Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cervical Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early
  •  The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.

Read more from CDC:
What Should I Know About Cervical Cancer Screening?

Source: I Heart Histo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blood rinsing cuts the time for glycerol removal

A microfluidic device can safely remove glycerol from thawed red blood cells in minutes, potentially making frozen blood more feasible for routine transfusions.

Glycerol protects cryopreserved cells from damage by disrupting the formation of ice crystals. But glycerol must be washed from blood cells before they can be used for transfusions. The existing washing protocol involves a slow series of centrifugations, which limits the utility of frozen blood supplies to transfusions for people with rare blood types, or patients whose own blood is banked prior to planned surgery.  

Dialysis with decreasing saline concentrations gently cleanses thawed red blood cells of the toxic cryoprotectant glycerol. This microfluidic approach cuts the time for glycerol removal from an hour down to three minutes.

Read more:
Next Generation: Precision Blood Rinsing 

Source: The Scientist Magazine
Image credits: Egelberg

Lot to Lot Variation

It is important, if not imperative, that new lots of reagents and calibrators be tested before being put on line. This should be done with replicates of the controls (3-4 each) and 6-8 patients, new reagent side by side with the current reagents or calibrators. Measure the average of the difference means and compare the total error (TE) before and after the possible change. Another statistic is the Student t-test that will detect a difference between the means. However it does not give as much information about TE as does the average or % bias. We suggest using just the means and % bias. Keep in mind that QC is the best error detector once the method has been validated. It is worthwhile to compare TE and TEa and then select the best rule(s) for detecting errors (thus reducing risks).

Read more:
The Lab and Risk Reduction, Part 6

Source: Advance

Test Your Knowledge of Preanalytical Errors

Did you know that the chores performed before the actual measurement of the sample may influence the patient’s test result? Factors such as use of correct tubes, proper specimen collection and accurate patient identification establish a crucial part of the laboratory testing phase. These errors are often invisible and may be impossible to discover later in the testing process.

Participate in the trial and see if you are able to find preanalytical errors!

Open the trial here:

Source: Labquality
Image credits: Kati Tapio

APTT vs Anti-factor Xa

Anticoagulation therapy and laboratory monitoring methods are rapidly evolving. Drug monitoring should provide a very useful and clinically effective means of determining an optimal dose regimen for each individual. The ideal assay for monitoring unfractionated heparin remains a subject of debate. However, one cannot ignore the drawbacks of the current and widely used method, the APTT. The anti-factor Xa assay has been gaining momentum recently, and is continuing to do so because of its advantages over APTT. There are studies that have demonstrated that anti-factor Xa actually saves the hospital money; and more importantly, is a valuable tool for optimal patient care management.This is through less patient testing and monitoring needed; consequently, fewer dose adjustments are done. Therefore, the patient is stabilized quicker and released from the hospital earlier.

Read more:
Laboratory Methods of Heparin Monitoring, Part 3

Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that affects 34 percent of American adults, according to the American Heart Association. A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they have three of these risk factors: a large waistline, high triglyceride (type of fat found in the blood) level, low HDL cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. A person with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Because metabolic syndrome is becoming more common, scientists are exploring possible causes. In their previous study in Science, Gewirtz, Ley and other researchers showed altered gut microbiota plays a role in promoting metabolic syndrome.

Gut microbiota performs key functions in health and when it becomes dysregulated it can promote chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition, altered gut microbiota promotes inflammation that leads to metabolic syndrome.

Read more:
Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say

Source: EurekAlert

Monday, November 24, 2014

3D Printed Microbes

BBSRC and scientists from Oxford Brookes University teamed-up to run Giant Germs – an event tailored specifically to the blind and visually impaired. The day allowed visitors to discover the microscopic world of bugs and germs for the very first time thanks to 3D printing technology.

The event kicked off with talks on how parasites and viruses can infect our cells and their impact on the world around us. Amongst the nasties mentioned were the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, as well as the parasite that causes the fatal African "sleeping sickness".

