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.
New Gene-Editing Technique May Lead to Treatment for Thousands of Diseases
Scientists from Harvard University have just unveiled a new gene editor that uses the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 technology to target and change a single letter in a string of DNA bases—no cutting necessary. Considering that there are billions of letters in the human genome, converting one letter to another may not sound like much. But tens of thousands of human diseases can be traced to these tiny mistakes, scientists say. If traditional gene editing is like taking a pair of molecular scissors to a DNA strand to alter a genome, then the new technique, known as base editing, is like using a pencil and eraser, scientists say. Via Los Angeles Times.
Many Breast Cancer Patients Receive More Radiation Than Needed
An exclusive analysis for Kaiser Health News found that only 48 percent of eligible breast cancer patients today get the shorter regimen, in spite of the additional costs and inconvenience of the longer type. The analysis was completed by eviCore healthcare, a South Carolina-based medical benefit management company, which analyzed records of 4,225 breast cancer patients treated in the first half of 2017. The women were covered by several commercial insurers. All were over age 50 with early-stage disease. The data “reflect how hard it is to change practice,” said Dr. Justin Bekelman, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Via STAT News.
Breast Cancer Genetics Revealed: 72 New Mutations Discovered in Global Study
The genetic causes of breast cancer just got clearer. Researchers from 300 institutions around the world combined forces to discover 72 previously unknown gene mutations that lead to the development of breast cancer. Two studies describing their work published in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics. The teams found that 65 of the newly identified genetic variants are common among women with breast cancer. Via CNN.
New York State Bans Vaping Anywhere Cigarettes Are Prohibited
Electronic cigarettes, the popular vapor substitute to traditional tobacco cigarettes, will soon be banned from public indoor spaces in New York State—just like the real thing. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill to ban vaping anywhere cigarettes are already prohibited, like workplaces, restaurants, and bars. The ban goes into effect in 30 days. E-cigs, as the products that vaporize a variety of oils into an inhalant are generally known, were added to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act this summer by the State Assembly, and the measure was approved by the Senate. The original act has been around since 2003, when smoking tobacco products in public indoor areas was first banned in the state, one of the country’s first such measures. Via NY Times.
A Baby with a Disease Gene or No Baby at All: Genetic Testing of Embryos Creates an Ethical Morass
A test can tell prospective parents that their embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes in its cells, for example, but it cannot tell them what kind of developmental delays their child might have, or whether transferring that embryo into a womb will lead to a pregnancy at all. Families and physicians are gazing into five-day-old cells like crystal balls, seeking enlightenment about what might happen over a lifetime. Plus, the tests can be wrong. “This is a problem that the rapidly developing field of genetics is facing every day and it’s no different with embryos than it is when someone is searching Ancestry.com,” said Judith Daar, a bioethicist and clinical professor at University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. “We’ve learned a lot, and the technology is marvelous and can be predictive and accurate, but we’re probably at a very nascent stage of understanding the impact of what the genetic findings are on health.” Via STAT.
Mayo Clinic News
Vaccines Capping Tumors from Spreading in Breast and Ovarian Cancer Patients
Local cancer researchers are working on vaccines aimed at keeping cancer cells from spreading. Keith Knutson, Ph.D., immunology professor at Mayo Clinic, explained our bodies work constantly to fight off diseases. “Basically it’s a shield and it’s a very complex shield that we don’t quite understand how it works,” Dr. Knutson said. In clinical trials, a vaccine has shown success for patients in remission after undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for breast or ovarian cancer. “What we want to do is come in after those treatments and we want to vaccinate to boost your own immune system to fight the cancer,” Dr. Knutson said.Via HealthDay.
Mayo Clinic Planning $1.2 Billion in Capital Spending in Rochester from 2018–2022
The leadership of Mayo Clinic revealed to Rochester community and business leaders that the medical non-profit is planning to spend an additional $1.2 billion on capital projects in Rochester from 2018 to 2022. Mayo has already spent $1.1 billion so far in the Med City as part of its "Destination Medical Center" initiative. Also, as part of its expansion in Rochester in the past five years, the Clinic has added 3,000 new employees, bringing its total work force in Rochester to 36,547 people. The overview of Mayo Clinic's footprint in Rochester and its general plans for the future under DMC came at an invitation-only luncheon at Phillips Hall in the Siebens Building at noon on Wednesday. Via KTTC.
Fewer Lab Tests Can Produce Better Patient Results
Mayo Clinic has built out its electronic health record to flag repetitive laboratory tests, which has helped the not-for-profit health system lower costs and improve care. The clinic's EHR aggregates how often certain tests are ordered, cost data and guidance on how to reduce redundancy, among other metrics. It has been an important tool as hospitals and health systems look to get more bang for their buck, said Curtis Hanson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Mayo Medical Laboratories. "Excess lab tests are a problem everywhere, whether it's here at Mayo or at other systems across the country—it's a common recurring theme," he said. Via Modern Healthcare.
Mayo Clinic, National Decision Support Company Partner to Develop Online Decision-Making Tool for Clinicians
Mayo Clinic has teamed with National Decision Support Company (NDSC) to develop CareSelect Lab, a decision-support tool that aggregates clinical knowledge around a comprehensive menu of conditions and translates that knowledge into best-practice recommendations. “CareSelect Lab is a natural extension of NDSC’s capabilities to deliver EHR-integrated guidelines and brings together the industry standard for EHR-delivered guidance with the more than 1,500 best-practice care models authored, curated, and maintained by Mayo Clinic,” says Michael Mardini, CEO of NDSC. Via Clinical Lab Products.
Researchers Link Alzheimer’s Gene to Type 3 Diabetes
Researchers have known for several years that being overweight and having Type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But they’re now beginning to talk about another form of diabetes: Type 3 diabetes. This form of diabetes is associated with Alzheimer's disease. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.