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.
NIH Plans to Lift Ban on Research Funds for Part-Human, Part-Animal Embryo
The federal government announced plans to lift a moratorium on funding of controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human. The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions. The NIH imposed a moratorium on funding these experiments in September because they could raise ethical concerns. Via NPR.
The Shaky Evidence for Flossing
Flossing is supposed to help prevent plaque build-up, which can be bad news for teeth and gums. (You probably already know this.) In a statement, the American Academy of Periodontology acknowledged there was a problem with research on the matter, stating that "much of the current evidence does not utilize a large sample size or examine gum health over a significant amount of time." The organization still encouraged patients to keep up the practice, though. Via Washington Post.
All Pregnant Women Should Be Assessed for Zika Exposure
All pregnant women in the U.S. should be assessed for possible Zika exposure during every prenatal visit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The advice from the CDC came as federal health officials also urged women who are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant to avoid a Miami neighborhood that is the site of a Zika outbreak. Zika can cause catastrophic birth defects in developing fetuses, including microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small skull and, in most cases, incomplete brain development. Via USA Today.
FDA-Approved Knock-Offs of Biotech Drugs Could Safely Save Big Bucks
Copycat versions of biotech drugs work just as well as the originals and cost a lot less, according to an analysis of studies of the medicines. The analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that so-called biosimilars—medications that are meant to mimic, and compete with, complex and expensive biotech drugs—perform as well as the brand-name versions. The researchers looked at data from 19 studies of biosimilar drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis, and found that they were comparable to the originals and would cost less. Via NPR.
Zika Surge in Miami Neighborhood Prompts Travel Warning
Federal health officials urged pregnant women to stay away from a Miami neighborhood where they have discovered additional cases of Zika infection—apparently the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people not to travel to a place in the continental United States. Florida officials said the number of Zika cases caused by local mosquitoes had risen to 14 from the 4 announced on Friday: 12 men and 2 women. They declined to say whether either woman was pregnant. All of the cases have been in one neighborhood. Health officials said they still did not expect the number of local cases to grow into anything comparable to the epidemic that has raged across Latin America in recent months. Via NY Times.
Mayo Clinic News
U.S. News & World Report Announces the 2016–17 Best Hospitals
U.S. News & World Report released its 27th annual Best Hospitals rankings to help patients make more informed health care decisions. U.S. News compared nearly 5,000 medical centers nationwide in 25 specialties, procedures and conditions. This year, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is No. 1 on the Honor Roll, which has been expanded to highlight 20 hospitals delivering exceptional treatment across multiple areas of care. The Cleveland Clinic is No. 2, followed by Massachusetts General Hospital at No. 3. U.S. News also recognized 504 Best Regional Hospitals in states and metro areas. Via U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Advances Breast Cancer Research
Breast cancer remains a top concern for many, but researchers in Rochester believe they may have taken a step in the right direction to kill the disease. Mayo Clinic health officials say not only did they find bacteria on tissue samples from the breast but could see a difference between those who had cancer and those who didn’t. Although it may seem like a small step, it could mean a lot in the long run. Via KIMT-TV.
The Scary Truth about Lyme Disease
Lyme disease tests are notoriously inaccurate in the early stage of the infection. In patients with a recent bull’s-eye rash, the ELISA turns up positive less than half the time, according to Elitza Theel, Ph.D., an expert in blood testing at the Mayo Clinic. “If you’ve noticed that you have a tick bite and a rash, you really don’t need to be tested,” she says. You’re infected. Via Men's Health.
Mayo Clinic Seeks Ways to Avoid Physician Burnout
By this time next year, Mayo Clinic will be well on its way to training 45,000 employees across its campuses in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida to use Epic's electronic health records system. Whether that's a positive or a negative may depend upon who you ask. Mayo Clinic's Tait Shanafelt authored a study last month in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that further confirmed those findings. In collaboration with American Medical Association, Shanafelt surveyed more than 6,000 physicians across the country before determining that the increased clerical burden—particularly among family medicine physicians, urologists, otolaryngologists, and neurologists—led to decreased job satisfaction and an increased risk of burnout. Via Post-Bulletin.
Zika: What You Need to Know about the CDC Travel Advisory
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an emergency travel advisory after health officials in Florida identified local transmission of Zika virus in a Miami neighborhood. The CDC advisory recommends pregnant women and their partners avoid nonessential travel to Lynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, Florida, where the Zika virus is active. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.