The AACC is urging laboratory professionals to contact their members of Congress and request that they support H.R.1248, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, which would preserve recent advances in state newborn screening programs. Earlier legislation contributed to a dramatic expansion in newborn screening for treatable core conditions, according to an AACC release. In 2007, only 10 states and the District of Columbia screened for 29 of the 31 treatable conditions. That number has increased to 44 states, in addition to the District. H.R.1248 will help maintain these gains and more, the release noted.
AACC urges you to take one minute out of your day to send a pre-written e-mail letter to your Member of the House of Representatives urging them to co-sponsor this vital legislation. Afterwards, AACC will send you an e-mail confirming your letter.
If you have any questions, please contact Vince Stine, PhD, AACC's Director of Government Affairs, at 202-835-8721.
QuiqMeds, a Pennsylvania-based company located outside of
Philadelphia, deals in a very different type of vending machine. With 6
machines located in local physician’s offices in the area and plans to increase
that number in the region before expanding outside of Pennsylvania to other
states that allow prescription drugs to be provided by physicians directly, the
company stands to change the practice of medication distribution. An article from Philadelphia Business Journal details the
company, its founders and leadership and the implications of the first
generation of vending machines dealing specifically with prescription drugs.
As much as I would love to tell you all that the generics
are located on the shelf directly above your go-to bag of Doritos, sadly these
machines deal strictly in prescriptions and can be found the physicians’ offices
directly. Company founder, James Judd, MD, noted the benefits of easy-access
prescriptions located right in the doctor’s office allowing for improved
patient compliance with medicinal instructions. According to the article, the
machines carrying between 30 and 40 generic medications based on “a product line
of more than 100” available to patients immediately after the prescription is
“We have a very fragmented health-care delivery system,”
said Melvin H. Stein, who was recently hired as the company’s first full-time CEO, in the article. “That’s one of the reasons why health care costs as much
as it does. Providing medication at the point of care seems so obvious and
simple, but you needed this technology to make it happen.”
The story went on to
discuss concerns with the medication-peddling vending machine in the rest of
the industry, citing the rise of physicians providing prescription drugs as a
response to pharmacies hiring nurses for care station that provide basic
medical procedures. Professionals like Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD, FASHP,
president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, spoke out against the
program, calling it “a conflict of interest” due to physicians profiting from
the sales rather than pharmacies.
Regardless of the pros and cons regarding the company’s
vending machines, the implication of more readily available generic medication
offered in the same place that the prescription was ordered -- like a medicinal
Redbox -- stands to increase savings and convenience for patients.
“Dark matter” sounds like something George Lucas would tell
us is at the heart of the empire. In reality, it’s the parts of the human
genome that science has yet to identify -- which still sounds like it belongs
in a sci-fi movie, but the discovery could provide researchers with a new type
of specimen with which to analyze the human genome. A news
briefing from Dark Daily notes the potential of the unknown genes and the
impacts of the methods used to study it.
According to the briefing, researchers at the Research
Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna analyzed and calculated the
unknown or “non-coded” parts of the Drosophila fly’s genome, an insect commonly
studied in genetic research. Dark Matter makes up the majority of the genome
(“roughly 98 percent”), and in studying it, scientists have provided new
information that is “significant for pathologists and clinical laboratory
managers, particularly in the investigation of cancer” -- the benefits of which
include new procedures and approaches for diagnostic testing, “a new source of
diagnostic information” and the study provide a new kind of specimen.
