ASCLS eNewsBytes
Sept. 21, 2010

ACLA president: Lab testing is backbone of prevention
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and long-time advocate of prevention, will keynote a National Journal Policy Summit focused on unraveling the complexities of the cost and value of prevention in a post health reform world. The Sept. 21 event is being underwritten by the American Clinical Laboratory Association and its educational arm, Results for Life. "Laboratory testing is the backbone of prevention, whether it is early detection of disease, helping people manage chronic illness or providing genetic information that helps physicians better target therapies," says Alan Mertz, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA). "So it is natural that the laboratory community is underwriting this public forum on prevention."More

Drug-resistant 'superbugs' hit 35 states, spread worldwide
USA Today
Bacteria that are able to survive every modern antibiotic are cropping up in many U.S. hospitals and are spreading outside the USA, public health officials say. The bugs, reported by hospitals in more than 35 states, typically strike the critically ill and are fatal in 30 percent to 60 percent of cases. Israeli doctors are battling an outbreak in Tel Aviv that has been traced to a patient from northern New Jersey, says Neil Fishman, director of infection control and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists.More

Gene variant indicates rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease
Medscape Medical News
A variant of a gene coding for tau protein is the first genetic marker to be associated with the rate of progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to an online report published in the Public Library of Science. Decreased amyloid beta levels in the cerebrospinal fluid have been associated with risk and age of onset of AD, with the change in Aβ levels preceding clinical signs of disease. Levels vary inversely with plaque counts, with the decrease probably a result of Aβ deposition in the brain.More

AIDS virus lineage much older than previously thought
Science Daily
An ancestor of HIV that infects monkeys is thousands of years older than previously thought, suggesting that HIV, which causes AIDS, is not likely to stop killing humans anytime soon, finds a study by University of Arizona and Tulane University researchers. The simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, is at least 32,000 to 75,000 years old, and likely much older, according to a genetic analysis of unique SIV strains found in monkeys on Bioko Island, a former peninsula that separated from mainland Africa after the Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago.More

Obesity in children linked to common cold virus
Childhood obesity is not only an epidemic, it may be an infectious disease transmitted by a common cold virus, a new study suggests. Children exposed to adenovirus-36 were more likely to be obese than were children who had no evidence of infection, according to a study published online in Pediatrics. The new study is the latest to link the virus to obesity in people. Recent studies of Korean children and both American and Italian adults have shown that obese people are more likely to have antibodies against the virus — a sign of a prior infection — than normal-weight people are.More

Unique US trial shows bone marrow stem cells to be safe for AMI
Heartwire via Medscape Medical News
The first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled US trial of bone-marrow stem cells in patients with ST-elevation MI (STEMI) has shown the therapy to be safe and to improve left ventricular volume compared with placebo. Dr. Jay H. Traverse (Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minn.) and colleagues report the findings in the September 2010 issue of the American Heart Journal. More

Regulation of lab-developed tests: How will FDA expand oversight?
Clinical Laboratory News
The day many laboratorians hoped would never come arrived with a flurry of activity and ended with no certain outcome. In announcing the public meeting on laboratory-developed tests that took place July 19 and 20, officials of the Food and Drug Administration declared the agency intended to forgo its policy of enforcement discretion and instead begin actively exercising oversight of LDTs. Why the sudden change? At least in part the agency seems to be responding to the explosion of direct-to-consumer genetic tests, which have been drawing closer scrutiny from FDA as well as from Congress.More

Gene therapy appears to help patient with anemia
Reuters via ABC News
A patient with a rare genetic form of anemia is getting by without blood transfusions after experimental gene therapy, French and U.S. researchers reported. The case, reported in the journal Nature, is a rare success for the troubled field of gene therapy, although the researchers and other experts said it still needs fine-tuning. The patient has beta-thalassemia, a group of conditions caused by genetic defects in the production of hemoglobin. Researchers used gene therapy to fix the faulty gene responsible for the condition in some of the patient's own bone marrow stem cells, and re-infused them.More