ASCLS eNewsBytes
Jun. 5, 2012

PD-1 agent 'breaks ceiling' in cancer immunotherapy
Medscape Medical News
A new immune-targeted approach to cancer treatment is being heralded as the next big thing in oncology after two investigational agents produced unprecedented durable tumor response rates in three cancers in early trials. The approach uses monoclonal antibodies to neutralize the programmed death 1 protein and its partner molecule, elements of tumors that enable them to evade their nemesis — the immune system.More

Needle-free hematology and clinical laboratory blood tests may
be coming to point-of-care settings

Dark Daily
Israeli researchers developed a microscope with cellular resolution that uses a rainbow of light to image blood cells in vivo as they flow through a microvessel. Experts familiar with the research project say the technology has the potential to find a ready role in clinical diagnostics.More

Speeding up drug discovery with rapid 3-D mapping of proteins
Science Daily
A new method for rapidly solving the three-dimensional structures of a special group of proteins, known as integral membrane proteins, may speed drug discovery by providing scientists with precise targets for new therapies, according to a paper published in Nature Methods. The technique, developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, provides a shortcut for determining the structure of human integral membrane proteins, molecules found on the surface of cells that serve as the targets for about half of all current drugs. More

Detecting cancers — from tiny bits of tumor DNA in blood
Los Angeles Times (blog)
When cancer blooms in the body, tiny bits of tumor DNA can be found in the blood. Cancer specialists would love it if these DNA fragments could one day be used in noninvasive diagnostic tests – "liquid biopsies" – that are relatively inexpensive and sensitive.More

Pharma companies, publishers agree on publishing guidelines
Medscape Medical News
Pharmaceutical industry and publishing representatives have collaborated to develop 10 recommendations for closing the credibility gap in reporting industry-sponsored clinical research. The report was published in the May issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Despite earlier industry efforts to improve publishing standards, "a credibility gap remains: some observers, including some journal editors and academic reviewers, maintain a persistent negative view of industry-sponsored studies," they note.More

Preventing misdiagnosis of MS
Medscape Medical News
Misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis is becoming an increasingly recognized problem in the field, one expert says. Misdiagnosis is, "under-recognized, under-appreciated and under-studied," said Brian G. Weinshenker, M.D., from the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. More

New class of cancer drugs may be less toxic
The New York Times
A new class of cancer drugs may be more effective and less toxic than many existing treatments. By harnessing antibodies to deliver toxic payloads to cancer cells, while largely sparing healthy cells, the drugs are a step toward the "magic bullets" against cancer first envisioned by Paul Ehrlich, a German Nobel laureate, about 100 years ago. More

$900 point-of-care DNA nanopore sequencer may hit market
Dark Daily
Is the profession of pathology and clinical laboratory medicine ready to deal with point-of-care DNA sequencing technologies? A company in the United Kingdom says that, as early as next year, it can bring a portable high-throughput unit to market that will sell for around $900. The miniaturized sensing instrument, called MinION, is about the size of a USB memory stick and works with a normal laptop computer.More

Study suggests expanding the genetic alphabet may be easier
than previously thought

A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute suggests that the replication process for DNA—the genetic instructions for living organisms that is composed of four bases — is more open to unnatural letters than had previously been thought. An expanded "DNA alphabet" could carry more information than natural DNA, potentially coding for a much wider range of molecules and enabling a variety of powerful applications, from precise molecular probes and nanomachines to useful new life forms. More

Screening new drugs with stem cells
Forbes (blog)
Mass-producing stem cells to screen drugs and study the progress of disease is not the sexier side of the field. But it's getting more attention now – and it's about time. The costs savings for drug development are substantial, as stem cells can be used to expose drugs with dangerous side effects before they reach the market.More

Patients with CAP leave hospital sooner with 3-step approach
Medscape Medical News
A simple three-step plan for treating patients with community-acquired pneumonia was safe and dramatically reduced hospital length of stay compared with usual care, while having no adverse effects on readmissions, mortality or patient satisfaction, according to new research findings. The three steps of the critical pathway involved the early mobilization of patients, followed by the use of objective criteria for switching to oral antibiotic therapy, and the use of predefined criteria for deciding on hospital discharge.More

Study: 'Bloodletting' may be beneficial
Bloodletting as a medical treatment was abandoned in the 19th century, but German researchers said blood donation is beneficial to the donor. Professor Andreas Michalsen of the Charite-University Medical Centre in Berlin and colleagues at the University Duisburg-Essen said donating blood can provide medical benefits for obese people with metabolic syndrome – which includes insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia and hypertension and leads to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. More

Aspirin: The new anti-cancer wonder drug?
It's the season when we worry about skin cancer. (Not to mention the anti-aging effects of the sun.) But what if the best preventative is right there in your medicine cabinet? New research reported in the journal Cancer found that people taking aspirin regularly were much more likely not to get squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma, two of the most common – and deadliest – skin cancers.More

IST-3: Thrombolysis benefits even oldest stroke patients
Medscape Medical News
In the largest trial of a thrombolytic drug to date, patients with acute ischemic stroke who received recombinant tissue plasminogen activator up to six hours after a stroke benefited in terms of being alive and capable of independent living at six months compared with a control group, regardless of age. Peter Sandercock, professor of medical neurology and honorary consultant neurologist in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, reported the results of the third International Stroke Trial showing that mortality was higher in the first week for the patients receiving tPA but was no different from controls at six months.More

Why genetic tests don't help doctors predict your risk of disease
Your DNA may hold valuable information about your health, but current genetic tests can't improve doctors' ability to predict your risk of major disease.More

Testosterone: An overview of CDC's standardization initiative
Clinical Laboratory News
The androgen steroid hormone, testosterone, plays a significant physiological role in both men and women, so being able to measure it accurately and reliably has important clinical implications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with broad input from various professional societies, is leading a Hormone Standardization Program with an initial focus on standardizing testosterone measurements.More

Fertility on hold for child cancer patients
Chicago Tribune
A burgeoning field of research allows parents of young children diagnosed with cancer to consider their pre-pubescent child's ability to someday bear children — and to take steps to protect that ability. Because the aggressive methods necessary to treat certain types of cancers can cause infertility — and because pediatric patients' bodies aren't physically prepared to bear children — doctors are exploring fertility treatments that go beyond freezing eggs or freezing sperm.More