“When applied to the Drosophila genome,” wrote the IMP
research team. “STARR-seq identifies thousands of cell type-specific enhancers
across a broad continuum of strengths, links differential gene expression to
differences in enhancer quality and creates a genome-wide quantitative enhancer
map. This map reveals the highly complex regulation of transcript, with several
independent enhancers for both developmental regulators and ubiquitously
The new technology, STARR-seq, short for “self-transcribing
active regulatory region sequencing,” helps researchers to calculate and
analyze the information gathered from dark matter. Understanding unknown DNA
sequences can assist laboratorians and researchers in the diagnosis of
inherited diseases like cancers. In mapping these sequences and organizing them
into databases, healthcare profession can identify these diseases more quickly
The Dark Daily briefing called the study “a huge leap
forward” in genetic testing and diagnosis. For clinicians and pathologists, the
new technology allows for “more precise diagnostic and therapeutic information,”
and allows physicians to make more informed decisions in regards to potential treatment
There’s a scene in the 60s-era AMC series “Mad Men” that
involves a pregnant woman smoking and drinking while her friend’s child runs
around with a dry cleaning bag over her head. All of this happens in the space
of about a minute, and there are so many things done wrong during that time that,
by today’s standards, you can’t help but wonder how anyone even managed to survive
the 1960s unscathed. A recent and somewhat
horrifying news briefing from Dark Daily took us on a similarly
cringe-inducing trip down memory lane to the days of mouth pipetting.
Yes, you read that correctly -- and it’s exactly what it
sounds like. According to the news
briefing, mouth pipetting was a common practice up until the first mechanically
adjustable pipetting came into the market in the 1970s. The process functions
on the same science that you probably utilized as a kid, right before you fired
Dr. Pepper at your sister’s face with the straws at chain restaurants. Sucking
in liquid and holding it in, you used the suction so that you could move the
straw around without anything coming out.
It was just like that – only, you know, with diseases and a pipette.
Feeling better about your lab’s safety regulations yet?
Obviously, there were some flaws in the practice. The Dark Daily piece noted the first recorded
case of accidental infection was in 1893, “when a physician accidentally sucked
a culture of typhoid bacilli into his mouth.”
It also chronicled some of the comments on the original post from “Body
Horrors,” the accurately-named blog from Discover Magazine, in which people
shared stories about mouth pipetting. One
commenter noted on one of her own experiences, where she was startled by the
phone ringing and accidently “gulped” – which, among other things, means office
pranks back then must have been pretty dicey. You can read more of the comments
in the Dark Daily briefing or on the original
blog post by Rebecca Kreston.
Feeling queasy yet? Because it’s not even over – the
scariest part of these articles isn’t that people subjected their mouths to
potentially dangerous specimens, or that it took almost 70 years to stop doing
it in the US (for the most part) after the initial accident – it’s that it’s still going on. Both articles noted that, in developing
nations, mouth pipetting is still in practice.
Right here in the US, the Discover blog cited instances as recent as 1998.
Enjoy your lunch!
ADVANCE Discourse: Lab
Let’s forget about money for a second. I know that can be
difficult – what, with all of those pesky adult responsibilities and everything,
but bare with me. If money wasn’t an
object, and your physician wanted to order a test that you knew wouldn’t be
covered under your insurance, would you get it?
Of course you would – who wouldn’t?
Now, factor the money back in.
Has your answer changed? A recent
Siemens Healthcare survey yielded interesting results for people in the US.
“There is simply a rational, financial and emotional value
to knowing if you are sick,” said Gregory Sorensen, MD, CEO of Siemens
Healthcare. “The survey findings show clearly that Americans want to know
exactly where they stand when it comes to their health.”
If Schoolhouse Rock
taught us anything, it’s that “knowledge is power.” With that in mind, here are
some statistics for you. According to
the Siemens Survey, a staggering 92 percent of Americans place as high a value
on actually having a doctor readily available as they do on being educated
about their problem. Even if there was
no cure or treatment available, 78 percent of us would still want to be
tested. Now, ask yourself – would
“As a physician, I know first-hand there is great value in excluding
a diagnosis. This is a critical step to ensure that patients avoid unnecessary,
expensive medical inter-ventions,” (Sic.) continued Sorensen. “Medical Imaging
and diagnostic menologies were not developed to drive up costs. They were
developed to improve health.”
The study was referred to in the Siemens press release as
the “Value of Knowing” survey, and Sorensen cited the results as “eye-opening.”
