ASCLS eNewsBytes
Feb. 21, 2012

How secure are labs handling world's deadliest pathogens?
To keep deadly viruses from escaping, each lab uses negative air flow and dedicated exhaust systems. Workers wear full-body air-supplied suits. To test its security, Galveston National Laboratory ran an exercise with the Federal Bureau of Investigation simulating a would-be intruder and another, with the University of Texas, war-gaming a campus shooter. The facility passed both tests. Galveston's strict security underlines a little-known fact about hundreds of labs working with bacteria and viruses that could make the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic — when as many as 40 million people died — seem like a summer cold. Many of the precautions it takes are not required by law. More

Subscribe free to magazine of public health labs
Subscribe free to the digital edition of the Association of Public Health Laboratories' quarterly magazine, Lab Matters. The magazine covers developments affecting governmental health laboratories in the U.S. and globally, including detection and surveillance of infectious diseases, select agents, environmental contaminants, and genetic and metabolic disorders. To subscribe, send your name and email address to

'DNA robot' targets cancer cells
BBC News
Scientists have developed and tested a "DNA robot" that delivers payloads such as drug molecules to specific cells. The container was made using a method called "DNA origami," in which long DNA chains are folded in a prescribed way. More

Super-flu: Controversy brews over scientists' creation of killer viruses
Spiegel via ABC News
Should scientists be allowed to create extremely aggressive and highly infectious influenza viruses? Dutch virologists have done it and, in the process, triggered a fierce debate over the risks of bioterrorism and the potential release of deadly viruses. The 17th floor of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Dutch city of Rotterdam certainly doesn't look like the kind of place that could pose a threat to global security. A disco ball hangs from the ceiling in the hallway in front of the elevators, and a bar with a golden beer tap stands in the corner of the conference room.More

Vapor-based fumigant system could prove useful in disinfecting microbiology labs, clinical labs, and histology labs
Dark Daily
There's a new technology that bears great promise for improving existing methods of disinfecting hospital rooms and health facilities, including clinical laboratories. This technology is a vapor-based fumigant system and is coming to market with the name AsepticSure. The invention makes a strong argument for changing the way hospital rooms and other healthcare facilities are disinfected. More

Despite safety worries, work on deadly flu to be released
The New York Times
The full details of recent experiments that made a deadly flu virus more contagious will be published, probably within a few months, despite recommendations by the United States that some information be kept secret for fear that terrorists could use it to start epidemics. The announcement, made by the World Health Organization, follows two months of heated debate about the flu research. More

High platelet counts shorten ovarian cancer survival
Medscape Medical News
One in 3 women with ovarian cancer have thrombocytosis, or high platelet counts, and are consequently at a significantly increased risk for reduced disease-specific survival, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.More

Medicare reductions have not led to significant BMD screening decline
Medscape Medical News
Medicare-eligible women have continued to get screened for osteoporosis, despite a reduction in reimbursement. The proportion of women diagnosed with osteoporosis after fracture (from 5.4 percent in 2005 to 8.3 percent in 2008), as opposed to by bone mineral density (BMD) screening (from 76.6 percent in 2005 to 65.0 percent in 2008), has increased, however, with the reduction in screening reimbursement.More

New tool improves newborn screening accuracy
Medscape Medical News
A new approach to analyzing metabolite levels in newborn blood samples decreases the likelihood of false-negatives and false-positives, according to results from a new study by Gregg Marquardt, MSS, from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. and colleagues. The study was published online in Genetics in Medicine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named newborn screening for metabolic disorders one of the 10 great public health achievements of the last decade.More

A review of medical errors in laboratory diagnostics and
where we are today

Medscape's Laboratory Medicine
While many areas of healthcare are still struggling with the issue of patient safety, laboratory diagnostics has always been a forerunner in pursuing this issue. Significant progress has been made since the release of "To Err is Human." This article briefly reviews laboratory quality assessment and looks at recent statistics concerning laboratory errors. More

Video games used to study cancer treatments
Laboratory Equipment
The cure for cancer comes down to this — video games. In a research lab at Wake Forest University, biophysicist and computer scientist Samuel Cho uses graphics processing units, the technology that makes videogame images so realistic, to simulate the inner workings of human cells. Now he can see exactly how the cells live, divide and die. And that, Cho says, opens up possibilities for new targets for tumor-killing drugs. More

Genetic Parkinson's disease brain cells made in lab
Scientists in the U.S. have successfully made human brain cells in the lab that are an exact replica of genetically caused Parkinson's disease. The breakthrough means they can now see exactly how mutations in the parkin gene cause the disease in an estimated one in 10 patients with Parkinson's. More

Organic brown rice syrup: Hidden arsenic source
ABC News
If you're shopping organic and see brown rice syrup listed first among ingredients, you may want to think twice: That product could have high levels of potentially toxic arsenic, Dartmouth researchers reported. The study found dangerous amounts of arsenic in organic powdered baby formula, intended for toddlers, whose top ingredient was brown rice syrup. That formula contained six times more arsenic than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for the water supply. More