News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Florida Rheumatologist Says UnitedHealthcare’s Management Program for Clinical Laboratory Tests Could Jeopardize Patient Care

Miami physician asks why UnitedHealthcare requires use of the BeaconLBS system for authorization for recommended medical laboratory tests that may help identify lymphoma early

In Florida, the confrontation between one of the nation’s largest health insurance corporations and physicians, clinical laboratory managers, and pathologists continues. The source of this confrontation are the restrictive and burdensome requirements for medical laboratory test ordering imposed last fall by UnitedHealthcare (NYSE:UNH) and administered by BeaconLBS, a business division of Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE:LH).

For Florida rheumatologist Olga Kromo, M.D., UnitedHealthcare’s new decision-support system that physicians are required to use when ordering clinical laboratory tests is highly flawed. (more…)

Clinical Laboratory Scientists Help Crack Newborn Marijuana Mystery

Surprising source of positive medical lab test results was discovered by a special team including pathologists, medical technologists, nurses, and physicians

Some innovative sleuthing by clinical laboratory professionals at University of North Carolina School of Medicine (UNCSM) hospitals has helped solve a marijuana mystery involving neonatal screenings. An unexpected spike in “false positive” cannabis exposure screening results in newborns at the facilities triggered a study by UNCSM scientists.

Revised Screening Protocol Leads to Jump in False Positives

According to a story in MedCity News , in July 2011, the UNCSM clinical laboratories received a call from nurses in the neonatal nursery. They had noticed an increase in positive results in screenings for tetrahydrocannabinol-delta 9-carboxylic acid (THC). THC is the principal psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. (more…)

Aptamer-Based Blood Protein Detection Technology May Soon Be Used By Medical Laboratories in Tests for Cancer, Diabetes, and Other Diseases

Researchers believe that clinical laboratory assays that use aptamers would have multiple advantages when compared to diagnostic tests utilizing anti-bodies

New diagnostic technology has been developed that has the potential to accurately detect such diseases as cancer and diabetes, even when the patient is pre-symptomatic. Not only would medical laboratory tests using this technology be low cost and portable, but some experts think that diagnostic assays using this technology could make it through the regulatory process and be cleared for clinical use in just five years or less.

This highly-sensitive diagnostic technology is able to detect specific proteins in human blood. It was developed by a research team at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Last fall, they published their findings in the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal, Biomedical Optics Express.


Magnetic Biomarker Chip Spots Cancer Before It Develops

Up to 400 times more sensitive than existing ELISA-based methods

Detecting any of seven cancers in their earliest stages may be feasible through the use of a new biomarker chip that was recently unveiled by scientists from Stanford University’s Center for Magnetic Nanotechnology. To give their biomarker chip increased sensitivity over fluorescent detection methods, the scientists use magnetic technologies to accomplish detection.

Reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), lead scientist Shan X. Wang, Ph.D., director of the center and professor of materials science and electrical engineering, says the chip is able to detect very low levels of seven cancers. The biodetection chip is to be marketed by Silicon Valley startup MagArray Inc., of Sunnyvale, California. It detects multiple proteins in blood or DNA strands using magnetic technology similar to how a computer reads a hard drive. Developers say this chip could also be used to diagnose cardiovascular disease and monitor cancer therapy.


15-Minute Diagnostic Biomarkers for Cancer, Other Conditions Unveiled in UK

Use of antibodies that detect biomarkers in as little as 15 minutes now allows researchers at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom to identify such diseases as prostate and ovarian cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), heart disease, and fungal infections. Using biosensors to identify the molecular markers for disease, the technology is much faster than current testing methods.

One goal of this research is to provide a way for hospitals to use this technology for rapid diagnosis. Another goal is to allow surgeons to use the technology to improve the speed and accuracy of referral to specialty physicians. Along with the ability to identify cancer, MS, heart disease, and infections, researchers say these biosensors may also be able to detect a wide range of analytes, including biomarkers in tuberculosis and HIV.
“We believe this to be the next generation diagnostic testing. We can now detect almost any analyte faster, cheaper, and more easily than the current accepted testing methodology,” said Paul Millner, M.D, a member of the faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds.

Researchers say that this technology could be developed into a device the size of a mobile phone, where different sensor chips could be inserted, depending on the disease being sought. “We’ve designed simple instrumentation to make the biosensors easy to use and understand,” Millner explained. “They’ll work in a format similar to the glucose biosensor testing kits that diabetics use.”

Currently blood and urine are tested for disease markers using test technologies such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay). Developed in the 1970s, ELISA takes an average of two hours to complete, can be expensive, and can be performed only by highly trained staff.

The new biomarker technology was developed through a European collaboration of researchers and commercial partners in a 2.7 million Euro ($3.6 million) project called ELISHA (Electronic Immuno-Interfaces and Surface Nanobiotechnology: A Heterodoxical Approach).

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