Biomedical Laboratory Science

Saturday, June 25, 2016

FDA Approves First Liquid Biopsy Test for Lung Cancer Patients

On June 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a liquid biopsy test, a companion diagnostic test called cobas EGFR Mutation Test v2. The test uses plasma samples to identify patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) eligible for treatment with the EGFR-targeted therapeutic erlotinib (Tarceva).

The test detects specific alterations in the gene epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR): exon 19 deletions or exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations. These mutations are present in about 10 to 20 percent of NSCLCs, the most common type of lung cancer.

This is the first liquid biopsy test approved for use by the FDA.

Source: aacr

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Heart Disease Seen as a Man's Issue by Many Male Doctors

Male family physicians, or general practitioners, may be overlooking the risk of cardiovascular disease in female patient because they more often see it as a man's issue, according to new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States.

Since the 1980s, developed countries have seen a fall in the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Around 50 percent of this improvement is thought to be because of preventive action.

In men, the rates of mortality from CVD have dropped more than they have in women. There is also evidence that men receive better cardiovascular care after experiencing a cardiovascular problem, as well as better secondary prevention.

Women, too, may be at risk of heart disease.

Use of Tumor Markers in Clinical Practice: Quality Requirements

The National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry




These guidelines are intended to encourage more appropriate use of tumor marker tests by primary care physicians, hospital physicians and surgeons, specialist oncologists, and other health care professionals. The background and methodology described within this document represent the larger undertaking to address tumor markers in clinical practice of which this set of guidelines is a part. The recommendations contained herein are based upon the best available evidence and consensus of expert contributors and reviewers. Toward this effort, draft revisions of these guidelines were prepared and placed for comment on the NACB web site. The guideline chapters resulting from this process have been published in appropriate peer-reviewed laboratory medicine and specialty clinical journals to assist with dissemination among the target groups.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Diabetes and Stress: What's the Connection?

Diabetes is a complex disease, with varying risk factors and causes. Stress, especially long-term stress, interferes with the body's ability to manage blood sugar levels. As managing sugar levels becomes more difficult, the risk of long-term problems increases.

In this article, we will examine what stress is, how it is caused, and how it affects people living with diabetes. Since stress is a natural part of life, we will also discuss tips for managing and preventing stress.

Contents of this article:
  1. What is stress?
  2. How does stress affect people with diabetes?
  3. Signs and symptoms of stress in people with diabetes
  4. How can stress be managed and prevented?
  5. Tips for reducing stress

Stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise in people with diabetes.

What Is A Scientist?

Are engineers considered scientists? What about lab technicians, archaeologists and art historians? 

The answer isn’t always obvious… 

AsianScientist (Jun. 15, 2016) - Two things happened recently that made me ponder a question that’s really going to open a can of worms. Case No. 1: Catching up with an old friend who decided to leave the lab for the bright lights of banking, we started discussing our work and he mentioned meeting someone who introduced themselves as a scientist. Further probing of his new acquaintance revealed that this person worked in a diagnostics lab. My friend was outraged. “How dare this person misrepresent themselves as a scientist?” he scoffed. “Putting on a lab coat and running blood tests all day does not make one a scientist!” When I pointed out that this is actually the general stereotype of a scientist in the eyes of non-scientists... let’s just say this conversation got a bit frosty.

Donor Blood Test May be Holding Back Heart Transplantation

A blood test used to determine whether a heart is suitable for donation may be leading to unnecessary rejections, and its use should be reviewed. This is the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood around the body to help other organs function.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, around 5.7 million Americans have heart failure.

In some cases, heart failure can be treated with lifestyle changes - such as a healthy diet, exercise, and quitting smoking - and medications. For end-stage heart failure, however, a heart transplant may be the only option.

Determining whether a heart is suitable for transplantation based on donor troponin I levels may be
causing unnecessary rejections, say researchers.

The Role of Diet and Exercise in the Transgenerational Epigenetic Landscape of T2DM

Epigenetic changes are caused by biochemical regulators of gene expression that can be transferred across generations or through cell division. Epigenetic modifications can arise from a variety of environmental exposures including undernutrition, obesity, physical activity, stress and toxins. Transient epigenetic changes across the entire genome can influence metabolic outcomes and might or might not be heritable. These modifications direct and maintain the cell-type specific gene expression state. Transient epigenetic changes can be driven by DNA methylation and histone modification in response to environmental stressors. A detailed understanding of the epigenetic signatures of insulin resistance and the adaptive response to exercise might identify new therapeutic targets that can be further developed to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent obesity. This Review focuses on the current understanding of mechanisms by which lifestyle factors affect the epigenetic landscape in type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. Evidence from the past few years about the potential mechanisms by which diet and exercise affect the epigenome over several generations is discussed.

