News Trends Analysis

Feb. 1, 2011
New studies

Giant African rats accurately detect TB. Trained giant African rats increased positive tuberculosis (TB) detection rates by 44% over microscopy, according to a new study. Utilizing trained giant African pouched rats, the study analyzed sputum samples of 10,523 patients in Tanzania. The samples were first analyzed through microscopy by technicians with a second-line analysis by the rats. While traditional microscopic analysis found 13.3% of patients to be TB-positive, second-line screening by the rats revealed 620 new TB-positive patients. Learn more about the study in the December 2010 issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at


C diff infections rise in hospitalized kids. The number of hospital-related Clostridium difficile infections in children is rising, according to a four-year review of an inpatient database. Using the triennial Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database for 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006, researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, identified patterns of C diff rates in children. According to the research published in the Jan. 3 edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the number of cases rose from 3,565 in 1997 to 7,779 in 2006.

Ectopic pregnancy biomarker found. A test for placental growth factor, which is associated with angiogenesis after implantation of an embryo, may provide a simplified method for diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy, showed a small study at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. Placental growth factor appeared significantly reduced in trophoblast cells from women with tubal ectopic pregnancies, with levels significantly higher in women with a viable intrauterine pregnancy. The study, “Placental growth factor: a promising diagnostic biomarker for tubal ectopic pregnancy,” appears in the January 2011 issue of JCEM.


Genes may help PSA test accuracy. The accuracy of testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels to assess risk of prostate cancer could be improved in the future by using genotyping, according to a study published online in Science Translational Medicine. A study conducted among 4,500 men found that PSA test results in 6% to 7% of those who were genotyped for variants associated with elevated PSA levels could have changed the decision on whether to do a prostate biopsy, according to researchers from Iceland. PSA levels between 2.5 ng/mL and 4 ng/mL have typically been used as the threshold for deciding if a patient should be referred for biopsy; but genetic factors may account for up to 45% in the variability in PSA levels. Correcting for the influence of inherited factors could enhance the PSA test's value, researchers say.

DNA-methylation levels predict colon cancer. An investigational DNA-methylation test could alter the screening landscape for colorectal cancer, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research special conference on Colorectal Cancer: Biology to Therapy in October 2010. A test under development by Exact Sciences is conducted using a stool sample and works by detecting tumor-specific DNA alterations in cells that are shed into the stool from precancerous or cancerous lesions. In the first clinical-validation study, which included 1,100 patients, researchers detected 64% of pre-cancerous adenomas greater than one centimeter and 85% of cancers. Colorectal-cancer rate detection was 87% for cancers considered to be in the most curable stage (stage I-III) and 69% for the most advanced stage (stage IV)


May 3-4. Executive War College at the Sheraton New Orleans will cover the A-to-Z of laboratory strategy, operations, and management for laboratory executives, pathologists, and industry leaders. Go to

May 8-11. The 27th Annual Clinical Virology Symposium and Annual Meeting of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology at the Hilton Daytona Beach (FL) Oceanfront Resort features experts offering the latest developments in clinical and diagnostic virology. Learn more at

May 12-14. The American Association of Bioanalysts' 2011 Annual Meeting and Educational Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Austin, TX. For details, visit

May 21-24. ASM2011 includes workshops at the New Orleans Marriott Canal Street covering a broad range of topics, and scientific sessions, posters, and exhibits at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center. Visit

May 23-25. CLMA's annual conference and exhibition, ThinkLab '11, at the Baltimore Convention Center includes more than 40 breakout sessions focusing on each area of CLMA's body of knowledge for medical-laboratory management. Pre-conference sessions take place May 22. Visit

July 24-28. The 2011 AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in Atlanta features plenary sessions, symposia, workshops, short courses, posters, oral presentations, as well as more than 650 exhibitors. Learn more at

July 26-30. The 2011 ASCLS Annual Meeting in Atlanta offers educational topics that promote advanced learning in the science and practice of clinical-laboratory science. Go to