Cocaine on the Rise
Newly emerged figures from Public Health England have documented that the UK’s current approach to drug treatment has failed to reduce drug related deaths. With UK drug abuse now at an all-time high, 2017 saw a 23% increase in treatment presentations for crack cocaine use, according to The Conversation. An additional article by the Business Insider UK reported that seizures related to cocaine in Britain are now at their highest since 2008.
Crack cocaine is a powerful stimulant designed to temporarily speed up the mind and body. Freebase cocaine (powder cocaine) and crack cocaine (rock form cocaine) can both be smoked to reach the brain quicker, whilst snorting the substance causes a slower effect. A very addictive substance, cocaine is reported to make a user over confident and careless with risks including, breathing and mental health problems, depression and the risk of an overdose related death. When taken in conjunction with alcohol the dangers of cocaine are increased, as the mixture produces the toxic chemical, cocaethylene.
The Conversation highlighted “Cuts to drug treatment budgets are extremely shortsighted. Not only do effective services save lives, they reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses, including HIV. About half of people who inject drugs have hepatitis C. Getting them into treatment is an essential part of plans to eliminate the disease.” At Randox Toxicology we offer the most comprehensive drugs of abuse test menu across multiple matrices. Our DoA ULTRA panel detects up to 20 targeted drugs, offering the largest cross-reactivity profile of over 240 analytes, including Benzoylecgonine/Cocaine. Benzoylecgonine is the most common metabolite measured in urine drug screens to detect cocaine. Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, Randox Toxicology provide cutting-edge multiplex testing capabilities for rapid and accurate drug detection from a single sample.
The price of cocaine has fallen by 13% since 2007 according to Business Insider UK. Price trends in addition to new and emerging UK supply routes have made the drug more appealing and readily available. Whilst the average age group using cocaine is 35 years old, a 30% increase has been seen in young people under the age of 25 years old. A rise which has not been witnessed in a decade.
The increase of cocaine use has shown how vital drug treatment is in responding to the ever-changing market, with services needing to adapt quickly to the needs of varied groups. Amidst the ongoing cocaine problem, Randox Toxicology are leading the way in developing new tests through significant research and development.
World Diabetes Day
With World Diabetes Day on Tuesday 14th November 2017, we take a look at what diabetes is and why quality control is so important.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-long condition which occurs when the glucose level in the blood is too high because it can’t enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. They are distinct conditions and must be treated and managed differently.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type one diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks insulin-producing cells, this causes a lack of insulin, leading to an increased blood glucose level. Around 10% of people with diabetes has type 1.
Type 2 Diabetes
A mixture of genetic and environmental factors causes type 2 diabetes. The body doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin it does create does not work correctly, leading to a glucose build up in the blood. It’s thought that up to 58% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through healthy lifestyle choices.
Role of Quality Control
Quality control plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and reliable diabetes monitoring. 70% of medical decisions are based on a laboratory test result and QC is vital in ensuring the results the laboratory report are both accurate and reliable.
Want to know what makes a good HbA1c control? Read on to find out.
Clinically Relevant Levels
In the diagnosis of diabetes, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in blood provides an indication of average blood glucose levels in the previous three months. HbA1c is the recommended standard of care for type 2 diabetes monitoring. HbA1c is measured using the range below:
HbA1c – Clinically Relevant Levels
|Normal||Below 42 mmol/mol||Below 6.0%|
|Prediabetes||42 to 47 mmol/mol||6.0% to 6.4%|
|Diabetes||48 mmol/mol or over||6.5% or over|
It is important to assess the full clinical range of an assay, i.e. the range between the lowest and highest results which can be reliably reported. 48 mmol/mol is the cut-off for diabetes diagnosis, it is crucial that this can be measured accurately because any inaccuracy could mean the difference between being diagnosed and treated and not.
In terms of accreditation, ISO 15189:2012 states, ‘The laboratory should choose concentrations of control materials wherever possible, especially at or near clinical decision values, which ensure the validity of decisions made’.
Benefits of Third Party Controls
The importance of third party controls is evident. Third party controls can help identify instrument, reagent, and procedural errors. Unchecked these errors could lead to incorrect patient results, further leading to misdiagnosis.
Third party quality control material has not been designed or optimised for use with any instrument, kit, or method. This complete independence enables the quality control material to closely mirror the performance of patient samples, and in doing so, provide an unbiased, independent assessment of analytical performance across multiple platforms.
Again, in terms of accreditation, ISO 15189 states – “use of independent third party control material should be considered, either instead of, or in addition to, any control materials supplied by the reagent or instrument manufacturer.”
Many laboratories perform HbA1c testing on a dedicated machine and as a result, are not always using a third party control.
Wastage is a common issue when running HbA1c due to the pre-treatment step required for many HbA1c controls and poor stability of some controls on the market. Look out for controls with an extended open vial stability to help reduce waste and keep costs low.
How can Randox help?
To help you get your QC in check for World Diabetes Day, Randox Acusera HbA1c control contains both HbA1c and Total Haemoglobin, with a reconstituted stability of 4 weeks to reduce waste and reduce costs. To find out more about our HbA1c control visit the page using the button below or fill out the form above.
A stark warning has been issued this week by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) that NHS cancer testing services are at tipping point, caused by increased demand and a lack of capacity.
Tackling this is essential, according to pathology expert Professor Manual Salto-Tellez, “We need to act now before this situation gets worse. It’s vital that patients are diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be successful.”
CRUK says the UK’s cancer survival falls behind that of other European countries and is urging an improvement in early diagnosis through diagnostic services. The importance of this is emphasised by estimates from the charity that cancer diagnoses in the UK will rise from 352,000 (2013) to 500,000 (2035).
According to the report:
- One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime
- Well-resourced testing services are crucial to early diagnosis of cancer which in turn is vital to increase survival rates
- Up to 70% of clinical decisions are based on diagnostic testing
- Pathology numbers are not growing to meet rising demand for tests
Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy, said;
“Diagnostic services, including pathology, urgently need support and investment to ensure that diagnoses aren’t delayed and patients benefit from the latest treatment. The diagnostic bottleneck will only get worse without action now and this involves addressing staff shortages in imaging, endoscopy and pathology.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said, “Early and fast diagnosis is crucial in improving patient outcomes and experience. Getting pathology test results to patients quickly is a key part of this. That’s why we have invested over £2.5bn on efficient and robust pathology services across the NHS.”
Following the publication of the report Dr Martin Crockard, Head of Molecular R&D at Randox, said;
“As populations continue to age, illnesses like cancer, stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease will become more common. We know this is going to have a huge impact on healthcare systems but what is yet to be determined is how they will respond.
“Currently 70% of clinical decisions are using in-vitro diagnostics and that will likely increase – therefore it’s essential that pathology services are fully supported. Better diagnostics enables clinicians to make evidence-based decisions, which delivers improved patient outcomes.”
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