Week in Review: Feb. 5

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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

Johnson & Johnson, ViaCyte Testing Possible Diabetes Cure 

Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a Type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could cure the life-threatening hormonal disorder. They've already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients, a first. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing. Via Star Tribune.

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Doctors' Group Calls for Ban on Prescription Drug Ads

The American Medical Association called for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs and implantable medical devices, saying they contribute to rising costs and patients' demands for inappropriate treatment. Delegates at the influential group's policy-making meeting in Atlanta voted to adopt that as official policy as part of an AMA effort to make prescription drugs more affordable. It means AMA will lobby for a ban. Via CBS News. 

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CDC: Young Women Should Avoid Alcohol Unless Using Birth Control

Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. The CDC estimates 3.3 million women between ages 15 to 44 are at risk of exposing a developing fetus to alcohol because they drink, are sexually active, and not using birth control. Even when women are actively trying to get pregnant, three in four continue drinking after they stop using birth control, according to the CDC report. Via USA Today.

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Zika Virus: WHO Declares Global Public Health Emergency, Says Causal Link to Brain Defects ‘Strongly Suspected’

The World Health Organization designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications in newborns as a public health emergency of international concern. The action, which the international body has taken only three times before, paves the way for the mobilization of more funding and manpower to fight the mosquito-born pathogen spreading "explosively" through the Americas. Via Washington Post.

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Your Annual Physical Wastes Time, Money, Some Doctors Say

A debate over the value of such appointments has been gaining steam among physicians, with views pro and con appearing in major medical journals and in the popular press in recent months. “Opinions are decidedly mixed,” Berger says. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must cover annual "wellness visits," and many U.S. medical groups take no official stand. But in 2013, the Society of General Internal Medicine put “routine general health checks” for healthy adults on a list of practices that are not recommended because they are not backed by studies. Via USA Today.

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Mayo Clinic News

Study Suggests Surgical Residents Can Safely Work Longer Shifts

Patients suffered no additional harm when doctors training to be surgeons were allowed to work longer shifts, a study concludes. "We're very encouraged by the findings," said Dr. Maya Babu, a neurological surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic and president of the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons. "We feel very strongly that flexibility is important to provide opportunities to learn and to have patient ownership, to see patients from the time they're admitted through surgery the next day." Via NPR.

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Study Determines Saliva Gland Test Can Spot Early Parkinson's Disease

Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Banner Sun Health Research Institute have determined that testing a portion of a person's submandibular gland may be a way to diagnose early Parkinson's disease. The study was published this month in Movement Disorders, the official journal of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society. Via Science Codex.

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The Small Warnings Before Cardiac Arrest

Some 1,000 Americans a day suffer sudden cardiac arrest, a catastrophic event that seems to come on without warning and almost always results in death unless help is nearby. Now researchers say the events may not always be so sudden. A recent study that analyzed 839 sudden cardiac arrests found that in 430 cases, or 51%, patients exhibited warning signs in the four weeks before the arrest. The victims either failed to recognize the symptoms or ignored them—in most cases until it was too late. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Chief John Noseworthy Talks About the Future of Health Care

Dr. John Noseworthy is best known as president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, but he's also a governor with the World Economic Forum (WEF). At the group's 46th annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this month Noseworthy spoke on a WEF panel with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and others about the future of health care. Via HealthLeaders Media.

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Researchers Use Network Science to Help Pinpoint Source of Seizures 

For the third of all epilepsy patients who don’t respond to medication, an alternative is to locate the small cluster of neurons that act as the seed of a seizure’s aberrant electrical activity and surgically remove it. At the core of the research team’s findings is the International Epilepsy Electrophysiology Portal, founded by Litt; Zachary Ives, a professor and Markowitz Faculty Fellow in Penn Engineering’s Department of Computer & Information Science; and Gregory Worrell, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic. Via NeuroScientist News. 

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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.