Week in Review: October 18

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Doctor's Dilemma: Determining If Patients Are Sick From Flu Or Vaping

The ongoing investigation into apparent lung disease cases related to e-cigarette and vaping devices shows nearly half the samples tested so far, which contained THC, also had Vitamin E acetate. But federal officials can't yet point to a single cause or product believed to have killed 26 people and sickened 1,299 in states across the country except for Alaska. Seventy-three of those cases are from Wisconsin. "The source of illness in one part of the country may not be the same as in another part of the country and we have to keep an open mind," said Anne Schuchat, deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Via WPR.

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Faced With a Drug Shortfall, Doctors Scramble to Treat Children With Cancer

A critical drug that serves as the backbone of treatment for most childhood cancers, including leukemias, lymphomas, and brain tumors, has become increasingly scarce, and doctors warn that they may soon be forced to consider rationing doses.  Persistent shortages of certain drugs and medical supplies have plagued the United States for years, but physicians say the loss of this medication, vincristine, is uniquely problematic, as there is no appropriate substitute. “This is truly a nightmare situation,” said Dr. Yoram Unguru, a pediatric oncologist at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore. “Vincristine is our water. It’s our bread and butter. I can’t think of a disease in childhood cancer that doesn’t use vincristine.” Shortages of the chemotherapy drug, which is on back order, will likely affect children throughout the country, he said, obligating physicians to make difficult decisions. Via New York Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Breast Cancer Vaccine Could Be Available In Less Than A Decade

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida say a vaccine they have developed could be available within eight years that may not only stop the recurrence of breast and ovarian cancers, but prevent them from developing in the first place. “It is reasonable to say that we could have a vaccine within eight years that may be available to patients through their pharmacy or their doctor,” said Mayo Clinic investigator Keith L. Knutson, Ph.D. in an interview today. Knutson said the research is in its early phases, and it will be at least three years before a phase 3 trial of Mayo Clinic’s cancer vaccine will be available to large numbers of patients. Via Forbes.

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Scientists Chase Cause of Mysterious Vaping Illness as Death Toll Rises

Researchers and physicians alike were caught unprepared by the illness, which has now sickened about 1,300 U.S. vapers and killed 26. Scientists are scrambling to find out why and save other vapers from the same fate. “Everything is rapidly evolving,” says Brandon Larsen, a pulmonary pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. “I could tell you something today and next week it could be totally wrong.” A paper published by Larsen and his colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine on October 2 undercut a popular theory behind the outbreak—and underscored how far researchers still have to go to pinpoint its cause. Via Nature.

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Samantha Rossi

Samantha Rossi is a Digital Marketing Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She supports marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing. Samantha has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2019.