Week in Review: Oct. 16


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

Taking the Uncertainty Out of Genetic Screening for Cancer Risk

A new technique will help genetic-test users make more informed decisions about their health. Many women face similar choices on the basis of BRCA1 tests, which search the gene for mutations that are known to increase the risk of breast cancer. Geneticists have documented many such mutations, as well as those that are more benign. But BRCA1 is a big gene, and there’s a lot about it that we don’t know. Via The Atlantic.

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Non-Medical Prescription Opioid Use Disorders And Deaths Are On The Rise

Even though the country’s growing opioid epidemic has been making headlines, Americans are continuing to use prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes — but this particular group seems to be shrinking. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a new report revealed that the prevalence of non-medical use of prescription opioids decreased from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 4.9 percent in 2013, but this positive outlook doesn’t necessarily mean things are looking up. Via Forbes. 

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Gene Editing Could Make Pig-to-Human Organ Transplants a Reality

According to a study published this week in Science, we may be one step closer to using animals as organ donors for humans in need. While the study did not go so far as to demonstrate that these organs would be safe for humans, it showcased a new gene editing technique that removes some of the potential hurdles to such a transplant. Via Washington Post.

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Medical Gowns, Gloves Often Source of Contamination

Health care workers often contaminate their skin and clothing when they remove their medical gowns and gloves, new research suggests. For the study, workers at four Ohio hospitals simulated gown and glove removal. Additional health care workers from a separate facility participated in a program that included education and practice of removing contaminated gowns and gloves. Via HealthDay.

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Theranos Has Struggled With Blood Tests  

On Theranos Inc.’s website, company founder Elizabeth Holmes holds up a tiny vial to show how the startup’s “breakthrough advancements have made it possible to quickly process the full range of laboratory tests from a few drops of blood.” The company offers more than 240 tests, ranging from cholesterol to cancer. It claims its technology can work with just a finger prick. Investors have poured more than $400 million into Theranos, valuing it at $9 billion and her majority stake at more than half that. The 31-year-old Ms. Holmes’s bold talk and black turtlenecks draw comparisons to Apple Inc. cofounder Steve Jobs. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Clinic News

Diverticulitis on the Rise in U.S. Since 2000 

Diverticulitis, a disabling colon problem that can cause pain, obstruction, and fever, became more common in the U.S. from the late 1990’s to the mid-2000’s, a new study suggests. The findings are from one Minnesota county, but other research indicates that hospitalizations for diverticulitis also increased in the U.S. generally during this period. The overall incidence of diverticulitis, with or without hospitalization, increased by 50 percent since 2000, and more so in younger people, said lead author Dr. Adil E. Bharucha of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via Reuters.

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Genomics Moves From The Lab To The Doctor’s Office  

The spread of genomics is launching a “new era” in medicine, according to Dr. Alexander Parker, an epidemiologist and the Associate Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM) in Florida. We’re transitioning from a one-size-fits-all model to a world of individualized medicine that is tailored to each patient’s genomic profile. Parker emphasizes that genomic medicine isn’t just a “promise for the future” – genomics has already begun to impact nearly every area of medicine and help patients in ways that would have been impossible even a few years ago. Via Footnote 1.

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Mayo Clinic CEO: Health Care Focuses on Outcomes, Sharing Knowledge

U.S. News Hospital of Tomorrow keynote speaker Dr. John Noseworthy, president and chief executive officer at Mayo Clinic, spoke with U.S. News about some of the changes affecting the nation's health care system and Mayo's approach to improving health care for tens of thousands of patients inside – and outside – its walls. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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New Flu Strain and Vaccine That's Ready For It

There's a new flu strain that's been targeted for the first time in several years and also a vaccine for people with egg allergies. Dr. Vandana Bhide with Mayo Clinic discusses the details (Video). Via News4Jax.

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Does Caffeine Make Depression Worse?

There's no clear link between caffeine intake and depression. However, caffeine intake and depression may be linked indirectly for people who are particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine or who have too much caffeine. 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.