Read more:
31 October 2014 - 3D printed giant germs help visually impaired see the world of microorganisms - BBSRC

Source: BBSRC

Tapeworm found living inside a patient's brain

A 50-year-old man of Chinese ethnicity was admitted to hospital in the East of England after reporting symptoms of headaches, seizures, altered smell and memory impairment. The patient had lived in the UK for 20 years but visited his homeland often. After testing negative for a range of diseases and not presenting any other abnormalities, doctors began to take a series of MRI images of his brain. Over the course of four years, they noticed a lesion migrate at least 5 cm across his brain, and after taking a biopsy from his left thalamus, they discovered a 1 cm long ribbon-shaped larval worm. The patient, who remains anonymous, was cured of his infection by the operation and is now recovering.

Small samples of the worm were sent to researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where they began to investigate its genome. Through sequencing its DNA, they identified it as Spirometra erinaceieuropaei, a rare tapeworm species typically found in China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand, and known to cause infection by ingesting undercooked frogs or snakes, using frog meat for treating wounds, and ingesting contaminated water.

Read more:
Tapeworms on the brain expand our knowledge of their genome

Source: EurekAlert

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Human Karyotype

Genetics Image Contest

In Ashleigh Spalding’s fun “Human Karyotype,” she had her fellow students from Drury University lay out on the ground to represent both the number and the shape of the 23 chromosomes.

Read more:
And Winners Are…

Source: 23 and Me Blog

Saturday, November 22, 2014

High CRP

You know that you are dedicated to biomedical science, if you see signs everywhere....

Original image:
10394835 CRP_n.jpg

Source: Tidsskriftet Bioingeniøren

Beauty of E. coli

Ecoli isolated from food sample.

Read more:
Beauty of Ecoli colony in EMB plate

Source: Microbeworld
Image credits: Biju.K.C Chandran, Inspectorate international ltd

Friday, November 21, 2014

Delicious DNA

Candy DNA

Original image:
DNA 238081053115467931_n.jpg

Source: Facebook/Medical Microbiologist

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Vintage Centrifuge

This centrifuge is still used by Yenal Akkurt.

Original image:

Source: Facebook via Trust me. I´m a biologist.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Peripheral Blood Cell Morphology Case

An interestinc case from a blog for medical laboratory professionals

A 42-year-old male presents with fever and fatigue. A CBC shows the following:
Hgb 14.2 g/dL (normal = 13.5 – 17.5 g/dL), WBC 18 x 109/L (normal = 4.5 – 11 x 109/L) and Platelet count 320 x 109/L (normal = 150 – 450 x 109/L)
Differential: Neutrophils and precursors: 80%, Lymphocytes: 16%, Monocytes: 2.5%, Eosinophils: 1.4% and Basophils: 0.1%

A review of the blood smear shows a slight left shift in the neutrophil series, with occasional metamyelocytes and rare myelocytes present. Several cells similar to the one shown below are noted. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

A.  Acute myeloid leukemia
B. Chronic myeloid leukemia
C. Bacterial infection
D. Viral infection
E. Parasitic infection

Read more and find the correct answer here::
You Make the Diagnosis 

Source:  A blog for medical laboratory professionals

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chlamydia knock out the body’s own cancer defence

Infections due to the sexually transmitted bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis often remain unnoticed. The pathogen is not only a common cause of female infertility; it is also suspected of increasing the risk of abdominal cancer. A research team at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin has now observed the breakdown of an important endogenous protective factor in the course of chlamydial infection. By activating the destruction of p53 protein, the bacterium blocks a key protective mechanism of infected cells, the initiation of programmed cell death. This protective function of p53 is also impaired in many forms of cancer. The new insights underpin the suspected relationship between chlamydial infection and the occurrence of certain types of cancers.

Read more:
Research news | 2014 | Chlamydia knock out the body’s own cancer defence

Source: Max-Planck Gesellschaft

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Microbe Lollipops from China

The Chinese designer’s collection of sweets, Dangerous Popsicles, transforms frozen sugar water into colorful spiny treats inspired by cacti and scary deserts that invite you to suck on magnified versions of the chicken pox, E. coli, and influenza viruses. “Before tasting with your tongue,” she writes, “you first taste with your eyes and mind.” Her goal is to challenge palettes by forcing you to get past the idea of sucking on a cactus or running your tongue over HIV.

Read more:
Would You Lick an E.Coli-Shaped Popsicle?

