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.
A Big Victory for Lab Rats: Congress Moves to Limit Chemical Testing on Animals
The Senate’s approval of a far-reaching bill to overhaul government regulation of toxic chemicals was hailed by environmental and public health experts as a key move toward protecting Americans, as well as their land and water, from harmful substances. But the legislation, which passed the House and is expected to be signed by President Obama, also will have many other beneficiaries: thousands of animals. Via Washington Post.
FDA Moves to Speed Access to Compassionate-Use Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration has reduced an obstacle from its compassionate use policy, streamlining paperwork that physicians must submit to obtain experimental drugs for patients with life-threatening illnesses. Doctors will now file an application for FDA approval that contains just 11 questions, 15 fewer than the old form. They should be able to complete this new version in 45 minutes, the FDA said. The new form is simpler because it was designed for individual patients, replacing an all-purpose format that had been used by doctors acting on behalf of individuals or groups of patients. Via NPR.
These Are the Top Superbug Threats in the U.S.
According to the White House plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacea, CRE, is one of the country’s most urgent threats. Forty-four states have had at least one type of confirmed CRE case, which are resistant to nearly all antibiotics including last-resort drugs. Slide show at link. Via Washington Post.
Microsoft Finds Cancer Clues in Search Queries
Microsoft scientists have demonstrated that by analyzing large samples of search engine queries they may in some cases be able to identify internet users who are suffering from pancreatic cancer, even before they have received a diagnosis of the disease. The researchers focused on searches conducted on Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, that indicated someone had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. From there, they worked backward, looking for earlier queries that could have shown that the Bing user was experiencing symptoms before the diagnosis. Those early searches, they believe, can be warning flags. Via NY Times.
Promising Drugs Stoke Talk of Eventual Cancer "Cure"
Keytruda is a new type of drug that enlists the body's defenses in the fight. The first new immunotherapy drug for cancer was introduced in 2011, so long-term efficacy is unknown. But the approach is showing promise. Before these drugs, the prognosis for most patients with advanced melanoma was a year at best. In one study of Keytruda, 40 percent of such patients survived at least three years, and 10 percent showed no evidence of cancer. "The prospect that more and more patients will be cured is becoming a reality," said Waag's oncologist Dr. Lynn Schuchter, chief of hematology oncology at Philadelphia's Penn Medicine who has no current financial ties to drug companies. Via Reuters.
Mayo Clinic News
Mayo Clinic Unveils Plans for Expanded Research Space
The Mayo Clinic will add 2 million square feet of research space in downtown Rochester in less than 20 years, a key piece of its Destination Medical Center plan. The plan will create an urban bioresearch campus to drive the quest for new cures as private researchers collaborate with Mayo doctors on the frontiers of medicine, said Mayo CEO John Noseworthy, M.D. Via Star Tribune.
Intensive Blood Sugar Control May Be Too Much for Some with Type 2 Diabetes
Intensive treatment of blood sugar levels in some people with type 2 diabetes may cause serious complications, new research suggests. "In this study, we found that, particularly among older patients and patients with serious chronic conditions, intensive treatment nearly doubled the risk of severe hypoglycemia requiring medical attention, including hospitalization," said lead author Rozalina McCoy, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Via HealthDay.
Seres, Mayo Clinic Launch Liver Disease Partnership
Seres Therapeutics said it will partner with Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine to identify new microbiome therapeutic candidates for liver diseases through a sponsored research agreement whose value was not disclosed. Nicholas LaRusso, M.D., a Mayo Clinic professor studying the role of the microbiome in inflammatory liver diseases, will collaborate with Seres researchers on clinical and preclinical studies to identify novel microbiome therapeutic candidates for primary sclerosing cholangitis. “We are excited to collaborate with Dr. LaRusso and the Mayo Clinic team on studies that we believe will inform the design of our next-generation of Ecobiotic® therapeutic candidates for treating liver diseases of high, unmet medical need,” David Cook, Ph.D., Seres EVP of research and development and CSO, said in a statement. Via Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
John Noseworthy: Telemedicine Will Increase Access to Care, Reduce Costs
A Mayo Clinic-trained physician and astronaut conducted the first telemedicine conference from space in May. Since that time, telemedicine—the remote delivery of health care through a secure video or computer link—has experienced profound progress, increasing access to care while also lowering the cost of care. However, the utilization of telemedicine has not kept pace with the advances in technology due in part to outdated regulatory barriers. Via Pioneer Press.
Discovery's Edge: Rise of the Microbiome
As a species, we have a love-hate relationship with microbes. For centuries, we didn’t even know they existed. Then came the microscope and Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, and suddenly we could see that microorganisms were the cause of deathly diseases like bubonic plague, smallpox, and tuberculosis. The knowledge launched a war against microbes, resulting in new ways to treat and prevent infections that have doubled our lifespans. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.