Week in Review: Aug. 18

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

More Americans Living with Epilepsy Than Ever before

The number of Americans with epilepsy is on the rise, with at least 3 million adults and 470,000 children living with the disorder, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes seizures. In most cases, the cause is unknown, but it can be brought on by a number of different conditions, including stroke, brain tumor, head injury, central nervous system infections, or genetic risks. According to the new CDC data, the number of U.S. adults with active epilepsy rose from 2.3 million in 2010 to 3 million in 2015. The number of children with epilepsy increased from 450,000 in 2007 to 470,000 in 2015. Via CBS News.

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Fleas Are Testing Positive for the Plague in Parts of Arizona

Officials in two Arizona counties are warning the public after fleas in the region tested positive for the plague, the infamous infectious disease that killed millions during the Middle Ages. Navajo County Public Health officials confirmed that fleas in the area have tested positive for the rare disease. The public health warning follows a similar notice from Coconino County Public Health Services District in Arizona warning of the presence of plague in fleas found there too. Both counties are situated in the northern part of Arizona. Via ABC News.

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Gene Editing Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs into Humans

In a striking advance that helps open the door to organ transplants from animals, researchers have created gene-edited piglets cleansed of viruses that might cause disease in humans. The experiments, reported in the journal Science, may make it possible one day to transplant livers, hearts, and other organs from pigs into humans, a hope that experts had all but given up. If pig organs were shown to be safe and effective, “they could be a real game changer,” said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s transplant system. There were 33,600 organ transplants last year, and 116,800 patients on waiting lists, according to Dr. Klassen, who was not involved in the new study. “There’s a big gap between organ supply and organ demand,” he said. Via NY Times.

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Five Die while Using Obesity Devices, FDA Says

At least five people have died soon after being fitted with balloons aimed at helping them lose weight, the Food and Drug Administration said. The FDA says it doesn’t know if the devices or the surgery to implant them is to blame but issued an alert to doctors to closely monitor patients who get them. “All five reports indicate that patient deaths occurred within a month or less of balloon placement,” the FDA said in a statement. “In three reports, death occurred as soon as one to three days after balloon placement. At this time, we do not know the root cause or incidence rate of patient death, nor have we been able to definitively attribute the deaths to the devices or the insertion procedures for these devices.” Via NBC News.

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How Yemen’s Cholera Outbreak Spread to a Half-Million People

The numbers are mind-boggling: Over the past four months, half a million people are suspected of having contracted cholera in Yemen, and 2,000 have died from the diarrheal disease. The outbreak took off in earnest in late April, sweeping through this country of 27 million people on the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen has been engulfed in political strife for years, a factor that has greatly exacerbated the scale of this epidemic. Via STAT.

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Mayo Clinic News

New Dementia Trials to Test Lifestyle Intervention

Two years ago, the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability, or FINGER study, reported that a multimodal lifestyle intervention improved cognitive scores in older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (see July 2014 news; November 2015 news). While encouraging, the findings were limited to one study of a single population. Researchers have since called for replication, most recently in a report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) (Jun 2017 news), which noted that “multiple, independent studies testing the same combination of component elements will be necessary before strong conclusions can be drawn regarding the effectiveness of any specific multimodal intervention.” Ron Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who is a member of the NAS committee, told Alzforum that U.S. POINTER fulfills that recommendation and should provide confirmation, or not, of the FINGER results. Via Alzforum.

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Parkinson’s Patients Rarely Had a Place to Come Together and Dance. Jacksonville University Is Changing That.

Jay van Gerpen, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, said he was “very enamored” of such dance therapy. “It’s well-known that patients with Parkinson’s have better functional outcomes with exercise, particularly types associated with movement such as walking and dancing,” he said. “Indeed, exercise has been shown convincingly to decrease the rate of disease progression in Parkinson’s. Dancing has the added benefits of enhancing balance and increasing socialization for Parkinson’s patients. It’s also fun.” Via Florida-Times Union.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Discover New Cause of Treatment Resistance in Prostate Cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a new cause of treatment resistance in prostate cancer. Their discovery also suggests ways to improve prostate cancer therapy. The findings appear in Nature Medicine. In the publication, the authors explain the role of mutations within the SPOP gene on the development of resistance to one class of drugs. SPOP mutations are the most frequent genetic changes seen in primary prostate cancer. These mutations play a central role in the development of resistance to drugs called BET-inhibitors. Via News-medical.net.

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How Saint Mary's Science Center Became a Campus

Saint Mary's University is looking to expand its Rochester footprint. The Winona-based college, which has had a presence in Rochester since 1985, is looking to add about 10,000 square feet to its Cascade Meadow facility. This also comes after the university announced a new "3+2 physician assistant program," a collaboration between Saint Mary's University and Mayo Clinic's School of Health Sciences, which Scott Walker, associate vice president in Rochester and director of Cascade Meadow Wetlands and Environmental Science Center, said will be a "keynote" program for the building. The first three years of that program will be completed on the Winona campus, with the final two set to be housed at the expansion in Rochester. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Our View: Mayo and Rochester Are Family, with All That Entails

Nearly everyone in town has a connection to what used to be called, without irony, Mother Mayo. Some folks, no doubt, will argue that Mayo is no longer the family it used to be. We don't entirely disagree with that. It happens to organizations that grow the kind of footprint Mayo has developed in recent decades. It's been a long time since Drs. Will and Charlie presided over what was basically a family operation, with a couple of clinic buildings and a few hundred employees. The world of medical care has advanced eons beyond those times, and Mayo has advanced with it. The challenge for Mayo today is to remain as family-oriented as possible, while maintaining the quality of practices that has placed it No. 1. Via Post-Bulletin.

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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.