A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS November 4, 2014
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

U.S. News & World Report
Mutations linked to blood cancers rise with age, study shows
Blood cell mutations linked to the blood cancers leukemia and lymphoma increase as people get older, according to a new study, but having these mutations doesn’t mean a person will develop a blood cancer. “We don’t yet know whether having one of these mutations causes a higher than normal risk of developing blood cancers,” said study senior author Dr. Li Ding. She said more research is needed to better understand the risk. The research was published in Nature Medicine. Other outlets: 
HealthDay, Winnipeg Free Press (Canada), Philly.com (Philadelphia, PA) HealthCanal, OncLive  Related WUSM news release

Washington Post
Want people to drink less? Make their cigarettes more expensive
A recent WUSM study found that a 10 percent cigarette price increase led to a 1 percent decrease in alcohol consumption. The decrease was associated with reductions in the consumption of beer and spirits but not wine.
Other outlet: The Columbian
Related WUSM news release

NBC Nightly News
Why scratching an itch really does make you itch more
A study by WUSM researchers indicates that scratching an itch causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation and the urge to scratch even more. Senior investigator Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen published the research in the journal Neuron. Other outlets: BBC News, IFL Science, New Scientist, Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Independent, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) and 30 other Scripps Howard television stations Related WUSM news release

Scientific American
U.S. midterm elections offer little hope for science
The NIH cuts have put the squeeze on many research institutions. At WUSM, federal grant funding fell by 14 percent from fiscal year 2012 to 2013 and by another 3 percent from 2013 to 2014. “Part of it was sequestration, part of it was the timing of some big grants expiring,” said Dr. Jennifer Lodge, vice chancellor for research. “It sort of reeks of an atmosphere of gloom around funding.”

Fox News
Tiny human stomachs grown in lab
Using human stem cells and skin cells and a series of chemical switches, researchers grew stomachs measuring 3 millimeters in diameter, they reported in the journal Nature. “It’s a beautiful study and very innovative,” said Dr. Jason Mills, who was not involved in the research. “We’re now able to take individual human patient’s skin cells and turn them into little mini stomachs or really one portion of the stomach.

The Huffington Post
This breast cancer awareness month, prevention must be a priority
Research by Dr. Graham A. Colditz shows that early prevention efforts, like eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit and lean protein, and exercising daily from early childhood through adolescence, can reduce cancer risk by up to 70 percent.

IFL Science
Scientists convert human skin cells directly into brain cells
Using a finely tuned cocktail of small molecules, researchers from WUSM successfully converted adult skin cells into the major type of brain cell affected by the fatal neurodegenerative disorder Huntington’s disease. When the researchers transplanted these cells into the brains of mice, they survived and showed similar properties to native cells. Other outlets: New Scientist, Science Daily, Counsel & Heal, St. Louis Business Journal   Related WUSM news release

Association of American Medical Colleges Reporter
Academic medicine advances culture of safety in biomedical research labs
In the wake of front-page headlines about biosafety lapses at the CDC and the NIH, laboratories at medical schools and teaching hospitals are under heightened scrutiny. At Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, biological safety officer Dr. Susan Cook acknowledged that “what-ifs” are hard to predict. Working with campus police and local firefighters, “we imagine things that could go wrong,” she said.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Senior Focus: Tailoring care during serious illness
Dr. Maria Dans, palliative care specialist, explained that the relatively new field of palliative care emphasizes the need to consider spiritual, emotional and socioeconomic challenges posed by serious illness in addition to the treatments and physical signs of a disease. Her team of physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains tailors a care plan that fits the way the person wants to live.

Teen killed in New Orleans believed in the power of food justice and gardens

The story highlights the remarkable life and philosophy of George Carter, who was murdered at age 15. It also mentions a recent study by WUSM child psychiatrist Dr. Joan Luby that showed poverty can have long-lasting effects on brain development that can lead to depression and learning problems. However, these problems can be offset by nurturing parents, a finding that points to the importance of high-quality early childhood caregiving.
 Related WUSM news release

MedPage Today         (Subscription required)
A youthful approach to breast cancer prevention

In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MedPage Today invited guest editorial contributions that address various aspects of the disease. In one such editorial, Dr. Graham Colditz wrote “Researchers now understand that well over half of cases could be avoided through primary prevention with roots in early childhood and adolescence. Breast cancer is a huge burden — on individual women, on families and on the nation as a whole. We know how to prevent it. It’s time to act. Now.”
Related WUSM news release

Indiana Gazette
Study tests drug-free therapy for depression in kids
Researchers at WUSM now are enrolling preschoolers and young children in a study evaluating play therapy as a non-drug treatment for depression. Although the study is relatively new, Dr. Joan Luby said, “We are seeing dramatic declines in problematic behavior. Every single kid is improving.”
Related WUSM news release