Source: WIRED

Chromosomes On The Wall

Sunlight reflected onto this wall looks like chromosomes preparing for mitosis

Read more:
Sunlight reflected onto this wall

Source: 9gag

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Urine Bilirubin

The clinical importance of urinalysis has been well documented as a useful tool in aiding with the diagnosis of various medical conditions. Urinalysis test strips and urine chemistry analyzers are now ubiquitous devices in physician's offices and medical labs alike. However, as routine as urinalysis has become today, the use of urine confirmatory tests (such as confirming the presence of urine bilirubin) remains inconsistent in the current laboratory testing practice.

Currently, there is no quantitative urine bilirubin test method on the market. The only way to rule out urine-strip false-positive bilirubin results is with a confirmatory assay such as Ictotest reagent tablets.

Read more:
Urine Bilirubin


Analysis of Preanalytical Nonconformance in a Medium-Sized Private Pathology Laboratory

A retrospective audit was performed at Southern IML Pathology in Wollongong and Nowra, Australia, to identify incidences of nonconformance over a 12-month period from October 2012 to September 2013. Data were obtained using an in-house nonconformance reporting system and from the quarterly Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Key Incident Monitoring and Management System.

A total of 10,972 patients had an incidence of preanalytical nonconformance, which is 1.9% of patients who had tests performed during the study period.

Read more:
Analysis of Preanalytical Nonconformance in a Medium-Sized Private Pathology Laboratory


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blood to Bluetooth

One small drop of blood is dropped into a small receptacle, where nanostrips and reagents react to the blood’s contents. The whole cocktail then goes through a spiral micro-mixer and is streamed past lasers that use variations in light intensity and scattering to come up with a diagnosis, from flu to a more serious illness such as pneumonia or even Ebola within a few minutes. There’s also a vitals patch that users can wear to get continuous health readings EKG, heart rate, body temperature delivered to their smartphone or the rHEALTH device itself via a Bluetooth link. An app called CHAS (Comprehensive Health Assessment Unit) can walk the user through the process of self-diagnosis.

The real innovation of rHEALTH, according to Chan, is in getting all the diagnostics technologies packed together into one handheld device. By shrinking its components so much compared to traditional devices, Chan says, patients will need to give 1,500 times less blood than they would for regular tests. Since it was originally developed for NASA, the device has even been tested in simulated lunar and zero gravity.

Read more:
This Device Diagnoses Hundreds of Diseases Using a Single Drop of Blood

Source: Wired

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hairy cell leukemia

In successful aspiration biopsies marrow smears may show abundant hairy cells admixed with other marrow elements. In this image numerous hairy cells are seen which are larger than normal small lymphocytes. A nucleated erythrocyte is also shown. Note the presence of abundant pale cytoplasm and “fuzzy” and hairy border in HCL cells.

Read more:
Histopathology images of Hairy cell leukemia, bone marrow

Source: Pathology e-Atlas

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Katyusha Yellow Tip Launcher

Lab life humor

Read more
People in white coats: Bombs awayyyy !

Source: People in white coats

Remember to enjoy the little things, like bacteria

A perfect pin to a microbiology geeks.

Read more:
Items similar to Remember to enjoy the little things, like bacteria, Science Pinback Button

Source: ETSY

A Chilly Fever

A 30-year-old graduate student presented with fevers associated with shaking chills and severe headaches. He had been well until 1 week before presentation, when he began to have daily fevers, with temperatures as high as 39.4°C. Any fever in a patient who has had possible exposure to malaria should prompt consideration of this diagnosis.

Read more:
A Chilly Fever 

Source. NJEM

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What is a Medical Laboratory Scientist?

There are so many degrees to choose from at Texas State, some of which you may never have heard of before. If you’d like to learn more about what a clinical laboratory scientist does, watch this cool video.

Read more:
Exploring Majors: Clinical Laboratory Science

Source: Bobcat Blog

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lion Laboratorians

Lovely Lion in a Lab coat

Read more:
SJ Dzyn: Alphabet Challenge - L

Source: SJ.dzyn

Fun with Microtubes

"Thankfully there is (some) variety to my work and I don't work with tons of tubes every day. And it's nice to have rainbow-colored tubes because that breaks up the monotony."

Read more:
Fun with Microcentrifuge Tubes

Source: A Glimpse of Wistfulness

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Type of More Problematic Mosquito-Borne Illness Detected in Brazil

A second form of the painful chikungunya virus has appeared in Brazil—one that could more easily spread, including to the U.S.

