Labs, test vendors get cracking on coronavirus | Good news on pathology jobs | HbA1c testing hits barbershops

Dear LabPulse Member,

The mysterious novel coronavirus that sprung from the city of Wuhan, China, has become a global public health threat that has dominated the news in the past week. Research is still ongoing to determine the origins of the virus, which is thought to have spread from animals -- bats or snakes -- to humans through exposure at a seafood market in China.

The full genome of 2019-nCoV has been sequenced, with data published by Chinese authorities for use globally. Among three articles on the coronavirus published on January 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine was a case report by scientists at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics are changing the way we can respond to infectious disease outbreaks, improving our understanding of disease occurrence and transmission, accelerating the identification of pathogens, and promoting data sharing," they wrote.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that it will be conducting all testing, but it has now shared test protocols with outside labs, including instructions on submitting specimens and guidance on managing patients suspected of having been infected with the coronavirus. Kalorama Information publisher Bruce Carlson reviews the outlook for new tests in the context of how similar viruses have been managed in a report we published today. Continued concerns about the prospect of an outbreak mean vendors and labs must be vigilant.

Meanwhile, closer to home is a new U.S. survey about jobs in pathology that suggests there are many opportunities for newcomers to the specialty, in contrast with negativity on social media and in prior published reports. Conducted by the College of American Pathologists, the survey found strong demand, "at least at the current time."

Recent clinical updates include analyses of new and practical ways to use existing tests. Methods for improving access to blood sugar testing have been of interest in public health research, with the goal of earlier diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, as well as prevention in those with borderline lab levels. Researchers at New York University reported in JAMA Internal Medicine that an initiative for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) point-of-care testing of black men at barbershops was well-received.

In a separate study published recently in the journal of the U.S. Endocrine Society, researchers explored the use of a more sensitive test for anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), an ovarian hormone. The research-use-only blood test was accurate for predicting the final menstrual period in women approaching menopause. Such information has a range of uses in clinical practice, the researchers reported.

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