Week in Review: Aug. 11

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.


Industry News

Brain Activity Higher in Women Than Men, Study Finds

Using a functional neuroimaging technique on more than 26,000 adults, researchers found that women have higher activity in numerous brain regions, including those associated with impulse control, anxiety, and mood. Lead study author Dr. Daniel G. Amen, of Amen Clinics, Inc. in Newport Beach, California, and colleagues recently published their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. When it comes to brain-related disorders, men and women are often disproportionately affected. For example, according to the Alzheimer's Association, around 5.5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's disease. Of these individuals, around two-thirds are women. Studies have also found that women are almost twice as likely as men to develop depression over the course of a lifetime. Via Medical News Today.

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Parasitic Cyclospora Infections up 134% This Summer

There were 206 cases of cyclospora infections reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the first of May to the beginning of August, a 134% increase from the 88 cases reported over the same time period in 2016. Cyclospora infections or cyclosporiasis are caused by ingestion of the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis in food or water. Cyclospora infect the small intestine and most commonly cause watery diarrhea; other symptoms include abdominal cramping, nausea, and weight loss. Via CNN.

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A Chip That Reprograms Cells Helps Healing, At Least

Scientists have created an electronic wafer that reprogrammed damaged skin cells on a mouse's leg to grow new blood vessels and help a wound heal. One day, creator Chandan Sen hopes, it could be used to be used to treat wounds on humans. But that day is a long way off—as are many other regeneration technologies in the works. Like Sen, some scientists have begun trying to directly reprogram one cell type into another for healing, while others are attempting to build organs or tissues from stem cells and organ-shaped scaffolding. But other scientists have greeted Sen's mouse experiment, published in Nature Nanotechnology, with extreme skepticism. "My impression is that there's a lot of hyperbole here," says Sean Morrison, a stem cell researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "The idea you can [reprogram] a limited number of cells in the skin and improve blood flow to an entire limb–I think it's a pretty fantastic claim. I find it hard to believe." Via NPR.

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Should the Opioid Crisis Be Declared a National Emergency?

A White House commission released a report this week on America's opioid crisis with an urgent recommendation—that President Trump declare it a national emergency. Some medical professionals and others who work to treat drug addiction are praising that recommendation, saying it would shore up much needed drugs to treat overdose and aid recovery. But others worry it could lead to heightened enforcement of those struggling with addiction—similar to the crack epidemic of the 1980s. The commission, chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has it right, says Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an addiction specialist with Brandeis University. "This is a public health emergency," he says, noting that since 1999, more than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses. Drug overdoses now kill more people each year than gun homicides and car crashes combined. In its report, the commission says by declaring a national emergency, the president and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price could take immediate action on a number of fronts. Via NPR.

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First Embryo Gene-Repair Holds Promise for Inherited Diseases

Altering human heredity? In a first, researchers safely repaired a disease-causing gene in human embryos, targeting a heart defect best known for killing young athletes—a big step toward one day preventing a list of inherited diseases. In a surprising discovery, a research team led by Oregon Health and Science University reported that embryos can help fix themselves if scientists jump-start the process early enough. It’s laboratory research only, nowhere near ready to be tried in a pregnancy. But it suggests that scientists might alter DNA in a way that protects not just one baby from a disease that runs in the family, but his or her offspring as well. And that raises ethical questions. “I, for one, believe, and this paper supports the view, that ultimately gene editing of human embryos can be made safe. Then the question truly becomes, if we can do it, should we do it?” said Dr. George Daley, a stem cell scientist and dean of Harvard Medical School. He wasn’t involved in the new research and praised it as “quite remarkable.” Via Washington Post.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Retains No. 1 Ranking in U.S. News

Mayo Clinic retained the top spot in U.S. News & World Report's 2017–18 Best Hospital rankings, but the annual report included a historic first that gave Mayo officials another reason to celebrate. Mayo's Rochester facility earned the coveted No. 1 ranking for the second straight year and the third time in four years. This year, Mayo officials also celebrated out west as the Phoenix campus finished No. 20 in a report that examined more than 4,500 medical centers across the country. It's the first time in the 28-year history of the U.S. News rankings that Mayo has placed more than one campus on the Honor Roll, and the first time any Arizona facility has landed in the Top 20. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Mayo Clinic: Gut Bacteria May Lead to Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

A human gut microbe discovered by researchers at Mayo Clinic may help treat autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, according to findings published in the journal Cell Reports. The Mayo research team, including researchers from the University of Iowa, tested gut microbial samples from patients on a mouse model of MS. Of three bacterial strains, they found one microbe, called Prevotella histicola, effectively suppressed immune disease in the preclinical model of MS. “If we can use the microbes already in the human body to treat human disease beyond the gut itself, we may be onto a new era of medicine,” said a statement from Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. “We are talking about bugs as drugs." Via KMSP.

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Finding the Right Medication: Gene Test May Help Treat Depression

According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic that looked at one genetic test similar to many used in hospitals (GeneSight Pscychotropic), symptoms of depression were reduced by 70% compared to treatments prescribed without genetic testing. While the results are striking, this technology is not a guarantee of complete resolution of depressive symptoms or medication side effects. Via NBC News.

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Mayo Clinic Had $28B Impact on U.S Economy in 2015

A study commissioned by Mayo Clinic calculates the health care giant’s national economic footprint as well as other related benefits. Ohio-based TEConomy Partners released a report that found that Mayo Clinic contributed almost 170,000 jobs and $28 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, the Post-Bulletin reported. Via Pioneer Press.

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Blue Light-Blocking Glasses That Might Help You Sleep

All colors of light have the potential to cause retinal injury depending on the intensity and duration of exposure, says Raymond Iezzi, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. But blue light—the primary type of light emitted from LED-based devices like your computer and smartphone—has a shorter wavelength than other colors of light, and it delivers more energy to the eye compared to softer (think: red or yellow) sources. "Individuals tend to blink less frequently when mesmerized by what is on their screens, or by simply focusing on their work for extended periods," explains Dr. Iezzi. "This can worsen symptoms of dry eye and cause burning, irritation, and blurred vision." Via Health.

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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.