editor.jpg (9728 bytes)Spring is finally here and that can mean only one thing. The big trade shows are fast upon us. With three of this year’s shows, — the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA) and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) — taking place on the West Coast, there will be more than a few jet-lagged laboratorians in the months ahead. Just in case you have trouble absorbing all that whiz-bang new technology while adjusting to a new time zone, we’ll be there to help.

CLP writers and editors will be attending and writing about the cool and useful things we see and hear about at these shows in upcoming issues. But if you have the inside track on a don’t-miss product or topic, please drop me an e-mail or give me a telephone call.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me tell you about this month’s news-you-can-use issue. Our Lab Economics story (page 57), by Cheryl Mower, chemistry lab supervisor at Affiliated Laboratory Inc. in Bangor, Me., describes her lab’s experience in switching from a titration method to a colorimetric method of calibrating pipettes. The result: time spent calibrating chemistry pipettes was reduced by 75 percent.

The Product Technology Brief (page 46), on a urine assay that quantitates bladder cancer antigen, the BTA Trak Test, is currently available in microtiter plate format but is coming soon to an Abbott AxSym analyzer near you.
By now every one has heard of the ThinPrep PapTest that revolutionized the cervical cancer testing market. Well, Cytyc Corp., maker of the test, is about to enter clinical trials with the ThinPrep Imaging System, which could result in a 50 percent time savings on negative slides while adding increased vigilance on abnormal slides. Don’t miss Paul Kandarian’s Product Development story (page 37) on this much-awaited new technology.

This month’s Disease Management section (page 24) covers a topic that is near and dear to my heart — Women’s Health. Not a day goes by that women’s health is not at least a blip on my radar screen — my own, my mother’s, my friends’ and my family.

With luck and youth, it’s easy to perceive the really gruesome diseases as a distant possibility, something that happens to other people. Like winning the lottery, only, unfortunately, a Shirley Jackson-type lottery. But once you hit 40, disease denial becomes downright difficult, if not impossible.

All of a sudden, I’m getting phone calls and reports that my parents, daily obituary page readers, have been getting for years. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people I know and care about getting serious diseases that can actually kill them.

Among my least favorite two words this year are: breast cancer. Three women friends of mine, between the ages of 38 and 41, recently have been diagnosed with this dreaded condition. My 41-year old cousin, Kathy, mother of two sons, an 18-year old and an 18-month old, died in January after a long struggle with breast cancer. A 39-year old college friend, Annie, who found out she had breast cancer a little less than a year ago, has finished her treatments and is doing fine. Just last month, in a telephone conversation with a photographer I had not spoken with in 10 years, I learned that a writer we worked with, one of the most spontaneous and funny women to ever tap a keyboard, had become another breast cancer patient with options to weigh.

Needless to say, I’m having a hard time taking my health for granted these days. Aside from stocking up on anti-oxidant vitamins, adding soy to my diet and practicing yoga with renewed diligence, I’m trying to appreciate every healthy minute above ground. I hope you’re doing the same.

Coleen Curran