A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS January 29, 2014
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

Christian Science Monitor
Where do your bones come from? Shark genome study offers insights.

Researchers have mapped the genome of the elephant shark, a cartilaginous fish, and they say its DNA helps explain the genetic basis of how bones form. After comparing the elephant shark genome with those of other vertebrates, researchers noticed that the elephant shark lacked a family of genes crucial for bone formation. This finding has important implications for understanding bone diseases, according to Patrick Minx at WUSM’s Genome Institute, where the sequencing was performed.
Other outlets: Bioscience Technology Related WUSM news release

NBC News
Scientists home in on ‘good’ gut germs for weight loss, health

WUSM researchers found a set of bacteria that seems to help control how much fat the body layers on, and a separate set that affects the immune system. The hope is to use these bacteria to treat diseases like Crohn’s and to help obese people lose weight. “We can culture these organisms, manufacture these organisms in pure form … so they could be administered to individuals in the future,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gordon. “We could generate a 21st-century medicine cabinet.”

Twenty percent of women with ovarian cancer had inherited mutations in gene pathway

A new WUSM study conservatively estimates that one in five women with ovarian cancer has inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of the disease. “This tells us that we need to find better ways to screen women for ovarian cancer, even if they don’t have family histories of the disease,” said Dr. Li Ding at WUSM’s Genome Institute. Other outlets: News Medical Related WUSM news release

ABC News Radio
Scientists say reading can improve brain function

Recent research using fMRI has shown that reading is a complex task that may improve the connectivity among various brain circuits essential to understanding the written word. Scientists at WUSM found reading involves 17 regions of the brain, but not all are engaged at the same time.

Everyday Health
Rheumatoid arthritis myths debunked

The notion that any type of exercise is good for rheumatoid arthritis is a myth. But, according to Dr. Richard Brasington, the right kind can help ease symptoms. He recommends exercise that strengthens muscles, like weight lifting and calisthenics, in addition to low-impact aerobic exercise. Strength training, he said, makes joints more stable.

Huffington Post
7 cool new findings about the brain

President Obama’s new BRAIN Initiative, co-led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is designed to advance brain research. WUSM’s Dr. Elizabeth Atkinson is among the researchers who received NSF funding. She recently discovered regions in DNA that correlate with the extent of folding in about 1,000 baboon brains – animals that are genetically similar to humans. Folding is linked to intelligence across species.

Parade Magazine
Food for thought: Dieting for weight loss

When it comes to losing weight, diet is more important than exercise. According to Dr. Samuel Klein, “Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss. If you want to achieve a 300 kcal energy deficit you can run in the park for three miles or not eat 2 ounces of potato chips.”

Aging brains can still make ‘childlike’ connections: Study

Certain regions in adult brains still have a “childlike” ability to create new connections that can help people learn new skills and form new memories as they age, according to research at WUSM and elsewhere. Researchers pinpointed brain regions in adults that had higher levels of gene activity associated with the establishment of new connections between brain cells. These same genes are highly active in young people’s brains. It’s believed that new connections between brain cells help adults develop new memories and skills long after their brain stops growing.
Other outlets: NewsMax Health, News-Medical, Psych Central Related WUSM news release

Woman with flu miscarries, battles for her life
Leslie Creekmore and her husband came down with the flu in early January. He recovered, but she was flown to BJH from Ft. Smith, Ark., and is now on a ventilator. On Jan. 16, Leslie miscarried the couple’s first child. “It’s a little too early to tell what her outcome will be at this point,” said Dr. Rosanna Gray-Swain. Leslie remains in critical condition.
Other outlets: KSDK Newschannel 5, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Online (subscription needed),KMBC – Kansas City

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
‘Swine flu’ makes a comeback in St. Louis area
BJH is seeing a large influx of flu patients, and the majority have been found to have the H1N1 strain that circulated in 2009, more commonly known as “swine flu.” Nationally, hospitals are reporting a huge spike. Many believe this year’s flu season may be one of the most severe in recent years. According to infectious disease physicians, there’s still time to get vaccinated, and this year’s shot protects against the current strain of the flu. Other outlets: KTVI-TV FOX 2,KMOX Radio, KVFS-TV, Daily Statesman, St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Buisness Journal

KMOX Radio
Flu cases on the rise in St. Louis
“We have about three times as many influenza cases than we would typically have at this time of year,” said Dr. David Warren, an infectious disease specialist at WUSM and BJH. New flu cases doubled over the past week in St. Louis County, jumping from 73 to 158 for a total of 371 this season.

Flu latest: St. Louis area still being hit hard by Influenza A
A dramatic increase in positive tests for Influenza A, which includes H1N1, is being seen at BJH. “We are seeing three times more cases than normal for this time of year,” said Dr. David Warren. The best way to prevent the spread of influenza is to get a flu shot, he added.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Flu numbers higher than usual
BJH has already seen more confirmed cases this flu season than all of last year. Dr. David Warren explained that the low humidity we’re experiencing helps the virus survive longer, and the cold weather has kept people indoors and close together, which makes spreading the virus easier. He emphasized that it’s not too late to get an influenza vaccine.

