What We're Reading: 2018 ACA Enrollment; Spread of Rare Superbug; Off-the-Shelf CAR T Therapies

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Enrollment for 2018 in Affordable Care Act plans is only slightly below figures from 2017; a rare breed of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is spreading in hospitals; a new company will develop off-the-shelf CAR T-cell therapies that do not need to be personalized to the patient.

ACA Enrollment in 2018 Slightly Below 2017 Levels

The final figures for enrollment in Affordable Care Act insurance plans showed that 11.8 million signed up in 2018. According to The Washington Post, the numbers represent a slight dip of just 400,000 from 2017. Enrollment in states that operated their own marketplaces was flat, while enrollment dropped in the 39 states on the federal marketplace. The proportion of consumers qualifying for subsidies remained level at 83%, while first-time consumers dropped from 31% to 27% of all enrollees.

Rare Superbug Spreads Throughout Hospitals

In 2017, there were more than 220 cases of a rare breed of bacteria that is mostly untreatable, and which has taken CDC by surprise. Up to half of infections caused by these superbugs are fatal, reported Kaiser Health News. In addition, 1 in 10 cases of people infected with the germs spread the disease to healthy people who act as silent carriers. The good news is that hospitals can limit the spread of outbreaks from these bacteria with aggressive measures, such as wearing gowns and gloves while caring for infected patients. Containing these infections can reduce them by 76%.

New Company Will Develop “Off-the-Shelf” CAR T Therapies

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies need to be personalized to each patient, but a new company is looking to develop off-the-shelf therapies that do not need to be personalized. Allogene Therapeutics was launched Tuesday by 2 former executives of Kite Pharma and has bought Pfizer’s portfolio of cell therapies, according to STAT. The new approach would harvest and modify cells taken from a healthy donor to then use to treat any eligible patient with cancer. Currently, CAR T therapies are made by collecting cells from a patient with cancer, modifying them, and reinfusing the cells back into the patient. While current CAR T-cell therapies have been highly successful, it is time consuming to create them.

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