Study: Most respond well to genetic testing results
People at high risk for psychological distress respond positively to receiving results of personalized genetic testing, according to new research at WUSM. The findings were somewhat surprising because most subjects were considered part of a vulnerable population. They had a higher-than- normal risk for depression, and about half were unemployed with no health insurance. The researchers found that even individuals who received reports indicating they were at increased risk for diseases did not experience upticks in depression or anxiety. The research was published in the journal Genetics.
Related WUSM news release

KWMU-FM/St. Louis Public Radio
Why are prisoners in Vandalia, Mo. spending a lot of time with dogs?
In 2002, the Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities (C.H.A.M.P.) organization began collaborating with the Missouri Department of Corrections through the C.H.A.M.P. Prison Program. Offenders at the women’s correctional center in Vandalia, Mo., are paired with dogs that need to be trained to become service dogs. The program is currently working with WUSM’s Program in Occupational Therapy to study whether inmate participation in the program reduces recidivism.

Medscape   (free subscription required)
Fecal transplant eliminates persistent MDR infection
Fecal microbiota transplantation successfully decolonized the gut of a young girl who persistently harbored multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, according to a case report. Fecal transplantation is certainly not standardized at this point. “People are just kind of doing this on their own,” said Dr. Erik Dubberke, who was not involved in the study.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
   (Jim Gallagher column)
What will kill you: Ebola or cheesy macaroni?
We will probably have more Ebola cases in America. But the chances of significant spread here are “very, very small,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock. Ebola is not spread through casual contact. A single victim can be expected to spread the disease to one or two people, Babcock added. That makes it hard to get an epidemic going in a nation with a public health system. A measles sufferer would infect 18 to 20 people. Babcock said the most important thing people can do to stay healthy is to make sure they’ve gotten every vaccination and a flu shot.

News Medical
Digoxin drug may be adaptable for ALS treatment, study suggests
Digoxin, a medication used to treat heart failure, may be adaptable for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to new research from WUSM led by Dr. Azad Bonni. In a recent study conducted in cell cultures and in mice, scientists showed that when they reduced the activity of an enzyme that maintains the proper balance of sodium and potassium in cells or limited cells ability to make copies of the enzyme, the disease’s destruction of nerve calls stopped. The research was published in Nature Neuroscience. Other outlets: Financial Express, Scicasts, Medical News Today  Related WUSM news release

Ivanhoe Broadcast News
New virus strikes kids
Dr. Ericka Hayes explained that enterovirus 68 is unusual in that it’s an enterovirus that really acts more like a rhinovirus, meaning it causes respiratory infection, breathing problems, and runny nose and cough. Most children who get the virus will be fine, and experience symptoms of a bad cold. However, children who have asthma, wheezing or underlying chronic lung disease will need to be assessed by medical professionals immediately.

Dim lighting can impair vision in older adults
In examinations of older adults, average scores on vision tests can be better in the clinic than at home. A WUSM study suggested dim lightning may be the culprit. “It’s very common for older patients to have concerns about their vision, but then test well on the eye charts when we examine them,” said first author Dr. Anjali M. Bhorade. “In this study, we found that vision in patients’ homes was significantly worse than in the clinic. The major factor contributing to this difference was poor lighting in the home.”
 The study was published in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Related WUSM news release

Living longer, healthier lives with resveratrol
Resveratrol, a natural, plant-derived compound, is now attracting attention for its unique ability to mimic the gene expression effects of caloric restriction, the only intervention that has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to prolong maximum life span and/or produce anti-aging effects in a variety of organisms, including mice, rats, dogs and monkeys. These studies suggest that resveratrol may have similar health and longevity benefits in humans. In 2006, researchers at WUSM reported that 25 volunteers (average age 53) who had been practicing caloric restriction for 3-15 years had cardiovascular systems that were much healthier than matched control subjects eating standard Western diets.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A warm October could approach St. Louis record for today
[Photo] WUSM OT students took advantage of one of the few patches of grass outside the building near Newstead and Duncan Avenues to soak in some above-average temperatures.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Infant death at Webster Groves child care raises concerns about weighted blankets
Blankets in cribs of napping infants generally are considered a risk factor for suffocation and sleep death. A heavy blanket in particular can restrict a baby’s movement. In August, a 7-month-old was found on his abdomen not breathing at a Webster Groves daycare center, and a weighted blanket was found bunched up below his waist, potentially limiting the child’s movement. Pediatrician Dr. James Kemp said, “To put anything on [a napping infant] that impedes their freedom to move when they’re in the prone position is a problem.” Other outlet: KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5

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Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
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Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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