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Major Advances in Medical Studies Highlighted at AACC 2014

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 29 Jul 2014
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Major advances in medical studies include a blood test for Alzheimer’s (AD) that uses biochip technology, a new test to diagnose colon cancer early, a more accurate method for determining multiple myeloma prognosis, a less stressful test for sleep apnea, and the development of a bank of biospecimens from pregnant women that should be crucial for women’s health research.

Michael Veitinger, PhD, research associate at the Institute of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria) will present his findings at the AACC 2004 annual meeting. Current tests for AD combine a neuropsychological review with an expensive brain scan or painful lumbar puncture; whereas biochip array technology has the potential to reliably diagnose AD using blood samples.

A blood test for Alzheimer’s that uses biochip technology, a new test to diagnose colon cancer early, a more accurate method for determining multiple myeloma prognosis, a less stressful test for sleep apnea, and the development of a bank of biospecimens from pregnant women that could prove crucial for women’s health research.

There is a pressing need for tests that can catch colon cancer before it is too far along to be successfully treated is clear. Chuan-xin Wang, MD, PhD, director and professor of clinical laboratory medicine at China’s Shandong University, will present the results of a study to find new colorectal cancer biomarkers. Wang identified four microRNAs in the blood that were highly accurate in diagnosing colorectal cancer and were able to differentiate stage I and II patients from healthy controls.

When treating multiple myeloma almost all patients who achieve remission eventually relapse. Most of these relapses are due to undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD), which is the persistence of small numbers of myeloma cells in a patient’s body following successful treatment. John Mills, PhD, a clinical chemistry fellow at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, will present his findings on a highly sensitive mass spectrometry method known as miRAMM for detecting MRD in patients with multiple myeloma. Dr. Mills’ method uses blood samples, a more reliable test than traditional MRD tests that use bone marrow samples—because not all myeloma cells are confined to the bone marrow. This new method has the potential to increase survival rates of multiple myeloma patients by identifying those who need treatment for MRD.

There is an urgent need for serum, urine, cord blood, placenta, and other tissue samples from pregnant women in order to study disorders that affect both the mother and fetus. 2011 AACC President Ann Gronowski, PhD, who is director of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine, (St. Louis, Missouri, USA) will present the results of a successful effort to create a bank of biospecimens collected from women throughout all stages of pregnancy. During the past 6 years, this biobank has gathered nearly 45,000 samples. Thus far, 4,700 of these samples have been distributed to 11 scientists from five different university departments to aid their research, while the rest have been stored for future studies.

Obstructive sleep apnea in children can lead to behavioral difficulties, learning disabilities, pulmonary/systemic hypertension, and decreased growth. The current gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea—the overnight sleep study—is labor-intensive, expensive, and limited by availability, in addition to being a potentially traumatic experience for children. At the AACC annual meeting, Trevor Pitcher, PhD, a clinical chemistry fellow at the University of Louisville (Louisville, KY, USA) reports the results of research showing that an immunoassay can effectively detect in urine the stress-coping peptide urocortin 3, which is significantly increased in children with sleep apnea. This urine test could serve as a psychologically easier alternative to a child spending a night in a strange bed in a sleep clinic.

In addition to this breaking science, 2014’s plenary sessions will feature expert presentations on the importance of newborn screening, the biologic basis of obesity, and the latest advances that could lead to a cure for HIV.

AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman noted, “These studies, as well as the headlining plenaries, showcase the impressive strides laboratory medicine makes in improving patients’ ability to get the treatment they need to lead healthier and longer lives.”

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