Week in Review: Nov. 11

vote-2016-16-x-9-1024x576The 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

HIV Test to Go: USB Tool Could Aid Developing Countries

A new technology that fits on a USB stick can be used to test for levels of HIV in people's blood, which could aid in treatment of the disease in developing countries, according to a new study. The device has a chip that uses just a drop of blood to detect HIV levels, the researchers said. It creates an electrical signal that is sent to a USB stick, which can then be read by a computer. Testing for levels of HIV in the blood is important because it allows patients to see if their HIV medications are working properly. HIV treatments can lower levels of the virus in the blood to nearly zero, but if the virus develops resistance to the drugs, levels in the blood will rise. Via LiveScience.

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Surprising Study Finds Possible Culprit in Preterm Births

Researchers have uncovered a surprising possible trigger for some preterm births: calcium buildup in the womb, similar to the kind that stiffens older people’s arteries or causes kidney stones. Ohio researchers studying more than 100 pregnant women found that when a mom-to-be’s water breaks too early, the culprit seems to be abnormal calcium deposits that make the normally elastic amniotic sac prone to rupture. It’s a small study and more research is needed to prove if calcification really is behind this baffling kind of prematurity and if so, what to do about it. But the research, reported in Science Translational Medicine, raises the possibility of investigating interventions. Via STAT.

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Teen Vaping Linked to Higher Smoking Uptake

Los Angeles area teens who reported regular e-cigarette use were more likely to be smoking cigarettes 6 months later, researchers found, with more frequent vaping associated both with a higher likelihood of smoking and with heavier smoking at follow-up. Adjusting for baseline smoking, each increment higher on a four-level baseline frequency continuum was associated with a roughly two-fold greater odds of smoking and heavier smoking, Adam M. Leventhal, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, published online Nov. 8. Via MedPage Today.

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Should I Trust Wikipedia with My Health?

Efforts to improve the entire site, including the health section, are already underway. Hundreds of students in both the U.S. and Canada, for example, are working as editors through the Wiki Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that acts as a bridge between Wikipedia and academia. The organization encourages university faculty to assign students Wikipedia entries as a part of coursework. "Rather than write a biography of a woman scientist for their class that their instructor would read and throw away and never engage in again, these students instead have the opportunity to create content for Wikipedia where thousands of people can gain from their work," says the foundation's director of programs, LiAnna Davis. Via NPR.

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Antibody Might Protect Fetus from Zika, Study Finds

Researchers reported two steps toward fighting the Zika virus—one from a team that has found a potential way to protect unborn babies from the virus, and a second from a team that announced the start of human trials of a new vaccine. Neither offers immediate relief against the epidemic of Zika that has swept across the Americas and the Caribbean and parts of Asia, but they both provide hope of eventually being able to protect pregnant women and their babies from the infection. Via NBC News.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Warns Heart-Surgery Patients of New Infection Risk

The Mayo Clinic is notifying 17,000 heart-surgery patients across the country about a rare but serious infection risk related to a common surgical device (called a heater-cooler) used in open-chest operations. The hospital—which has major campuses in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota—has identified one such infection in a heart-surgery patient at its Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, and has since found many of its heater-coolers contaminated with the microbe. Via Yahoo! News.

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Brain Scans May Improve Dementia Diagnosis, Treatment

A new study shows that MRI brain scans can help doctors tell which people with certain thinking and memory problems might go on to develop dementia with Lewy bodies rather than Alzheimer's disease. "Identifying people with mild cognitive impairment at risk for dementia with Lewy bodies is critical for early interventions with the potential treatments emerging in the field," said study author Kejal Kantarci, M.D. She's a radiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "Early diagnosis also helps target appropriate treatments, including what medications not to give. For example, as many as 50% of people with Lewy body disease have severe reactions to antipsychotic medications," she noted. Via HealthDay.

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Medical Professionals and Scientists Gather in Rochester for International Symposium

More than 100 scientists and medical professionals from around the world gathered in Rochester this past week, working to discover the next generation of drugs which may be used to treat cardio vascular disease. The 12th International Symposium of Mechanisms of Vasodilatation was hosted by Mayo Clinic. Via KIMT.

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Amyloid Scans Change Dementia Diagnoses

Amyloid brain scans can change diagnosis and treatment choice in patients with cognitive impairment, but debate about clinical utility is far from over, researchers reported. In an accompanying editorial, Richard Caselli, M.D., and Bryan Woodruff, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, posed this question: "Does the ability to modestly increase diagnostic confidence in distinguishing between several equally degenerative diseases and, in turn, jockey marginally effective symptomatic medications justify this added cost to an already expensive disease?" Via MedPage Today.

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Electing to Heal: Ideas for Moving beyond the Vote

Mayo Clinic resiliency expert Amit Sood, M.D., says healing the wounds of the 2016 election is not only good for your well-being, it’s important for the country’s safety. “If we are fighting each other, then we don’t have the energy to fight somebody else who wants to hurt us,” Dr. Sood explains. “So one of the best ways to get strong is to heal.” 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.