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.
Lyme Cases Rise as Ticks Expand across Minnesota
An estimated 329,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a bull's eye rash at the site of a tick bite. People call Lyme disease “The Great Imitator” because it mimics a number of other chronic diseases. The disease can also come with many co-infections. The Minnesota Department of Health has documented an increasing trend in Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases as the black-legged tick has expanded its territory, moving more north and west across Minnesota in areas that were formerly considered to be lower risk with no prior detectable populations of ticks before. The agency says the number of Lyme cases has jumped 142% in the past two decades in Minnesota. Via Kare11.
Ultra-Tough Antibiotic to Fight Superbugs
U.S. scientists have re-engineered a vital antibiotic in a bid to wipe out one of the world's most threatening superbugs. Their new version of vancomycin is designed to be ultra-tough and appears to be a thousand times more potent than the old drug, PNAS journal reports. It fights bacteria in three different ways, making it much less likely that the bugs can dodge the attack. It is yet to be tested in animals and people, however. The Scripps Research Institute team hopes the drug will be ready for use within five years if it passes more tests. Via BBC.
U.S. Death Rate from Alzheimer’s Rose Dramatically over 15 Years. Why?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just put out a grim report about Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Death rates from Alzheimer’s climbed 55% from 1999 to 2014, CDC found, and the number of Americans afflicted is likely to rise rapidly in the coming years. About 5.5 million people 65 years or older have the disease—a wretched and fatal form of dementia that erases memories and ultimately can destroy mental and physical capacity. By 2050, that’s expected to more than double to 13.8 million people. The report is based on state- and county-level death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System, and CDC researchers said the sharp increase in death rates may be due to the aging population, earlier diagnosis, and greater reporting by physicians. Via Washington Post.
Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Brain to Start "Eating" Itself
A lack of sleep can cause parts of the brain's synapses to be "eaten" by other brain cells, according to a new study by researchers at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy. Astrocytes are a cell in the brain that clean out worn-out cells and debris. Scientists studying the brains of mice found these cells were more active when the animals had been deprived of sleep, breaking down more of the brain's connections. “We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” research leader Michele Bellesi told New Scientist. Via Telegraph.
SRT Treatment for Skin Cancer Gains Popularity, but It's Not for Everyone
A skin cancer treatment that's come in and out of favor over the years, called superficial radiation therapy, is gaining popularity again, say skin experts. But some doctors are wary, especially of its use in younger people, since the long-term effects aren't fully understood. CBS News reached out to some top skin specialists to sort through the pros and cons. SRT, as it's called, is used to treat non-melanoma forms of skin cancer–basal cell and squamous cell cancers. Both types can develop after years of sun exposure and also from tanning bed use. SRT is not used to treat people with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Via CBS News.
Mayo Clinic News
OneOme, Mayo Clinic Launch Nation’s Largest Population-Based Pharmacogenomics Study
Pharmacogenomic company OneOme is teaming up with Mayo Clinic and Baylor on the nation’s largest population-based pharmacogenomics study. The study, developed and led by Mayo Clinic, is called the RIGHT 10K study and its purpose is to examine the health and economic outcomes of pharmacogenomics in 10,000 participants. The study will use the laboratory services at Baylor to sequence genomic data from participants recruited from the Mayo Clinic Biobank, along with OneOme’s services to interpret and deliver each participant’s pharmacogenomics data to clinicians in an understandable, electronic format. Via HIT Consultant.
The Earliest Signs of Brain Damage in Athletes? Listen for Them.
In the study, to be published in the journal Brain and Language, researchers at Arizona State University tracked a steeper decline in vocabulary size and other verbal skills in 10 players who spoke at news conferences over an eight-year period, compared with 18 coaches and executives who had never played professional football and who also spoke in news conferences during the same period. Someday, such a test may help scientists detect and monitor a number of neurological disorders, said Richard Caselli, M.D., Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona—including individuals who are without symptoms but are at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Via NY Times.
Two Types of Skin Cancer Are Skyrocketing—Are You at Risk?
When it comes to sun awareness, we’re at an all-time high: Everyone knows to wear hats and long sleeves and slather on protection in the summer, and we have plenty of info on choosing the right kind of sunscreen. So why are cases of two types of skin cancer skyrocketing, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic? For the study, Mayo researchers went to the Rochester Epidemiology Project—it has 50 years-worth of medical data from a network of medical clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Drawing on records of nearly 145,000 people, the researchers tallied cases of the two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma—between 2000 and 2010. Via Reader's Digest.
Can You Change Your Gut Bacteria?
Purna Kashyap, M.B.B.S., a gastroenterologist and researcher at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, says he won’t prescribe probiotic supplements to his patients with digestive complaints. “I can’t tell people to go out and spend money on probiotics without actually having the clinical data to back it up,” he says. “But if they are already taking them and perceive benefits, I tell them it’s fine.” Via WebMD.
Mayo Clinic, Baxter Launch Research and Development Collaboration to Transform Patient Care
Mayo Clinic and Baxter International Inc. announced a new research and development collaboration to advance innovation across a spectrum of therapeutic areas where there are high unmet patient needs. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.