When a mosquito-borne disease first arrived in the Western Hemisphere last year, humans were relatively lucky. The disease, which causes crippling joint pain persisting for weeks or even months and for which there is no known therapy or vaccine, hopscotched from the Caribbean islands to eventually land in the U.S. and the rest of the Americas. But the type of chikungunya creeping across the region then was one that could only readily spread via Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that is uncommon in the U.S.

Read more:
New Type of More Problematic Mosquito-Borne Illness Detected in Brazil

Source: Scientific America

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A medical lab for the home

Fraunhofer FIT demonstrates a mobile wireless system that monitors the health of elderly people in their own homes, using miniature sensors. Besides non-invasive sensors this platform integrates technology to takea blood sample and to determine specific markers in the patient's blood. At its core is the home unit, a compact device located in the patient's home. It incorporates the necessary software as well as sensors and the analytical equipment.

The home unit aggregates the sensor data and sends the results to the patient's doctor or a medical center via secure Internet connection. A smartphone app presents the health data and the physician's feedback to the patient.

Read more:
FIT Press release, Nov 4, 2014

Source: Fraunhofer FIT

Immunological Memory

Antibody USB memory stick

Original image:

Source: Facebook
Image credits: Medical Microbiologist

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A possible alternative to antibiotics

Artificial bait for bacterial toxins

In clinical medicine, liposomes are used to deliver specific medication into the body of patients. Here, the Bernese scientists have created liposomes which attract bacterial toxins and so protect host cells from a dangerous toxin attack.

A study group have made an irresistible bait for bacterial toxins. The toxins are fatally attracted to the liposomes, and once they are attached, they can be eliminated easily without danger for the host cells. Since the bacteria are not targeted directly, the liposomes do not promote the development of bacterial resistance. Mice which were treated with the liposomes after experimental, fatal septicemia survived without additional antibiotic therapy.

Read more:
A possible alternative to antibiotics

Source: AlphaGalileo

Monday, November 3, 2014

National Pathology Week 3 - 9 November 2014


National Pathology Week 2014 is a celebration of pathology, the science behind the diagnosis of disease, and the remarkable work of pathologists through a programme of nationwide activities aimed at people of all ages.

Throughout the week, pathologists and laboratory scientists, both nationally and internationally, will be running a variety of events to promote public awareness and understanding of the vital role pathology plays in healthcare.

Read more:
National Pathology Week

Source: I Love Pathology

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Parasitology Challenge

Stool parasites

Case: 32 years old fisherman from Saint Petersburg, Russia has abdominal pain and loss of appetite. His Hb is 98 g/L and leukocytes within normal ranges. Parasites in faeces was requested and the findings are in the image. Size of the particles are 50 x 30 µm.

Can you identify these particles?

CORRECT ANSWER: Artifact (morel mushroom spores)
View all given answers here (FB site)

Tuberculosis has infected hundreds of thousands more people than was estimated in 2013

Tuberculosis (TB) is causing more infections and deaths the world over than previous estimates indicated, according to a new survey released by the World Health Organization (WHO) October 22, 2014. The WHO’s “Global Tuberculosis Report 2014” stated that in 2013 there were 9 million new cases of TB reported in the more than 200 countries that account for more than 99 percent of the world’s TB cases.

The number of reported cases this year is 400,000 more than the WHO estimated in last year’s report, but the increased numbers may indicate improvements in diagnosis and data reporting as well as unchecked spread of the disease.

Read more:
WHO: TB’s Toll Worse Than Thought 

Source: TheScientist Magazine

Crochet Blood Cells

Straight from the buff layer and into your heart! Crochet a super-huge version of the fighting superhero of the circulatory system, the white blood cell, or WBC for short. Makes a fast, easy, cute gift for a special nurse or pre-med student, or to give happy thoughts and support to an ill friend. Pair it with my Red Blood Cell pattern for extra plasma-inspired cuteness.

