Week in Review: Oct. 20

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

Diabetes Pill Might Replace Injection to Control Blood Sugar

An injectable class of diabetes medicationcalled glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1might one day be available in pill form, research suggests. Based on the results of a global phase 2 clinical trial, the study authors reported a significant drop in blood sugar levels for people on the oral medication, and no significant increase in low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) compared to a placebo over six months. The findings also showed that people taking the highest dose of the pill lost a large amount of weightabout 15 poundscompared to a weight loss of fewer than 3 pounds for people on the inactive placebo pill. Via HealthDay.

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The Problem Is the Price: Opaque and Sky High Bills Are Breaking Americans—and Our Health Care System

The health care prices in the United States are, in a word, outlandish. On average, an MRI in the United States costs $1,119. That same scan costs $503 in Switzerland and $215 in Australia. These are uniquely American stories, and they are the key to understanding our dysfunctional health care system. High prices are hurting American families. Most Americans who get insurance at work now have a deductible of more than $1,000. High prices are why medical debt remains a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States—and nowhere else. Via Vox.

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F.D.A. Approves Second Gene-Altering Treatment for Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration approved the second in a radically new class of treatments that genetically reboot a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer. The new therapy, Yescarta, made by Kite Pharma, was approved for adults with aggressive forms of a blood cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who have undergone two regimens of chemotherapy that failed. The treatment, considered a form of gene therapy, transforms the patient’s cells into what researchers call a “living drug” that attacks cancer cells. It is part of the rapidly growing field of immunotherapy, which uses drugs or genetic tinkering to turbocharge the immune system to fight disease. In some cases, the treatments have led to long remissions. Via NY Times.

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Relationship between Sugar and Cancer Is Now Clearer, Scientists Say

Belgian scientists say they’ve made a research breakthrough in the relationship between sugar and cancer. Researchers found yeast with high levels of the sugar known as glucose overstimulated the same proteins often found mutated inside human tumors, making cells grow faster. The finding, published in Nature Communications, aims to shed light on how cancer develops. Via USA Today.

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Minnesota Spends $90 Million on Mental Health Costs for Patients Who Don't Need the Treatment

Minnesota taxpayers have shelled out more than $92 million over the past six years to house patients who no longer require mental health treatment at a state hospital but have nowhere else to go. The cost per patient, according to Department of Human Services records, now tops $1,300 a day—enough to rent an apartment in Minneapolis for a month. The rising toll is a largely hidden but stark sign of gaps in the state’s mental health safety net, particularly for Minnesotans accused of a crime but deemed mentally unfit to face the charges. Via Star Tribune.

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Mayo Clinic News

Who's Most at Risk of Head Injury in Youth Football?

About 8% of the head impacts that occurred during youth play and practice were hard enough to be classified as high-magnitude, the researchers found. One neurologist put that into perspective. "That's equivalent to getting punched in the head by a boxer," said David Dodick, M.D., a professor of neurology with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "No one would want their 9-year-old or 11-year-old punched in the head or involved in a boxing match, but that's the kind of force some of these kids are exposed to regularly." Via HealthDay.

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Mayo Clinic Gathers Experts to Help Fight Opioid Crisis

Experts in the medical field are trying to fight the current opioid epidemic with individualized medicine. Mayo Clinic has been gathering experts together at the Individualizing Medicine Conference 2017 to start the conversation about the causes and solutions of the opioid epidemic. "People who are prescribing the pain medicines may not be addiction specialists and aren't really thinking about addiction when they're starting that process,” Timothy Curry,  M.D., Ph.D., Director of Education for the Center for Individualized Medicine, said. ”That's changing. It's a different climate right now. Everyone's aware of the problem." Via KIMT.

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Excessive Exercise May Harm the Heart, Study Suggests

The new study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, looked at data from almost 3,200 participants taking part in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Participants, beginning the study as young adults, reported their physical activity and had physical exams at least 3 times (and up to 8 times) during the 25-year study period. Physical activity scores were calculated based on how much each participant exercised and with what intensity. Some participants fell into a group that did not meet the recommended 150 minutes/week; another group met the 150 minutes/week; and a third group exercised excessively: 450 minutes/week, or three times the recommended amount. Via Forbes.

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Now Is the Time to Protect Yourself from the Flu

Experts won’t make specific predictions about the upcoming influenza season because the severity of the season varies from year to year, but they do suggest flu shots and simple, preventative measures to keep illness at bay. “Generally, people with influenza are very ill. To put it in simple terms, they look like they’ve been hit by a bus,” said Mark Beahm, M.D., a family medicine doctor with the Mayo Clinic Health System. “They’re very achy and tired. They complain of headaches, sore throat, body aches, joint aches, and they oftentimes have high fevers and a cough.” In most cases, Dr. Beahm said he doesn’t treat flu patients with antiviral medications because many times, it’s too late. Patients have had their symptoms for several days and, at that point, he said using an antiviral medication would be ineffective. Via FOX News.

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First Clinical 7-Tesla MRI Scanner in North America Will Enable Mayo Clinic to Achieve Higher-Resolution Imaging for Patients

Mayo Clinic will have the first clinical 7-Tesla MRI scanner in North America that has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This MRI scanner, the MAGNETOM® Terra, will be operational at Mayo Clinic later in 2017. The manufacturer, Siemens Healthineers, received FDA clearance on October 12 for clinical use of the scanner to image the head and knee. Mayo Clinic will be the first medical center in North America to offer patients advanced diagnostic imaging using an MRI scanner with the strongest magnetic field available for clinical use. 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.