Week in Review: May 29

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Link Found Between Breast-Cancer Genes, Prostate Cancer

Mutations in two genes well known for increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer may also play an important role in advanced prostate cancer, researchers said, an unexpected discovery that could lead to new treatments for some men with the disease. Analysis of DNA from tumor tissue obtained from 150 men with late-stage prostate cancer revealed mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes in about 15% of cases, according to a study published by the journal Cell. An additional 5% of the men had aberrations in genes with similar function. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Obesity and Well-Being: Why Diet and Exercise Alone May Not Be Enough to Slow America’s Growing Weight Problem 

America’s obesity epidemic is getting worse and it appears to be tied up with a poorer overall sense of well-being. The obesity rate rose last year, to 27.7 percent, according to a massive Gallup and Healthways survey of more than 175,000 Americans nationwide. That rate is 2.2 points higher than where it was in 2008, when the survey was launched, with higher rates associated with lower well-being scores overall, Gallup and Healthways found. “The thing about obesity is that it most certainly infiltrates these other aspects of well-being,” says Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Via Washington Post. 

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Virotherapy: Skin Cancer Successfully Treated with Herpes-Based Drug

Patients with aggressive skin cancer have been treated successfully using a drug based on the herpes virus, in a trial that could pave the way for a new generation of cancer treatments. The findings mark the first positive phase 3 trial results for cancer “virotherapy”, where one disease is harnessed and used to attack another. If approved, the drug, called T-VEC, could be more widely available for cancer patients by next year, scientists predicted. Crucially, the therapy has the potential to overcome cancer even when the disease has spread to organs throughout the body, offering hope in future to patients who have been faced with the bleakest prognosis. Via The Guardian.

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Obese Teenagers Have Twofold Higher Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Male teenagers who carry a lot of excess weight are more than twice as likely to develop colorectal cancer (CRC) by middle age, according to a large cohort study. Those with a high level of systemic inflammation are also at increased risk. The study, published in Gut, is noteworthy as one of the few to evaluate the association between teenage body mass index (BMI) and bowel cancer in adulthood. It is also the first to evaluate the association of teenage systemic inflammation, assessed here with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), with this outcome, according to the authors. Via Medscape.

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University of Minnesota Researcher Has One of the First 'Bioprinters' Using Living Tissue 

Prof. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari stood silently a few feet from the machine as it whirred alive for the first time. The device deposited coat atop delicate coat of pink goo through a small syringe until it had transformed a computerized image into a physical object. Then she exhaled. Instead of wax or plastic, this 3-D printer uses “living” ink. Her laboratory was one of 20 worldwide selected recently to receive bioprinters from a fledgling company called BioBots, and it places her at the vanguard of research that could transform transplant medicine, burn therapy, drug testing, and other fields of health care. Via Star Tribune.

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The $6.5 Billion, 20-Year Plan To Transform An American City 

The Mayo Clinic is located in the small city of Rochester (pop. 111,000), about a two-hour drive from Minneapolis, Minnesota. And it is, right this minute, competing fiercely for a small-but-extremely-lucrative slice of the global medical tourism industry. The wealthy American, European, east Asian, and Gulf Arab patients who have been the clinic’s bread and butter have been instead choosing to get treatment abroad or at domestic rivals like Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University or the Cleveland Clinic. But that may changing—and the reason, if not the construction, is simple: the Destination Medical Center. Via Fast Company.

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Researchers Oppose Unvalidated Gene Panel Tests for Cancer Links

A group of international researchers is making the case that genetic tests that look for multiple hereditary genes suspected of being linked to breast cancer should not be offered until they are proven to be valid and useful in clinical practice. Such tests, made by several companies including Myriad Genetics Inc, Ambry Genetics, Invitae, and Illumina Inc, cover up to 100 inherited cancer genes, including more than 20 for breast cancer. "The reality is that we don't have good risk estimates for mutations that occur in many of the genes on the panels," said Fergus Couch, a breast cancer expert at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via Yahoo! News.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Should NCAA Require EKG Testing?

New research showing that sudden cardiac death strikes one in 5,200 males in Division I basketball is likely to intensify one of the hottest debates in college sports: Should NCAA athletes undergo electrical cardiac screening? The research, from a study published this month in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, supports the position that the NCAA’s top doctor, Brian Hainline, took in March, when he announced plans to recommend that colleges require EKG testing for college basketball players. The wrinkle for Hainline is that a month later—in a concession to physicians opposed to EKG screening of athletes—he reversed course, saying he wouldn’t make such a recommendation. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Technology: New Assays Capture Clusters of Tumor Cells

A routine blood sample -- filtered through a device the size of a credit card -- could help detect aggressive cancers earlier, according to findings published in Nature Methods last week. Around 90% of cancer deaths are caused not by the primary tumor but by metastases, according to Roderic Pettigrew, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A new device aimed at detecting the early signs of metastasizing tumors might help reduce that toll, Pettigrew said, presenting the study at the Mayo Clinic last week at a fellowship sponsored by the Clinic and the National Press Foundation. Via MedPage Today.

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#SunscreenProtectionDay: Understand Sunscreen Options

Confused about the best sunscreen to use? Wondering whether sunscreen can be harmful? Lawrence Gibson, M.D., a dermatologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., offers his guidance. What's the best way to sort through information about sunscreens? Start by remembering the bigger picture when it comes to sun safety and what you can do to protect yourself. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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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.