He also went on to discuss the benefits and effectiveness of medical imaging,
which provide people with “peace of mind” – something Americans clearly do not
view as overrated. The following statistics were among those listed in the press
• 66 percent of Americans would even be
willing to pay out of their own pocket for tests to diagnose serious illness if
there were such a test but it was not covered by their insurance.
56 percent have had and/or someone in their family has had an illness or injury
that was at least in part diagnosed using a medical imaging scan.
87 percent agree that ruling out a diagnosis can save money in costly
treatments that may not have been needed.
83 percent agree that even if medical technologies and tests are expensive,
they save money in the long run by helping doctors to get to the right
diagnosis more quickly.
Women over age 45 are more likely than men of the same age to agree that the
value of knowing exactly what is wrong is as important as having access to a
doctor in the first place. (99 percent of women age 45-54; 97 percent aged 55
and older compared to 92 percent and 91 percent of men, respectively).
80 percent of Americans are concerned that the Government is making decisions
about their medical care purely on the basis of cost; 89 percent feel that way
about insurance companies.
Only 8 percent say that they and/or someone in their close family has been
denied access to medical imaging device testing by a doctor or hospital; of
those, 59 percent say it was due to cost, while the rest (41 percent) say it
was for a medical reason.
To view more figures, take a look at the Healthcare Sector’s
release regarding the survey.
The rise of personalized treatment has healthcare
professionals completely rethinking the way they treat cancer. At the molecular
level, each is different and should be treated accordingly, but similarities
shouldn’t be ignored either. A study from the Cancer genome Atlas (TCGA)
Research Network on endometrial tumors divided the cancer types into for
groups, and examined how we can treat specific cases by studying work on
different cancerous tissue with similar properties.
“This study highlights the fact that some tumors with the
same characterization by pathologists maybe have very different molecular
features,” said Douglas A. Levine, MD, head of the gynecology research
laboratory at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in an article
from Newswise. “That’s where these findings will be directly implemented in
additional research, and also in the context of clinical trials.”
According to the Newswise piece, by studying genomic
similarities between cancers of different tissue, researchers were able to
group endometrial cancer into four different subtypes -- the POLE ultramutated
group, named for the abnormally large number of mutations that occur in the
POLE gene -- a characteristic shared with colorectal cancers; the hypermutated
microsatellite group, which also had a large number of mutations, just not in
the Pole gene; the copy number low group, which had “a high frequency of
mutations in CTNNB1, a gene critical for maintaining the linings of organs,”
but also had the most stability in microsatellites; and the copy number high
subtype, which produced endometrial tumors with properties closer to serous
tumors. Each group demonstrated similarities to cancers in other tissues, such
as breast, ovarian and colorectal.
“Each tumor subtype might warrant dedicated clinical trials
because of the marked genomic differences between them that are indicative of
different drivers of cancer,” said Elaine Mardis,, PhD, co-director of the Genome
Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine. “Developing
therapies for each subtype independent of the other may improve outcomes, as
has been shown in breast cancer.”
Cancer used to be referred to in the general sense, and then
it was called by whatever was affected -- breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc. When
genetic technologies emerged and researchers started evaluating things at the
molecular level, individual cancers became unique. Lately, we've gone full circle. Researchers are finding
similarities again -- just in terms of the genetic factors that made each one so distinctive in the first place.
With the rise of personalized medicine, diseases aren't treated so much as
cellular mutations are adjusted -- how will our genetic
know-how transfer in treatment from cancer to cancer?
Imagine a healthcare facility where a small sample of blood
is taken as you walk in the door, just .25 attomoles -- you’d barely notice. They
drop your sample into a small, handheld device and, by the time your physician
has come to see you, they are ready to tell you if they would like further
testing for diseases like Alzheimer’s or cancer based on the early-detection
results from their handheld test. A Dark Daily news
briefing recently announced that scientists in Japan have developed a
device that could turn that hypothetical situation into reality.
