Trending News Today: Solving the Mystery of Relapse to Immunotherapy

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

For the first time, national health spending will average more than $10,000 per person this year, reported The New York Times. On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced that by 2025, health care will represent 20% of the total economy, up from 17.5% last year. In 2015, Medicare spent approximately $12,000 per beneficiary, but by 2025, 1 of every 5 Americans will be on Medicare, which will spend an average of nearly $18,000 per year. The administration believes that the pace of health spending will increase in the coming decade due to higher medical prices, aging of individuals born from 1946 to 1965, and improvements in the economy. Officials predict that health spending will rise an average of 5.7% per year from 2017 to 2019, and will grow 6% per year from 2020 to 2025.

Immunotherapy has revolutionized treatment for certain cancers; however, some patients who initially responded to treatment end up relapsing, and researchers wanted to figure out why, reported The Washington Post. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers outlined how key mechanisms in melanoma become resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. The results of the study showed that genetic changes in tumors made it possible to avoid recognition by the immune system, and therefore become less sensitive to the attacks. It was reported that approximately 30% to 50% of patients treated with immunotherapy relapse, depending on whether they were previously treated for the disease. “Treatment resistance is a key issue now. We really need to understand it to improve the impact of these drugs,” Suzanne Topalian, director of the melanoma program at John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, told the Times.

New study findings suggest that gene variants in APOE, which play a role in up to 25% of Alzheimer’s disease cases, are linked to brain changes in children, reported the Los Angeles Times. These findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more than a disease related to the brain being unable to clear beta amyloid plaques, but instead may be thought of as a developmental disorder. They found that there were a variety of differences in mental abilities and brain structure based on the child’s age and their version of the APOE gene. Authors noted that the study’s findings were “extremely intriguing,” and “support the provocative idea that AD (Alzheimer’s disease) is, in part, a developmental disorder,” researchers Rebecca Knickmeyer and Elizabeth M. Ross said in the Times report.