New Developments in Coagulation Analyzing

Morayma ReyesA July 28th press release from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics introduced their newest development for fast and reliable testing at the point of care: a portable coagulation analyser.

Similar in size to a smartphone and weighing 300g, the Xprecia Stride Coagulation Analyser is a hand-held and portable coagulation analyser that’s able to deliver fast, reliable testing in any clinical environment.

Launched by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, it’s used for prothrombin time testing (PT/INR) for point-of-care monitoring and management of oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) with warfarin, which is a vitamin K antagonist, the Xprecia Stride was specifically designed to meet the increasing demand for speedy and reliable PT/INR results to help clinicians make accelerated and confident decisions.

Part of therapy monitoring for patients with a myriad of conditions including atrial fibrillation, open and minimally invasive heart valve replacement, deep vein thrombosis, and congenital heart defects, PT/INR tests provided by Xprecia Stride are “designed to be safe and efficient whilst allowing many patients to be tested in a broad variety of environments,” said Steve Carey, Product Manager Point of Care at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Carey claims the Xprecia Stride to be one of the most user-friendly designed point-of-care coagulation analysers since they became available over two decades ago. With it’s very user-friendly interface featuring simplistic icons and animation, it can be held at a variety of angles to ensure efficient and comfortable blood sampling when brought directly to the patient’s finger.

For even more efficiency, an integrated bar-code scanner simplifies data capture for identification of operator and patient plus accurate calibration of new lot numbers prior to testing. Results are processed within seconds of use, utilising the same reagent used by Siemens central laboratory analysers to minimise any potential for variability.

Allowing easy data transfer to computers, a color display, animated step-by-step instructions to help guide the user, and safety features that allow users to eject a used test strip and easily dispose of it without ever touching it, it’s no wonder the Xprecia Stride is the recipient of the internationally respected Red Dot Award: Product Design for 2015.

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Fun Facts About Puerto Rican Tourism

Morayma Reyes discusses some tourist attractions people can look forward to when they are planning to visit Puerto Rico.



Washington University Scientists One Step Closer to Curing Color Blindness

Morayma Reyes

Washington University Scientists One Step Closer to Curing Colorblindness

In collaboration with a biotech company, researches from the University of Washington are working toward the final stages of presenting the public with a cure for colorblindness. Husband and wife duo, Jay and Maureen Neitz have researched this condition for years, and are currently involved in an exclusive deal with the University of Washington and Avalanche Biotechnologies for starting testing on human subjects. The treatment is rooted in the replacement of polluted cells called cones, that don’t have color-producing proteins. By producing these cells artificially, the team can then give a shot to the eye in hopes of allowing people with this condition to distinguish between different hues.

There are over 10 million Americans that suffer from colorblindness, and so far this is the closest we have come to actually curing this vision deficiency. People who are colorblind fall in three different categories; unable to see a combination of red-green, blue- yellow, and a small portion of this population is fully colorblind —  can only see different shades of grey. Colorblind people are able to lead normal lives, however, they are limited to certain careers that require great detail to color.

The research team is confident in their findings, and will begin testings on humans in as little as two years, and the research team remains hopeful that future trials will be successful. The potential benefits to this medical treatment can prove to be hugely successful, and could change the lives of many people. The program’s website has been flooded with inquiries and questions regarding testing. People are curious to know the future of the study and ways they can become involved. Many of those who are colorblind do not see it as a crippling deficiency, and have been able to lead normal lives. However, being able to see things in a new way is an exciting endeavor that many would like to experience. Jay and Maureen Neitz are also looking forward to seeing their life’s work in the final clinical testing phase, and they are hopeful to succeed in curing colorblindness.

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Celebrating National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Morayma Reyes

Happy National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

The week of April 20-26 is an exciting time for laboratory professionals who have played an important and vital role in delivering excellent medical service to patients in the United States. Due to the fact that most of their work is conducted behind the scenes, not many people are aware of their hard work and dedication in achieving accurate test results. For this reason, the National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) is dedicated to recognizing and honoring all 300,000 professional pathologists throughout the country.  

Given that it’s Lab Week, and Women’s History Month just passed, below I have included a list of notable women who have left their mark in the field of medical laboratory.

Alessandra Gilliani is known to be one of the first women and prosectors to employ the use of colorful injections in order to trace blood vessels. Born in medieval Europe, Alessandra was very skilled in recognizing and dissecting all parts of the body. The art of identifying parts of the circulatory system by injecting colorful liquids in the veins is mostly accredited to her experiments and skill set.

Further down in history we have Dr. Marjorie Zucker, an established American Red Cross Researcher who is famous for her discovery of the ingestion of aspirin and its negative effect on the palet secretion. Dr. Zucker graduated from the University of Witwatersrand, and has been working in the field of Pathology for almost 50 years.

Dr. Inga Nilssion surfaced in the 1950s and has been working with people who suffer from von Willebrand disease. Dr. Nilssion is best known for her research in treating hemophilia. Her outstanding model of prophylactic treatment has become the pillar of building medical treatments worldwide. 

