News/ Trends/ Analysis

Aug. 1, 2009


News/ Trends/ Analysis

HIV antibody tests unreliable for early infections in
The most
commonly used rapid HIV test often results in a false-negative during
the earliest and most contagious stages of HIV infection, known as acute
retroviral syndrome, or ARS,
according to a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Johns Hopkins
Children's Center. Because the rapid HIV screening tests are designed to
detect antibodies to the virus, not the virus itself, the tests will
only pick up infection in those who have developed antibodies, which
most people do not make until several weeks to several months after
infection. To rule out HIV in teens deemed to be at high risk for
sexually transmitted infections, Johns Hopkins HIV experts recommend the
use of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, which directly detect
the virus' genetic markers — rather than antibodies to the virus —
within two to three weeks after the virus enters the body.

New studies

Spit test for pancreatic cancer” A researcher at the
University of California-Los Angeles says clinicians might eventually be
able to find out whether patients have pancreatic cancer by having them
spit into a cup,
Digestive Disease
reports. Researchers collected saliva from 12 patients with
early or locally advanced pancreatic cancer and 12 healthy controls
matched for gender, age, ethnicity, and smoking history. The researchers
extracted mRNA and identified 12 genes that were differentially
expressed between the two groups. The use of the genes as biomarkers was
assessed in a validation cohort comprised of 30 patients with cancer, 30
with chronic pancreatitis, which has a clinical presentation similar to
pancreatic cancer, and 30 healthy controls. The expression of all 12
genes was significantly different from the cancer patients and the
controls. The expression of nine of them was significantly different
from the cancer patients and those with pancreatitis.

Infectious diseases

Healthcare workers catching H1N1 virus on duty. Out of 81 healthcare workers in the United States who have been infected
with the H1N1 flu virus, about half contracted the virus while on duty,
reports the
Los Angeles Times. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), this indicates that hospitals and
personnel are not taking the proper steps to contain virus spread. The
CDC recommends several preventive measures, such as promptly identifying
those who need to be isolated, getting an annual vaccination, and using
Tamiflu prophylactically on healthcare workers. The CDC
infection-control recommendations for the care of H1N1 patients include
the use of fit-tested N95 respirators, eye protection, and contact
precautions, in addition to routine infection-control practices used for
seasonal flu. Many of those infected in healthcare settings reported
improper use of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns,
gloves, and the N95 respirators.


Blood-sugar test recommended for diabetes diagnosis.
A blood test
physicians use regularly to check blood sugar levels in people with diabetes
is now being recommended as a tool to diagnose the disease, reports USA TODAY. At
the American Diabetes Association's 69th annual meeting in New Orleans, an
international committee of experts announced their consensus that the A1C
assay is an accurate way to diagnose diabetes in adults and children but not
in pregnant women. The A1C test, which measures average blood-glucose levels
over the preceding two to three months, requires only a simple blood draw
that can be done any time of day without skipping food. Also called the
HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin test, it tells what the average blood-glucose
level was over the past two or three months by measuring the concentration
of hemoglobin molecules in red blood cells that have glucose attached to

Breath test could help assess liver function. A simple breath test may help predict prognosis in patients with chronic
liver disease, researchers say. Patients divided into low-, medium-, and
high-risk groups, according to the breath test, had two-year survival
rates of 98.9%, 89.7%, and 73%, respectively, researchers at Hebrew
University-Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem tell
Digestive Disease
. The test might be able to add predictive value to the model
for end-stage liver disease (MELD), according to researchers who
assessed the predictive ability of the 13C-methacetin breath
test. Among patients with high MELD scores of 17 and 18, a one-point
increase in the breath-test score was associated with a 30% higher risk
of death. The breath test could be used to assess prognosis from the
earliest stages of liver disease to cirrhosis, to help doctors determine
whether a cirrhotic patient has enough liver function to undergo a
surgical procedure, to prioritize patients for liver transplantation,
and perhaps to decide when patients need to start therapy for chronic
viral hepatitis.


August 17-20. “The Healthcare
Colloquium Conference” at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, is an executive
education course on patient safety, healthcare quality enhancement, and
medical errors reduction for healthcare executives, clinicians, and patient
care staff. Get details at

August 19-20. The International Swine Flu
Summit in Washington, DC, will gather scientists, public health officials,
law enforcers, first responders, and other experts to discuss pandemic
prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. Visit

Sept. 23-25. Lab Institute 2009 at the Crystal
Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, features experts who will assess the
legislative outlook for health-system reform and what it means for labs
and pathologists. Learn what lab coding and billing changes are expected
in 2010.
Visit .

