Week in Review: Dec. 23

human-genomeThe 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

Anti-Aging Process Rejuvenates Lab Mice: Study

In what sounds like a sci-fi movie come true, researchers say they used gene manipulation to counter aging in mice. Using a process called cellular reprogramming, the scientists said they also made human skin cells appear and act young again in a laboratory dish. "Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one single direction," said study senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte. He's a professor in the gene expression laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. "It has plasticity and, with careful modulation, aging might be reversed," Izpisua Belmonte said in an institute news release. Via HealthDay.

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Americans’ Hearing Loss Decreases Even with Ubiquitous Headphones

As concern rises over the effect of continuous use of headphones and earbuds on hearing, a new paper by federal researchers has found something unexpected. The prevalence of hearing loss in Americans of working age has declined. The paper, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, which periodically administers health tests to a representative sample of the population. The investigators, led by Howard J. Hoffman, the director of the epidemiology and statistics program at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, compared data collected between 1999 and 2004 with data from 2011 and 2012, the most recent available. The researchers reported that while 15.9% of the population studied in the earlier period had problems hearing, just 14.1% of the more recent group had hearing loss. The good news is part of a continuing trend—Americans’ hearing has gotten steadily better since 1959. Via NY Times.

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How Much Is Too Much? New Study Casts Doubts on Sugar Guidelines.

Over the past two years the World Health Organization and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines have begun urging us to consume no more than 10 percent of our daily calories from added sugar. Drinking more than one sugar-sweetened soda a day can put you over that limit. But a new industry-funded study published in a prominent medical journal questions the evidence used to generate the specific recommendations to limit sugar in our diets. "Overall, I would say the guidelines are not trustworthy," says study author Bradley Johnston, a clinical epidemiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto who also teaches biostatistics. Johnston reviewed the studies and methodology used to generate the guidelines. He concludes that while it's wise for people to limit sugar consumption, there's still a question about how much to limit. Via NPR.

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Trading Hospital Rooms for Hotel Suites

While other hospital-hotel projects are planned or underway in Baltimore; Pittsburgh; and Rochester, Minnesota, home to Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic seemed to grasp the trend’s potential early on. In 1974, during a major expansion, its campus welcomed the Park Plaza Hotel, which had 450 rooms, many of them tiny, and a medieval-themed restaurant. Later known as the Omni International Hotel, it was demolished in 2000 to make way for the 294-room InterContinental Cleveland, which the clinic owns. It offers a 500-seat amphitheater and is connected to the hospital by an enclosed bridge. In 1998, the hospital added the 152-room InterContinental Suites Hotel Cleveland, also on the property. At a hospital where the average length of stay for inpatients is seven days, the hotels “are a very nice complement,” said William Peacock, III, the chief of operations for the clinic, which is known for its cardiology care and organ transplants. Via NY Times.

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How to Save at Least 32,000 Lives Each Year: Replace Male Doctors with Female Ones

Doctors from Harvard have an intriguing suggestion for saving 32,000 lives each year: Make sure all senior citizens who wind up in the hospital are treated by female doctors. After examining the medical records of Medicare patients from across the country, the Harvard researchers calculated that 10.82% of those treated by physicians who were women died within 30 days of being admitted to the hospital. Among patients treated by male physicians, the 30-day mortality rate was 11.49%, according to a study published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine. Los Angeles Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

National Academy to Tackle Burnout in Medicine

Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Director of the Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-Being and a researcher who led several of the national studies on physician burnout cited by the academy, told U.S. News that "provider distress" has affected access to care and the quality of care, jeopardizing patient safety and resulting in a "dysfunctional environment for both patients and providers." "The collaborative endeavor led by the National Academy of Medicine along with other leading health care organizations is a pivotal step that will begin to address the system issues that contribute to this problem in a coordinated way," said Dr. Shanafelt, who has been involved early discussions of the initiative. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Mayo Clinic Identifies Enzyme Linked to DNA Repair That May Be Used in Cancer Treatments

The discovery of an enzyme responsible for the regulation of DNA repair may shed new light on treatment possibilities for breast and ovarian cancer. In a paper published in Genes & Development, Mayo Clinic researchers determined the importance of a newly identified enzyme called UCHL3 and its role in the regulation of the BRCA2 pathway. “DNA encodes the blueprints for our body, and DNA repair is a fundamental mechanism to prevent the accumulation of mutations in DNA and human disease,” senior author Zhenkun Lou, Ph.D., a molecular pharmacologist at Mayo Clinic, said. “The BRCA2 pathway is important for DNA repair, and mutation of the BRCA2 gene is linked to increased cancer risk, especially breast cancer and ovarian cancer.” Via Life Science Daily.

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Fergus Couch, Max Wicha Honored by AACR for Breast Cancer Research

Fergus Couch, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, received the AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research, and Max S. Wicha, M.D., of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, received the AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research award. Dr. Couch, Chair of the Division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, was chosen in recognition of his seminal work in identifying the inherited genes and mutations that predispose patients to breast cancer, according to a release from SABCS. Via Targeted Oncology.

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Mayo Clinic First to Offer Genetic Test to Help Guide Diagnosis, Treatment of Lymphoma Patients

Mayo Clinic has created a genetic test to help guide diagnosis and treatment of patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Lymph2Cx test helps determine where the lymphoma started, assigning "cell-of-origin" groups using a 20-gene expression-based assay. It is the first test to go into the Mayo practice from the new Mayo Clinic Molecular Diagnostic Arizona Laboratory. The lab enables Mayo physicians and researchers to access new and existing tests rapidly to improve patient care. Mayo Clinic will be the first site in the country to offer this test to patients. More than 20,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma each year. Via News-medical.net.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Announce Discoveries from Largest Genome-Wide Study of Chronic Liver Disease

A study of unprecedented scale has led researchers to identify four previously unknown genetic risk locations for primary sclerosing cholangitis, a liver disease that lacks effective medical therapy. A Dec. 19 article in Nature Genetics highlights the undertaking, which is the largest genome-wide association study of primary sclerosing cholangitis to date and a step toward providing breakthrough treatments for the unmet needs of primary sclerosing cholangitis patients. 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.