Key points
  • Epigenetic processes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Diet and exercise might affect the epigenome over several generations
  • Epigenetic changes can be driven by DNA methylation and histone modification in response to environmental stressors
  • Regulation of gene expression by DNA methylation and histone modification occurs by a mechanism that impairs the access of transcriptional machinery to the promoters
  • Studying the epigenetic signatures of insulin resistance and the adaptive response to exercise might provide insight into gene–environment networks that control glucose and energy homeostasis.

Figure 2: Putative effects of exercise and obesity on the predisposition to metabolic diseases.

Heart Attack Risk is Lower When Immune System is More Robust

Could a robust immune system protect against heart attack? After studying a group of patients with high blood pressure, researchers found those with higher levels of certain antibodies had a lower risk of heart attack - regardless of other risk factors. They suggest a blood test to measure antibody levels could help assess a person's risk of heart attack.

The study, from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, is published in the journal EbioMedicine. It describes how the team discovered a link between blood levels of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and reduced chances of having a heart attack.

Lead investigator Dr. Ramzi Khamis, a consultant cardiologist and clinical research fellow, says:

"Linking a stronger, more robust immune system to protection from heart attacks is a really exciting finding. As well as improving the way we tell who is at the highest risk of a heart attack so that we can give them appropriate treatments, we now have a new avenue to follow in future work."

The study found higher blood levels of an antibody called IgG were linked to lower risk of heart attack
in a group of people with high blood pressure.

Mastering Your PhD: Survival and Success in the Doctoral Years and Beyond

"Mastering Your PhD: Survival and Success in the Doctoral Years and Beyond" helps guide PhD students through their graduate student years. Filled with practical advice on getting started, communicating with your supervisor, staying the course, and planning for the future, this book is a handy guide for graduate students who need that extra bit of help getting started and making it through.

While mainly directed at PhD students in the sciences, the book's scope is broad enough to encompass the obstacles and hurdles that almost all PhD students face during their doctoral training. Who should read this book? Students of the physical and life sciences, computer science, math, and medicine who are thinking about entering a PhD program; doctoral students at the beginning of their research; and any graduate student who is feeling frustrated and stuck. It's never too early - or too late!

This second edition contains a variety of new material, including additional chapters on how to communicate better with your supervisor, dealing with difficult people, how to find a mentor, and new chapters on your next career step, once you have your coveted doctoral degree in hand.

Source: Springer

Arthritis in the Knee: What You Need to Know

Arthritis of the knee can make taking a step painful. Swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joint are just some of the symptoms that can occur when a person has this condition.

The knee joint is a hinge joint, named for its movement that's similar to the opening and closing of a door.

The joint consists of three main bones. The areas where each of these bones meet are covered in a protective material called cartilage. Additional pieces of cartilage known as the meniscus further support the knee.

All of these protective pieces of cartilage keep the bones in the knee from rubbing together, which can be very painful.

There are many different kinds of arthritis that can affect the knee. Common ones include osteoarthritis
and rheumatoid arthritis.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Antimicrobial resistance: a collection of reviews and research papers from Nature journals

Resistance to antimicrobials is a global problem of increasing importance. Pathogens rapidly develop mutations that render current treatments ineffective. For example, resistance to carbapenems, one of the ‘last lines’ of antibiotics, is widespread and has been observed in numerous countries; resistance to artemisinin, the gold standard in malaria treatment, has also emerged. Our current arsenal of antimicrobial agents thus has a limited lifespan and new drugs are urgently needed. Tackling this resistance will require a deep understanding of microbial infections and the mechanisms through which resistance arises, as well as concerted efforts between academia and industry aimed at developing novel antimicrobial agents.

This collection consists of Reviews, Research articles, and News and Comment articles from several Nature journals, describing how antibiotic resistance emerges and detailing strategies through which new antimicrobial compounds are being discovered.

Source: nature

Menopause: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

The menopause marks the time in a woman's life when her menstruation stops and she is no longer fertile (able to become pregnant).

