Week In Review — Dec. 19

The Week In Review provides an overview of the past week's top healthcare content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news and upcoming events.


Cancer Patients Testing Drugs on Mouse 'Avatars'

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same — with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person's specific cancer. Via AP.

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The U.S. Has A Surgeon General, For The First Time In 17 Months

A job that's been open in President Obama's administration since July of 2013 was finally filled Monday, as the Senate voted to confirm Vivek Murthy as America's new surgeon general. The tally was 51-43, ending a confirmation process that began after Obama nominated Murthy to the post in November of 2013 — yes, that's one year ago. "Dr. Vivek Murthy is an MD and an MBA," NPR's Tamara Keith reported in March. "He practices and teaches at Brigham and Women's Hospital and teaches at Harvard Medical School. He co-founded a clinical trials company, an HIV education organization and Doctors for America, formerly known as Doctors for Obama. And he isn't even 40 yet." Via NPR. 

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News Release: FDA Clears Test That Helps Predict the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today cleared a new screening test that predicts a patient’s risk of future coronary heart disease (CHD) events, such as heart attacks. FDA cleared the test for use in all adults with no history of heart disease, but studies submitted by the company and reviewed by the FDA show that the test is better at discerning this risk in women, particularly black women. Via FDA.gov.

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F.D.A. Approves System That May Make Blood Transfusions Safer  

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first system that could be used by blood banks to destroy viruses and bacteria in donated blood plasma, potentially making transfusions safer. The system represents an extra safety step beyond testing donations for viruses like H.I.V. and hepatitis C, and one that can protect against pathogens that seem to emerge periodically, as well as the known ones. Via NY Times.

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UCLA Institute to Help Biologists, Doctors Mine 'Big Data' 

Millions upon millions of medical records and test results. Countless DNA sequences. Hard drives stuffed with images of all kinds — pictures of cells, scans of body parts. It’s all part of the deluge of information often known as “big data,” an ever-growing stockpile of digital material that scientists hope will reveal insights about biology and lead to improvements in medical care. UCLA intends to position itself at the center of the effort. Via LA Times.

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Targeting PARPs with Novel Drugs: Back to the Laboratory?

Exploiting synthetic lethality for cancer therapy…The Mayo Clinic’s Scott Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D., undertook preclinical studies comparing iniparib with the actions of the more extensively characterized PARP inhibitors olaparib and veliparib. He and his collaborators tested iniparib on cancer cells looking for signs of PARP inhibition in homologous recombination (HR)- deficient cell lines. Via Genetic Engineering News.

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John Noseworthy on the Future of Mayo Clinic, Health Care 

Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, joins The Daily Circuit to talk about the future of Mayo, the future of health care and how the two intersect. Via MPR.

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Regimen 'Attractive' for Relapsed, Refractory Myeloma

"PVD is a highly effective combination in patients refractory to lenalidomide with confirmed responses in 85%, Martha Q. Lacy, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., reported here at the American Society of Hematology meeting. "Weekly administration of bortezomib and dexamethasone enhanced the tolerability and convenience of the regimen. Via MedPage Today.

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Flu 'Widespread' in Minnesota, Health Department Reports

In Minnesota, state health officials are still encouraging people to get flu shots, despite reports that the vaccine is less effective this year and poorly matched to the dominant strains in circulation. Flu season typically does not peak until sometime between December and February, so people could still contract the virus for several weeks to come. In an interview with the Star Tribune published Thursday, Mayo Clinic pediatrician and vaccine researcher Robert Jacobson said even though the protection is weaker it’s still protection. “People who get the flu shot have better protection even when there’s a mismatch … and they’re less likely to spread the flu to someone else,” he said. Via Star Tribune.

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Mayo Clinic Physicians Say High-definition Scopes Accurately Assess Polyps, Costly Pathological Examinations May Not Be Necessary

It may not be necessary for experienced gastroenterologists to send polyps they remove from a patient’s colon to a pathologist for examination, according to a large study conducted by physician researchers at the Jacksonville campus of Mayo Clinic. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Medical Highlights of 2014


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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.