Loyola Launches Bachelor’s Program In Medical Lab Science

Classes have begun for Loyola University Chicago’s new clinical laboratory science bachelor’s degree program, designed to prepare graduates to work in clinical labs where excellent job opportunities are expected. The US Department of Labor projects that as technology evolves and workers retire, and as the population grows and ages, the need for clinical laboratory scientists will increase by 14% during the next decade— faster than the average for all other occupations in the United States.

"The job opportunities in this field are extremely promising. We are going to start rivaling nursing in terms of how many vacant positions there will be across the country," said Michelle Moy, director of the clinical laboratory science bachelor’s degree program.

Graduates of Loyola’s program will be prepared for challenging positions in hospitals, colleges and universities, and pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, as well as with government agencies and in research and product development, insurance underwriting, forensic medicine and criminal justice, and veterinary medicine.

Students will be required to earn 129 credit hours in order to graduate. They will spend the first 3 years of the program at Loyola’s Lakeshore and Water Tower campuses completing prerequisite coursework and courses related to the basic sciences and clinical laboratory sciences. In addition, students will spend the last 45 hours of instruction or a total of 64 hours in residence. Upon completing the program, all students may apply to take the examination to be certified as a medical laboratory scientist.

Source: Loyola University

Patient’s Whole Genome Reveals Disease Risks, Drug Responses

Scientists at Stanford and Harvard Universities collaborated to assess the clinical usefulness of analyzing a patient’s full genome for disease risks and unusual drug responses. The work brings closer to reality the concept that whole-genome sequencing might one day play a clinical role. The analysis, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears in the May 1, 2010, issue of Lancet.

The authors evaluated the entire genome of a 40-year-old man and compared it to several databases of disease-related gene variants. They also factored in the patient’s medical and family history and statistical disease risks. As part of the work, the researchers provided the patient with genetic counseling and clinical tests relevant to his family history. The genome analysis revealed variants associated with diseases in the man’s family (osteoarthritis, vascular disease, and early sudden death). It also uncovered variants linked to conditions not in his family (iron overload and thyroid and parathyroid diseases). Some variants suggested that he might have unusual responses to certain heart medications, which is meaningful in light of his risk for cardiovascular disorders.

The authors view their work as a proof of concept that whole-genome sequencing can yield clinically useful information for individual patients. They acknowledge that many challenges remain, including the effect of the environment, which is difficult to quantify and often changes throughout a person’s life. The paper concludes that the transition to genome-informed medical care will require an integrated team including medical and genetics professionals, ethicists, and health care delivery organizations.

Source: NIH, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

FDA Approves Chagas Disease Screening Test

The FDA has approved a second test to screen blood, tissue and organ donors for a blood-borne parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), that causes Chagas disease, a serious and potentially fatal parasitic infection. The test, called Abbott Prism Chagas [Trypanosoma cruzi (E. coli, Recombinant) Antigen], detects antibodies to T. cruzi. It is a fully automated and highly sensitive and specific test for the detection of antibodies to T. cruzi.

The assay is intended as a screen to detect antibodies to T. cruzi in serum or plasma specimens obtained from donors of whole blood and blood components and other living donors. It is also intended for use to screen organ donors when serum and plasma specimens are obtained while the donor’s heart is still beating and in testing blood specimens to screen cadaveric donors (those whose hearts are not beating).

"Screening for T. cruzi is an important safety measure to help protect our blood supply and help prevent the spread of Chagas disease," said Karen Midthun, MD, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Source: Abbott

New Genetic Tests May Predict Leading Cause of Hospital Readmissions in Newborns

The results of two separate research studies taking place at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics will help physicians use genetic testing to prevent complications, and ease the worry of new parents by predicting in advance which newborns may require readmission to the hospital shortly after birth.

Up to 85% of hospital readmissions during the first 2 weeks of life are due to hyperbilirubinemia, more commonly recognized as jaundice. The condition can be concerning for new parents, and potentially devastating for the infant if not recognized and promptly treated. New research being led by Susan Abdel-Rahman, PharmD, professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, is identifying specific genetic markers that will enhance the ability to predict which newborns are at risk. "This condition can be very harmful for newborn infants and scary for new parents," Abdel-Rahman said. "Knowing in advance which babies are likely to experience symptoms can provide reassurance for parents and guidance for clinicians in determining which babies may benefit from more careful monitoring."

The goal of the research is to develop an electronic tool that can be used by clinicians in nurseries nationwide to dramatically improve prediction of risk for hyperbilirubinemia and prevent complications due to late detection. The study will be among the largest of its kind, aiming to enroll 3,500 newborns.

Source: Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics

IL Launches ACL Top 700 and ACL Top 700 CTS Hemostasis Testing Systems

Instrumentation Laboratory (IL) announced the worldwide commercial launch of the ACL TOP 700 and ACL TOP 700 CTS Hemostasis Testing Systems as the newest members of the ACL TOP Family. These new analyzers represent IL’s top-of-the-line offering for high-throughput hemostasis testing labs.

Built on the imprint of the ACL TOP models, the ACL TOP 700 and ACL TOP 700 CTS offer advanced technology and deliver "Testing-Process Automation" with maximum speed, intelligence, and simplicity to increase productivity and reduce workload in routine and specialty labs. In addition, the ACL TOP 700 and ACL TOP 700 CTS include new advanced features, including remote diagnostics capabilities and enhanced software security. All members of the ACL TOP family employ the same software, broad test menu, features and usability, consumables and reagents, and provide the same accurate results—offering true testing standardization.

"The ACL TOP 700 and ACL TOP 700 CTS are excellent examples of the implementation of our platform strategy," said Remo Tazzi, director of marketing, hemostasis instruments, at IL. "Once again, we leveraged the standardized ACL TOP Family platform with its proven history of quality, to deliver timely product improvements and enhanced efficiency."

Source: Instrumentation Laboratory