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.
U.S. Dementia Rates Drop 24%
A new study finds that the prevalence of dementia has fallen sharply in recent years, most likely as a result of Americans' rising educational levels and better heart health, which are both closely related to brain health. Dementia rates in people over age 65 fell from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012, a decline of 24%, according to a study of more than 21,000 people across the country published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Via CNN.
Do Cancer Clinical Trials Exaggerate the Real-World Benefits of Drugs?
The point of cancer clinical trials—in which some volunteers take the experimental drug, others receive standard care with existing drugs, and the groups are compared on measures such as whether their tumors shrink, how long they go before tumors return, and how long they survive—is to see whether a drug is safe and effective enough to be sold to American patients. The whole process rests on the premise that the trials give an accurate indication of safety and efficacy among cancer patients in general, not only those who are eligible for and selected for the trial. Trouble is, participants in clinical trials are unlike the overall cancer population, oncologists Dr. Sham Mailankody of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health & Science University pointed out in JAMA Oncology. They’re younger, healthier, better plugged in to the health care system (or they wouldn’t have found a trial in the first place), better educated, and wealthier (it’s often necessary to travel multiple times to where the trial is being conducted). Via STAT.
CRISPR Gene-Editing Tested in a Person for the First Time
A Chinese group has become the first to inject a person with cells that contain genes edited using the revolutionary CRISPR–Cas9 technique. On October 28, a team led by oncologist Lu You at Sichuan University in Chengdu delivered the modified cells into a patient with aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial at the West China Hospital, also in Chengdu. Earlier clinical trials using cells edited with a different technique have excited clinicians. The introduction of CRISPR, which is simpler and more efficient than other techniques, will probably accelerate the race to get gene-edited cells into the clinic across the world, says Carl June, who specializes in immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and led one of the earlier studies. Via Nature.
Drug-Resistant Fungus Linked to 4 U.S. Hospital Deaths
A deadly new drug-resistant fungus has been linked to the deaths of four hospital patients in the U.S., according to a report released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fungus, called Candida auris, preys on the sickest patients and can spread in hospitals. Although doctors have been concerned about the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bugs for many years, this fungus is relatively new on the world scene. First identified in Japan in 2009, it has since spread to South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, according to the CDC. Via USA Today.
Infectious Diseases Keep Delivering Surprises to the U.S.
Infectious diseases are no longer the major killers in the U.S. that they once were, but they still surprise us. According to a report published in JAMA, deaths from infectious disease accounted for 5.4% of deaths from 1980 to 2014. That's a big change from 1900, when infectious diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea accounted for almost half of all deaths. The historical decline represents great progress in sanitation, antibiotic discovery, and vaccination programs, says Heidi Brown, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Arizona and an author of the research letter. "We've done phenomenal and amazing things with respect to infectious diseases," she says. Via NPR.
Mayo Clinic News
Refining Lung Cancer Screening Criteria: Not All High-Risk Individuals Are Captured by Current Recommendations
Recent research from Ping Yang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, suggests that additional benefit may accrue by expanding screening to those with heavy smoking histories who quit in the past 15 to 30 years. Dr Yang's team correctly noted that application of the current guidelines would potentially detect only a limited percentage of lung cancer patients, excluding many individuals who are at high risk of lung cancer. Via MedPage Today.
Mayo Leaders: A Nine-Fold Path to Preventing Burnout
We’ve talked about burnout before, and it seems like lots of hospitals have ideas to combat it. Well, Mayo Clinic has some more ideas—nine of them, to be precise. In a recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Director of Mayo’s Program on Physician Wellbeing, and John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo’s President and CEO, say administrators can’t force doctors to fight this battle on their own. "Burnout is a system issue, and addressing it is the shared responsibility of both the individuals and health care organizations,” Dr. Shanafelt writes. Via STAT.
Mayo Clinic Telemedicine for High-Risk Births Improves Patient Safety at Community Hospitals
Expert telemedicine consultation during high-risk newborn deliveries can improve patient safety in hospitals less familiar with advanced newborn resuscitation, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. "The enhanced access to neonatologists, who could remotely assess the newborn and guide the local care team through the resuscitation, allowed one-third of the babies to stay with their families in the local hospital," said Jennifer Fang, M.D., a Mayo Clinic fellow in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and one of the study's authors. "This allowed the patients to receive the correct level of care in the right location—increasing the value of care. Also, the potential cost savings can be substantial." Via Becker's Hospital Review.
Mayo Launches New High Altitude and Harsh Environments Medical Clinic
Mayo Clinic is seeing patients with concerns about traveling to high altitudes at the recently established High Altitude and Harsh Environments Medical Clinic. "The intent is to serve our patients who either for business or leisure need to travel to high-altitude environments," explains Jan Stepanek, M.D., who is Chair, Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine, at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Via News-Medical.net.
Demystifying Epilepsy and Increasing Awareness
Epilepsy, also known as a seizure disorder, is a neurological condition affecting the nervous system. Epileptic seizures are caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. These seizures may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but most of the time, the cause is unknown. In fact, in two-thirds of patients diagnosed with epilepsy, the cause is unknown. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.