The latest news on chronic, acute, and preventive care across the health care landscape.
Chronic: Potential Biomarker Could Help Predict Onset of Type 1 Diabetes
In a study published inDiabetic Medicine, investigators found elevated levels of 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) in blood samples of patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes (T1D). The substance has the potential to act as a biomarker for the early onset of the disease. Investigators are looking to analyze retrospective samples from patients who subsequently developed T1D. If 12-HETE is detected in samples from patients prior to diabetes onset, the investigators are hopeful that it could ultimately be used in conjunction with other biomarkers to develop a screening test for T1D among the general population.
Acute: Simple Breath Test That Detects Influenza May Soon Be a Reality
A novel breathalyzer test that detects the influenza virus is under development in Sweden and could one day replace nasal swab tests, delivering more accurate and faster results. The EU-funded project first successfully tested a system for collecting virus particles from patients’ breath, in vitro and in preclinical studies. Scientists at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a method for identifying the influenza virus’ nuclear proteins. The “femtolitre well array biosensor” can be described as a configuration of tens of thousands of wells that are each smaller than a single red blood cell and capture the proteins. Although this part of the project has proven successful in singling out nonvirus molecules, development will continue. Recent results from the study showed that the technique could detect influenza infection after the patient breathes for only a few minutes into the container. Highly charged needles inside the bottle then ionize the microsized drops of water that carry the virus in the breath, and are then attracted to an electrically grounded droplet of liquid in the bottom of the chamber. According to the authors, the next step is to break open the virus cell’s walls using lysis and then identify the nuclear proteins of the virus.
Preventive: Behavioral Economic Techniques May Improve Flu Vaccination Rates
Only 44% of adults in the United States receive an annual flu vaccination, but a new study suggests that a behavioral economic technique could help address these low vaccination rates. In a study published in theJournal of General Internal Medicine, investigators programmed electronic health records to alert health care providers when a patient is eligible for a flu vaccine. If eligible, the provider would receive an alert requesting them to accept or cancel an order for the vaccine. If accepted, the vaccine would be administered right then and there. Prior to the intervention, providers had to check manually if a patient was due for a vaccine. For the study, investigators began using the intervention beginning in mid-February 2012. The results showed that from the start date until the end of the 2012-2013 flu season, flu vaccine orders rose approximately 30% in the clinic compared with the prior flu season. Based on the findings, the intervention was improved upon, and in September 2016, it was expanded to all internal medicine outpatient clinics across Penn Medicine.