Morning Read: Honey, I shrank the flu test, and it might be cheaper too

A new microfluidic chip may soon make it cheaper and faster to diagnose the flu, thanks to researchers at Boston University and Harvard Medical School. The team has miniaturized the RT-PCR flu test into a single-use microfluidic chip about the size of a standard microscope slide. According to the press release, “a column at the top extracts RNA from signature proteins in the sample associated with the influenza A virus; a middle chamber that converts the RNA into DNA; and a climate-controlled lower channel used to replicate the DNA in sufficient quantities so it can be detected by an external reader.”

Adimab is expanding the scope of its work, hiring more people and moving into big new building due in part to a big investment from Google. Google Ventures, Polaris and SV Life Sciences contributed $14 million to the company, which has created a synthetic human immune system that produces antibodies that repel disease. The company is adding new capabilities on bi-specifics, antibody drug conjugates, targeting cell-based antigens including GPCRs and ion channels, as well as preclinical manufacturing and mammalian cell line development.

A study of mammograms in Norway found that concluded that 15 percent to 25 percent of breast cancers are overdiagnosed. Published in the Annals  of Internal Medicine, the research also found that there was a reduction in late-stage breast cancers after Norway implemented universal mammography screening in both women who had mammography and those who didn’t.  An accompanying editorial suggests that overdiagnosis and unneccessary treatment is even more common in the US because because US radiologists are more likely than European radiologists to report mammographic abnormalities, and because US women often start annual mammography screening at 40 years of age, compared to biennial screening at 50 in Norway.


WellCare will pay more than $137.5 million to Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York and Ohio as well as to several whistle-blowers who brought four fraud suits against the company. The company was accused of inflating medical costs and keeping the overpayments as well as misrepresenting patients’ medical conditions and treatments.

The Vetrans Administration has launched its third Industry Innovation Competition to improve care in four areas: maternity, PTSD, mobile applications, and pressure ulcers. The $50 million program is designed to engage VA employees, industry leaders, start-ups, non-profits, and universities to advance the performance of the VA. Get the details of the competition here.

[Photo from Boston University School of Engineering]

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