News Trends Analysis

Feb. 1, 2003
The ObservatoryFebruary 2003Blood Bank News
Blood factor concentrates unlikely to transmit viral hepatitis.People with bleeding disorders like hemophilia are unlikely to contract viral hepatitis from the blood products they must receive, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control. The report in the Jan. 3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report presents findings of an investigation of the safety of blood products conducted from May 1998 through June 2002 in collaboration with 140 federally funded hemophilia treatment centers. Although 1,149 cases of seroconversions for hepatitis viruses were found among the persons with bleeding disorders enrolled in the study, none of these cases was attributable to blood products received during this time period, which indicates that blood factor concentrates used to treat bleeding disorders are unlikely to transmit viral hepatitis, the CDC report states. The CDC recommends that patients with blood disorders be regularly tested to ensure the continued safety of blood and blood products.ProteomicsCRP fosters blood clot formation.Further underlining the limitations of cholesterol screening in assessing heart disease risk, a new study by physicians at UC Davis is the first to conclusively link C-reactive protein (CRP) to formation of blood clots, a major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular disease. Until now, CRP had been recognized mainly as a marker of heart disease. The study, which appears in the Jan. 25 edition of the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, shows that CRP causes cells in the arteries, human aortic endothelial cells, to produce higher levels of an enzyme that inhibits breakdown of clots. The enzyme, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, is also a strong risk marker for heart disease, particularly in diabetics.TestingAnnual Pap smears may not be necessary for all women. Annual screening for cervical cancer may not be necessary for women who are at low risk for developing cancer. According to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women with negative Pap and human papilloma virus (HPV) tests are at very low risk for developing cervical cancer for several years. Researchers say that this finding could allow resources to be redirected to women who are at higher risk for disease and free low-risk women from the cost and stress of more frequent screening.
Diabetics should be screened for dangerous antibodies. Type I diabetics should be regularly screened for parietal cell antibodies (PCAs), which increase their risk of developing autoimmune gastritis, iron deficiency, pernicious anemia and malignant gastric lesions, according to a report in the January issue of Diabetes Care. Researchers at the University of Antwerp found that approximately 15 to 20 percent of Type I diabetic patients develop the risky antibodies.Viral test reduces inappropriate antibiotic use. The use of a recently developed direct fluorescent assay (DFA) that can rapidly detect seven common respiratory viruses can reduce inappropriate antibiotic treatment in children, says a report of a study from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The DFA can detect the presence of respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, influenza A and B, and parainfluenza viruses 1, 2, and 3 in a nasal wash specimen. The assay is sold by Temecula, CA-based Chemicon International Inc., under the trade name SimulFlor Respiratory Screen. Test results are usually shown within a few hours of specimen collection, allowing a physician to quickly decide whether antibiotics are necessary, rather than prescribing them prophylactically while waiting for culture results. The study showed a dramatic decrease in the use of IV antibiotics at a childrens hospital after introduction of the DFA test.Researchers: New noninvasive prenatal diagnosis technique impractical. A new, noninvasive technique for prenatal diagnosis using fetal cells found in maternal plasma is difficult to perform and clinically impractical, according to new research at centers affiliated with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fetal Cell Isolation Study and reported last month in the British medical journal Lancet. Researchers findings came after their attempt to replicate a technique advanced in 2000, which suggested that rare, intact fetal cells could be recovered from maternal blood and used for diagnosis of fetal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. Researchers say that noninvasive detection of these abnormalities will require the development new and more sensitive techniques for isolating and analyzing the fetal cells found in maternal blood.GenomicsMicroarray analysis may help predict breast cancer outcomes.Genetic microarray analysis may help predict outcomes for patients with Stages I and II breast cancer, according to a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from the Netherlands and the U.S. studied the accuracy of microarray analysis in predicting outcomes of 295 patients under the age of 53 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and concluded that the genetics test is an accurate predictor of the prognosis of young women with early-stage cancer. It is believed that the finding could help tailor individual breast cancer treatment plans.© 2003 Nelson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.