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Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

March 30, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the News — Week in Review 3/30/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
artist rendition, laptop screen showing latest online news

In this unconventional time, we are going to offer an unconventional article, really a collection of the previous week's news stories related to Mayo Clinic Research. Our plan - to share a brief excerpt and link to stories written by journalists around the world. Most will likely be about COVID-19, some may report findings that change as our understanding grows. All will be here to help you better understand how we are working to build the evidence base to help our patients, and people everywhere.

Read the transcript on of Margaret Brennan's interview with Mayo Clinic President and CEO Gianrico Farrugia, M.D.

By Melissa Healy, 3/28/2020, Los Angeles Times

President Trump has touted the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” for patients sickened by the novel coronavirus. Political activists are urging doctors to prescribe them, and federal officials have asked pharmaceutical manufacturers to make their stocks of these drugs available for immediate use.

But as the medications begin pouring into hospital pharmacies and physicians begin prescribing them, their potential side effects are raising alerts.

An article published this week in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings warns that both drugs could prompt dangerous and potentially deadly heart arrhythmias in the 3 million people worldwide who have a congenital cardiac condition — called long QT syndrome — that can cause the heart to beat erratically and lead to sudden death.

Read the full LA Times article on their website.

By Jeff Kiger, 3/27/2020; Kiger's Notebook - Post Bulletin

A Chinese pharmaceutical firm, which has a joint venture with Mayo Clinic and a lab in the One Discovery Square complex, reported revenues of $1.8 billion for 2019 and is now ramping back up as the COVID-19 pandemic slows in China.

Read the article on Kiger's Notebook blog.

By Judy Berthiaume, 3/26/2020, Ashland Daily Press

orking under pressure takes on a whole new meaning when you’re overseeing a team charged with developing a test to detect the virus that’s causing a worldwide pandemic.

Fortunately, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate and the Mayo Clinic team she oversees was up to the challenge.

Sara Lassila, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UW-Eau Claire in 2005, is a test development supervisor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Read the article online at the Ashland Daily Press.

Researchers observed several significant differences regarding in-hospital care, CV risk profile and rehospitalization rates in patients with acute MI who were homeless vs. those who were not, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. “These findings should raise awareness that managing cardiovascular disease in homeless patients has its unique challenges due to the high burden of psychiatric illnesses among them and the clear disparities in provision of care for the homeless in the medical system,” Mohamad Alkhouli, MD, interventional cardiologist and senior associate consultant at Mayo Clinic, told Healio.

Read article online in Healio: Cardiologytoday

By Heather Landi, 3/25/2020, FierceHealthcare

An industry coalition of health systems, tech giants and healthcare vendors are collaborating to increase COVID-19 testing and coordinate early therapies. The private industry effort, spearhead by Mayo Clinic's John Halamka, M.D. and other industry leaders, plans to leverage the strengths of healthcare organizations, technology companies, non-profits, academia, and startups to provide a focused response to the coronavirus outbreak. "Each coalition member is bringing its unique assets, sharing resources and plans, and working together to support those on the front lines in responding to COVID-19," the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition said in a press release.

Read the FierceHealthcare article online.

By Steven Reinberg, 3/25/2020, HealthDay News

Dr. David Knopman, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study. Although the findings were not what researchers hoped, they can help guide future tests of other drugs to prevent dementia, Knopman said. "Sometimes there is an absence of evidence on these sorts of questions, meaning that there has not been a definitive study, but in this instance, there is evidence of absence," he said. "The trial definitively showed no value in aspirin for preventing dementia, unfortunately."

The full article is available online.

By Chad Terhune, Allison Martell, Julie Steenhuysen, 3/25/2020, Reuters

Several academic laboratories (including Mayo Clinic Laboratories) and medical companies are rushing to produce these blood tests, which can quickly identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who already have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all. This is different from the current, sometimes hard-to-come-by diagnostic tests that draw on a nasal swab to confirm active infection.

Read the full news story online at

By Paul John Scott, 3/24/2020, Pioneer Press

A broad alliance of Mayo Clinic research specialists are part of a coalition of regulatory, scientific and commercial partners — including online retailer Amazon — in a race to deliver a promising treatment for coronavirus to the nation’s hospitals. With vaccines 18 months away at best, and coronavirus-targeting antivirals in a clinical trial pipeline that could extend into next year, the results of the convalescent plasma treatment for coronavirus could put a critical bridge therapy into health care workers’ hands in one month’s time.

Read the full news story on the Pioneer Press.

Kate Raddatz reports (1:59). WCCO 4 News at 6 – March 24, 2020

Mayo Clinic has been doing research for weeks to get possible therapy treatments ready for clinical trials to test on confirmed patients with COVID-19.

Modern Healthcare 3/24/2020, via Associated Press

Hospitals are gearing up to test if a century-old treatment used to fight off flu and measles outbreaks in the days before vaccines, and tried more recently against SARS and Ebola, just might work for COVID-19, too: using blood donated from patients who've recovered.

Read the full article, describing the research collaboration, which includes Mayo Clinic.

By Kayla McKiski, 3/24/2020, HealthDay

Indoor athletes may be vitamin D-deficient, putting themselves at risk of injury and poor performance, a small study finds.

Researchers assessed vitamin D levels in players on George Mason University's men's and women's basketball teams. For the 2018-2019 season, players were given a supplement with a high dose, low dose or no vitamin D.

Read the full news article and the related publication.

By Mike Hixenbaugh, 3/23/2020,

Hoping to stem the toll of the state’s surging coronavirus outbreak, New York health officials plan to begin collecting plasma from people who have recovered and injecting the antibody-rich fluid into patients still fighting the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the plans during a news briefing Monday. The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, dates back centuries and was used during the flu epidemic of 1918 — in an era before modern vaccines and antiviral drugs.

Read the full news article on

By Fred Pennic, 03/23/2020, HIT Consultant

The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition is a collaborative private-industry response to the novel coronavirus.

Its mission is to save lives by providing real-time learning to preserve healthcare delivery and protect U.S. populations.

Coalition partners include, athenahealth, Buoy Health, the CommonWell Health Alliance, Epic, HCA Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, LabCorp, Leavitt Partners, MassChallenge, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, MITRE, Rush University System for Health, Salesforce, University of California Healthcare System and Walgreens.

Read the HIT Consultant article online.

By Namita Seth Mohta, M.D., and Priya Sampathkumar, M.D.; 3/19/2020, NEJM Catalyst

How Mayo Clinic created and disseminated an enterprise-wide Covid-19 care delivery plan through existing resources and real-time updates and adaptations.

Read the NEJM Catalyst article online.


For Mayo Clinic stories, videos, podcasts and other current resources related to COVID-19, visit our mini site.

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Tags: antiviral, cardiology, clinical trials, collaboration, COVID-19, David Knopman, dementia, Gianrico Farrugia, heart attack, John Halamka, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mohamad Alkhouli, neurology, News, News of the Week, vaccines, vitamin D

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