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.
Genetically Altered Skin Saves a Boy Dying of a Rare Disease
A child who was on the verge of death from a rare inherited disease has been treated with genetically engineered skin cells that replaced most of the skin on his body. The treatment represents a notable success for the field of gene therapy, which has suffered many setbacks. And it's potentially good news for children suffering from a painful and often deadly skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa. In this disease, children are born with a flawed gene that prevents the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, from binding to the inner layer. This can cause excruciating blisters to form all over these children's bodies. In the case in Europe, a 7-year old boy ended up in the hospital back in 2015 after 60% of his epidermis had sloughed off. Tobias Rothoeft, a surgeon at a burn unit at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, says he and his colleagues tried everything—including a skin transplant from the boy's father—to no avail. Via NPR.
Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Increase Risk of Certain Cancers, Experts Warn
Consuming alcoholic beverages, even in moderation, may increase your risk of developing certain cancers, according to a new statement released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). "People typically don't associate drinking beer, wine, and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes," Dr. Bruce Johnson, president of the ASCO, an organization of cancer doctors, said in a statement. Consuming just one alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, report finds. Via ABC News.
Unlocking the Secrets of the Microbiome
Under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health, a large team of scientists is now engaged in creating a “normal” microbiological road map for the following tissues: gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, skin, airways, urogenital tract, blood, and eye. The effort, called the Human Microbiome Project, takes advantage of new technology that can rapidly analyze large samples of genetic material, making it possible to identify the organisms present in these tissues. Depending on the body site, anywhere from 20% to 60% of the organisms that make up the microbiota cannot be cultured and identified with the older, traditional techniques used by microbiologists. If the institutes’ five-year project succeeds in defining changes in the microbiome that are associated with disease, it has the potential to transform medicine, assuming ways can be found to correct microbial distortions in the affected tissues. Via NY Times.
Lupus: Low Vitamin D May Raise Risk of Kidney Failure
New research, conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, finds that low vitamin D raises the risk of organ damage and renal disease in people with lupus—an autoimmune disease. Dr. Michelle Petri, Ph.D., director of the Hopkins Lupus Center is the lead author of the study, and the findings were presented at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP) Annual Meeting in San Diego. Via Medical News Today.
"Unbelievable": Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain
A procedure used to relieve chest pain in hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year is useless for many of them, researchers reported on Wednesday. Their study focused on the insertion of stents, tiny wire cages, to open blocked arteries. The devices are lifesaving when used to open arteries in patients in the throes of a heart attack. But they are most often used in patients who have a blocked artery and chest pain that occurs, for example, walking up a hill or going up stairs. Sometimes patients get stents when they have no pain at all, just blockages. Heart disease is still the leading killer of Americans—790,000 people have heart attacks each year—and stenting is a mainstay treatment in virtually every hospital. More than 500,000 heart patients worldwide have stents inserted each year to relieve chest pain, according to the researchers. Other estimates are far higher. Via NY Times.
Mayo Clinic News
Mayo Clinic Neurologist Explains Rare Disorder Neuromyelitis Optic
Mayo Clinic neurologist Sean Pittock, M.D., explains rare autoimmune disorder neuromyelitis optica, which affects the optic nerves and the spinal cord. Via Daily Maily.
Dr. Kumar on Updates to Treatment for Patients with High-Risk Myeloma
Shaji Kumar, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Myeloma, Amyloidosis, Dysproteinema Group at Mayo Clinic, discusses updates to the treatment paradigm of high-risk multiple myeloma in an interview during the 2017 Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium. Multiple myeloma is a very heterogenous disease; although the median overall survival has improved, one-quarter of patients will still die within the first three to four years, Dr. Kumar explains. The high-risk nature of the disease in some patients seems to be primarily driven by genetic abnormalities, as well as other tumor characteristics. Moreover, patients may present with standard-risk disease, but then, over time, they can progress to higher-risk disease and require different treatment. Via OncLive.
Genetic Pathways to Individualized Treatment for Advanced Prostate Cancer
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine have uncovered genetic clues to why tumors resist a specific therapy used for treating advanced prostate cancer. This discovery can guide health care providers to individualized treatments for castration-resistant prostate cancer, a deadly disease that does not respond to standard hormone therapy. Several U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved therapies are available for castration-resistant prostate cancer, but the treatments affect each patient differently. Via Science Daily.
It's Far More Than Overdoses: IV Opioid Users' Diseases Overwhelm Hospitals
There's no national data on endocarditis costs, but a recent study showed North Carolina's costs to treat endocarditis in opioid users shot up from $1.1 million to $22.2 million between 2010 and 2015, an 18-fold increase. One small rural hospital in Waycross, Georgia, spent nearly $400,000 to treat one uninsured IV opioid user's four cases of endocarditis. That doesn't include her cardiac surgery at another hospital. "The addiction issue is causing the endocarditis, so if you're not treating the addiction, they're going to be coming back," says Ulas Camsari, M.D., a Mayo Clinic addiction psychiatrist who co-authored the Georgia study while working for the Waycross hospital. Via USA Today.
Mayo Physician Dispels Popular Coffee Misconceptions
Is coffee good or bad for us? How much is too much? Can it stunt growth? Donald Hensrud, M.D., Director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program, provides answers to these much-debated questions. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.