ASCLS eNewsBytes
Oct. 30, 2012

Case history shows how quickly fungal meningitis kills
Medscape Medical News
The clinical course of one of the index cases of the widening fungal meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid injection shows the aggressive, angioinvasive nature of Exserohilum species, the fungus implicated in most cases to date, say clinicians from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. In a letter published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, Jennifer L. Lyons, M.D., and colleagues provide details about the clinical care, deterioration and ultimately death a woman with fulminant Exserohilum species meningitis due to an epidural cervical injection with contaminated, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate. More

DNA switch shows promise against genetic disease
The Wall Street Journal
Scientists have replaced bits of defective DNA in a human egg with the equivalent DNA from a healthy egg, a technique that could prevent women from passing on several rare and potentially deadly disorders to their children. In a laboratory test, many of the eggs containing the transplanted DNA got properly fertilized, and many went on to yield healthy human embryos. The latest study is an extension of a 2009 experiment performed by the same U.S. team on monkeys.More

Antibiotics that only partly block protein machinery allow germs
to poison themselves

Infection Control Today
Powerful antibiotics that scientists and physicians thought stop the growth of harmful bacteria by completely blocking their ability to make proteins actually allow the germs to continue producing certain proteins – which may help do them in. The finding, by a team at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, clarifies how antibiotics work and may aid in the discovery of new drugs or improve clinical therapy with existing ones.More

Ancestry could help solve disease riddles
Medical News Today
A new study by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Health and Scripps Translational Science Institute reveals that by comparing the genomes of diseased patients with the genomes of people with sufficiently similar ancestries could dramatically simplify searches for harmful mutations, opening new treatment possibilities. The work, reported recently in the journal Frontiers in Genetics: Applied Genetic Epidemiology, should speed the search for the causes of many diseases and provide critical guidance to the genomics field for maximizing the potential benefits of growing genome databases. More

Clinical research: Small studies often yield large outcomes
Medscape Medical News
Proceed cautiously when you come across a clinical study declaring a large treatment effect. Such findings most often emerge from small studies, and if replicated, the strength of the finding generally drops significantly. In addition, only very rarely do these reports show a significant survival benefit for patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More

IOM report finds healthcare management lags behind other industries
Dark Daily
Why are pathology groups, clinical laboratories and the majority of healthcare providers so slow to borrow innovative approaches from commercial businesses that measurably improve patient service, quality and satisfaction? No less an authority than the Institute of Medicine has taken the entire healthcare system to task for being so slow to adopt proven innovations that are being rapidly taken up by non-healthcare industries.More

Amid debt crisis, Greece faces new threat: Malaria, other mosquito diseases
Reuters via NBC News
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe.More

New laws add a divisive component to breast screening
The New York Times
In a move that has irked medical groups and delighted patient advocates, states have begun passing laws requiring clinics that perform mammograms to tell patients whether they have something that many women have never even heard of: dense breast tissue. Women who have dense tissue must, under those laws, also be told that it can hide tumors on a mammogram, that it may increase the risk of breast cancer and that they should ask their doctors if they need additional screening tests, like ultrasound or MRI scans.More

Innovative mHealth devices enable smartphone users to self-test,
share results in real time

Dark Daily
A Swiss company has launched what it calls the world's first medical smartphone. Of note to clinical laboratory managers and pathologists is the fact that this medical smartphone is designed to capture and analyze several health measures that are often the subject of medical laboratory clinical laboratory tests, including blood gases and blood glucose.More

Scientists step up hunt for bacterial genes tied to Lyme disease
Infection Control Today
Investigators at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have accelerated the search for the bacterial genes that make the Lyme disease bacterium so invasive and persistent. The discovery could advance the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, which affects an estimated 30,000 Americans each year. The researchers have developed a new technique that allowed them to test 15 times more bacterial genes than had been evaluated in the previous 30 years to ascertain their roles in infection. More

UV light zaps 'bugs' in hospital rooms
MedPage Today
Flooding hospital rooms with ultraviolet light from a robotic device kills more than 90 percent of pathogens, including Clostridium difficile, researchers said. The device, which emits UV light for fixed periods of time (up to 45 minutes for C. difficile), is designed to complement general cleaning of hospital rooms to prevent in-hospital transmission of pathogens such as C. difficile, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and Acinetobacter, said Deverick Anderson, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Duke University.More

Measuring molecules with the naked eye: Chemists' innovation may be a better model for disease diagnostic kits
Brigham Young University via Science Daily
When someone develops liver cancer, the disease introduces a very subtle difference to their bloodstream, increasing the concentration of a particular molecule by just 10 parts per billion. That small shift is difficult to detect without sophisticated lab equipment – but perhaps not for long. A new "lab on a chip" designed by Brigham Young University professor Adam Woolley and his students reveals the presence of ultra-low concentrations of a target molecule.More

What doctors don't tell about DNA
Across the country, a small but growing number of doctors are turning to increasingly sensitive genomic tests to pinpoint the root causes of young patients' mystifying symptoms. But many still don't know how to handle results unrelated to the ailments that prompted such sequencing.More