Young adults hit hard by flu
Many young adults who opted not to get the flu vaccine may pay a steep price this winter. Statistics from the St. Louis County Health Department show flu cases among 20-34 year olds are outpacing every other age group except infants. “We’re seeing a lot of very, very sick young adults who are admitted to the hospital and the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nine deaths from flu reported at Barnes-Jewish Hospital
The St. Louis region has experienced a sharp uptick in flu cases in recent weeks, including some deaths related to the illness. The deaths primarily were of otherwise healthy young and middle-aged adults not vaccinated against influenza. “We have seen a steep rise in flu cases, and we’re treating some very, very sick patients from the St. Louis area and others who have been transferred here from hospitals in the region,” said Dr. Steven Lawrence.
Other outlets: Associated Press, Health Canal, KSDK-TV NewChannel 5,
St. Charles West News Magazine, St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Business Journal, KMOV-TV,St. Louis American Related BJH News release, Related WUSM news release

With flu cases on the rise, free shots being offered in St. Louis County
Dr. Steve Lawrence explained the benefits of getting a flu shot and encouraged vaccination. The St. Louis County Department of Health is offering free vaccines at three different locations. Other outlets: KTVI-TV FOX 2

KWMU/St. Louis Public Radio (St. Louis on the Air)
Answering your questions about the St. Louis region’s flu outbreak
Dr. Hilary Babcock joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the flu outbreak this year. “Every year we do see people becoming infected and people getting sick and dying, but this year it’s definitely been more…and affecting people in a different age range than we usually see,” Babcock said.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Barnes-Jewish Hospital providing free adult flu shots
Citing the uptick in local flu cases, BJH offered free flu shots Jan. 20 and 21 to adults. This year’s flu vaccine protects against the strain of H1N1 hitting relatively young and middle-aged adults this winter. Related BJH News Release

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Flu nearly kills Illinois police chief
Chief David Haley of Carlinville, Ill., said doctors at BJH helped save his life after he came down with the flu. “It’s amazing to think and believe that a simple flu virus attacked me the way that it did,” said Chief Haley. He spent three weeks in the hospital and was connected to a heart-lung machine to aid his breathing. Other outlets: KTVI-TV FOX 2

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Why you should get a flu shot
In October, BJH provided 35,000 free flu shots. Round two of a free flu shot clinic, held in January, is in response to the recent flu spike in our area. “Every year, the CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get vaccinated,” said Jonathan Leesman, Pharm.D. “It’s still peak season right now, so it’s not too late.” Other outlets: KTVI FOX 2, KMOV-TV

St. Louis American
Flu illness and deaths continue in St. Louis area
BJH reports more than 360 cases of flu, with 10 deaths so far this flu season. A spokeswoman said the numbers are staying fairly consistent based on the number of patients testing positive and those admitted to the hospital.

KSDK-TV Newschannel 5
Family gives hope to special needs orphans
The Kacirek family from Rogers, Ark., traveled to St. Louis to receive medical care for their five special-needs-children, adopted from eastern Europe. The children have serious medical conditions including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Their most recent trip was for 17-year-old Lucia to undergo spinal fusion surgery to correct a severe spinal curve. She now can sit in an upright position for the first time in her life.

ABC News (Australia)
Hookworm gets the genome treatment

Researchers at WUSM have decoded the genome of the hookworm, the most common source of soil-borne parasitic infection in humans. These parasites live in the soil and enter the body through the skin on the soles of bare feet, causing anemia and in children, stunted growth and learning problems. “This information will accelerate development of new diagnostic tools and vaccines against the infection,” said The Genome Institute’s Dr. Makedonka Mitreva. Other outlets: Huffington Post, Voice of America, International Business Times (Canada), Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ringing the bell to signal end of cancer treatment
Five-year-old Janet Pruneau recently rang the special SLCH bell – the one reserved for those who have completed chemotherapy. Pruneau has a rare form of cancer and is one of the first pediatric brain tumor patients at SLCH to have her tumor genetically sequenced. Other outlets:Associated Press

Wash U. seeking subjects for diabetes study

Many people with Type 2 diabetes take metformin as a first-line treatment, but also need a second drug to keep symptoms at bay. Dr. Janet McGill explained that WUSM is looking for volunteers to enter a long-term study to identify which combination of drugs works best.

St. Louis Business Journal
Town and Country residents split over planned BJC facility
A planned SLCH outpatient facility in Town and Country would offer pediatric services including radiology, surgery and infusion, from WUSM physicians, at a location more geographically convenient for families who live in west St. Louis county. The facility was recently approved. Other outlets: NewsMagazineNetwork

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A parent’s guide to calling the doctor
When a parent calls the pediatrician, it’s often because they’re concerned about their child’s illness or symptoms. But if parents are not calm and prepared when making the call, they may not get answers as quickly as they’d like. Paula Losito with the SLCH answer line shares a simple checklist with parents to prepare them for phone calls with their child’s doctor.

