Week in Review: Jan. 22


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

$5 Million Ebola Vaccine Deal Announced at Davos

Nonprofit organization Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has signed a $5 million deal with U.S. drugmaker Merck for an Ebola vaccine to protect the public against a future outbreak. The vaccine, which Merck is developing, would be used in emergencies or further clinical trials, Gavi said in a statement after the deal was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Merck will make 300,000 doses of the vaccine available for use in clinical trials beginning in May 2016 and will be submitted for licensure by the end of 2017, said Gavi. Via Newsweek.

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How Your Social Life Changes Your Microbiome

Social contact can clearly spread disease: That’s why we lean away from snotty hugs, tell sick colleagues to go home, and quarantine people during epidemics. But the germs behind infectious illnesses are but a tiny fraction of our full microbiome—the microbes that share our bodies…A growing number of studies, including two recent ones with chimps and baboons, have shown that social interactions affect the composition of the microbiome. Via The Atlantic. 

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Opioid Abuse Takes a Toll On Workers and Their Employers 

According to one study, prescription opioid abuse alone cost employers more than $25 billion in 2007. Other studies show people with addictions are far more likely to be sick, absent or to use workers' compensation benefits. When it comes to workers' comp, opioids are frequently prescribed when pain relievers are called for. How often doctors choose opioids varies by state, with an analysis finding the highest rates in Arkansas and Louisiana. Via NPR.

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More Americans are Living Past Their 100th Birthdays

The number of Americans living beyond their 100th birthday has been climbing steadily since the start of the 21st century. A new CDC report, which tracked mortality among 100-somethings starting in 2000, shows that while centenarians are still uncommon, the number of Americans above the age of 100 has increased more than 43 percent, from 50,281 a decade and a half ago to 72,197 in 2014. Via CBS News.

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Complex Issue of When to Stop Mammograms

Lost in the arguing over whether women should begin mammograms at age 40 or 50 or somewhere in between is the issue they'll all eventually face: when to stop. "There's a point at which everybody begins to scratch their head and say how much longer do you have to keep doing this?" said American Cancer Society specialist Robert Smith. Via Star Tribune.

Mayo Clinic News

Dalai Lama Travels to U.S. for Medical Checkup

The Dalai Lama was traveling to the United States for prostate treatment and a medical checkup, the Tibetan spiritual leader's website said. However, he told reporters before leaving the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala that he had no "specific health complaints." The 80-year-old Buddhist leader's website said he "is scheduled to undergo prostate treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, followed by a period of rest from the end of January 2016 for approximately one month." Via New York Times.

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Mayo Research Suggests Radiation Important Part of Cancer Treatment After Surgery 

It’s one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and now local researchers believe they’ve learned more about what patients might do after surgery. “I think the interpretation we get from this research study is really now in the field of pancreas cancer, the real role of radiation and who we give it to is somewhat fuzzy. There’s a clear role of chemotherapy. We are still trying to work out which patients benefit the most from radiation therapy,” said Dr. Kenneth Merrell, lead author of the study. Via KIMT.

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Mayo Clinic CEO: How Data Science is Making Health Care More Effective, Affordable

With U.S. health care costs surpassing $3 trillion a year -- an unsustainable 20% of the American economy -- we all must find ways to cut costs. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Dr. John H. Noseworthy, head of the famed Mayo Clinic, explains how the latest advances in computer science offer a promising solution, where better collection and understanding of the billions of data points generated by medical research and treatments can improve patient "outcomes" and lead more effective and affordable health care for millions of people. Via CBS News.

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Anesthesia After 40 Not Linked to Mental Decline Later, Study Finds

Receiving general anesthesia for surgery after age 40 doesn't appear to raise the risk for mild thinking and memory problems later in life, a new study finds. "The bottom line of our study is that we did not find an association between exposure to anesthesia for surgery and the development of mild cognitive [mental] impairment in these patients," study senior author and anesthesiologist Dr. David Warner said in a Mayo news release. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Mayo Expert Discusses Antibiotics Overuse and Misuse

The next time you go to see your health care provider for an upper respiratory illnesses, don't assume you'll get a prescription for an antibiotic. The American College of Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a paper that outlines best practices for use of antibiotics. It includes a recommendation that clinicians should not prescribe antibiotics for patients with a common cold. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "We are seeing across the country and the world worsening issues of antibiotic resistance bacteria, meaning that we have antibiotics that are sometimes not effective against bacteria that is causing infections." 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.