National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is supported and sponsored by:

  • American Society for Clinical Pathology
  • AACC
  • AABB
  • American Medical Technologists
  • American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Society of Cytopathology
  • Association of Public Health Laboratories
  • CLMA
  • College of American Pathologists
  • National Society for Histotechnology

Johnson & Johnson Announces the Release of EVARREST Patch

Morayma Reyes

Morayma Reyes

Johnson & Johnson released good news that their sealant patch, EVARREST, faced additional indication (one more approved reason for surgical application) by the FDA to give to patients suffering from atypical and prolonged hemorrhaging, a cheaper way to ward off negative results. EVARREST uses biogenics such as resilient proteins found naturally at the site of blood clotting, to create a kind of hemostatic patch that works to fuse with muscle tissue and close off openings. The patch is bioabsorbable and body-friendly, and requires manual compression to activate.

Blood loss, especially during surgical procedures, is a leading cause of complications that severely endanger a patient’s life. In a recent study, the hemostat was shown to be more than 94% successful than older and more expensive mechanisms across a wide range of surgical cases. This has proved itself to be a saving grace in certain high-risk settings, and will continue to offer both patients and doctors a little peace of mind, relaxing the typical tensions in an OR room.

EVARREST was initially approved in 2012 as an adjunct to hemostasis including abdominal, pelvic, and non-thoracic procedures, but now received further approbation for usage in cases of liver hemorrhage where suturing, cautery and ligature are insufficient. The liver is a hearty organ and is responsible for a great contribution to homeostasis. When it bleeds, it can be very difficult to control, let alone stop, and EVARREST offers the first reassurance of facility.

A few caveats mentioned for practitioners: the patch cannot be used intravascularly; it must be used topically to the exterior of an organ, and not near an infected area. The patch is a supplement to other hemostatic measures, not a sole and sufficient method. Patients with history of anaphylaxis should not receive the patch. Repeated use of the patch, especially covering the same area has not been adequately studied, and has been faced with adverse effects including but not limited to post-operational hemorrhage, anemia, deep vein thrombosis, and increased inflammation.

New Multiple Sclerosis Drug in the Horizon

Morayma ReyesFebruary 2015 brought some important discoveries in the research field of finding a long term cure for multiple sclerosis (MS.) The scientists at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto are making some big strides in identifying changes in the spinal cord and motor movements that transpire in different stages of the disease, and ways to control the early stage symptoms of patients.

Multiple Sclerosis, MS, is a disabling disease that is often unpredictable and has the ability to obstruct the transportation of information from the brain to other functioning parts of the body. Although the causes of the disease are still a mystery, many doctors believe that there are predisposed environmental factors and genetic makeup that could increase a persons chances of being diagnosed with MS. Typical MS symptoms vary in severity, however, doctors have found that the early symptoms are the same for all patients. Blurred vision, loss of balance and lack of coordination are a few among the long list of the manifestation of this disease.

Dr. Fand Liu is a Senior Scientist at (CAMH) and is leading the study in the development of a variety of new drugs that could slow the progression of the disease and hopefully eradicate it. Currently, medication that is used to treat MS only alleviate the symptoms of MS, but there is no specific long term cure. Dr. Liu is working towards identifying new biological targets that could potentially be the answer to new treatments. Along with her team, Dr. Liu is exploring options which will focus on stopping the nerve damage done to the glutamate, an important brain transmitter, that is heavily affected throughout all stages of MS. They have created a new peptide that was successful in damaging the MS model within animals. Dr. Liun explains “we found that our peptide disrupted this linkage, and led to major improvements in neurological functioning. Specifically, motor function was significantly better compared to a comparison group. The peptide also had a positive impact on the nerve damage associated with MS.”

Although this is an exciting discovery, there needs to be more research in order to successfully translate this success towards treating patients who suffer from the disease. The study is funded and supported by the Canadian and US Multiple Sclerosis Societies.

New Blood Clotting Measuring Device

Morayma ReyesPatients who have to take blood thinning medication, specifically Warfarin, are now able to use a new medication kit that allows you to measure your blood texture in the convenience of your own home. The device is easy to carry, and it contains micromechanical  sensors, which make its accessible for people to treat themselves in the privacy of their own homes. 

The drug Warfarin is prescribed by doctors in order to treat patients who suffer from an array of heart conditions, blood clotting and thrombosis. However, the drugs ability to cure these illnesses is easily influenced by the patients’ diet and exercise, alcohol consumption and other external sources. This makes it crucial for patients to constantly monitor their blood coagulation in order to avoid external and internal bleeding. 

Coagulation monitoring and testing traditionally is conducted at a doctors office, where patients have to get the routine testing done under the supervision of a physician. MicroVisk is a biomedicine company based in the UK, who is working towards the completion of a device that allows patients to test their blood at home, with the same precision as the doctor’s office.