Read more:
White Blood Cell Amigurumi Crochet Pattern

Source: Etsy
Image credits: JanaGeek

Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time [APTT]

The APTT in contrast to the PT, measures the activity of the intrinsic and common pathways of coagulation. The division of the clotting cascade into the intrinsic, extrinsic and common pathways has little in vivo validity but remains a useful concept for interpreting the results of laboratory investigations. The term 'thromboplastin' in this test refers to the formation of a complex formed from various plasma clotting factors which converts prothrombin to thrombin and the subsequent formation of the fibrin clot. The term 'Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time (APTT)' derives from the original form of the test (devised in 1953) in which only the phospholipid concentration of the test was controlled (as opposed to the phospholipid and the surface activator concentrations) and the name 'partial thromboplastin' was applied at the time to phospholipid preparations which accelerated clotting but did not correct the prolonged clotting times of haemophilic plasma. Essentially the term 'partial' means phospholipid is present but no Tissue Factor.

Read more:
Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time [APTT]

Source: Practical Haemostasis

Beautiful Microtubes

Colours of medical laboratory work

Original image:

Source: Facebook
Image credits: Medical Microbiologist

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New figures show falling survival for some cancers

Survival rates for some cancers have gone into reverse according to new Office of National Statistics figures which show Britain lagging behind other nations. The official data shows that progress against six major forms of the disease, affecting 20,000 people in England each year, is stalling, and in some cases, five-year survival is deteriorating.

Read more:
New figures show falling survival for some cancers

Source: Telegraph

Understanding Genetics

What are the odds of inheriting no DNA from a great, great, great grandparent?

This is a great question and probably one that a lot of people would be curious about. The quick answer is that the odds are pretty close to 100% that you have DNA from your great, great, great grandparent. If you know anything about how our DNA is passed on, this might seem weird at first. DNA is passed down to the next generation in big chunks called chromosomes. Every generation, each parent passes half their chromosomes to their child. If nothing happened to the chromosomes between generations, then there would be around a 1 in 8 chance that you would get no DNA from a great, great, great grandparent.

Read more:
Understanding Genetics

Source: The Tech

Intrinsic and extrinsic anemias

When we use the words intrinsic and extrinsic in reference to anemias, we’re talking usually about the things that cause hemolytic anemias. Some hemolytic anemias are caused by things intrinsic to the red cell itself (like a problem with the red cell membrane, as is the case in hereditary spherocytosis, or a problem with a red cell enzyme, as is the case in G6PD deficiency) vs. things that are extrinsic to the red cell (like the fibrin strands that rip apart red cells in microangiopathic hemolytic anemia).

Read more:
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic anemias

Source: Pathology student

Women scientists earn less than men all over the world

While women and men at early- and mid-career stages in the U.S. received nearly equal pay, women professors only received 88 percent of the income male professors did.

Unequal pay for men and women doing the same work is not a problem unique to US life scientists. The Scientist’s data, gathered from countries across the globe, reveal a pervasive discrepancy in the salaries men and women take home, as women’s incomes worldwide ranged from 75 to 99 percent of the paychecks earned by their male counterparts. The discrepancy was not consistent around the world, however. The greatest gender gaps appear in salary data from the U.S. and Canada, while data submitted by life scientists in Latin America and Asia revealed relatively small differences in overall compensation between men and women.

“On the face of it, earnings are higher in the U.S.,” says Ariane Hegewisch of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a US nonprofit think tank, “and the wage gap is higher”—likely as a result of a lack of transparency about expected salaries for specific positions, and because women are less likely to work in the highest-earning positions. “That makes sense to me,” Hegewisch says, “but the results from Latin America and Asia are a little more surprising.”

Read more:
2014 Life Sciences Salary Survey

Source: The Scientist
Image credits: Gary Waters/Ikon Images/Corbis

Laboratory internal quality control, how much room for improvement?

The discussion of the Center of Medicare and Mediaid services´ (CMS) new quality control option, IQCP, has sharpened the focus on QC in the laboratory and raised hopes that risk management concepts can make QC more robust. But one of the most highly regarded quality control experts in the U.S. voices skepticism about the impact of IQCP—and indeed, about U.S. quality control standards in general.

As a voluntary, customizable QC option under CLIA, IQCP or Individualized Quality Control Plan is expected to give labs greater flexibility in achieving QC compliance. However, the CLIA QC standards, unchanged since 2003, will remain the same—and that’s a problem, says James Westgard, PhD, who spoke about QC weaknesses at the 2013 Lab Quality Confab presented by The Dark Report. He believes that CLIA’s sluggish evolution on QC has nurtured a nationwide attention deficit on the subject of meaningful quality management.

Read more:
In lab QC, how much room for improvement? 

Source: CAP

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