Week in Review: Sept. 8

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

Testing Probe to Help Cancer Surgeons Know They Got It All

Patients emerging from cancer surgery want to know, "Did you get it all?" Now scientists are developing a pen-like probe to help surgeons better tell when it's safe to stop cutting or if stray tumor cells still lurk. The device is highly experimental, but laboratory tests show it uses molecular fingerprints to distinguish between cancerous cells and healthy ones far faster than today's technology, Texas researchers reported. "That's really anyone's worst nightmare, to go through surgery and know there's a chance" some cancer remains, said assistant chemistry professor Livia Eberlin of the University of Texas at Austin, who is leading the work. "By providing real-time molecular information, we could really improve accuracy." Via Brunswick News.

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PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer Saves Lives after All, Study Says

After years of growing doubt about the value of screening men for prostate cancer, a new analysis of existing clinical trial evidence has found that when men between 55 and 70 get the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, the result is lives saved. In 2009, a New England Journal of Medicine editorialist famously called the debate over PSA testing for prostate cancer “the controversy that refuses to die.” That comment came with the publication of two clinical trials—one conducted in the United States, the second in Europe—that drew two contradictory conclusions on prostate cancer testing. Via LA Times.

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Modified Stem Cells Deliver Chemotherapy to Metastatic Tumors

Researchers have used modified stem cells to deliver a cancer drug selectively to metastatic breast cancer tumors in mice. The stem cells specifically targeted metastatic tumors by homing in on the stiff environment that typically surrounds them. Compared with nonmodified stem cells, the modified stem cell treatment shrank metastatic breast tumors in mice and improved their rate of survival. The study results were published in Science Translational Medicine. Via National Cancer Institute.

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FDA Approves Historic "Living Drug" Treatment to Fight Childhood Leukemia

Opening a new era in cancer care, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment that genetically engineers patients' own blood cells into an army of assassins to seek out and destroy childhood leukemia. The CAR-T cell treatment developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. and the University of Pennsylvania is the first type of gene therapy to hit the U.S. market—and one in a powerful but expensive wave of custom-made “living drugs” being tested against blood cancers and some tumors. Via LA Times.

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Drug Overdose Deaths Skyrocketed in 2016—and Traditional Opioid Painkillers Weren’t the Cause

The federal government just put out new statistics for drug overdose deaths in 2016—and they are very, very grim. The preliminary figures from the National Center for Health Statistics suggest that there were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016. And in a shocking—but not quite surprising—reveal, synthetic opioids (like fentanyl) overtook both heroin and prescription painkillers in terms of overdose deaths. Via Vox.

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Mayo Clinic News

Alzheimer's Blood Test Could Help Efforts to Diagnose Disease Early

A blood test is being called a game-changer in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Still in its early stages, the test is a great step forward to diagnosing the disease early on. In the meantime, one of the leading experts in Alzheimer’s disease at the Mayo Clinic said they’re also working on their own study to end the deadly condition. “So, while this test is new, it's interesting. I think it needs to be validated in a long-term study watching how people, in fact, over time develop Alzheimer's disease later on down the road," said Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., a top neurologist at Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Via KMSP.

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Mayo Clinic Lab Directors Take Aim at Biotin Interference in Immunoassays

The issue has come to a head for some clinical laboratories, prompting them to develop methods to mitigate the risks associated with inaccurate results from certain immunoassays. As part of their mitigation strategies, lab directors are collaborating with physicians and the in vitro diagnostic manufacturers “to raise awareness, but not to raise alarm, “ Nikola Baumann, Director of the Central Clinical Laboratory and Central Processing at Mayo Clinic, said in an interview. Via 360 Dx.

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New Class of Drugs Targets Aging to Help Keep You Healthy

Researchers have turned the spotlight on a new class of drugs that they say could "transform" the field of medicineand the drugs work by targeting aging. The researchers, from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are calling for senolytic drugs to make the leap from animal research to human clinical trials. They outlined potential clinical trial scenarios in a paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "This is one of the most exciting fields in all of medicine or science at the moment," said James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Kogod Center on Aging at Mayo Clinic and lead author of the new paper. Via CNN.

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September Is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

In preparation for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Men's Health Network encourages men to know their risk as early detection is the best predictor of survival. "The various conflicting positions on prostate cancer screening are confusing for patients and doctors alike, but the fact is prostate cancer still is one the leading auses of cancer deaths in men,” said Jason Jameson, M.D., a urologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. “September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month—I encourage men to discuss their individual risk, screening options, and prevention strategies with their doctors. Every man deserves a discussion about this, regardless of age." Via Arizona Republic.

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Mayo Clinic’s Florida Campus Completes 300th Heart Transplant

The heart transplant team at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus in Jacksonville, Florida, is celebrating the completion of its 300th heart transplant since its program began in 2001. 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.