SEQC Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

Improving the relationship between the clinical laboratory and specialists in sexual health, key to stopping a rebound in STD infections

In the XVII Conference of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

• Increased analytical accuracy has revealed a high prevalence of asymptomatic STD infections

• The role of the laboratory is growing in diseases such as diabetes mellitus, for which the possibility of establishing screenings in certain population groups is being studied

• During the courses that take place at these conferences, laboratory professionals can update their knowledge in these and other subjects

Madrid, March 28, 2019 - New developments in clinical analysis related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), diabetes mellitus, and anemia offer great benefits for patients, due to a faster and more accurate diagnosis. However, in order for healthcare users to benefit from these improvements, it is necessary to coordinate the efforts of the clinical laboratory with those of the other medical specialties.

This will be one of the topics to be discussed at the XVII Conference of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML), in which experts in different areas of the laboratory will present a total of seven courses to help spread the news about the latest developments in this field. These courses will address aspects such as the role of the clinical laboratory in the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes mellitus and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

One of the highlights of the new edition of the Scientific Committee Conference is the course updating the diagnostic tools available to laboratory professionals for the screening of sexually transmitted infections. "The laboratory is just one part of the healthcare system process to help stop the increase in infections: we must coordinate with other professionals to establish protocols for the diagnosis of STIs. We have to advise clinicians on the most appropriate samples and tests to use in each case, since we are the most knowledgeable specialists in this area," explains Dr. Miguel Ángel Benítez Merelo, Technical Director of the CLILAB Diagnostics laboratory in Vilafranca del Penedès, and course coordinator.

Dr. Benítez Merelo highlights the importance of this training update, given recent advances, especially in the field of molecular biology. "The new multiple PCR panels, accessible nowadays for the majority of laboratories, as well as the rapid identification of microorganisms by means of mass spectrometry, allow us to obtain the results much faster than a few years ago," notes the specialist, who also points out that improvements in the sensitivity of these tests against potential pathogens "has helped us to find out how frequent mixed infections and asymptomatic infections are."

The doctor is struck by the prevalence of infections "in the 21st century, when it seems that information is available to everyone, thanks to the widespread use of the Internet." In the opinion of Dr. Benítez Merelo, there has been a relaxation in precautions regarding relationships and also in public policies. "If we add this situation to the generalization of risky sexual behaviors and practices (chemsex), we have a perfect storm for this upturn in STIs", adds Dr. Benítez Merelo, who considers collaboration between the laboratory and other health specialties to be key "to closing the circle of infections".

Update on diabetes mellitus

During the Scientific Committee Conference a course will also take place to update and review the most recent advances and those of greatest interest related to the study of diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disorder of multiple etiology for which the clinical laboratory plays a central role in diagnosis and monitoring. The course will provide an update on knowledge related to the physiopathology and the biochemical processes involved. "The clinical laboratory´s role contributes significantly to early diagnosis and monitoring of treatments so as to avoid the most serious complications of the disease. Laboratory tests are essential in the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, and glycemic control criteria, based generally on the measurement of HbA1C (glycohemoglobin), are the fundamental guide for assessing the evolution of the disease and making therapeutic decisions", according to doctors Eugenio Berlanga, of the clinical laboratory of Parc Taulí Hospital in Sabadell, and Gregori Casals, of the Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry Service of Hospital Clínic de Barcelona; ​​both are course coordinators.

According to the two specialists, laboratory results are necessary when deciding on the treatment of the disease with insulin; at the same time, the clinical laboratory is fundamental to the detection of metabolic complications and associated diseases. It also plays a fundamental role in improving the quality of life of these patients; for example, in pancreas transplants, hormonal measurements help control the success and viability of the transplant. The course will also address the latest developments in the analysis of this disease. "More and more, the behavior of the Hb1AC marker in patients with hemoglobin variants during pregnancy, and under other conditions that affect the turnover of red blood cells, is becoming more important. Another current aspect is the discussion over the benefits of screening and the populations to which it should be directed." In this sense, the doctors note that there is a growing interest in the screening for pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus type 2 in overweight children and adolescents.