s share price.

Longer term, the opportunity to drill-test other targets within Shovelnose’s district-scale property boundary opens up the door to more discoveries.

With the presence of high-grade gold now established off the resource-hosting Zone One Trend, the sky’s the limit for what future exploration could uncover for Westhaven.

One thing’s for sure:

The company’s current valuation hardly reflects the established value at the South zone, much less the enormous exploration upside that exists over the rest of the large Shovelnose project.

If you’re looking for gold exploration story that could deliver the kind of high-grade discoveries that make the market stand up and take notice, you’d do well to begin doing your due diligence on Westhaven Gold before more drill results come in.

Click here to learn more about Westhaven Gold Corp.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: The Information contained here is a paid advertisement and is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with the public company and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor. The corporate information included in this was provided by Westhaven Gold in order to help investors learn more about their company. The information provided is purely and solely the responsibility of Westhaven Gold who has reviewed and approved all material for accuracy. Stockhouse does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Investing in securities is speculative and carries risk. Persons who wish to buy or sell securities should only do so at their own risk and in consultation with their registered securities advisers. Stockhouse does not own stock in Westhaven Gold.

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The post Proving up high-grade gold at district scale appeared first on The Market Herald Canada.

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