“Rapidness, simple operation, small required sample volume
and portability of the device are ideal advantages for point-of-care cancer
diagnosis,” wrote researchers Hideyuki Arata, PhD, Hiroshi Komatsun and Kazuo
Hosokawa, PhD, in a study published in PLOS
Researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan
developed the lab-on-a-chip technology, making the new device possible. While
initial efforts in development required too large a sample size for a practical
application, the project’s second generation success allows for an enhanced
examination of smaller samples while providing a quick 20 minute turnaround
time for results. This technology marks a step in the right direction for
progress in point-of-care testing (POCT).
“The development of an inexpensive and rapid point-of-care
test capable of spotting early biomarkers of disease could therefore save many
lives,” RIKEN pointed out in a story on their website.
Although the RNA-reading-microchip technology is regarded as
a scientific breakthrough, the device will still have to undergo several more
rounds of revision and modification before it is ready for clinical trials. The
Dark Daily briefing cited the device as “signal[ing] a new paradigm for
clinical laboratory testing.” In the meantime, the implication of handheld POCT
equipment opens new doors to testing in “research-poor” areas both foreign and
domestic -- allowing healthcare facilities to expand their communities, while
providing fast, on-the-go diagnosis and treatment around the world.
With genetic research has come the realization that cancers
are unique -- not just in terms of where they are in the body, but in their
molecular make up. Although the industry is focusing on personalized medicine
as a treatment option recently, some researchers can’t help but wonder about
the prospect of a universal treatment, a drug to fight multiple cancers. According
to a recent article
from the New York Times, this might not be completely out of the realm of
It all comes down to p53, a protein Gary Gillilan, Md, PHD, Merck
Research Laboratories, cited as the “angel of death” for malfunctioning cells
in the New York Times piece. The protein works by starting the malfunctioning
cell into the process that would cause it to self-destruct. Mutations in
cancerous cells disable the function of this protein, or bind it with “another
cellular protein that blocks it.” The article goes on to note, “The dream of cancer
researchers has long been to reanimate p53 in cancer cells so they will die on
their own,” and notes the three pharmaceutical companies -- Roche, Merck and
Sanofi -- that are attempting to do just that.
“This is a taste of the future in cancer drug development,”
said Otis Webb Brawley, MD, chief medical and scientific officer of the American
Cancer Society, in the New York Time piece -- later continuing, “I expect the
organ from which the cancer came from will be less important in the future and
the molecular target more important.”
Despite efforts to reform p53 in mutated cells, the new drug
comes as a separator for cells in which the protein has been bound to an
inhibitor, getting in between to pry apart and, eventually, release the protein.
Continued research into the drug -- which could potentially be used to treat many
different types of cancer characterized by a malfunctioning p53 protein --
depends wholly on the results of clinical trials. One Sanofi researcher,
Laurent Debussche, PhD, described it as “a go/no-go situation.”
The impact of a singular effective treatment for multiple
forms of cancer could provide future solutions based even more strongly in
genetic research. Rather than fighting the prostate; the pancreas; the breast; doctors
could potentially fight cancers at the molecular level regardless of location.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the idea of a drug that can simultaneously
be personalized and still work on a broad scale stands to influence the way
treatment is viewed in terms of cancer.
During a hospital visit, a doctor will often ask about pain,
but how can it be better calculated beyond just words? A story
from NPR followed researchers led by Tor Wager, PhD, associate professor of
psychology and neuroscience from the University of Colorado at Boulder, who found
a way to measure pain by scanning the brain activity of those experiencing it. The
prospects of pain treatment and understanding -- along with the treatment and
understanding of many feelings -- are poised to develop in light of the
research team’s recent findings.
