HbA1c testing on the rise | AI comes to aid of cholesterol screening | Pathology depicts vaping damage

Dear LabPulse Member,

It seems that people just can't get enough of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) testing. Cardiology societies have advised tight control of blood sugar for people with diabetes, and research suggests that lower rates of cardiovascular events will be the reward of closer monitoring.

This week, Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, recaps a new report on HbA1c testing. He describes the factors driving double-digit annual growth, including the wider availability of testing -- for example, mail-in and home-collected lab services -- and the effect of clinical practice guidelines. The market is set to reach $2.4 billion in 2024, according to projections from Kalorama, which is a sister company of LabPulse.com.

Folks at the FH Foundation, an organization focused on familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), would love to see routine screening and wide availability of testing when it comes to genetic predisposition for extremely high cholesterol. The foundation noted that fewer than 10% of the 1.3 million people in the U.S. born with FH are actually diagnosed with it.

Knowing about the disease would enable patients to take steps to reduce their cholesterol and help avoid life-threatening cardiovascular events. The FH Foundation published recent experience with an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that scans electronic health records and picks up signs of the condition at scale. It's a step in the right direction, though there are hurdles for implementation.

One of the biggest news items in the past week from the mainstream point of view was a small study of lung biopsy specimens that demonstrated acute lung injury associated with vaping. All cases involved the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reported Dr. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay, director of pulmonary pathology at the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. This is only the second study to include an analysis of lung tissue in people with respiratory symptoms liked to vaping, the researchers noted.

Meanwhile, other researchers have developed a new blood test to determine whether people with respiratory symptoms have tuberculosis (TB) or a similar illness. The test was developed in the Wyss Institute lab of David Walt, PhD, scientific founder of Illumina and Quanterix, and is intended for use in triaging suspected TB cases in low-resource settings. Walt spoke with LabPulse.com about the test's development -- and its future. Making it a reality for countries in need will require collaboration with a large diagnostics company and/or a nongovernmental organization, he said.

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