ASCLS eNewsBytes
Jun. 19, 2012

Hospital freezer fault destroys crucial brain data
Reuters via Medscape Medical News
A freezer failure at the world's largest brain tissue bank has damaged nearly 150 stored brains, including one-third of those used in autism research, potentially delaying discoveries in the field for years. The federally funded Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, housed at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., provides tissue for the study of neurological disorders such as Huntington's disease, autism, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.More

Gene map of body's microbes is new health tool
The Wall Street Journal
Researchers said they have produced the first comprehensive genetic map of the microbes that live in or on a healthy human body, laying the groundwork for possible new advances in research and in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The accomplishment – the result of a five-year, $173 million initiative called the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health – stems from an effort to better understand bacteria and other organisms that play a critical role in processes ranging from digestion to infection.More

Another contender in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma
Medscape Medical News
The investigational oral agent tivozanib showed superior progression-free survival, compared with sorafenib, in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma who were both pretreated and treatment-naive, according to the results of an open-label phase 3 trial. These results for tivozanib, which is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, were presented in Chicago at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.More

Vein grown from stem cells saves 10-year-old girl
Doctors in Sweden have replaced a vital blocked blood vessel in a 10-year-old girl using the first vein grown in a lab from a patient's own stem cells. The successful transplant operation, reported online in The Lancet medical journal, marks a further advance in the search for ways to make new body parts.More

MRSA genome sequencing could help control outbreaks
Medical News Today
A new study shows that whole genome sequencing can rapidly and accurately differentiate among strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a way that current lab methods can't. Speeding up the turnaround of such vital information can help control hospital outbreaks of the superbug, said the researchers.More

Red Cross: OK for blood donors to have uncomplicated hemochromatosis
Reuters via Medscape Medical News
Patients with hemochromatosis need frequent phlebotomies to bring their iron levels down, and in some countries the blood is simply thrown away – but a new paper from the Belgian Red Cross says the blood can be used for transfusions as long as iron levels have been normalized. The investigators say the blood collected in these phlebotomies often gets discarded "because of the non-voluntary character of this donation, and because a potential risk of microbial contamination of the donor blood is assumed."More

Foundation medicine to double testing capacity, show efficacy of test
in clinical trials

Following the launch of its sequencing-based cancer profiling test last month, Foundation Medicine is planning to double its testing capacity and is conducting clinical trials to prove the impact of its test on doctors' treatment decisions and patient outcomes. Earlier this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago, the company presented results for the first 304 commercial samples tested in its CLIA lab, showing that the test could find actionable alterations in around 80 percent of samples.More

Why hospital implementation of an enterprise-wide EMR can often 'degrade' the informatics capabilities of the clinical laboratory
Dark Daily
Adoption of electronic medical record systems by hospitals and health systems throughout this country may now be the single most disruptive factor in how hospital labs configure their laboratory information systems specifically in support of their parent institutions' informatics requirements.More

Sluggish recovery to dampen spending on physician services
Medscape Medical News
The sluggish recovery from the recent recession will hold back national spending on healthcare — including physician services — through 2014 more than economic forecasters from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected last year, according to a study of theirs published online in Health Affairs. Annual growth rates are somewhat lower than what CMS officials predicted in last year's projection, also published in Health Affairs. 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. In men, testosterone test results are crucial in diagnosing hypogonadism, and in women, they assist in the work-up of suspected polycystic ovary syndrome. Testosterone measurements also aid in monitoring treatment response in men taking enzyme inhibitors for prostate cancer.More

Omacetaxine may benefit CML patients with resistant disease
Medscape Medical News
Omacetaxine mepesuccinate, an investigational agent that is a first-in-class cephalotaxine, has shown promise in the treatment of resistant chronic myeloid leukemia. Three studies of omacetaxine were presented in Chicago at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Two studies demonstrated that it has activity in patients with chronic-phase and accelerated-phase CML who have become resistant to standard therapy, and a pooled analysis showed that it has an acceptable safety profile in patients in all phases of CML.More

Some clinical laboratories report drop in average number
of tests-per-patient

Dark Daily
Across the country, a number of clinical laboratory organizations have privately told The Dark Report editorial team that they have experienced a decline in the average number of lab tests-per-requisition over the past 18 months. Even though this data is anecdotal and from a handful of lab organizations, it could be an early sign of an important shift in lab test utilization by clinicians.More

6 new stem cell lines now publicly available
Six new human embryonic stem cell lines derived at the University of Michigan have just been placed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health's registry, making the cells available for federally-funded research. U-M now has a total of eight cell lines on the registry, including five that carry genetic mutations for serious diseases such as the severe bleeding disorder hemophilia B, the fatal brain disorder Huntington's disease and the heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes sudden death in athletes and others. More

Pertuzumab approved for HER2 breast cancer
Medscape Medical News
A new drug that targets HER2-positive breast cancer, pertuzumab, has been approved in the United States. About one quarter of all cases of breast cancer are HER2-positive. Pertuzumab is approved for use in combination with the first HER2 therapy ever launched, trastuzumab, and with the chemotherapy agent docetaxel. More

Humana and Norton Healthcare's pilot ACO triggered both increased utilization of clinical laboratory tests and improved patient outcomes
Dark Daily
One lesson learned from a pilot accountable care organization project is that increased utilization of clinical laboratory testing in appropriate circumstances will contribute to improved patient outcomes. Just one year into a pilot ACO partnership, Norton Healthcare and insurer Humana Inc. have shown quality gains and some modest savings.More