Lab automation in steps | CDC touts HIV self-tests | Vitamin D falls flat -- again

Dear LabPulse Member,

Lab automation promises a lot in the way of standardization, faster turnaround times, and greater efficiency for skilled personnel. But one size does not fit all.

There are various paths that labs can take based on their particular setup and goals for automation, according to an article we're featuring today by contributing writer Joseph Constance. The most appropriate option for some labs is a modular approach, and the areas that are most often automated include chemistry and hematology.

In recent clinical news, we reported on the use of HIV self-tests in a study sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV tests may be performed rapidly and privately at home, which could increase the rate of diagnosis to be more in line with public health goals.

In a study published November 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine, the CDC researchers reported that it is feasible to recruit people at risk of HIV through online sites and mail them free self-testing kits. In the study of men who have sex with men, reports of new diagnoses were twice as high in those who received mailed test kits than in a control group. What's more, family members and others in the social circles of study participants also benefited, suggesting potential for broader outreach, according to the researchers.

Meanwhile, investigators in the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium have been focused on using clinical factors and lab tests to predict the onset of kidney damage, measured by a decline in the estimated glomerular filtration rate. Using data for more than 5.2 million people drawn from 34 multinational cohorts, they developed models for predicting the five-year risk of developing kidney disease. The research suggests potential for screening in primary prevention.

The preventive role of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease along with many other conditions has long been up for debate. Two ancillary studies of the landmark Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) published recently do not support testing and supplementation. One study was on kidney function in people with diabetes and the other evaluated effects on inflammatory markers in lab tests.

However, the researchers acknowledged that it's unclear whether results would be different with an even higher dose of vitamin D or a different fish oil regimen. In VITAL, vitamin D was taken at 2,000 IU daily and the omega-3 regimen was 1 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) daily. On November 14, Amarin's pure EPA omega-3 fatty acid product Vascepa was endorsed by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee for a label change to recognize cardiovascular risk reduction.

Page 1 of 3
Next Page