Disease Management Update
Volume IV, No. 39
January 24, 2008

Dear Healthcare Intelligence Network Client,

This week's Disease Management Update looks at skin cancer and reports what one hospital is doing to target the destruction of the melanoma-causing cells, as well as research revealing a new skin cancer virus.

Visit HIN's blog to read about "tanorexia" and how Generation Y's obession with both natural and artificial tanning can lead to some serious problems as they age.

Your colleague in the business of healthcare,
Laura M. Greene
Editor, Disease Management Update

If this is a forwarded copy of Disease Management Update and you like what you see, you can register to receive your own copy of this complimentary service. Sign up at:

Table of Contents

  1. Cancer Stem Cells Targeted for Destruction
  2. Disease Management Q&A: Convincing the Young Invincibles
  3. HealthSounds Podcast: Choosing Healthier Lifestyles
  4. Newly Discovered Virus Linked to Deadly Skin Cancer
  5. Survey of the Month: Medical Homes Use To Manage Chronic Conditions
  6. Disease Management: Definition, Benchmarks, Metrics

1. Cancer Stem Cells Targeted for Destruction

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found a strategy that selectively targets cancer stem cells for destruction, successfully halting one of the deadliest cancers — melanoma — in mice.

The researchers isolated melanoma stem cells and found that they have, on their surface, a special protein that helps shuttle toxic agents out of the cell. Previously, the Children’s-BWH researchers discovered and cloned this protein, known as ABCB5, and showed that it renders melanoma cells resistant to chemotherapy drugs. The new study shows that ABCB5 is unique to the subpopulation of melanoma stem cells.

Researchers were able to leverage ABCB5 — normally a protector — to bring about the destruction of these highly virulent stem cells in mice bearing human melanomas. They injected the mice with monoclonal antibodies that bound only to cells with the ABCB5 protein — namely, melanoma stem cells. The antibodies stimulated an immune response against the stem cells that led to cell death and significantly inhibited melanoma growth as compared with untreated mice.

To learn more about this study, please visit:

2. Disease Management Q&A: Convincing the Young Invincibles

Each week, healthcare professionals respond to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's experts are Lee Aase, manager of national media and new media at the Mayo Clinic, and Scott Schroeder, president and CEO of Cohorts Inc.

Question: When targeting Generation Y for health services and products, how much of the battle lies in convincing them that they need coverage or services? At what age or life stage do people become less resistant to the idea of health insurance or seeking healthcare on a preventive level?

Response: (Lee Aase) We provide preventive services in our community and have done some mail reminders and again these screenings that are necessary are generally targeted at an older audience. What we find is that when people have a need is when they’re most likely to come to see us. We’re downstream after they haven’t gotten the answers that they’ve looked for locally. It’s precipitated by having a child or the kinds of people who don’t qualify for Tonik™, Wellpoint's health plan whose urban language and edgy graphics are tailored to the lifestyles and attitudes of "young invincibles" (young adults ages 19 to 29).

(Scott Schroeder) Something we do literally with every one of our clients is help them understand who their customers are today. Our process involves taking names and managing that into a robust database that we have that can place those individuals in one of our various Cohort segments. That gives the insurer or the hospital the ability to understand who exactly is signing up for their programs or enrolling in their various facilities. It gives them a good picture of how to begin to use customer information to make and appropriate media placement based on the product offering and the actual target customer.

For more information on healthcare for Generation Y, please visit:

We want to hear from you! Submit your question for Disease Management Q&A to info@hin.com.

3. HealthSounds Podcast: Choosing Healthier Lifestyles

In this week's Disease Management podcast, Michael Thompson, a principal with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, describes how a lifestyle score card is being developed to incent members and employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Dr. Richard Citrin, vice president of EAP Solutions at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, describes how a person's perception of their health drives their healthcare decisions. Dr. Rick Botelho, a professor of family medicine and nursing at the University of Rochester, advises practitioners to put four key motivational principles into practice when helping patients change behaviors.

To listen to this complimentary HIN podcast, please visit:

4. Newly Discovered Virus Linked to Deadly Skin Cancer

A new strategy to hunt for human viruses has revealed a previously unknown virus strongly associated with a rare but deadly skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma. University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researchers explain a nearly decade-long effort to harness the sequencing technology to identify the virus, which they call Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV).

While the research team emphasizes that their work does not prove MCV to be the cause of Merkel cell carcinoma, if the findings are confirmed, they may lead to new cancer treatment and prevention options.

“If these findings are confirmed, we can look at how this new virus contributes to a very bad cancer with high mortality, and, just as importantly, use it as a model to understand how cancers occur and the cell pathways that are targeted,” said Dr. Patrick Moore, M.D., M.P.H., one of the study's authors. “Information that we gain could possibly lead to a blood test or vaccine that improves disease management and aids in prevention.”

To see more of this survey's results, please visit:

5. Survey of the Month: Medical Homes Use To Manage Chronic Conditions

Complete our survey on medical homes use by January 31, and you'll get a free executive summary of the compiled results.

To participate in this survey and receive its results, please visit:

6. Disease Management: Definition, Benchmarks, Metrics

Although disease management (DM) is becoming a staple of many health plans, measuring actual dollar savings is still a goal not yet achieved, according to DM industry experts who spoke at an audio conference sponsored by the Managed Care Information Center (MCIC).

To download this complimentary white paper, please visit:
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