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.
Zika Tests on Pregnant Monkeys Suggest Disease Could Be Carried By Humans for up to 70 Days
Being infected once with the Zika virus may protect individuals from future infections, scientists have said. However, pregnancy may complicate the outcome for females as it appears to prolong the length of infection. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have used rhesus macaque monkeys to determine whether the animals could provide a model for studying the way that the virus infection may progress. When analysing the monkey's immune response to the infection, they discovered that it is very similar to what occurs in humans, with the virus activating the body's defence mechanisms and the viral load quickly clearing from the blood—although this is different with pregnant monkeys. Via International Business Times.
A Deadly, Drug-Resistant Yeast Infection Is Spreading around the World
U.S. health officials are warning hundreds of thousands of clinicians in hospitals around the country to be on the lookout for an emerging and highly drug-resistant type of yeast that is causing potentially fatal infections in hospitalized patients around the world. Most people are familiar with the garden variety kind of yeast infections that people get on the skin or in their genitals. But invasive yeast infections can be fatal, especially for patients in intensive care or having surgery. Others at risk include people with diabetes, patients taking powerful antibiotics and antifungal medications, and those with catheters. Via Washington Post.
Biden Holding Cancer Summit to Pump up Support for "Moonshot" Effort
Vice President Biden will convene an all-day cancer summit in Washington that will be part pep rally, part Ted talk, part wonk-a-thon—designed to garner support for the Obama administration’s yearlong initiative to advance cancer research. The summit, which is expected to draw as many as 300 people from academia, industry, and advocacy groups to Howard University, is billed as a way to generate new ideas to beat a disease that kills almost 600,000 Americans a year. Dozens of regional summits will take place at the same time. Via Washington Post.
CDC Report Reveals Magnitude of Flint Water Crisis
The residents of Flint, Michigan, continue to face an unprecedented crisis over lead in water. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes clear how much damage was done. "When the source of the water supply was switched to the Flint River, without appropriate corrosion control measures, young children who drank the water had blood lead levels that were significantly higher than when the source of water was the Detroit water system," according to the report. "After the switch back to the Detroit water system, the percentage of children under 6 years with elevated blood lead levels returned to levels seen before the water switch took place." Via CNN.
After 190 Tries, Are We Any Closer to a Cure for Alzheimer’s?
Big Pharma might have thrown in the towel if Alzheimer’s weren’t one of the industry’s last big untapped markets. More than 5 million Americans have the disease, and that number may rise to 13.8 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Existing medicines, which mostly treat symptoms, have combined sales of about $3 billion today. “If any of these drugs actually manage to slow the progress of the disease, their sales potential would be orders of magnitude higher,” says Sam Fazeli, senior pharmaceuticals analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. Via Bloomberg.
Mayo Clinic News
Doctors Less Satisfied, More Burned out with Electronic Records
Most doctors who use electronic health records and order entry software tend to be less satisfied with how much time they spend on clerical tasks and are at higher risk of burnout than others, according to a new study. “These electronic tools also give physicians access to the medical record when at home, which has extended the physician work day,” said lead author Tait Shanafelt, M.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Studies suggest physicians spend more than 10 hrs/week interacting with the EHR after they go home from the office on nights and weekends.” Via Reuters.
Texting Produces an Entirely New Kind of Brain Wave Pattern
A research team from the Mayo Clinic has shown that text messaging changes the rhythm of brain wave patterns in a way that’s never seen before. William Tatum, D.O., the lead author of the new study, put it this way: “We believe this new rhythm is an objective metric of the brain’s ability to process non-verbal information during use of electronic devices and that it is heavily connected to a widely distributed network augmented by attention or emotion.” To make the discovery, Tatum’s team at the Mayo Clinic analyzed electroencephalogram (EEG) data from nearly 130 participants. In conjunction with video footage, their brain waves were monitored over a period of 16 months. Via Gizmodo.
Mayo Clinic Unveils Compact MRI Scanner to Improve Patient Experience
Mayo Clinic has unveiled a compact MRI scanner that researchers say is the first of its kind in the world. Developed in collaboration with General Electric's Global Research Center and funded by a nearly $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the prototype is being housed in the Charlton North Building in Mayo Clinic's downtown Rochester campus. "Sometimes in larger cities, the cost of putting an MR in a building—where you have to take out the side of the building, use large cranes to get it in within the center of the building, and in addition to that, have a vent for the helium in case it were to release—is more expensive than the MR itself," said John Huston, III, M.D., a co-principal investigator in the project. Via KTTC-TV.
Doctors at Mayo Clinic Using Viruses to Fight Cancer
Doctors at Mayo Clinic are using deadly viruses to fight a deadly disease. Just last month, the Food and Drug Administration gave breakthrough status to a cancer therapy that uses the polio virus to combat brain tumors. “We do have one of the oldest programs, not just in this country, but in the world,” Eva Galanis, M.D., said. Dr. Galanis leads the Mayo’s virus therapy program, which started in 1994. It uses a number of viruses to attack cancer cells. Via WCCO-TV.
Road to Discovery Runs through Clinical Research Unit
The road to developments that change medicine is littered with seemingly great ideas. In the early stages, that road meanders like a mountain trail with many ideas falling off course and discarded. But once an innovative medical concept reaches the point of clinical research, the road turns to superhighway, running straight through a patient-study unit nestled on Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minn. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.