As tests explore genetic markers related to excessive weight gain, and breast and ovarian cancer, companies as well as employees are seeing returns on investment and participation
In a development that is auspicious for medical laboratories, more genetic tests are making their way into more corporate health benefit plans. Big brands—from Aetna to Visa—are partnering with personalized health companies and clinical lab companies doing genetic testing as they support tests to help employees head-off health risks.
Employers’ sponsorship of genetic testing is a trend that could become more common, noted Fortune. But human resources and benefits experts say the offerings are still uncommon. There are also unresolved issues, such as when genetic test results are inconclusive or questionable.
For medical laboratories, the companies’ genetic testing benefits could prompt more test orders from healthcare consumers. Based on the results of their genetic tests, people might decide to make lifestyle changes, work toward prevention of chronic conditions, and take further tests to assess progress. (more…)
Pathologists will be interested to learn that this latest version of the acoustic tweezer device requires about five hours to identify the CTCs in a sample of blood
Medical laboratory leaders and pathologists are well aware that circulating tumor cells (CTCs) released by primary tumors into the bloodstream are fragile and easily damaged. Many studies have sought to find ways to separate CTCs from surrounding cells. Such a process could then be used as an early-detection biomarker to detect cancer from a sample of blood.
One team of researchers believe it has a way to accomplish this. These researchers are using sound waves to gently detect and isolate CTCs in blood samples. In turn, this could make it possible to diagnose cancer using “liquid biopsies” as opposed to invasive conventional biopsies.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) have developed a method for using acoustic tweezers and sound waves to separate blood-borne cancer cells from white blood cells. The research team believes this new device could one day replace invasive biopsies, according to a CMU article. (more…)
News reports state that Anthem and Cigna have denied payment for some multigene panel tests, saying that the tests are unproven. Other insurers, such as UnitedHealthcare and Priority Health, pay for such tests but only for certain patients
A conflict is building between patients and health insurers over the reluctance among health plans to pay for new, expensive molecular diagnostic assays and genetic tests that clinical laboratory companies offer.
This conflict has caught the attention of the nation’s media. That is probably because it makes a great story, for example, to interview parents who can assert that their sick child suffered because their health insurance plan would not pay for a genetic test the parents believed would make a difference in their child’s clinical care. Of course, pathologists and medical laboratory professionals know that there are a significant number of expensive genetic tests being offered by various lab companies that lack extensive data to support their clinical efficacy. (more…)
Innovative use of crowdsourcing allows pathologists and genetic scientists to create a sizeable database of BRCA mutations that is accessible to clinicians and patients
There’s a new development in the longstanding battle over proprietary healthcare data versus public sharing of such information. Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will be interested to learn that, when it comes to genetic testing of the BRCA mutation involved in breast cancer, a public data base of mutations is growing so rapidly that it may become the world’s largest repository of such information.
It was last year when the Supreme Court ruled in the gene patent case of Association of Molecular Pathology versus Myriad Genetics that human genes were not patentable. Following that decision, some financial analysts stated that Myriad Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MYGN) retained a competitive advantage over other medical laboratories due to its huge database of mutations in the BRCA genes. (See Dark Daily, “Supreme Court Strikes down Myriad Gene Patents in Unanimous Vote; Decision Is Expected to Benefit Clinical Pathology Laboratories,” July 1, 2013.) (more…)
The ATC Chip identifies ovarian cancer cells floating in ascites and may be useful for diagnosing other types of malignancies that involve ascites, like pancreatic cancer
Pathologists will be interested to learn that researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital are developing a “liquid biopsy” technology specifically to enable point-of-care monitoring of the progress of patients undergoing treatment for certain types of cancers.
The goal is to develop a method that community hospitals can use to monitor treatment of ovarian cancer patients without the need for expensive medical laboratory equipment, noted a report published by Biosciencetechnology.com. Researchers estimate that their ‘liquid biopsy’ technology could cost as little as $1 per test when eventually cleared for use in clinical settings.