“August 26, 2002 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Here’s a fact of significance. Economy.com reports that, in 2001, revenues from fixed-line telephone service declined for the first time in decades. Analysts say that consumers and businesses are shifting spending to wireless telephones. It is confirmation that our economy continues to move toward a wireless, Internet-based information society. Labs and pathology groups should be preparing their organization to connect with providers, payers, and patients through these new electronic gateways.

UNILAB REPORTS ON SECOND QUARTER

While Unilab Corporation waits for the results of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust review of its acquisition by Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, it continues to push in the California marketplace. Second quarter revenues were up 10.4% over the same quarter last year. Specimen volume accounted for 5.9% of this increase, while revenue per requisition grew by 4.2%.

WILL LAB RATS YIELD TO ZEBRA FISH FOR GENETIC STUDIES?

Researchers looking to speed up genetics research are discovering the benefits of zebra fish. They breed with ease. They are easy to maintain. The embryos grow outside the body, giving researchers ready access. Best of all, zebra fish embryos are transparent, allowing scientists to watch them develop. In recent years, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has supported a variety of projects to map the zebra fish genome and develop appropriate strains for research. Go to www.zfin.org for more info. Maybe that beloved and long-standing epithet—lab rat—will give way to a new one: lab fish!

ADD TO: Zebra Fish

Zebra fish are not the only finny denizen of the deep yielding genetic secrets. Scientists have sequenced the genome of the pufferfish, called Fugu in Japan. It is believed to have the smallest genome of all vertebrates. Pufferfish have about 30,000 genes, similar to the number in humans. But it has only one-eighth the DNA as humans. Gene-mappers at the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California compared the pufferfish genome, which lacks the DNA “junk” of other animals, with the human genome. They identified 1,000 genes in the fish that appear to be nearly identical with previously unidentified human genes.

One of American Medical Laboratories’ (AML) executive team members is heading to a new company. John R. Hadden, who was the Senior V.P., National Business Development Group at AML, is heading to Clearwater, Florida. He’s accepted the position of CEO at Vital-Labs, Inc., a newly-organized public lab company. (See TDR, July 15, 2002.)

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