We round up some of the latest stories in pathology and laboratory medicine
Luke Turner | | Quick Read
A Welcome Delivery
Pre-eclampsia occurs in about one in every 25 pregnancies, causing high blood pressure, proteinuria, and edema in the mother. Now, a new blood test can determine, with almost 100 percent accuracy, that a pregnant woman will not develop pre-eclampsia in the following seven days. The test measures the ratio of maternal serum soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1) and placental growth factor (PlGF), which are released into the mother’s blood. Researchers hope the new test will reduce hospital admissions for suspected pre-eclampsia, 70 percent of which are unnecessary (1).
Students studying anatomy, physiology, and pathology in the UK are most satisfied with their course at the University of Southampton, according to the latest statistics (2). Teaching quality is also rated the highest at Southampton at over 98 percent, whereas the highest resource availability for students is at the University of Aberdeen. In terms of employment rate upon graduation, Manchester Metropolitan University ranks the highest at 90 percent. Students at University College London can expect to earn the highest starting salary (an average of £24,000).
Live Cancer Analysis
A new portable device can determine whether individual cancer patients will respond to targeted treatment. Using artificial intelligence and sophisticated biosensors, the platform counts live cancer cells as they pass through electrodes with up to 95.9 percent accuracy. This means that cells can be rapidly analyzed without the need for staining, revealing immediately whether they are sensitive or resistant to chemotherapy drugs. After testing the device using cancer cell samples treated with different concentrations of a targeted anti-cancer drug, the team now aims to test it with patient tumor samples (3).
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified markers that can distinguish between lung cancer subtypes and identify the disease stage. By examining a combination of blood samples and tumor tissue from non-small cell lung cancer patients, the team found that prolonged survival is associated with the overexpression of glutamine, valine, and glycine, and the suppression of glutamate and lipids in serum. The new approach may help physicians decide which patients to put forward for further CT scans and which patients need more aggressive treatment (4).
Leading the Way
A new national think tank dedicated to advancing best practices and constructing valuable business solutions in pathology has been called The Panel of National Pathology Leaders (PNPL). After holding an inaugural strategy session in March 2019, the group have set out their mission: to develop innovative strategies and solutions for pathology and lab medicine in response to ongoing practical and financial challenges. The group consists of 13 panelists, including pathologists, CEOs, and consultants, and will work collaboratively with existing laboratory associations on common issues (5).
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- AS Cerdeira et al., “Randomized interventional study on prediction of preeclampsia/eclampsia in women with suspected preeclampsia”, Hypertension, [Epub ahead of print] (2019). PMID: 31401877.
- Rangewell, “Your Good University Guide”, 2019. Available at: bit.ly/2zgwkqn. Accessed August 23, 2019.
- K Ahuja et al., “Toward point-of-care assessment of patient response: a portable tool for rapidly assessing cancer drug efficacy using multifrequency impedance cytometry and supervised machine learning”, Microsyst Nanoeng, 34, https://bit.ly/2PhqMqF.
- Y Berker et al., “Magnetic resonance spectroscopy-based metabolomic biomarkers for typing, staging, and survival estimation of early-stage human lung cancer”, Sci Rep, 9, 10319 (2019). PMID: 31311965.
- Panel of National Pathology Leaders, “HBP Services and McDonald Hopkins announce formation of panel of national pathology leaders”, 2019. Available at: https://bit.ly/2U6FTlr. Accessed on August 23, 2019.