“The hope is if we could peer into people’s brains,”
explained Wager. “We could understand that different kinds of pain are created
by very different brain systems and we could tailor our treatments to those
According to the Wager, the researchers used a specific
device to “produce a safe and very reliable source of painful input to the
brain” -- a hot plate hooked up to a computer to induce carefully controlled
amounts of heat to the patient’s arm -- and utilized a technique called functional
magnetic imaging resonance (fMRI) to understand brain reactions in response to
pain. In a continued experiment in emotion pain, the team also scanned to brain
activity of volunteers who had recently gone through a break up. Although the
results registered “remarkably similar,” there was no fooling the readings --
the pattern of brain activity between emotional and physical pain could be
distinguished from each other.
“There’s no other way to measure emotion besides asking how
people feel,” continued Wager. “So the broad hope is that we can take steps
toward building a neuroscience of emotion that’s anchored in objective
neurophysical measurements of the brain, as well as reports of emotion.”
A concern cited in the experiment was the idea of using the
brain readings as proof that what a patient is experiencing is actually pain. Wager
discussed the caution that should be taken to avoid a “pain lie detector,”
while other scientists noted the potential dangers of the experiment in common
practice. These include possible complications with insurance companies and the
fundamental importance of doctors listening to their patients. Despite
concerns, the experiment marks an interesting development -- not only in the
treatment of pain, but also in the understanding of other types of emotions.
The idea of making a potentially dangerous drug less prone
to abuse is something that stands out in the effort to stop prescription drug misuse
in the United States. Many companies have incorporated time release capsules to
curb the possibility of abuse, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. According
to a recent New York Times piece,
Purdue Pharma released an “abuse resistant” version of Oxycontin, “a time
release form of a narcotic called oxycodone,” in 2010.
More recently, the patent for the original 1995 formula was
facing expiration, opening production up to generic vendors. Much to the
surprise of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, however, the Food and Drug
Administration halted the production of generic OxyContin earlier this week in
favor of Purdue’s more “abuse resistant” alternative. Rather than being easily
crushed into powder and delivering a dose all at once, the new form of the drug
remains a “jellylike mass” -- allowing it to maintain its time release
properties even after being crushed.
The New York Times article called the decision a major
policy move, noting that the drug “symbolize[s] a decade-long epidemic of
prescription drug abuse.”
According to the article, not only did the FDA bar generic
productions of the original OxyContin formula, but also disbanded the 1995
formula as a whole as it recognized the newer version as being less prone to
abuse. This marks the first time a drug has been approved as “abuse resistant.”
Having no generic competitors, the resulting sales of the new OxyContin are
going to see a 13 percent increase ($6.80 for a 40mg tablet compared to $6.00
for the same dose of the original version of the drug).
Due to the success of
Purdue Pharma, other drug companies like Endo Pharmaceuticals have also filed
reports of drugs that are “tamper-resistant.” The article went on to mention
that some of these companies only released updated versions of these drugs as
their respective patents were set to expire, citing a response from the FDA,
calling the effort on behalf of Endo Pharmaceuticals “a thinly veiled attempt
to maintain its market share and block generic competition.”
Most of us know amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by its
other name, Lou Gehrig’s disease. After a recent preliminary trial at Emory
University yielded positive results, a phase II trial has been approved by the
FDA. An article
from Newswise described the first phase of the trial as fairly successful,
stating all procedures were “delivered safely and tolerated well.”
The second phase could potentially take the trial back to
the University of Michigan, home to Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, professor of
neurology, research director and direct in the University of Michigan’s Medical
School, ALS Clinic and A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
respectively -- who is the principal investigator, now acting as an unpaid
consultant on the trial, which will use injections of stem cells into the upper
portion of the spinal cord. The injections will be delivered by neurosurgeon
Parag Patil, MD, PhD, and contain doses of stem cells ranging up to 400,000
cells with as many as 40 injections.
“In Phase II, we’ll be injecting stem cells into the upper
part of the spinal cord, and our goal is to continue to assess whether this
approach is safe, and to look at whether this approach offers some benefit to
our patients,” said Feldman. “We are very pleased at the potential to bring
this trial to the University of Michigan, where the initial research behind
this technology was done -- as well as having it continue at Emory.”
