Week in Review: Nov. 18

woman-breaking-cigarette-smokingThe 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

Robots vs. Cancer: How Tech is Tackling Biden's Moonshot

There's no guarantee that Biden's moonshot — which was announced at the State of the Union address this past January — will survive the transition to a Trump presidency intact. White House initiatives exist at the pleasure of the administration, and don't require congressional approval to begin or end. But even if the initiative is scuttled, that it was formed at all is evidence of a shift in the larger fight. Cancer has become an innovation priority, and researchers in a wide variety of fields are proposing novel approaches to finding, containing, and destroying it. In the near term, the R&D poised to have the biggest impact involves more powerful data analysis and new drug therapies. But in the decades to come, it's robots that will be called upon to pilot themselves through the bodies of patients, to relay diagnostic data back to doctors, and to deliver precision-guided drug payloads inside tumors. Via NBC News.

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Popular Heartburn Medications Linked to Higher Risk of Stroke

The research was conducted in Denmark among a quarter-million patients who suffered from stomach pain and indigestion, and were taking one of four PPIs: Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, or Nexium. Overall, stroke risk increased 21% among patients who were taking a PPI, according to the study. At the lowest doses, the authors found either no or minimal increased risk of stroke. At the highest doses, they found that stroke risk increased 33% for Prilosec and Prevacid patients, 50% for Nexium patients, and 79% for Protonix patients. Via CNN.

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More Than 1 Billion People Globally Are Living With High Blood Pressure

In 2015, there were 1.13 billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide, with the majority of them in low and middle-income countries. The findings come from a new study published in The Lancet, which found that the number of people affected by high blood pressure has almost doubled over the past 40 years. In most countries, men were found to have higher blood pressure than women The study highlighted a stark contrast between where people are most affected, with high-income countries showing a sharp decline in blood pressure among their populations in recent decades, while low- and middle-income countries have seen numbers spike — particularly in South Asia and Africa. Via CNN.

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Surveys Highlight Gaps in Antibiotic Awareness Among the Public

The majority of survey respondents representing the general public in Australia agreed that antibiotics are less effective when they are used unnecessarily; however, recent data showed that nearly 20% still expected an antibiotic prescription for a cold or influenza-like illness. “It has been estimated that 20% to 50% of all antimicrobial use is inappropriate, and Australia contributes to the problem by being one of the largest antibiotic consumers in the world,” they wrote in Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control. “One of the contributing factors is the inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics for nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Patient/carer expectations have been identified as one of the main drivers for inappropriate antibiotic-prescribing by primary care physicians.” Via Healio.

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‘Minibrains’ Could Help Drug Discovery for Zika and Alzheimer’s

Some tiny clusters of brain cells grown in a lab dish are making big news at this week's Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. Known as "minibrains," these rudimentary networks of cells are small enough to fit on the head of a pin, but already are providing researchers with insights into everything from early brain development to Down syndrome, Alzheimer's and Zika. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

Want to Prevent the Flu? Skip the Supplements, Eat Your Veggies

When you're exposed to a virus like the influenza virus, a number of factors determine whether you actually get sick, and if so, how severely. One is pre-existing immunity, either from being previously exposed to a similar strain or through a vaccine, says Gregory Poland, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. In addition to a healthful diet and sufficient sleep, Poland recommends exercise, staying up to date on flu and pertussis vaccinations, staying away from people who are obviously sick, and washing your hands. Via NPR.

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Why the FDA Wants More Control over Some Lab Tests

Because the FDA does not have the resources to oversee all the LDTs that have come to market in recent years, the agency plans to divide them into three categories, based on the likelihood that a misleading or incorrect result from a particular test could cause substantial harm. Even this targeted approach worries many industry leaders and some professional medical societies, including the American Medical Association. “It really depends on how the FDA chooses to define high risk, and that currently isn't clear,” says Curtis Hanson, chief medical officer at Mayo Medical Laboratories in Rochester, Minn., which conducts 25 million lab tests a year. “High-risk tests could amount to between 1 and 10 percent of LDTs on the market today. How is the FDA going to review and find the rare cases where you have problems and do that in an efficient way that doesn't slow progress?” Via Scientific American.

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Impact of Flow Cytometry on Blood Disorders

Among its many clinical uses, fluorescence-based flow cytometry aids laboratories in the diagnosis of blood cancers and other disorders. The Division of Hematopathology within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, performs both basic and specialized hematology testing via six specialty labs. Its Cell Kinetics Laboratory, in particular, uses flow cytometry as a primary technology to diagnose leukemias and lymphomas from blood, bone marrow, fluid, and tissue specimens. Via Medical Lab Management.

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Mayo Leaders Call For New Health Records Standards

Work now being done by Mayo and others has brought us to the brink of having genetic information about patients available to caregivers at the bedside, where they can use it to tailor day-to-day decisions about what kinds of drugs would best benefit them against cancer and many other ailments. But because there are few standards for representing those complex datasets on electronic health records (EHRs), the goal of applying precision medicine on a large scale will be hard to reach unless major changes are made in how those health records are kept. That’s the take presented by the Mayo Clinic authors of an article published late last month in the medical records industry trade journal For the Record. Via Twin Cities Business.

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Mayo Clinic Minute: Advice for Quitting on Great American Smokeout Day

As the U.S. celebrates another Great American Smokeout, there’s good news about smoking rates. The overall and daily smoking rates continue to decline, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Jeff Olsen speaks with Dr. J. Taylor Hays, director of the Mayo Clinic Tobacco Dependency Clinic, about the strategies Mayo Clinic uses to help smokers kick the habit. 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.