In the UK the average age for the menopause is 52 (National Health Service), while in the USA it is 51 (National Institute of Aging). About one fifth of women in India experience menopause before the age of 41.

The menopause is a normal part of life - it is a milestone, just like puberty - it is not a disease or a condition. Even though it is the time of the woman's last period, symptoms may begin many years earlier. Some women may experience symptoms for months or years afterwards.

Women going through the menopause may experience problems with focusing and learning.

Blood Test Advances Diagnosis Of HELLP Syndrome

A laboratory blood test for the diagnosis of a rare genetic red blood cell disorder also shows promise in identifying HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening high blood pressure condition affecting 1% of all pregnant women.

HELLP is an acronym for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets and is a severe variant of pre-eclampsia whose pathogenesis remains unclear. Recent evidence and clinical similarities suggest a link to atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease of excessive activation of the alternative complement.

A model of the principle underlying the modified Ham test
Source: labmedica

Is Okra Good for Diabetes?

According to a handful of recent studies, okra may reduce symptoms of diabetes - a group of diseases that includes type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

Diabetes claimed the lives of 75,578 Americans in 2013, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014,8.5 percent of adults worldwide had the condition, the World Health Organization (WHO) report. By 2030, diabetes may be the seventh leading cause of death.

A number of factors increase a person's risk of developing diabetes, including a family history of the disease. Lifestyle factors also play a role, so doctors routinely recommend diet changes and increased exercise to reduce blood sugar levels.

Okra belongs to the same family of plants as cocoa and cotton.

Blood Test Uncovers Undiagnosed Diabetes In Hospital Patients

Hyperglycemia is a frequent finding that can be related to physiologic stress, illness and medications, including steroids and vasopressors and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) correlates with the average blood glucose level over the previous eight to 12 weeks.

Screening of HbA1c levels plays an important role in the diagnosis and management of diabetes mellitus in the outpatient setting but remains underused in the evaluation of hyperglycemia with undiagnosed diabetes in the inpatient setting.

Read more:   Blood Test Uncovers Undiagnosed Diabetes In Hospital Patients

A point-of-care glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) analyzer.
Source: labmedica

Breast Cancer: Existing Drug Shows Promise for Prevention in High-Risk Women

Researchers have identified an existing drug that they say has the potential to prevent or delay breast cancer for women at high risk of developing the disease.

In a study published the journal Nature Medicine, researchers reveal how the drug denosumab halted the growth of pre-cancerous cells in breast tissue of women with a faulty BRCA1 gene.

Women with a BRCA1 gene mutation are at significantly greater risk for breast and ovarian cancers; around 55-65 percent of women with such a mutation will develop the disease by the age of 70, according to the National Cancer Institute, compared with 12 percent of those in the general population.

Researchers found the drug denosumab stopped the growth of cells that are a precursor to breast cancer
in women with a BRCA1 gene mutation.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Color Atlas of Hematology: Practical Microscopic and Clinical Diagnosis (English)

Publisher Description: A Flexibook for both the specialist and non-specialist, the new book offers accessible information on hematology in a succinct format. In addition to providing basic methodology, the book utilizes more than 260 color illustrations to detail the most up-to-date clinical procedures. Numerous tables and flow charts are included to assist in differential diagnosis, making this a valuable didactic reference for nurses, practicing physicians and residents preparing for board examinations.

Notes: Thieme international - clinical sciences

Author Biography: H. Theml, H. Diem, T. Haferlach

Review: The Color Atlas of Hematology is a pocket book edition that follows the best tradition of pocket handbooks in the field of hematology. Microphotographs are highly useful for faithfully presenting the real appearance of hematopoietic cells in blood and bone marrow smears. This handbook provides characteristic clinical pictures of particular hematologic diseases, a key to rapid recognition of blood cells, typical cell changes, complete diagnostic methods, and easy visual orientation. [The authors] have offered us a valuable and precious help in the diagnosis of hematologic diseases for both specialists and nonspecialists as well as for all those interested in learning more about blood cell morphology.--Acta Clinica Croatica

Details: ISBN 3136731026; AUTHOR Harald Klaus Theml; PUBLISHER Thieme Publishing Group; YEAR 2003; EDITION 2nd; ISBN-103136731026; ISBN-139783136731024; FORMAT Paperback; PUBLICATION DATE 2003-12-10; IMPRINT Thieme Publishing Group; ; PLACE OF PUBLICATION Stuttgart; COUNTRY OF PUBLICATION Germany; DEWEY 616.15; PAGES 208; LANGUAGE English; SUBTITLE Practical Microscopic and Clinical Diagnosis; REPLACES 9781588901934; ILLUSTRATIONS 262; DIMENSIONS 4862mm x 3080mm x 184mm


Sunday, June 19, 2016

What's the Connection Between Multiple Sclerosis and the JC Virus?

