ASCLS eNewsBytes
Mar. 13, 2012

Blood, sweat and robots: Who's ready
for lab automation?

Clinical Laboratory News
Lab automation is not just for the largest, cutting-edge reference labs anymore. Even smaller labs are now taking advantage of scalable automation to help them reduce errors, cut costs, and improve patient outcomes. But as more join the push to automate, laboratorians need to evaluate their choices carefully and consider their unique needs in order to achieve the full benefit of automation, experts say.More

Clinical relevance and biology of circulating tumor cells
Medscape's Breast Cancer Research
Most breast cancer patients die due to metastases, and the early onset of this multistep process is usually missed by current tumor staging modalities. Therefore, ultrasensitive techniques have been developed to enable the enrichment, detection, isolation and characterization of disseminated tumor cells in bone marrow and circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood of cancer patients. There is increasing evidence that the presence of these cells is associated with an unfavorable prognosis related to metastatic progression in the bone and other organs.More

First gorilla genome map offers clues to human evolution
The first complete gorilla genome has been mapped by scientists giving fresh insights into our own origins. Gorilla are the last of the genus of living great apes (humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans) to have their DNA decoded, offering new perspectives on their evolution and biology.More

Survey: Labs, infection preventionists need to work together to facilitate rapid response to healthcare-associated infections
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about one in every 20 patients develops an infection each year related to their hospital care. The key to preventing an outbreak of potentially deadly healthcare-associated infections — such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or C. difficile — is identifying them before affected individuals can pose a transmission risk. But, according to a survey released by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the typical turnaround time for laboratory test results may not be meeting expectations. More

NIH researchers discover new method to label cells for tracking by MRI
National Institutes of Health
Researchers have developed a method to label transplanted cells so they can be tracked by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the future, as cell therapies become a more integral part of regenerative medicine and tumor treatment, there could be increased need to measure how many transplanted immune or stem cells reach their target.More

Testing for Lyme disease: Follow the steps
Barbara J. B. Johnson, Ph.D., is a supervisory research microbiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses serologic testing for Lyme disease. Serology is currently the only type of diagnostic test for Lyme disease approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.More

New way to look at tissue biopsies
Dark Daily
Pathologists would gain new tool to diagnose cancer faster and more accurately, based upon stain-free analysis of tissue. Reading tissue biopsies with a new stain-free method could eventually help pathologists achieve faster and less subjective cancer detection. Should this technology prove viable, it would also displace many of the longstanding tissue preparation methodologies used today in the histopathology laboratory. More

Cancer screening data often misunderstood by doctors
Many primary care physicians appear to be misinterpreting cancer screening data. According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, they often mistakenly interpret improved survival and increased detection with screening as evidence that screening can save lives.More

Regulatory, reimbursement insight
Advance for Medical Laboratory Professionals
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees non-research, medical laboratory testing performed on humans in the U.S. through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, reports no new regulations for MDx testing, but one top official highlights a few considerations for the three testing phases.More

Stem cells beat kidney rejection
One of the key problems associated with organ transplantation is the risk that the body will "recognize" the new organ as a foreign invader and attack it. To prevent this, patients take powerful drugs to suppress their immune systems, and will have to do this for life. The drugs come at a price, preventing organ rejection but increasing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and serious infection. More

Brain cancer blood vessels not substantially tumor-derived
Johns Hopkins scientists have published laboratory data refuting studies that suggest blood vessels that form within brain cancers are largely made up of cancer cells. The theory of cancer-based blood vessels calls into question the use and value of anticancer drugs that target these blood vessels, including bevacizumab (Avastin).More

Clinical laboratory outreach programs gain favor because of many clinical benefits — along with healthy profit margins
Dark Daily
Clinical laboratory outreach programs gain favor because of many clinical benefits — along with healthy profit margins. In the wake of the severe recession and weak recovery, hospitals across the country recognized they could no longer carry unprofitable programs. That is why, in recent years, a growing number of hospitals reduced or discontinued unprofitable services even as the number of hospital clinical laboratory outreach programs increased.More

Study: Shocking HIV rates among black women
ABC News
The HIV rate among black women living in some U.S. cities is the same rate as that of some African countries, according to a new multicenter study presented at the 19th Conference of Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The jarring findings acknowledge that HIV is not an infection that has been eradicated, but one that has been somewhat forgotten, researchers said. More

New throat cancer gene uncovered
Medical Xpress
The study, published in American Journal of Human Genetics, uncovered a mutation in the ATR gene, demonstrating the first evidence of a link between abnormality in this gene and an inherited form of cancer. The researchers say this finding raises new ideas about genetic factors linked to throat cancer and provides a platform for exploring the role of ATR more generally in cancer biology.More