Ladue News
Surgical focus: Tummy tucks

A tummy tuck can solve the problems of excess abdominal skin and muscle laxity for a select group of candidates, particularly women who can’t lose a post-pregnancy belly bulge. However, abdominoplasty is a surgery that requires serious recovery time, and its long-term success depends on the patient. “[Patients] need to understand that a tummy tuck is not a weight-loss procedure—people are often surprised that they only lose a couple pounds after having a tummy tuck,” said WUSM plastic surgeon Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum.

Wash U needs participants for mild asthma study

Dr. Kaharu Sumino believes a drug used to treat heart failure may help people with asthma. This is the first large study to look at whether beta-blockers can help control mild asthma. Researchers are looking for people ages 18 to 60 years old who have mild asthma.

WWSB-TV (Sarasota, FL/Ivanhoe story)
Relieving pain — removing ribs
Kami Bathon had neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome that compressed the nerves in her neck and shoulder. To relieve the pain, Dr. Robert Thompson removed muscles in front of the nerves and cleared away scar tissue. Then, he removed muscles behind the nerves and took out a rib. Kami is now pain-free.

City to keep warming centers open despite being over budget
As dangerous sub-zero wind chills moved back into the St. Louis area, city officials found themselves scrambling to continue funding an overflow shelter for the homeless. According to Dr. Brian Froelke, danger can come in just a matter of minutes when wind chills get into the -20 degree range. “You have somewhere between 10 minutes and a half hour depending on how cold it is before you’re at risk of frostbite,” he said. Other outlets: KTRS

MedPage Today
Rheuminations: A cautionary tale

A case report about a 15-year-old with gout was recently published in Pediatric Rheumatology by Dr. Andrew J. White and colleagues. It offers a lesson to physicians about the need to broaden their diagnostic thinking as an epidemic of childhood obesity grows. Adult conditions, usually a result of long-term lifestyle consequences, now are being seen more frequently in pediatric patients.

What’s your eating personality?
Are you a junk food eater who typically craves something salty, crunchy or sweet? Or are you an emotional eater who eats when you’re stressed or worried and can’t stop? Dietitian Katie Lambert explained how your eating personality could help determine the best diet plan for you.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Shortage of psychiatrists, funding issues create crisis in mental health care

The mental health care system is strained by the number of people who need help and a shortage of psychiatrists to meet those needs. The problem is less acute in St. Louis, where psychiatry training programs at WUSM and St. Louis University graduate 24 resident physicians every year.

St. Louis Public Radio
Emergency medical report cards are out. ‘C-’ for Missouri and ‘D’ for Illinois

The American College of Emergency Physicians gave Missouri an overall grade of C- on its health care report card, ranking it 22nd among all states. Emergency care doctors in the state don’t dispute the findings. While pointing to some improvements, the physicians say the medical system is about to face a big challenge as newly insured patients enter the health pipeline through the Affordable Care Act. “One of the biggest issues with the ACA, as more people will be insured, is whether there will be primary care doctors to see them,” said Dr. Rob Poirier.

Medical XPress
Discovery may aid vaccine design for common form of malaria

New research at WUSM has revealed that a form of malaria common in India, Southeast Asia and South America attacks human red blood cells by clamping down on the cells with a pair of proteins. “We now are using what we have learned to create vaccines tailored to stop the infectious process by preventing the parasite from attaching to red blood cells,” said Dr. Niraj Tolia. The study provides details that will help scientists design better vaccines and drug treatments for the strain, Plasmodium vivax.
Other outlets: News-Medical, TruthDive Related WUSM news release

Warfedale Observer (UK)
Bid to get Guiseley boy Wes walking
A 2-year-old boy from the United Kingdom hopes a trip to visit Dr. T. S. Park will relieve muscle spasticity caused by cerebral palsy and improve his ability to walk. Dr. Park is internationally known for a spinal surgery he pioneered called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which severs spinal cord rootlets that cause spasticity, resulting in stronger, more relaxed movement.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Parents talk back with Aisha Sulton
SLCH Mom Doc Kathleen Berchelmann fielded questions from parents in her weekly chat hosted by Post-Dispatch reporter Aisha Sulton. The topics included when it’s OK for kids to start dating, how to stop toddler temper tantrums and how to monitor your child’s internet usage and searches.

KTVI-TV FOX 2 (no link)
FDA issues new warning about acetaminophen
The Food and Drug Administration issued a new warning regarding high doses of acetaminophen, recommending any prescribed doses of the common pain killer remain under 325mg. Dr. Michael Bottros, explained how the updated guidelines can help patients avoid liver damage. “Taking medications that have acetaminophen as an active ingredient, which is found in many cold medications, along with pain killers is how someone can overdose on Tylenol without knowing it,” he said.

Medical Daily
Attention depends on brain regions syncing up; unnecessary ‘cross-talk’ could explain attention deficits

Researchers at WUSM studied attention deficits by gaining a detailed glimpse into the process of how the brain lets us shift our attention and focus on a task. “We think the brain not only puts regions that facilitate attention on alert but also makes sure those regions have open lines for calling each other,” said Dr. Amy Daitch. Related WUSM news release

Contact us with your story ideas

Jessica Church

Washington University
School of Medicine
Media Relations



Twitter Facebook