According to the article, an FDA approval paved the way for
the trial to take place at the University of Michigan, but that decision will
ultimately be left up to the University’s Institutional Review Board. The goals
of the second phase of the trial are to study an increase in dosage (from
100,000 cells to up to 400,000 cells), and to looks for reactions in patient
symptoms or the disease’s progress. The Newswise story went on to note that, in
one group of participants from phase I, “ALS progression may have been
As research and testing become more targeted and precise, experiments
like this act as a stepping stone across a potential sea of real life
applications, treatments and therapies. The positive results of phase I bode
well for phase II in the ALS trial. Regardless
of the outcome, however, the implications of testing the use of stem cells in
treatment stretch beyond ALS to any number of diseases.
I’ve discussed the introduction of human genes into test mice before,
but apparently rats are showing much more promise in Alzheimer’s research. A recent
from NPR discussed the need for a better model for humans in the study and,
potentially, the treatment of Alzheimer’s. After studying genetically altered mice
and later rats with no progress, the discovery of a line of rats with health
problems more similar to humans holds promise.
“It’s a big step forward,” Roderick Corriveau, PhD, program
director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS),
said in the NPR article. “The closer the model is to the human condition in
representing the disease, the more likely the drug will behave and cure the way
it would in humans.”
progresses, the human brain develops amyloid plagues, which are followed by
large number of brain cells dying -- resulting in deteriorating mental health. According
to the NPR story, the problem with the mice was, like humans, they would
develop the plagues, but none of the following symptoms ever followed. As rats
are closer to humans in regards to evolutionary status, the switch was the best
available option and, since then, studies have been promising.
“We thought that they would sort of be on the cusp of normal
aging,” said Terrence Town, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at the
University of Southern California, in the NPR story. “And then if we added into
that mix these mutant human genes that cause Alzheimer’s, we might have a much
better and much more full model of the human syndrome.”
The resulting genetically-altered rats suffered symptoms
similar to humans, including Amyloid Plagues, loss of brain cells (30 or 35 percent,
according to the article) and diminished mental faculty. Among other things, the
Alzheimer’s-prone rodents were even noted to have eventually lost the ability
to navigate mazes. The article went on to state that Town’s lab has already
started testing Alzheimer’s drugs, which could lead to the first look at the
first potential human cure -- or, at the very least, improved treatment.
With so many new technologies emerging in recent years, trying
to combine multiple advances can be challenging, especially when those advances
haven’t been standardized yet. In a recent article from Newswise, doctors and researchers from both the
Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School discussed “a new problem in the delivery
of personalized medicine: comprehensive and consistent data reporting.” Christopher
G. Chute, MD, from the Mayo Clinic noted on the promise of health information
technology as genomic research continues to rise.
“We need more standards in how these discoveries are
recorded and collated,” said Chute in the Newswise story. “This fosters
comparable and consistent data that improves the application of health
information technology for better patient care.”
This lack of standardization is poised to make trouble for
healthcare facilities, which are already seeing a need for experts in
bioinformatics to translate and understand the mass amounts of data from tests like
genetic sequencing. Chute, along with fellow author Isaac Kohane, MD, from
Harvard Medical School and a team of researchers pointed out 3 necessities in
the normalization of genomic data. The authors cited “coherent, consistent and
uniform naming,” an “authenticated, well-annotated, curated and freely accessible
knowledge base of genomic associations, risks and warnings” and a need for
standardized rules that can be accessed and integrated into the electronic
medical records (EMRs) in any healthcare facility.
“Any expectation that a clinician can or should ‘know’ the
vast permutation of emerging genomic influences on disease risk, treatment, or
prognosis,” wrote the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School authors. “As well
as the interactions of these influences with drugs or other diseases or, most
confusingly, their co-occurrence with other genomic or environmental factors is
Studies like the one performed by the Mayo Clinic and
Harvard Medical School continue to better incorporate genomic treatments and findings
into everyday patient care. Until healthcare facilities can find a way to
incorporate the increasingly large amount of information afforded by technologies
like genetic sequencing in a universal and concise way, however, physicians will
remain restricted by access to more organized results.
