“June 11, 2001 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Here’s a late-breaking story: Tropical Storm Allison hammered Houston and East Texas over the weekend. More than 30 inches of rain caused wide-spread flooding in the Houston Metropolitan Area. Hospitals in the Medical Center were hard hit. Memorial Hermann Hospital closed on Saturday and all 540 patients were moved. It was the first time since 1925 that Memorial Hermann Hospital had stopped all services. Memorial Hermann is one of only two Level I trauma centers in the city.


According to Edward O. Uthman, M.D., a pathologist at Memorial Hermann Hospital, more than 10 feet of water flooded the core lab, located in the basement. The laboratory was destroyed and none of the instruments can be salvaged. The laboratory is a total loss and will have to be rebuilt. More details will be provided as they become available.


Here’s an example of the intersection of genomics, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Roche Holdings Ltd. and DeCode Genetics, Inc. announced last month that they have identified two separate genes. One appears to be involved in triggering strokes, the other seems to be linked to adult-onset diabetics. Each disease is a major problem in both the United States and Europe. The most interesting aspect of this news is that Roche, a therapeutic and diagnostic company, is funding a $200 million research effort by DeCode Genetics to identify useful genes. DeCode is studying the genetic variations in Iceland’s population, a relatively closed society with genealogical records dating back almost 1,000 years.


Researchers studied 3,000 Icelandic stroke patients and their families. They have identified a protein manufactured by the gene believed to be involved in strokes. If this discovery proves to have therapeutic potential, it would be possible for Roche to develop both a drug to favorably act upon the protein and a diagnostic test to determine whether or not an individual carries this “stroke” gene and would benefit from drug therapy.


THE DARK REPORT recently provided exclusive intelligence about Friobox, a new packaging system for frozen and chilled specimens that doesn’t require dry ice. Friobox has just been introduced into the United States. THE DARK REPORT has subsequently learned that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has gone on public record that it intends to eliminate dry ice from shipping containers and believes shipping systems like FrioBox will make that possible. Looks like a paradigm shift for shipping lab specimens is about to occur.


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