The John Cunningham Virus, also known as the JC virus, is a typically harmless virus.

It is found in the blood samples of 70 to 90 percent of people worldwide.

Children with JC virus often show no symptoms. The JC virus can also be found in the body much later in life without complications. It is commonly found in the kidneys, bone marrow, and some body tissues.

The risk of PML is higher in people who take certain medications to treat multiple sclerosis.

The Father of All Men is 340,000 Years Old

Albert Perry carried a secret in his DNA: a Y chromosome so distinctive that it reveals new information about the origin of our species. It shows that the last common male ancestor down the paternal line of our species is over twice as old as we thought.

One possible explanation is that hundreds of thousands of years ago, modern and archaic humans in central Africa interbred, adding to known examples of interbreeding – with Neanderthals in the Middle East, and with the enigmatic Denisovans somewhere in southeast Asia.

Perry, recently deceased, was an African-American who lived in South Carolina. A few years ago, one of his female relatives submitted a sample of his DNA to a company called Family Tree DNA for genealogical analysis.

Dwarfed by the X chromosome, the Y seems more ancient than we thought
Source: newscientist

Sickle Cell Disease: Nurses Need Better Training, says Health Union

The NHS needs nurses to be better trained in dealing with sickle cell disease, a union has warned.

The Royal College of Nursing described a poor level of awareness and knowledge in accident and emergency units about the potentially fatal disease.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect the red blood cells - the worst of which is sickle cell anaemia.

Ovarian Cancer: New Imaging Technique Helps Surgeons Remove More of Tumor.

The amount of tumor tissue that is left after surgery is an important factor in ovarian cancer patient survival. Currently, surgeons have to rely on their eyes and hands to find malignant tissue. Now, new research shows how an imaging technique using a new type of fluorescent compound helped surgeons detect and remove nearly 30 percent more ovarian tumor tissue than usual.

The new technique was tested in a small exploratory study led by Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands and published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

One of the study leaders, Dr. Alexander L. Vahrmeijer, who heads an image-guided surgery group at LUMC, says:

"Surgery is the most important treatment for ovarian cancer, and surgeons mainly have to rely on their naked eyes to identify tumor tissue, which is not optimal."

The experimental study shows that the new imaging system helped surgeons remove more tumor
issue in patients with ovarian cancer.

Food Pathogen Detection via Handheld 'Nanoflower' Biosensor

At present, harmful pathogens in food are mostly only discovered when people get sick. Earlier detection - preferably before food reaches consumers - could prevent many cases of foodborne illness and save the cost and effort involved in food recalls. Now, a team working toward solving this problem has developed a portable biosensor based on "nanoflowers" that detects harmful bacteria.

The new technology is the work of researchers at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, who describe how they developed and tested it in a paper published in the journal Small.

Even tiny amounts of harmful bacteria and other microbes can give rise to serious health risks, but the available sensor technology is unable to detect them easily and quickly in small quantities.

The key challenge in solving this problem is finding a way to detect the faint chemical signals that the harmful microbes emit at the molecular level.

The nanoflower biosensor detects tiny chemical signals emitted by bacteria and amplifies them so they
can be picked up easily with a simple handheld pH meter.

Molecular Biology Videos: How to Perform Colony PCR!

This video on molecular biology demonstrates how to perform colony PCR as part of a cloning workflow using Thermo Scientific DreamTaq DNA Polymerase.

Republished for Medical Education, Awareness & Information

Source: ThermofisherScientific

Obesity Linked to Abnormal Reward Response to Sugary Foods

An unhealthy diet is considered a key contributor to obesity. When it comes to cravings for sweet treats, however, impairments in the brain's reward system might be to blame.

In a new study published in the journal Diabetes, researchers found age and receptor levels of the reward-associated chemical dopamine influence preference for sweet foods among people of a healthy weight, but not for people who are obese.

First author M. Yanina Pepino, Ph.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues reached their findings by enrolling 44 adults aged 20-40 years.

Researchers say the reward system in the brains of obese individuals appears to be impaired in
response to sweet foods.

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