September 29-30. “Lab Quality Confab” at
the Atlanta Hilton features programs on quality management techniques
such as LEAN, Six Sigma, and ISO 15189. Go to

October 1-2. “Molecular Pathology
Essentials: Diagnosis and Targeted Therapy” at the Hotel Scandic
Copenhagen, Denmark, covers molecular diagnostic testing for genetic
disorders, hemoglobinopathies, pharmacogenetics, and more.

Oct. 2-7. National Society for Histotechnology's 35th Annual Symposium and Convention at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, AL, is an event for leaders in histology to learn new methods, share best practices and preview the latest industry vendors have to offer. Visit .

Oct. 11-14. CAP '09 – The Pathologists' Meeting at the Gaylord National Resort, Washington, DC , features a variety of offers more than 90 courses covering AP, CP, practice management, breast and gynecologic pathology, and self-assessment modules. Check out the courses at .

October 22-23, 2009. “Laboratory
Automation: Integrating Quality with Efficiency” at Shangri-La Hotel – Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, includes industry workshops and presentations that compare
and contrast different approaches to automation to show how to select and
implement an automation project. Visit events/meetings

October 24-27. AABB's Annual Meeting and
TXPO 2009 for transfusion and cellular-therapy professionals will take
place at the New Orleans Convention Center. The event will feature 130
educational sessions and nearly 200 exhibitors. Go to
 for more information.

October 29-30. Join top experts at “Lab
Automation: Finding the Right Fit for Your Lab” at the Little America
Hotel in Salt Lake City for tips and strategies for lab automation
projects, and tours of the ARUP automated laboratories. Visit

November 5-6. “Translating Novel
Biomarkers to Clinical Practice: Role and Opportunities for the Clinical
Laboratory” in Bethesda, MD, will feature discussions of clinical
proteomics, biomarker discovery, co-development of therapeutic compounds
and proteomic assays, regulation of proteomic technologies, and
developments in standardization. Go to”ReadOnly=1

Nov. 19-22. The Association for Molecular Pathology 2009 Annual Meeting at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL, will cover the major areas of clinical molecular diagnostics: hematopathology, infectious diseases, inherited genetic diseases, solid tumors, and technical topics. Visit .

Dec. 5-8. The American Society of Hematology's 51st annual meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, offers dozens of sessions covering the breadth of hematology, including nanotechnology, complementary medicine, emergency preparedness, and the impact of healthcare disparities on patient outcomes based on factors such as race, socioeconomic status, geography, and age. See more at .


“Demystifying Clinical Use of Cardiac Markers: Troponin and Natriuretic Peptides” addresses the variety of factors that affect the clinical utility of troponin and natriuretic peptides. Learn how these variables affect tests and know how best to use them clinically. Two sessions include “Demystifying Troponin” and “Demystifying Natriuretic Peptides.” Links to free programs are at .

September 16, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. CST.
“Panel Discussion: Opportunities and Pitfalls of Implementing a QMS from
Early Adopters.” Gain firsthand experience from a panel of CAP 15189
early adopters. For more information, visit .


Sept. 17, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. EST. “The ABCs of Vitamin D Testing” will discuss the latest technologies used to test for vitamin D deficiency, how to manage the analytical challenges involved in performing these assays, and what the future holds for reimbursement. Visit .

“How to Achieve Cost Savings for Your Lab by Analyzing Test Utilization Patterns” describes how laboratories can save shave hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by identifying and eliminating expensive tests that are of little to no clinical value. Order the CD at .

Learn how to start up and operate a molecular diagnostics lab with “Molecular 101: Starting Up and Running a Molecular Lab — Workshop DVD.” Go to .


September 17, 1:00 p.m-2:00 p.m. EST.
“Real-life Competency Assessment and Training Strategies That Work”
teaches how to: measure knowledge and skill; use competency assessments
to identify poor performers or manage difficult employees; and focus
training efforts on those who need it the most. Visit i.

September 24, 1:00 p.m-2:00 p.m. EST.
“Bad Bugs Need Drugs: Challenges of AST for
Staphylococcus (MS05)” is focused on practical laboratory
practices and strategies for antimicrobial susceptibility testing of
Staphylococcus infections. Visit

October 1, 1:00 p.m-2:00 p.m. EST.
“Practical Solutions for Laboratory Documents and Records” provides
strategies, examples, and practical applications to enhance laboratory
documents and records processes, drawn on theory from CLSI guidelines
GP26, GP02, and GP21. Visit