According to MicroVisk, the device is made of MEMS, or micro-electromechanical system, which contains 600- micrometer-long cantilever. Cantilevers are silicon based instruments that are used to measure the viscosity of not only blood, but other fluids as well. Based on their recent successful testing and support from multiple research companies, MicroVisk was granted a patent for over 1 million dollars in order to secure funding for the machine to reach the market by 2018. 

The market base for this device is close to 2.5 billion dollars worldwide, which makes its perfection and adoption into homes crucial. These numbers are also important when considering insurance companies to extend their policies that include this device for patients with pre existing blood conditions. 

Research Opens Door To Early Detection, Personalized Treatment of Ovarian Cancer

Morayma ReyesThe primary challenges in the fight against ovarian cancers have been in the realm of detection. Ovarian cancers are typically very difficult to detect early due to there being no early stage diagnostics available. As a result, many patients do not receive a diagnosis until the disease is in its later stages, making is much for difficult to treat.

But as a recent article in Medical Daily reports, new research published in Nature Cell Biology shows new insights into early detection and customized treatments of ovarian cancer. Researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and the Bioinformatics Institute (BII) have identified a biomarker in ovarian stem cells. It is a molecule called Lgr5 and scientist believe that it can be used in the early detection of ovarian cancers.

These findings may also lead to more customizable treatment. At present, there are over 30 known types of ovarian cancers that affect women, with HG-SOC being the most common of serous ovarian carcinoma. Because of the lack of biomarkers that could lead to early detection, these cancers were often not diagnosed until their later stages, leading to very poor survival rates. Bioinformatic analysis on genomics data has allowed scientists to identify a group of genes and their mutational status. These could be used for the prognosis of HG-SOC as well as the development of custom treatments for patients.

At present, the situation with ovarian cancer is still quite dire with over 20,000 American women expected to receive a diagnosis in 2014 alone. However, scientists are hopeful that these recent breakthroughs with start speeding up to the rate of detection, and allow doctors to devise individualized treatment that addresses the various diverse incarnations of the disease.

Read more at Medical Daily.


Coagulation Conducted Through Your Smartphone

Morayma ReyesPeople suffering from coagulation conditions will be relieved to find out that researchers in Switzerland are now a step closer to finalizing coagulation testing through smartphones, which will allow patients to test themselves at home. This advancement in technology is another indicator that points to the likelihood of medical testing moving away from a hospital setting and becoming more convenient for patients.

The work conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is aiming at constructing an apparatus that allows outpatients to check and measure their anti-coagulation levels in the comfort of their home, which could possible save people thousands of dollars in hospital visits.

Most coagulation tests that require frequent blood- flow measuring are conducted in clinical laboratories and under the supervision of a physician. These anticoagulation therapy treatments determine the dosage of drugs that will help with thinning the blood, and prevent future clotting episodes, which in turn lowers the possibility of heart attacks and strokes. Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are now working towards creating a feature that can be adapted by all smartphone, which will allow patients to conduct these measurements at home and whenever it is convenient for them.

The patient would use an attachable one time film that can connect directly to your device. This film is made of micrometers that create an electrical field. By adding a drop of blood on the film layer, a reaction is triggered, which then begins the coagulation testing process. The blood is then transferred to a software, which inspects the disruptions on the surface of the film, thus producing coagulation blood levels for the patient. The application then delivers the results directly to a physician, who is able to determine the appropriate dosage treatments for their patient.

It is still to be determined how these devices will be received by the public and the board of primary physicians. The complex steps and the ease of transferring confidential patient data between devices can become a complex issue, especially when one considers the recent data breaching with mobile phones. Physicians are also concerned with the accuracy of this technology and its ability to correctly translate exact anti- coagulation levels in patients. Although this technology is still early in its developmental stages, many believe it could be a great start that could be translatable to a series of in home testing.

Understanding and Monitoring Bleeding Disorders

Dr. Morayma ReyesBleeding disorders affect millions of people across the world annually. Many people who suffer from these conditions have problems with blood clotting and coagulation, or hemophilia- a disease that is mostly found in males. The roots to these disorders could be hereditary, or due to inactivity and dietary restrictions. There are levels of severity to coagulation, which is why doctors encourage patients with a family history of this disease to undergo tests in order to closely monitor this disorder. 

Most of the tests are administered in hospital safe environments and do not require any preparation from patients. These tests are meant to evaluate organs that are closely related to coagulation disorders such as the liver and the reduction of coagulation factors in the blood stream. Identifying problems within these factors like the activity levels within the blood stream can aid physicians to find the root problem and establish an appropriate treatment.

The testing is meant to discover if the patient is able to control their blood clotting process by administering enough coagulation activity. If doctors determine that the factors are too low or non existent, then the disorder is associated with a lower clot formation and bleeding. In other cases, patients that have a high amount of clot formations are usually associated with thrombosis- a disorder that obstructs the blood flow though veins.

A few indicators that can impel patients to seek out tests could be the experience of bruising easily, excessive bleeding and extended Prothrombin Time (PT) or Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT). In many cases, patients who are experiencing low levels of vitamin K deficiency, or liver disease are also encouraged to get tested.