Week in Review: Dec. 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

Flu Is Spreading Fast This Year, with a Severe Season Possible

This year’s flu season is off to a fast start and early indications suggest that it may be more severe than the previous season. Four states currently have widespread flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last winter there were none at this time. And it may be spreading fast. Dr. William Schaffner, who is involved in the CDC’s flu surveillance network in Tennessee, has noticed cases of influenza picking up "dramatically" in the last week. Even worse, it appears the dominant strain will be H3N2, which can produce more severe illness, said Dr. Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Via NBC News.

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First U.S. Baby Born after a Uterus Transplant

For the first time in the United States, a woman who was born without a uterus gave birth to a baby. The landmark birth took place at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, a part of Baylor Scott & White, TIME reports exclusively. “We’ve been preparing for this moment for a very long time,” says Dr. Liza Johannesson, an ob-gyn and uterus transplant surgeon at Baylor. “I think everyone had tears in their eyes when the baby came out. I did for sure.” The woman and her husband asked that their identity not be revealed in order to protect their privacy. The birth took place at Baylor—the first birth in the hospital’s ongoing uterus transplant clinical trial. Women who participate in the trial have what’s called absolute uterine factor infertility (AUI), which means their uterus is nonfunctioning or nonexistent. Most of the women in the trial have a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome—and have lived their entire lives under the assumption that they would never be able to be pregnant or give birth to a baby. The procedure could also work for women with other medical issues, such as certain cancers. Via TIME.

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Antibiotic Resistance: An Old Problem with New Ramifications

While researchers have been sounding the alarm for decades, "finally over the last couple of years, it's been getting the attention that has been long overdue and that it richly deserves," said Hughes, who is also a co-director of the Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center. He was not involved in the new study. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections every year and that 23,000 die as a result. And these infections are often longer, more costly, and more serious than those in which first-line antibiotics work, the CDC says. "It's clearly a problem that's getting worse," Hughes said. Via Wiley CNN.

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Replacing Awful Hospital Lighting Could Create a More Healing Environment

It’s hard to hear the phrase “hospital lighting” without shuddering. We’re used to harsh overhead fluorescents which, while bright enough to allow doctors and physicians to treat their patients, grate on the retinas, and obscure an innate sense of day or night. That lighting style is also not especially conducive to advancing patient health and recovery. What might be is a system of adjustable LEDs that mimic natural daylight cycles, supporting patients’ ability to rest, and creating a warmer, more comforting environment in their rooms. In 2013, lighting megacompany Philips launched Hue, a wireless LED home lighting system that allows a user to control, via remote control, their lights, changing them to around 16 million different colors. With Hue, people can adjust the saturation and intensity of the lights to boost concentration or relaxation—Rensselaer Polytechnic University has conducted research on lighting’s effect on humans—or just to create a certain mood. Via Fast Company.

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Birth Control Pills Still Linked to Breast Cancer, Study Finds

Women who rely on birth control pills or contraceptive devices that release hormones face a small but significant increase in the risk for breast cancer, according to a large study. The study, which followed 1.8 million Danish women for more than a decade, upends widely held assumptions about modern contraceptives for younger generations of women. Many women have believed that newer hormonal contraceptives are much safer than those taken by their mothers or grandmothers, which had higher doses of estrogen. The new paper estimated that for every 100,000 women, hormone contraceptive use causes an additional 13 breast cancer cases a year. That is, for every 100,000 women using hormonal birth control, there are 68 cases of breast cancer annually, compared with 55 cases a year among nonusers. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

Rochester Airport Sees Increase in Passengers

The Rochester International Airport is seeing a spike in its number of passengers with the addition of more flights and an endorsement from Mayo Clinic. The airport has already had more passengers so far in 2017 than in all of 2016, the Post Bulletin reported. More than 230,000 passengers have used the airport through October this year, compared to about 229,000 passengers for all of last year. "The airport is making huge strides in passenger numbers," said John Reed, the airport's director. The airport's passenger numbers were down in 2015 and 2016. The spike occurred in June after the Mayo Clinic's policy change. Mayo Clinic amended its travel policy to require employees traveling for work to use the Rochester airport instead of the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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sphingotec, Mayo Clinic Ink Deal to Evaluate Dx Biomarkers for Life-Threatening Diseases

Hennigsdorf, Germany-based sphingotec recently signed an agreement with Mayo Clinic to collaborate on the evaluation and use of biomarkers that could improve the diagnosis of certain disease states, including kidney disease, breast cancer, sepsis, and cardiovascular disease. Under the agreement, for research and potential routine clinical use, Mayo Clinic will evaluate proenkephalin (penKid), a blood-based biomarker that provides information on the current status of kidney function, and three other biomarkers, sphingotec said. Via 360Dx.

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Mayo Clinic Develops Test to Distinguish Other Demyelinating Diseases from MS

The Mayo Clinic has developed a test that allows doctors to distinguish other inflammatory demyelinating diseases from multiple sclerosis in the early stages of a disorder. The test, the first of its kind in the United States, looks for an antibody against a protein known as myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (or MOG) in the blood. Loss of the protein is associated with inflammatory demyelinating diseases, whose name stems from loss of the myelin protein sheath that protects nerve cells. Via Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

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Mayo Clinic, National University Hospital in Singapore Announce First Direct Laboratory Interface in Asia-Pacific

Mayo Medical Laboratories, the global reference laboratory of Mayo Clinic, and National University Hospital (NUH) in Singapore announced on December 5 that are now electronically linked via the widely used and secure Health Level 7 interface. The system enables NUH to order specialized Mayo laboratory tests and receive patient results in real time. “Setting up an HL7 interface represents a major commitment of time and resources,” says William Morice, II, M.D., Ph.D., President of Mayo Medical Laboratories and Chair of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. “This progressive decision by NUH supports its commitment—and Mayo’s—to putting the needs of the patient first.” Via Korea IT Times.

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Fight the Flu with an Influenza Shot

Have you had your flu shot? Consider this. December 3–9 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a reminder that everyone six months and older should be encouraged to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports higher than usual flu activity around the U.S. than is usually seen this time of year. 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.