Required Reading: September 2014

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Great stories are published daily about the impact personalized medicine is having on individual patients, and the medical community as a whole, but it can be a challenge to stay on top of the news. With that in mind, we bring to you a monthly roundup of the three to five most thought-provoking articles we are reading, sharing and discussing with our colleagues.

This is the September 2014 installment of Required Reading.


Medical Calculators Use Big Data to Help Patients Make Choices by Laura Landro, The Wall Street Journal

Michael Kattan, chairman of the department of quantitative health sciences at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, discusses sophisticated risk calculators, or “nomograms,” that can combine a patient’s unique characteristics, such as age, gender, race, extent and type of disease and other health factors; compare them with the vast databases of similar cases and studies; and use them to predict probable outcomes depending on the treatment a patient chooses.

FDA’s Shuren Defends Plan to Issue Guidance for LDTs at House Hearing by Michael D. Williamson, Bloomberg BNA

On September 9, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine the regulation of laboratory developed tests (LDTs) as a continuation of the committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative. Members heard testimonies from various witnesses on recently released guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its impact on innovation and the practice of precision medicine. Read more about the FDA’s proposed framework for regulating LDTs.

Experts Warn US in Danger of Losing Biotechnology Edge by Chris Casey, Medical Xpress

The United States is in potential danger of losing its biomedical edge to countries that are aggressively funding research into personalized medicine, according to discussion that emerged at the 21st Century Cures Roundtable on September 5. Roundtable panelists noted that biotechnology is at a crossroads in America, and that funding levels for research have flattened in recent years.

Researcher Urges Wider Genetic Screening for Breast Cancer by Rob Stein, NPR Shots Blog

Mary-Claire King, the geneticist who identified the first breast cancer gene, is recommending that all women get tested for genetic mutations that can cause breast cancer, regardless of their personal or family history. According to a paper she recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, women who carry mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, but have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer, have the same high risks of developing either cancer as those who are identified to be at-risk by virtue of their family history.

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