Week in Review: April 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

40% of Former NFL Players Had Brain Injuries

For years, the NFL has stood by the contention that there is no direct evidence proving that playing football is linked to traumatic brain injury or the devastating brain disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is increasingly being diagnosed in former players. But now scientists reveal the strongest link yet between playing football and trauma to the brain. In a study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Vancouver, scientists led by Dr. Frank Conidi, director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology, report that more than 40% of retired NFL players show evidence of abnormal brain structures. Via TIME Magazine.

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Painkiller Critics Take Aim at Hospital Surveys, Procedures

Critics of how prescription painkillers are administered in the U.S. are calling on health officials to phase out hospital procedures and questionnaires used to manage pain. They say the current system inadvertently encourages the overprescribing of addictive drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin, fueling an epidemic of overdoses tied to the opioid medications. Deaths linked to misuse and abuse of prescription opioids increased to nearly 19,000 in 2014, the highest figure on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Via AP. 

$250 Million, 300 Scientists, and 40 Labs: Sean Parker’s Revolutionary Project to "Solve" Cancer

Billionaire Sean Parker, famous for his founding roles at Napster and Facebook, is backing an unconventional $250 million effort to attack cancer that involves persuading hundreds of the country’s top scientists—who often are in competition with each other—to join forces and unify their research targets. The consortium focuses on immunotherapy, a relatively new area of research that seeks to mobilize the body’s own defense systems to fight mutant cancer cells. Many believe it represents the future of cancer therapy. Via Washington Post.

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Brain Implant Helps Restore Movement for Paralyzed Patient, Researchers Say

A paralyzed man used an implant in his brain and his thoughts to move his arm, marking an advance in a decadeslong effort to restore movement to people with spinal-cord injuries. Researchers from The Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute implanted a tiny device in Mr. Burkhart’s motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement. The device acts as a “neural bypass,” picking up the brain signals and sending them to a computer that decodes them, the researchers wrote in the science journal Nature. Via The Wall Street Journal.

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Surgeons Must Tell Patients of Double-Booked Surgeries, New Guidelines Say

The world’s largest surgeons’ organization has issued its first-ever guidelines for surgeons managing simultaneous operations, saying the controversial practice is broadly permissible, within limits, but that “the patient needs to be informed” whenever a doctor runs more than one operating room at a time. Such notice to patients is not now routine or required at many hospitals. The new standards from the American College of Surgeons also aim to bar surgeons from handling cases in which the “critical or key” parts of surgeries overlap. Via Boston Globe.

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Mayo Clinic News

GE Ventures and Mayo Clinic Launch Platform to Bring Internet of Things to Cancer Research

Menlo Park-based GE Venture and the Mayo Clinic partnered to launch Vitruvian Networks, a platform committed to accelerating access to cell and gene therapies to treat cancer. The Bay Area-based Vitruvian Networks will work with therapy producers by providing a state-of-the-art software and manufacturing platform to bring the “Internet of Things” to cell and gene therapies. Via Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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CDC Warning Raises Concern of Zika Virus

Mayo Clinic has received $56 million to go toward developing a vaccine. It has partnered with health experts in Brazil, the region that has been hit the hardest. Director of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group Gregory Poland, M.D., is leading the charge; he said this to ABC 6 News in March: "It'll be, before there is a licensed vaccine, probably on the order closer to eight to ten years." Via KAAL-TV.

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New Lyme Disease Causing Bacteria Discovered in Midwest

Health officials in the United States found a new strain of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It's been dubbed Borrelia mayonii after the team of Mayo Clinic researchers who helped discover it. Punch reports that before this discovery, Borrelia burgdorferi was the only well-known bacteria that caused Lyme disease. However, when six people (out of thousands of patient specimens exhibiting Lyme disease symptoms) were found to have unusual lab results, further genetic testing was done at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Via Counsel & Heal.

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Pioneering Technology from Mayo Could Better Diagnose Liver Issues

A Mayo Clinic radiology professor and medtech entrepreneur is among the authors of new research findings suggesting that an advanced form of magnetic resonance imaging he pioneered and commercialized could be used for more liver disease patients. Richard Ehman, M.D., an innovator in the field of magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) and CEO of Rochester-based Resoundant Inc., participated in a University of California-San Diego study that determined a new kind of 3D MRE scanner is better at diagnosing cases of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease than the now-standard 2D technology, is simpler to use, and could help a wider range of patients. Via Twin Cities Business.

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HIV and AIDS: The Push to Stop the Virus

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. States are living with HIV infection, and 1 in 8 don't know they have it. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Stacey Rizza, M.D., says, "Despite years of education and increased understanding, the number of HIV infections is not decreasing significantly, as 500,000 news cases are diagnosed in the U. S. each year." Globally, 50 million people are estimated to be infected. Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.