Week in Review: Dec. 11

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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

Home Visiting Program Can Help Reduce Hospital, Nursing Home Visits, Study Says  

House calls from health care workers can help reduce costly admissions to the hospital or nursing home, according to a new report. The study published in the journal Health Affairs looked at the effectiveness of a UnitedHealth Group program for Medicare beneficiaries and found that people who used it had up to 14 percent fewer hospital admissions compared with other Medicare patients. Via Star Tribune.

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As Aging Population Grows, So Do Robotic Health Aides

The ranks of older and frail adults are growing rapidly in the developed world, raising alarms about how society is going to help them take care of themselves in their own homes. Naira Hovakimyan has an idea: drones. The University of Illinois roboticist recently received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the idea of designing small autonomous drones to perform simple household chores, like retrieving a bottle of medicine from another room. Dr. Hovakimyan acknowledged that the idea might seem off-putting to many, but she believes that drones not only will be safe, but will become an everyday fixture in elder care within a decade or two. Via NY Times. 

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Jimmy Carter's Recovery Highlights Power of New Cancer Treatment 

Former President Jimmy Carter's remarkable response to his treatment for brain cancer can be chalked up in part to significant recent advances in medicine, cancer experts say. Carter, 91, announced that brain scans have shown there are no longer any signs of the melanoma cancer that had spread to his brain. That does not mean, however, that he has been cured of the cancer, and he will continue to undergo medical treatment. Via HealthDay.

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Scientists Seek Moratorium on Edits to Human Genome That Could Be Inherited

An international group of scientists meeting in Washington called for what would, in effect, be a moratorium on making inheritable changes to the human genome. The group said it would be “irresponsible to proceed” until the risks could be better assessed and until there was “broad societal consensus about the appropriateness” of any proposed change. The group also held open the possibility for such work to proceed in the future by saying that as knowledge advances, the issue of making permanent changes to the human genome “should be revisited on a regular basis.” Via NY Times.

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Nearly Half of Americans With High cholesterol are Not Taking Medication, Study Says 

Nearly half of Americans whose cholesterol readings put them at higher risk of heart attack or stroke are not taking medication to drive down that risk, says a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new study makes clear that public health authorities bent on preventing heart disease and stroke have their pick of a lot of low-hanging fruit. Worrisome cholesterol numbers are a strong risk factor in cardiovascular disease, which contributes to one in three deaths in the United States. And cholesterol-lowering treatment--generally with a low-cost statin medication--has been shown to drive down rates of heart attack and stroke. Via LA Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

Texting Triggers New Type of Brain Wave 

It's not often that researchers detect a new waveform on electroencephalography (EEG), a technology that's been around for about a century. But that's exactly what happened to EEG technicians at two academic medical centers who highlighted what they saw as test abnormalities. When they went to the video replay, they saw that these strange waveforms occurred when patients were texting, and only then."We think active text messaging actually creates an electrophysiologic potential that's unique to some type of personal electronic device," said William Tatum, DO, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., who reported the findings during a press briefing at the American Epilepsy Society meeting. Via MedPage Today.

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Is Mayo Clinic planning a Block E expansion?  

Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis was touted as sports medicine's new "gold standard" when it opened in June. It might soon be getting bigger and better. Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, medical director of Mayo Clinic Square, said that that possibility of expanding skyward to provide additional services is being discussed. While those talks are preliminary and have no specific timeline, the first six months of operation have shown the facility fills a unique medical niche. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Mayo Study Finds Brain Trauma Goes Beyond NFL

With the recent decision by former professional football player Frank Gifford’s family to donate his brain to research and the upcoming release of the movie “Concussion,” renewed attention is being focused on chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE, which results from blows to the head over a period of time, can lead to difficulties with cognition, emotions and behaviors that may not become noticeable until many years later. Now a study led by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville found evidence that it isn’t just professional football players who are at risk of developing CTE. Via Florida-Times Union.

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Dr. Kumar on Tourmaline-MM1 Study for Multiple Myeloma

Shaji Kumar, M.D., professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, discusses the phase III Tourmaline-MM1 study, which compared the efficacy of the addition of ixazomib to lenalidomide and dexamethasone with lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. Via OncLive.

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Melanoma Researcher says Odds Continually Improving for Patients

The nation is buzzing this week over what sounds like miraculous news for former President Jimmy Carter. The 91-year-old Carter announced he is cancer-free, just months after revealing he was battling malignant melanoma, which had spread. In August, he had a cancerous mass removed from his liver. Four lesions were then found on his brain and were treated with radiation. Additionally, Mr. Carter was given a relatively new immunotherapy drug, called pembrolizumab. 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.