The introduction of new drugs that combat disease and
infection at the genetic level has been a landmark breakthrough, both for
laboratory science as well as for patient treatment plans. Cell-based
therapeutics, on the other hand, stand to become influential in the coming
years. A recent story
from Newswise reported cell therapy as the next step in patient treatment,
citing an article
from Science Translational Medicine, in which it was referred to as the “third
pillar of medicine.”
“Today, biomedical science sits on the cusp of a revolution,”
said Wendell Kim, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Systems and Synthetic
Biology, professor and one of the Science Translational Medicine article
authors. “The use of human and microbial cells as therapeutic entities.”
The Newswise story noted on the potential applications of
cell therapy -- from work in cancer to uses to “control weight gain.” The end
goal being to manufacture or engineer specialized cells that can be predicted
and applied to treatment as appropriate, Newswise explained how “scientists
want to be able to reliably control many aspects of cells.” These include how
the cells interact and communicate, how they move to focus on various parts of
the body, when they “activate” and “die” according to programming as well as “population
growth,” how they produce “small therapeutic molecules” and how they make decisions
to best fight disease.
“If small molecules and biologics are tools, then cells are
carpenters,” said Michael Fischbach, PhD, an assistant professor of UCSF’s
School of Pharmacy. “And architects and engineers as well.”
Having already made several breakthroughs, Cell Therapy has
been most notable in procedures like fecal transplants and the treatment of leukemia.
The Newswise story described cells as “adaptable” and, thus, better suited for
utilization in therapies because, unlike drugs, cellular reactions can vary. Despite
remaining in the early stages of use and experimentation, the potential impact
of Cellular Therapies could change the scope of treatment for both the
physicians and clinical laboratories across the board on the broad scale of the
The introduction of two new hospital facilities in the US
marks the beginning of a shift in the healthcare industry. According to a
release from Dark Daily, a nationwide change from inpatient- to outpatient-based
treatment approaches has resulted in the construction of “bedless hospitals.”
In preparation for changes due to the impact of healthcare reform, many
facilities are organizing to encompass and utilize more ambulatory services.
“This is all a response to healthcare reform, and it’s going
on throughout the country,” Bruce Crowther, CEO of Northwest Community Healthcare
in Chicago, was quoted in the release. “We can anticipate lower Medicare
payments, and we can anticipate a shift in incentives to less inpatient work
and more outpatient work.”
Facilities like the Montefiore Ambulatory Care Center in the
Bronx and a naval hospital at Camp Pendleton in San Diego are among the first
to offer more outpatient-geared treatment initiatives. The result of more
outpatient-focused could result in “greater integration of clinical care. According
to the release, the 11 story Montefiore Ambulatory Care Center will offer 12
operating rooms 4 procedure rooms in the surgery center, an advanced imaging
center, clinical laboratory services, a pharmacy and both primary and specialty
care practices. The San Diego naval hospital, on the other hand, will have only
67 beds despite expecting a large number of daily visitors -- 2,000 of which
are anticipated to be outpatients.
“This is a sort of natural outcome of what they are trying to
create in healthcare reform,” continued Crowther in the Dark Daily article. “We’re
really just re-sizing to the demand for beds that we have today. The hospital
becomes a place for those very expensive, really acute kind of episodes. Over
time, there will be a reduction in the number of beds used.”
The Dark Daily press release cited the success of laboratories and pathology groups in the current healthcare climate as reliant on “delevop[ing] innovative ways” to adapt in integrated clinical care models. As laboratory science continues to progress, healthcare models are changing with it. The prospect of shortened hospital stays and fewer inpatient beds puts an increased demand on clinical laboratories as largely outpatient-centered facilities will require “hospital-level, high-tech healthcare delivered in an ambulatory setting.”