Week in Review: June 24


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

FluMist Nose Spray Vaccine Doesn't Work This Year, Experts Say

The popular, needle-free FluMist influenza vaccine has not protected kids or adults against flu for years and should not be used this coming flu season, experts said. The surprise decision, sure to dismay children and needle-phobes, could also leave pediatricians short of vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. "Nasal spray flu vaccine accounts for about one-third of all flu vaccines given to children," CDC said in a statement. Via NBC News.

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First CRISPR Human Clinical Trial Gets Green Light from U.S.

CRISPR, the genome-editing technology that has taken biomedical science by storm, is finally nearing human trials. On June 21, an advisory committee at the U.S. National Institutes of Health approved a proposal to use CRISPR–Cas9 to help augment cancer therapies that rely on enlisting a patient’s T cells, a type of immune cell. This first trial is small and designed to test whether CRISPR is safe for use in people, rather than whether it cures cancer or not. It will be funded by a US$250-million immunotherapy foundation formed in April by former Facebook president Sean Parker. The trial itself does not yet have a budget. The University of Pennsylvania will manufacture the edited cells, and will recruit and treat patients alongside centers in California and Texas. Via Scientific American. 

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Experimental Zika Vaccine Approved for Clinical Trials for First Time in U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time approved a clinical trial for an experimental vaccine for Zika virus, an early but significant step in the effort to combat a disease that has quickly emerged as a global health threat. The first people could be injected within a few weeks, said Inovio President and CEO Dr. Joseph Kim. Inovio, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and GeneOne Life Science, of Seoul, South Korea, will make the vaccine. “We were the first to construct the vaccine,” Kim told STAT. “And now as of this morning, we were the first to get the OK from the U.S. FDA to start the human studies.” Via STAT.

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Canada Legalizes Physician-Assisted Dying

After weeks of debate, Canadian lawmakers have passed legislation to legalize physician-assisted death. That makes Canada "one of the few nations where doctors can legally help sick people die," as Reuters reports. The new law "limits the option to the incurably ill, requires medical approval and mandates a 15-day waiting period," as The Two-Way has reported. Via NPR.

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No Such Thing as a Healthy Smoker

Smokers who think they are escaping the lung-damaging effects of inhaled tobacco smoke may have to think again, according to the findings of two major new studies, one of which the author originally titled “Myth of the Healthy Smoker.” Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, may be among the best known dangers of smoking, and current and former smokers can be checked for that with a test called spirometry that measures how much air they can inhale and how much and how quickly they can exhale. Unfortunately, this simple test is often skipped during routine medical checkups of people with a history of smoking. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Teams with Google to Improve Health Information

Mayo Clinic is taking steps that it hopes will place its advice in a more prominent position. In cooperation with Google Mobile Search, Mayo is having its experts write concise descriptions and advice for a wide range of specific medical issues to be disseminated through a new feature called Google Symptom Search. Mayo has enlisted teams of doctors and expert clinicians to assemble and vet the information. The goal is to get good information to consumers quickly, using the way they are most likely to seek it. Mayo says Google will navigate searchers to the information that may include details about how common a condition is, risk factors, and suggestions on when to seek medical care. Via Consumer Affairs.

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The Promise (and Limits) of Pediatric Proton Radiation

Proton beam therapy allows doctors to give the same dose as with traditional radiation, while reducing the dose—and complicationsto normal, healthy tissue, says Sameer Keole, M.D., Medical Director of the Proton Beam Therapy Program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. It also allows the use of a higher dose than traditional X-ray radiation (also called photon radiation) to treat resistant tumors, while still protecting surrounding tissue. Young people take the treatment process in stride, Keole says. "Kids are tough," he says. "Sometimes they're a lot tougher than adults. By and large, they have a great attitude. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Minnesota Adds to Already Robust Newborn Screening Program

Minnesota adds three new conditions to its newborn screening program. MPS-1, Pompe Disease, and X-ALD will now be screened for, increasing the total number of genetic disorders tested to 60. The common theme among the new diseases added to Minnesota's newborn screening program are genetic defects that affect enzymes in the body, keeping them from doing their job. Walid Maalouli, M.D., a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic says, "The main problem with all these diseases is there's an accumulation of unbroken, large molecules in the cells of the body. That causes various dysfunction." Via KEYC-TV Mankato.

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Mayo Clinic Opens 4th Primary Care Clinic in Phoenix Area

Mayo Clinic has opened its fourth primary care clinic in the Phoenix area. The 13,000-square-foot facility cost about $2.9 million to develop. It was designed by Orcutt/Winslow and built by McGough Construction. The new primary care practice comes on the heels of a recent 50 percent expansion at Mayo's primary care practice in Chandler, said Paula Menkosky, Chief Administrative Officer of Mayo Clinic in Arizona. "While our focus remains on complex specialty care, we continue to evaluate our primary care presence in the Valley," she said. Via Phoenix Business Journal.

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Mayo Clinic Minute: Tick Removal Do's and Don'ts

Do you know the proper way to remove a tick that’s attached to your body? Despite what you may have been told when you were younger, smothering or burning ticks is not a good idea. The correct removal method is even easier. In this "Mayo Clinic Minute," reporter Jeff Olsen speaks with parasitic diseases expert Bobbi Pritt, M.D., about the right way to remove a tick. 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.