ASCLS eNewsBytes
Sept. 6, 2011

Understanding telomeres may have potential for some cancer therapies
Medical News Today
The American Journal of Pathology published the first report of the presence of alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) that can be used as a diagnostic indicator and could be significant for developing anti-cancer therapies for cancers in the bladder, cervix, endometrium, esophagus, gallbladder, liver, and lung. During normal cell division, telomeres (nucleoprotein structures situated at the ends of chromosomes) shorten with each division and can potentially result in cell death, however, in some cancers this shortening is counteracted by the ALT mechanism and therefore permitting unlimited growth of cancer cells.More

Microfluidics: Droplet-based method could help automate dried blood spot analysis
Chemical & Engineering News
A new microfluidic method could offer a way to automate sample preparation for dried blood analysis, chemists at the University of Toronto report. Dried blood spot technology, the analysis of blood spotted and dried on paper cards, has long been used to screen newborns for metabolic disorders because it requires only small sample volumes.More

Researchers find antibiotic resistance in ancient DNA
The New York Times
An analysis of 30,000-year-old bacteria whose DNA has been recovered from the Yukon permafrost shows that they were able to resist antibiotics. Antibiotics, before they became used as drugs, were natural products. The new finding is the first direct evidence that antibiotic resistance is a widespread natural phenomenon that preceded the modern medical use of antibiotics. More

Class I recall of GEM Premier 4000 PAK cartridges
Medscape Medical News
Inaccurate potassium readings have been reported from certain GEM Premier 4000 PAK cartridges manufactured by Instrumentation Laboratory Company of Bedford, Mass., according to an alert sent from MedWatch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's safety information and adverse event reporting program.More

CDC: Tick-borne parasite infecting blood supply
A tick-borne infection known as Babesiosis, which can cause severe disease and even death, is becoming a growing threat to the U.S. blood supply, government researchers said. There are currently no diagnostic tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can detect the infection before people donate blood.More

'Anti-cancer virus' shows promise
BBC News
An engineered virus, injected into the blood, can selectively target cancer cells throughout the body in what researchers have labeled a medical first. The virus attacked only tumors, leaving the healthy tissue alone, in a small trial on 23 patients, according to the journal Nature. More

An RNA switch for stem cells
Technology Review
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules have long been known for their role in translating genes to proteins inside a cell, but more recently, scientists have found large numbers of RNA molecules that don't code for proteins but seem to have other cellular roles. Most research in mammals has focused on tiny RNA molecules called microRNAs, but a new study, published in Nature, describes the far-reaching effects of much larger and relatively unstudied RNA molecules called lincRNAs (short for large intergenic noncoding RNAs).More

50 years of service in clinical laboratories celebrating the careers of 2 medical technologists
On opposite coasts of the United States, two medical technologists were each recognized by local newspapers for more than 50 years of service in clinical laboratories in their respective communities! As members of what is often called the "Greatest Generation," these two long-serving med techs have much to teach the three younger generations now working in the nation's medical laboratories. More

CDC: Unusual Influenza Virus Discovered in US Kids
Medscape Medical News
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a form of swine-origin influenza containing a genetic segment of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infected two children in Indiana and Pennsylvania this summer, a development that has prompted vigilance about possible ongoing transmission. "Non-human influenza virus infections rarely result in human-to-human transmission, but the implications of sustained ongoing transmission between humans is potentially severe," the CDC stated in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.More

New diarrheal syndrome tied to cord-blood transplants
Internal Medicine News
Researchers have identified a new diarrheal syndrome that affects patients who have undergone cord-blood hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report. It is important to distinguish the new syndrome, which they call "cord colitis syndrome," from other causes of diarrheal illness that have a similar initial presentation in this patient population – notably graft-versus-host disease – because treatment differs.More

Facebook app to help track how viruses spread
Healthcare IT News
A new Facebook application, developed in a Tel Aviv University lab, is poised to serve as a better indicator of how infections spread among populations. The Facebook app called PiggyDemic allows users to "infect" their friends with a simulated virus or become infected themselves. The resulting patterns are expected to allow researchers to gather information on how a virus mutates, how it spreads through human interaction and the number of people it infects. More

Stem cells within skin's fatty layer seem to help trigger hair growth
HealthDay News via U.S.News & World Report
Stem cells are still present in the hair follicle roots of men with male pattern baldness, but the cells lose the ability to spur hair growth. It's been known that these follicle stem cells require signals from within the skin to grow hair, but until now, the source of those signals was unknown.More

Devastating tree-killing pathogen traced to California
International Business Times
A new study by University of California, Berkeley and Italian researchers may have solved a decades-long mystery behind the source of a tree-killing fungus that affected six of the world's seven continents. Genetic sleuthing by an international team of researchers has fingered California as the source of the pathogen, Seiridium cardinale, which is the cause of cypress canker disease and has killed as much as 95 percent of native trees in the cypress family, including junipers and some cedars. More