July 24, 2006 “Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

There’s a new crop of Web- based, direct-to-consumer laboratory companies. In recent months, Joplin-Missouri-based MyMedLab, Inc., (www. mymedlab.com) and Med-LabUSA, LLC of Tampa Florida ( www.medlabusa.com) have begun to seek publicity. Both companies offer patients a way to order laboratory tests directly via the Internet and both companies contract with other laboratories to perform the testing.

MORE ON: Internet Labs

It was in the late 1990s, during the dot.com boom, that several direct-to-consumer, Web-based laboratory companies surfaced with similar marketing tactics and a business strategy of buying lab tests from existing lab companies. After attracting a fair amount of interest and no- tice within the laboratory community, each withered from lack of business and was eventually closed. Even today, direct-to-consumer lab testing remains a tiny part of the overall market.

MICROBIOLOGY BREAKTHROUGH: GAS-FREE BEANS!

Here’s good news from the world of microbiology. Researchers have discovered two strains of bacteria which can be added to beans and which will reduce the flatulence created as the beans move through the digestive tract. Marisela Granito and her team from Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela published their findings in the Journal of Science in Food and Agriculture. For years, cooks have fermented black beans before cooking to reduce the gas produced by the beans. Granito and her team identified Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum as the main contributors to this effect, because they decrease the soluble fiber content by more than 60% and lower levels of raffinose (known as a cause of gas) by 88%. They also learned that the nutritional value of the beans is maintained.

ADD TO: Gas-Free Beans

Commercial food processors may use Garnito’s discovery to produce “low gas” beans for consumers. Similar gas-free beans are being grown and sold in the United Kingdom. Developed by noted anthropologist Dr. Colin Leaky, his new variety of the manteca bean is flatulence-free and now sold commercially. In the 1960s, while Leaky was working in Uganda, he observed that mothers were hesitant to feed beans to their children because colic would often result. Motivated to restore this source of protein to the local diet, Leaky worked for decades to develop a form of flatulence-free beans that can be grown in the United Kingdom’s climate. The product is sold under the name “Prim Beans” and it’s believed that tannins in the seed coat play a role in reducing the gas produced during digestion.

PROXYMED’S NEW NAME

ProxyMed, Inc. has a new name. In recent months, the company has adopted the name MedAvant Healthcare Solutions. It provides services in physician office connectivity. In 1999, ProxyMed acquired Key Communications Systems, Inc., which provides remote printing solutions for labs.

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