News Trends Analysis

Aug. 17, 2013


New study shows HPV vaccine helps to lower HPV infection rates in teen girls. A new study looking at the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in girls and women before and after the introduction of the HPV vaccine shows a significant reduction in vaccine-type HPV in U.S. teens. The study was conducted by Lauri Markowitz, MD, and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to compare prevalence—or proportion of girls and women aged 14 through 59 years with certain types of HPV—before the start of the HPV vaccination program (2003-2006) and after vaccine introduction (2007-2010). It reveals that since the vaccine was introduced in vaccine-type HPV prevalence decreased 56% among female teenagers 14 through19 years of age.

 “This report shows that HPV vaccine works well. It should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Unfortunately, only one third of girls age 13 to17 have been fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine.”

Public health experts hope that news of these promising results will encourage more people to be vaccinated for HPV. Routine vaccination at age 11 or 12 for both boys and girls is recommended. It is also recommended for older teens and young adults who were not vaccinated when younger.


National task force: baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C. Physicians should offer hepatitis C testing to all U.S. baby boomers, an influential medical-guidelines body has recommended. The recommendation made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force could result in hundreds of thousands more diagnoses of the liver disease, greater numbers of insurers covering the tests, and greater sales for drug manufacturers poised to introduce new treatment options.

The recommendation represents a turnabout for the group, an independent organization of medical experts that advises Congress on preventive medicine. The task force issued draft guidance last November saying there was inadequate evidence proving the benefit of screening baby boomers for hepatitis C, which can be fatal if it progresses to liver cancer or liver cirrhosis.

Since then, however, the task force has considered new clinical data showing a stronger link between diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis C and lowered risk of liver disease mortality. Newer, non-invasive screening methods also factored into the decision, according to Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, a task force member.

Recommendations made by this task force carry significant weight with physicians because of its reputation as a neutral arbiter of medical issues.

Alzheimer’s disease

UCLA discovery may suggest why Alzheimer’s medications rarely help. According to a recent study, it’s because they are targeting the wrong culprit. That is, the increasingly well known “amyloid plaques” that have been associated with Alzheimer’s may not, strictly speaking, be its cause. The study, lead-authored by Zhefeng Gou, PhD, was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Current Alzheimer’s drugs aim to reduce amyloid plaques, sticky deposits that build up in the brain and are a visual trademark of the disease. The plaques are made of long fibers of a protein called Amyloid b, or Ab. Recent studies, however, suggest that the agent of Alzheimer’s may be small Ab clumps called oligomers that appear in the brain years before plaques develop.

In unraveling oligomers’ molecular structure, Guo and colleagues discovered that Ab has a vastly different organization in oligomers than in amyloid plaques. The study suggests that recent experimental Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in clinical trials because they zero in on plaques and do not work on oligomers. The researchers suggest that future studies on oligomers could help speed the development of new drugs specifically aiming at them. The great battle against Alzheimer’s continues.


Study suggests that efforts should be made to reduce redundant lipid testing. An analysis of patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) who attained low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) goals with no treatment intensification suggests that about one-third of them underwent repeat testing anyway.

Salim S. Virani, MD, PhD, of the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, and colleagues analyzed 35,191 patients with CHD in a VA network of seven medical centers. Of 27,947 patients with LDL-C levels of less than 100 mg/dL (the guideline-recommended LDL-C target) 9,200 had additional lipid tests without treatment intensification during the following 11 months.

According to the authors, “Collectively, these 9,200 patients with CHD had a total of 12,686 additional lipid panels performed. With a mean lipid panel cost of $16.08…this is equivalent to $203,990 in annual costs for one VA network and does not take into account the cost of the patient’s time to undergo lipid testing and the cost of the provider’s time to manage these results and notify the patient….In these patients, repeat lipid testing may represent health resource overuse and possibly waste of health care resources.”


Labs Are Vital program moves into community hands. A consortium comprised of international laboratory professional bodies has formed to build on the success of Abbott’s Labs Are Vital program.  The goals of the program remain the same: to emphasize the critical role that laboratory professionals play in improving patient care, and to raise the profile of laboratory medicine as an attractive career choice.

A new Members Board has been formed to achieve these goals. It is made up of representatives from IFCC (International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine), WASPaLM (World Association of Societies of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine), ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathology), and IFBLS (International Federation for Biomedical and Laboratory Science).

Labs Are Vital was launched in 2006 as an industry initiative by Abbott, and it has had a significant impact, with more than 16,000 supporters around the world. It will now operate as an independent program driven by the community it serves. Abbott will continue to support Labs are Vital as a key sponsor.