ASCLS eNewsBytes
Dec. 13, 2011

Proficiency testing: Making the grade
Clinical Laboratory News
Next year, the rules governing proficiency testing in clinical labs will turn 20 years old. Considering the advances that have occurred over the past two decades, federal regulators who oversee the program that requires labs to regularly evaluate their performance think it's time for a change. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now working on an overhaul of PT regulations through an in-depth analysis of the list of required analytes, grading measures, and other standards.More

TB tests yield mostly false-positives in low-risk populations
In populations with low prevalence of tuberculosis, the majority of positive results obtained with the three commercially available diagnostic tests are likely to be false-positives, according to findings from a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.More

Gene therapy study offers proof of potential breakthrough on hemophilia
A transatlantic team of investigators has presented some promising — though very early stage — breakthrough data on a new gene therapy for hemophilia B. The investigators say that their gene therapy program came close to curing four of six patients, spurring the body to produce enough clotting factor to eliminate the need for regular protein injections. And the other two were helped by the treatment, with a reduced need for injections.More

Listeria cantaloupe outbreak ends as most deadly in 100 years
Food Safety News
A 28-state Listeria outbreak is over, with the sad distinction of being the most deadly outbreak of foodborne illness in the United States in 100 years. In the end, one out of every five of the victims died from the Listeria contamination spread by a locally grown but widely distributed variety of cantaloupes from Colorado. Thirty of 146 persons infected did not survive. A miscarriage suffered by an Iowa woman was also blamed on outbreak-related listeriosis.More

Amikacin can be added to blood to reduce the fall in platelet count
Pseudothrombocytopenia is usually associated with blood specimens anticoagulated with EDTA or other anticoagulants. EDTA salt is an anticoagulant frequently used in automated blood cell counters, which can maintain cell formation and prevent platelets from aggregating. The use of this anticoagulant is known to cause erroneous reports of low platelet counts by automated analyzers.More

In the new health engagement model of health benefits, clinical pathology laboratories can help beneficiaries through timely medical lab testing
Across the nation, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to learn about a new model of healthcare reform. It is the "health engagement model" and it is being rolled out by a number of health insurers. Variations of the HEM model are gaining ground in states around the country because health insurers see HEMs as a way to reduce costs and improve quality of healthcare.More

Falsely elevated parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTH-RP) in a patient with hypercalcemia and renal failure
Humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM) is the cause of hypercalcemia in the majority of patients with hypercalcemia and cancer. Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTH-RP) has been identified as the circulating factor that mediates HHM. An N-terminal and a C-terminal PTH-RP are clinically useful assays for screening patients for HHM, and both assays are elevated in such patients. More

Researchers develop a way to monitor engineered blood vessels as they grow in patients
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nanoparticle technology, researchers from Yale have devised a way to monitor the growth of laboratory-engineered blood vessels after they have been implanted in patients. This advance represents an important step toward ensuring that blood vessels, and possibly other tissues engineered from a patient's own biological material, are taking hold and working as expected. Until now, there has been no way to monitor the growth and progress of engineered tissues once they were implanted.More

Our microbiomes, ourselves (opinion)
The New York Times
Welcome to the confusing new frontier of ethics: our inner ecosystem. In recent years, scientists have discovered remarkable complexity and power in the microbes that live inside us. We depend on this so-called microbiome for our well-being: it helps break down our food, synthesize vitamins and shield against disease-causing germs. More

Novel compound holds promise in high-risk CLL
A novel agent holds promise as a new treatment strategy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The Bruton's tyrosin kinase inhibitor PCI 32765 (under development by Pharmacyclics) showed high rates of progression-free survival and low toxicity in patients with relapsed CLL, according to data presented here at American Society of Hematology 53rd Annual Meeting. More

Label-free, pulsed laser-driven imaging tool tracks nanotubes in cells, blood
BioOptics World
Carbon nanotubes have potential applications in drug delivery to treat diseases and imaging for cancer research, but up until now there has been no technique to see both metallic and semiconducting nanotubes in living cells and the bloodstream, according to Ji-Xin Cheng, associate professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. More

Cookie dough E. coli risk
Medical News Today
The latest perpetrator of Escherichia coli, a significant cause of bacterial gastrointestinal illness, is ready-to-bake commercial prepackaged cookie dough. The discovery was made following the 2009 investigation of a nationwide outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. A new study, published online and in the Clinical Infectious Diseases describes the outbreak and provides suggestions to prevent the bacteria in a strong message for consumers: The pre-packaged cooking dough must not be eaten before baking. More