ASCLS eNewsBytes
Oct. 18, 2011

New HIV treatment guidelines focus on comorbid conditions
Medscape Medical News
The latest guidelines of the European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS), released at the society's 13th European AIDS Conference, give special emphasis to comorbid conditions that may occur in patients infected with HIV. "The contemporary challenge in HIV medicine is no longer to suppress the virus but actually to maintain health of patients with HIV, and the major focus now and the dominating reason for why people are still getting sick, even for those who are in care, is the development of various co-morbidities," said Jens Lundgren, MD, DMSc, professor in the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.More

Understanding the beginnings of embryonic stem cells helps predict the future
Scientists have shown that laboratory-grown cells express a protein called Blimp1, which represses differentiation to somatic or regular tissue cells during germ cell development. Studies of these cells show that they also express other genes associated with early germ cell specification.More

Scientists crack Black Death's genetic code
Reuters via Medscape
Scientists have mapped out the entire genetic map of the Black Death, a 14th century bubonic plague that killed 50 million Europeans in one of the most devastating epidemics in history. The work, which involved extracting and purifying DNA from the remains of Black Death victims buried in London's "plague pits," is the first time scientists have been able to draft a reconstructed genome of any ancient pathogen.More

US scientists correct sickle cell disease in mice
Reuters via Medscape
U.S. scientists have found a way to get mice with a form of sickle cell disease to make normal red blood cells, offering a potential new way to treat the blood disorder in people. Adults with sickle cell disease make mutant, sickle-shaped forms of hemoglobin that block small blood vessels, causing pain, strokes, organ dysfunction and premature death. But this problem occurs only after birth.More

Good news for clinical labs and phlebotomists: Safety-engineered devices reduce needlestick injuries
Plebotomists and safety managers in clinical laboratories across the nation will welcome the results of several studies on phlebotomy needlestick injuries. Evidence is accumulating that use of safety-engineered devices contributes to fewer reports of accidental needle sticks.More

Answer to cystic fibrosis might be under water
Cape Cod Times via Boston Herald
Massachusetts scientists in Woods Hole and at a Charlestown laboratory are looking under water to treat a disease that robs sufferers of the ability to breathe. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Flatley Discovery Lab have struck a $1.18 million deal to collaborate on a three-year project to find out if microbes from the ocean are the key to finding a drug to treat the underlying disorder behind cystic fibrosis. More

Routine and molecular aspects of hematology
Share ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals
Historically, diagnosing blood diseases/disorders has included a trifold approach: the complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistries and microscopic investigation. With the CBC, all major cell lines, platelet numbers as well as signs of anemia and malignancy can be investigated. Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP), lab manager at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln, ME, said physicians will often pay particular attention to the total leukocyte count and breakdown. More

Tracking diseases from anthrax to cholera
When U.S. Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins committed suicide in 2008, knowing he was the lead suspect in the government’s investigation into the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, the massive scientific push to identify the killer also halted. But had anthrax-laden missives appeared in the mailboxes of journalists and members of Congress today rather than 10 years ago, modern science could have greatly simplified the hunt, says Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University. More

Stem cells correct mutation causing inherited liver disease
Medscape Medical News
A new study provides evidence that human induced pluripotential stem cells (iPSCs) can be genetically corrected to generate cells that could be useful in clinical cell-based therapies. The study, published in Nature, combined stem cell technologies to correct a point mutation in both alleles of the α1-1 antitrypsin gene (also known as SERPINA1; serine protease inhibitor).More

Infections after prostate biopsy on the rise
Reuters Health
Serious infections after prostate biopsies appear to be on the rise in the U.S., possibly fueled by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new study of elderly men suggests. More than a million prostate biopsies are done each year on Medicare patients, often to investigate suspicious results from prostate cancer screening. But the majority of those are false alarms, and some doctors worry that many men could be suffering needlessly due to screening. More

Study: 1 in 6 UK cell phones is contaminated with fecal matter
CNN International
One in six mobile phones in Britain is contaminated with fecal matter, according to research that cited poor hygiene as the cause. "This study provides more evidence that people still don't wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet," Dr. Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said in the report. In the study, researchers in 12 cities took 390 samples from mobile phones and hands, then analyzed in a laboratory what they had found. More