Week in Review: July 8


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

Leading Researchers Recommend Major Change in Prostate Cancer Treatment

Leading American and British cancer researchers are urging that all men with advanced prostate cancer strongly consider being tested for inherited gene mutations—both to help steer their treatment and to alert family members who themselves might be at increased risk for a range of cancers. This new recommendation, which represents a major change in approach, was prompted by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that almost 12% of men with advanced cancer had defects in genes that are designed to fix damage to DNA, compared to 4.6% of patients with disease that hadn't spread. Via Washington Post.

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Apple Urges Organ Donation Via New iPhone Software

Apple wants to encourage millions of iPhone owners to register as organ donors through a software update that will add an easy sign-up button to the health information app that comes installed on every smartphone the company makes. CEO Tim Cook says he hopes the new software, set for limited release this month, will help ease a critical and longstanding donor shortage. He said the problem hit home when his friend and former boss, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, endured an “excruciating” wait for a liver transplant in 2009. Via STAT. 

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Marijuana Compounds Show Promise in Protecting Brain Cells from Alzheimer's

Some potentially good news about cannabis compounds is wafting from the Salk Institute labs in San Diego. Researchers discovered that the main psychoactive compound in marijuana—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—and a few other active compounds remove amyloid beta proteins from lab-grown neurons. Amyloid is the toxic protein known to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The compounds also significantly reduced cellular inflammation, an underlying factor in the disease’s progression. This isn’t the first study to investigate whether the active compounds in cannabis might play a role in battling Alzheimer’s, but it’s the first to find a double-tap effect against both amyloid beta proteins and inflammation. Via Forbes.

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Unregulated Stem-Cell Clinics Are Proliferating across the United States

For years, American "stem-cell tourists" have flocked to unregulated clinics in Mexico, the Caribbean, and China in search of everything from heart treatments to facelifts. But now, these kinds of clinics are popping up across the United States. According to a new study, at least 351 companies with 570 clinics are marketing unapproved treatments for conditions such as osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's, autism and injured spinal cords, as well as for cosmetic enhancements. "In almost every state now, people can go locally to get stem-cell 'treatments,'" said Paul Knoepfler, a stem-cell scientist at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell. "That's different from what we typically think about when we think of stem-cell tourism." Via Washington Post.

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President Obama: Medicine’s Next Step

By bringing together doctors and data like never before, precision medicine aims to deliver the right treatments in the right dosage at the right time—every time. It helps target the causes of a condition rather than just the symptoms. This is one of the greatest opportunities we’ve ever seen for new medical breakthroughs, but it only works if we collect enough information first. The National Institutes of Health is making major investments in partnerships across the country, including with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, to gather data that could lead to lifesaving discoveries. Via Boston Globe.

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Mayo Clinic News

NIH Spends $55 Million to Attract 1 Million for Precision Medicine Research Program

The National Institutes of Health has handed out nearly $55 million in grants as it seeks to enroll up to 1 million people willing to offering their patient data as part of President Barack Obama's precision medicine initiative. The agency named the Veterans Health Administration, four academic medical centers, and six federally qualified health centers as lead patient recruiters for the initiative. The Mayo Clinic was named in March as keeper of the project's biospecimen bank, a $142 million, five-year contract award. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Physician Burnout: Stop Blaming the Individual

In 2011, 45% of U.S. physicians had at least one symptom of professional burnout, according to a study from the Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-Being at Mayo Clinic. That number rose to 54% in 2014. And projections from the Department of Health and Human Services suggest that by 2020, the U.S. will face a shortage of 50,000 physicians. “The rising tide of burnout, coupled with its effects on quality of care and access, make burnout a major threat to the health care delivery system,” says Program Director Tait Shanafelt. “We need to stop blaming individuals and treat physician burnout as a system issue,” argues Shanafelt. “If it affects half our physicians, it is indirectly affecting half our patients.” Via NEJM Catalyst.

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Why Fairview, Mayo Believe Aromatherapy Has a Flowery Future in Health Care

At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, more than 2,000 nurses and physicians have been trained in the use of aromatherapy as a treatment plan. “Often, we ask patients from zero to ten if they found it beneficial,” said Sue Cutschall, APRN, CNS, D.N.P., an integrative health specialist at Mayo. “More often than not they will say there are some benefits, but I have had people say it doesn’t seem to have any effect on them.” Typically, Mayo’s use of aromatherapy has been in conjunction with medication. With no known side effects to inhaling scents, Cutschall finds the practice has helped curb the adverse side effects felt from pain medications. Via Twin Cities Business.

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What Is the Best Way to Use Sunscreen? Mayo Experts Share Best Practice

With the weather getting warmer day by day, people are really concerned about the best practices associated with the use of sunscreen. From the concerns regarding opting a physical sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen to choosing the right SPF, experts from Mayo Clinic has answers to each and every question that a person might have in mind. According to Mayo experts, both forms of sunscreen—physical and chemical—offer effective protection against UV radiation from the sun. However, it is important to make sure that both the forms of sunscreen are applied correctly. Via Headlines & Global News.

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Understanding Drug-Resistant Superbugs

News reports reveal drug-resistant super bacteria identified as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have been found in the waters of Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Olympics sailing events will be held. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Pritish Tosh, M.D. says, "If someone were to be in contact with CRE-contaminated water, it doesn't mean they will become infected with these multi-drug-resistant organisms, but the presence of the bacteria is certainly concerning." 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.