Included below are news items from the last six months.
While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for high cholesterol in all youths, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses recommendations for universal screening. Photo source: NCI, Rhoda Baer
The FDA has directed U.S. blood collection facilities to begin screening all donated blood for the Zika virus to reduce the risk of spreading the virus through blood transfusions. Photo source: Vegasjon via Wikimedia Commons
According to Johns Hopkins researchers, universal screening for hepatitis C would identify up to 25% of adults with undiagnosed infection who would not be detected by current screening guidelines. Photo source: National Cancer Institute
British researchers have developed a blood test that may be able to predict whether patients dealing with depression will respond to common drugs used to treat the condition. About half of all patients dealing with clinical depression don't respond to commonly used antidepressants and a third don't respond to any of the drugs, making it necessary for healthcare practitioners to try different combinations over time while patients remain without effective treatment. Photo source: National Cancer Institute
Cases of Legionnaires disease, a serious, often fatal form of pneumonia, nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2014, according to a recent report from the CDC. The most common source of recent outbreaks was potable (drinkable) water used for common purposes, such as showering, followed by cooling towers, hot tubs, and decorative fountains. Photo source: CDC, Betty Partin
The FDA has approved the first blood-based genetic test to guide the treatment of a common type of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The test is less invasive, requiring only a blood draw instead of a traditional tissue biopsy, and detects mutations that could indicate that the tumor is more likely to respond to the drug erlotinib. Photo source: NHGRI, Ernesto del Aguila III
Bacteria with Antibiotic Resistance MCR-1 Gene Found for the First Time in U.S. Patient, Raises Concern
Worry about antibiotic resistance recently intensified when it was discovered for the first time that a strain of the bacteria infecting a patient in the U.S. carries the gene called mcr-1. The gene makes the bacteria resistant to colistin, a polymyxin, which is a class of antibiotics considered to be a "last resort" to treat patients with multidrug-resistant infections. Photo source: NHGRI, Darryl Leja
To make it easier for people to get recommended cholesterol testing, fasting should not be required, according to new European guidelines. So far, no U.S. guidelines for adults have been published recommending such a change.
The amount of blood drawn for laboratory tests has been shown to have a direct relationship to patients' ill health. While collecting the very minimal amount of blood required for testing reduces risks, smaller blood volumes present several challenges for clinical laboratories. Photo source: Khushbu Patel, PhD
The CDC has released new guidelines in response to the dramatic rise in prescription opioids overdoses in the last few years. Urine drug testing is recommended to help determine whether patients are taking opioids as prescribed or taking other drugs that might increase their risk of an overdose.
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend that adults taking statins have regular cholesterol checks. For those whose blood cholesterol level is not adequately lowered, non-statin drugs may be considered.
In recognition of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (April 24-30, 2016),we asked several lab professionals to list key facts that they think are important for patients and their healthcare practitioners to know about laboratory tests. See the top 10 list.
A new test developed by the CDC that distinguishes between Zika, dengue and chikungunya viral infections is now available through certain public health laboratories.
Photo source: CDC, Cynthia Goldsmith
Could a blood test for multiple biomarkers improve diagnosis for depression and provide a breakthrough for certain patient populations?