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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Apple Designs New App to Allow Use of iPhones to Recruit and Track Patients in Clinical Study as One Strategy to Become a Player in Healthcare Big Data

Researchers, including pathologists, can use Apple’s ResearchKit app to help collect and share genetic information about cancers and other diseases while building a huge genome database

By providing tools to allow users to be more productive in working with healthcare big data, several Silicon Valley giants hope to increase their presence in medical services. The latest company to enter the field is Apple Computers (NASDAQ:AAPL). In March it announced the availability of ResearchKit, an open-source software framework that turns the iPhone into a research tool.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists have a stake in the healthcare big data trend, since more than 70% of the typical patient’s permanent medical record consists of medical laboratory test data. Thus, the products introduced by Apple, Google, and other Silicon Valley firms that are designed to help physicians and other professionals work with healthcare big data have the potential to transform the way value is harvested from these data sets.

It was Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that took the first leap into the medical research arena. Last year, it launched Google X Life Sciences to assemble a database of the human genome. (See Dark Daily, “Google Takes First Steps to Create World’s Largest Human Genome Database as Part of Wider Strategy to Become a Major Player in Healthcare ‘Big Data’” October 14, 2014).

Apple’s strategy is to support researchers. Its ResearchKit is designed to be an open-source software framework that turns the iPhone into a research tool. It enables development of apps that help medical researchers recruit study subjects and collect health information through iPhone’s sensors and surveys. Because it is an open-source platform, researchers also can create apps for Android and Windows devices. (more…)

University of Illinois Researchers Develop New Way to Assess Freshness and Effectiveness of Whole Blood; Pathologists and Blood Bankers May Be Surprised at the Findings

Some changes in red blood cells that occur within current 42-day use guidelines may not be apparent to the human eye, but offer a new way to measure the amount of oxygen that the cells can carry

At the University of Illinois (UI), researchers have developed a new method to assess the freshness and clinical effectiveness of whole blood. As these findings are validated, pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists who manage hospital blood banks may need to establish new guidelines for the use of such blood products.

Researchers at the UI campus in Urbana-Champaign stated that their findings indicate that blood stored in the laboratory or at the community blood bank may not be as fresh as it appears. They also said that the longer blood is stored, the less effective it can be in carrying oxygen into the body’s tiny microcapillaries, according to a news release issued by the UI. (more…)

VA Wants to Collect Clinical Laboratory Blood Specimens from One Million Veterans to Create World’s Largest Medical Database and Gene Repository

Veterans Administration calls it a “genomics game changer” and is now building a treasure trove of data for health researchers, including pathologists

Imagine a massive data repository that contains the blood specimens and genetic information of thousands of individuals, along with a detailed medical history for each patient that may reach back as far as 20 years! Such a data repository, long the dream of many pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists, will soon become a reality.

That’s because the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced what it calls the “Million Veteran Program” (MVP). It is actively recruiting one million veterans who are willing to provide a blood specimen. These specimens will become part of a database that contains the full electronic health records (EHR) of millions of veterans.


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.


Comparative Effectiveness: It’s Here! It’s Now! And It’s Funded to the Tune of $1.1 Billion!

Effort will identify which clinical procedures actually benefit patients—and are cost-effective

“Comparative effectiveness research (CER)” is likely to be one method that healthcare reformers use to establish reimbursement for different medical technologies and treatments. This will apply equally to clinical laboratory testing and pathology professional services as well as other medical procedures.

There is a compelling reason why comparative effectiveness is likely to happen on this turn of the healthcare reform wheel. Congress put teeth into the comparative effectiveness movement earlier this year when it provided $1.1 billion to support the effort in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.