Week in Review: Sept. 9

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

Sen. Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sets Veteran EMS Training Plan into Action

War veterans have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Now a new plan aims to address the shortage of emergency medical workers by offering training and tuition breaks to those vets. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is behind the law to streamline civilian health care training for veterans with military medical experience. Via WCCO.

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Pharmacists Say EpiPen Costs Are Drastically Increasing

An EpiPen is an epinephrine injection used to reverse a potentially deadly allergic reaction. Pharmacists said cost of an EpiPen pack has gone up nearly $200 in the last six months and almost $400 in the last several years. The Medicine Shoppe in Chippewa Falls said it has seen a 20 percent increase in price about every year. Medicine Shoppe Owner Paul Winger said he believed the price is increasing because the EpiPen brand is the only epinephrine injection drug on the market, so manufacturers can charge what they want for the product. Via WQOW. 

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Study of Breast Cancer Treatment Reveals Paradox of Precision Medicine

A major study about the best way to treat early-stage breast cancer reveals that "precision medicine" doesn't provide unambiguous answers about how to choose the best therapy. "Precision doesn't mean certainty," says David Hunter, a professor of cancer prevention at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That point is illustrated in a large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involving decisions about chemotherapy. Via NPR.

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Illegal Street Drugs, Not Prescriptions, Now Powering Opioid Abuse, Study Finds

The widespread abuse of the potent opioid fentanyl appears to be largely the result of illicit manufacturing of the synthetic drug as opposed to the misuse of legally prescribed versions of the painkiller, according to two U.S. government studies released. That represents a dramatic change in the way opioids have traditionally been abused, and means public health officials will likely have to adjust their response to the two-decade-long crisis. Via STAT.

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New Virus Breaks the Rules of Infection

Human viruses are like a fine chocolate truffle: It takes only one to get the full experience. At least, that's what scientists thought a few days ago. Now a new study published is making researchers rethink how some viruses could infect animals. A team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has found a mosquito virus that's broken up into pieces. And the mosquito needs to catch several of the pieces to get an infection. "It's the most bizarre thing," says Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, who wasn't involved in the study. It's like the virus is dismembered, he says. "If you compare it to the human body, it's like a person would have their legs, trunk, and arms all in different places," Holmes says. "Then all the pieces come together in some way to work as one single virus. I don't think anything else in nature moves this way. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

Is There a Seasonal and Geographic Link to Celiac Disease?

Winter babies and people born in places with shorter days and less sunlight might have a lower risk of developing celiac disease than peers born in warmer regions or seasons, a Swedish study suggests. Among other things, global warming, variation in the type of spring weather, and the timing of changing seasons might explain some of the differences in risk found in the study, said Joseph Murray, M.D., director of the celiac disease program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Via Washington Post.

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Most Patients Eager to Join Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort

The Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort may have a brighter-than-anticipated future ahead of it, according to a new survey of potential participants conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Nearly 80 percent of the 2601 patients responding to the poll supported the idea of a million-patient biobank, and 54 percent added that they were very likely to contribute their genetic, clinical, and environmental data if asked. Overall, the survey provides a promising foundation for forthcoming the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort. The Mayo Clinic will be taking a leadership role in the development of the biobank over the next five years, relying on $142 million in grant funding to support the massive undertaking. Via Health IT Analytics..

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Novel Blood Test Predicts CV Events in CAD Patients

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester have launched a new blood test, the first in the U.S. capable of assessing the future risk of adverse cardiovascular (CV) events in patients with progressing coronary artery disease (CAD) via the measurements of plasma ceramides—waxy, lipid molecules that have been associated with cardiovascular disease. “This test is for patients with highly specialized cases, for example, patients with progressing coronary artery disease—despite treatment and control of their risk factors, or for younger individuals with premature CAD,” said Jeff Meeusen, Ph.D., clinical chemist and co-director of Cardiovascular Laboratory Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Via MDLinx.

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Mayo’s Kogod Center on Aging Spawning Spinoffs, Breakthrough Research

The same Mayo Clinic lab that earlier this year spawned a buzzworthy anti-aging startup firm has recorded another research breakthrough connecting “senescent” human cells to age-related maladies—in this case, osteoarthritis. Via Twin Cities Business Magazine.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Investigate Protein’s Role in Cell Division

In a paper published recently in the journal eLife, Mayo Clinic scientists take a step toward translating the protein BubR1’s function into a potential therapy for cancer. “I'd argue no one wants to age, and nobody wants to decline slowly, right?” says Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., a scientist at Mayo Clinic. “But, if you get fatal cancer, then you don't worry about aging anymore.” 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.