Week in Review: Oct. 9


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.

Industry News

Catching Breast Cancer Early Saves Lives, Study Confirms

Catching breast cancer early still saves lives, even with better treatment such as targeted drugs, Dutch researchers reported. The findings support the use of regular mammograms to detect breast tumors at the earliest possible stages, other experts argued. And the new research is reassurance that less-invasive surgery saves lives just as well as radical mastectomies would. Via NBC News.

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Heart Scan Can Fine-Tune Risk Estimate for Patients Considering Statins

Treatment guidelines suggest that nearly half of those over age 40 — nearly 50 million people in the United States — at least consider a cholesterol-lowering statin to reduce heart attack risk. But a new large study of people who had an inexpensive heart scan found that half of those who were statin candidates had no signs of plaque in their heart and very little chance of having a heart attack in the next decade. The test is a CT scan that looks for calcium in coronary arteries, a signal that plaque is present. It used to be expensive — about $500 — but now typically costs between $75 and $100. Still, it is generally not covered by insurance and so is not often used to assess risk. The X-ray dose is about that of a mammogram. Via NY Times. 

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Three Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Medicine for Parasite-Fighting Therapies

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura won for developing a new drug, Avermectin. A derivative of that drug, Ivermectin, has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which causes the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis. They shared the $900,000 award with Youyou Tu, who discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria. Via NY Times.

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Scientists Identify Potential Birth Control 'Pill' for Men

Two drugs that help suppress the immune system in organ transplant patients may have a future as the long-sought birth control "pill" for men, new research suggests. The drugs – cyclosporine A (also known as CsA) and FK506 (also known as tacrolimus) – are given to transplant recipients to reduce the risk that the patient’s body will reject its new organ. They work by preventing the immune system from making a protein that would otherwise mobilize T-cells to attack. Specifically, they do this by inhibiting an enzyme called calcineurin. Via LA Times.

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More Evidence Links Smoking Cessation to Lowered Diabetes Risk  

While smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, this risk appears to drop over the long term once cigarette use stops, a review of evidence suggests. Researchers analyzed data on almost 5.9 million people in 88 previous studies examining the connection between smoking, second-hand smoke exposure and diabetes. They estimated that roughly 28 million type 2 diabetes cases worldwide – or about 11.7 percent of cases in men and 2.4 percent in women – could be attributed to active smoking. Via Reuters.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Launches Ambitious Study On How Being Indoors All The Time Affects Us  

The Mayo Clinic and Delos, a real estate company with an emphasis on wellness, have partnered to launch the most ambitious study yet of how life indoors influences the human body and brain. To do this, they've set up a state-of-the-art space called the Well Living Lab in Rochester, Minnesota, that is designed to measure every aspect of an indoor space and track how it is affecting a person's biological functions. Dr. Brent Bauer, medical director of the lab, tells Fast Company. "We've found that med students and Mayo employees are generally happy to participate in experiments like this." Via Fast Company.

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Doctors Discover Potential Problem With Implanted Heart Valves 

Doctors have discovered a potential problem involving implanted heart valves that hundreds of thousands of people have received – they don't always open and close properly, possibly because a blood clot has formed that could raise the risk of stroke. Dr. David R. Holmes Jr. of the Mayo Clinic, who wrote a commentary in the journal with another heart specialist, said the new report raises important questions, including how long the risk lasts, whether it's due to clots or something else, and whether it's more common with tube versus surgically placed valves. Via CTV News.

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Skin Cancer Vaccine Being Studied at Mayo Clinic

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester are studying a vaccine that could one day lead to a possible cure. Seven months ago we met Becky Hunt. This young mom lost her newborn Grace three years ago from a congenital heart defect. In her memory, Hunt started Cakes From Grace a non-profit to help other heart families. But this 28-year-old mom on a mission has a new battle. "There was an itch on my back and then I felt this bump in the middle of my back," she said. In May, doctors removed a mole. Hunt was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma, skin cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. Via KSTP.

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Mayo Receives $9.7M to Improve Patient Care

Mayo Clinic will receive $9.7 million from the U.S. Department of Human Services in an effort to better coordinate health care across peer-based networks. The Mayo Practice Transformation Network will use the money to support 1,200 clinicians, in hopes of giving patients better access to information and reducing health care costs, according to a Mayo press release. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Mayo Clinic Receives Federal Grant to Develop Smart Devices to Predict, Stop Seizures

Researchers at Mayo Clinic were awarded a $6.8 million, five-year federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop intelligent devices to track and treat abnormal brain activity in people with epilepsy. The grant, part of a presidential initiative aimed at revolutionizing the understanding of the human brain, is called Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies or the BRAIN Initiative.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.