A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS June 11, 2013
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives
Researchers in India have found that swabbing a woman’s cervix with vinegar is an effective and inexpensive way to screen for cervical cancer. Siteman’s Dr. Bruce Roth said these results are important because something so low-tech can help many people unable to afford a pap smear or who don’t have access to the test.

Smithsonian Magazine
The work is only beginning on understanding the human genome
Dr. Eric Green was involved with the Human Genome Project from the start, mapping the DNA of chromosome 7 as a postdoctoral fellow and resident in pathology at WUSM when the project began a decade ago. Now the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Green says that there are still many mysteries to solve, particularly identifying which variants in genomics are relevant to certain diseases.

CBS News
Parents of dying 10-year-old girl challenge organ donor rule blocking her from lung transplant
Parents of a 10-year-old girl dying of cystic fibrosis are fighting organ-donation regulations that adult lungs be offered to adult patients before children in more serious need. Dr. Stuart Sweet helped draw up the pediatric lung allocation guidelines. Sweet said officials recently changed the pediatric system to give sicker children higher priorities for transplants and also cast a wider net for suitable candidates, searching beyond existing donor regions to an area 1,000 miles from a donor hospital for a suitable candidate before moving on to adolescent or adult candidates. “The policy is designed to be fair to everyone, and we can’t make exceptions on a case-by-case basis beyond the exceptions that are built into the policy to cover circumstances where the patient’s not being served well,” he said. Other outlets: CNN, Fox News, Yahoo! News, Philadelphia Inquirer,The Daily Mail, iTech Post, Philly, The Politico, Business Week, KMOX, Opposing Views

Fox News
5 low-fat foods that are making you fat
Along with reduced fat chips, cheese, yogurt, and soda, peanut butter makes the list of healthy low-fat foods that may not be helping as much as you might think. Peanuts are repositories for healthy fat, which would be ideal in activating fat-burning pathways in the liver and allowing old fats in the body to be worked off, according to research at Washington University. But many food companies replace that healthy fat with a carbohydrate filler when producing their peanut butter. Other outlets: Cancer Health Center

Huffington Post
Access to contraception education: My right to know
High school junior Lilli Schussler writes about how she and others in her generation feel unprepared and undereducated when it comes to contraception, despite school sex education courses. According to Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, inaccurate perceptions about the intrauterine device can lead to underuse of “one of the most safe and effective methods” of birth control.

CBS News (Reuters)
Daily sunscreen slows skin aging, even in middle age: Study
A new study from Australia reports that using sunscreen every day may help protect skin from aging. This is not a surprise to Dr. Brundha Balaraman who says that the key to preventing the effects of photoaging in skin is healthy sun-protective habits. Other outlets: Everything Lubbock(Lubbock, TX), KKTV-TV (Colorado Springs, CO)

Everyday Health
Mid-flight medical emergencies not very common
According to a new data analysis, medical emergencies only occur once in every 604 flights, and less than one percent of them result in death. In about half of the mid-flight medical cases, a doctor is on board who handles the incident, like Dr. Edward Geltman, who was able to use the plane’s emergency medical kit to help a person who had passed out.

Psychology Today
Persons with psychiatric illnesses die prematurely
Dr. Eugene Rubin co-writes an article about why people with a psychiatric illness die an average of 14 years earlier than people who do not. Among the several factors are the increased drug and alcohol use, lack of healthcare, side effects of medications, and lower socioeconomic status common among the mentally ill.

New York Daily News
Popular artificial sweetener can modify how the body handles sugar
Dr. M. Yanina Pepino found that subjects who ingested sucralose, an artificial sweetener found in Splenda, before eating glucose displayed a higher peak level of blood sugar and 20 percent higher insulin levels. The results of this study could have profound effects on diabetes care. Other outlets: Science Daily, Indian Express, Red Orbit, Futurity, Medical Xpress, ANINEWS, News Medical, Bioscience Technology,
Related WUSM news release

Neuroscience: Method man
A recently published brain-imaging method called CLARITY uses a chemical treatment to turn whole brains transparent, allowing researchers to examine the brain’s structure in detail in three dimensions. Dr. David Van Essen plans to use the method to view white matter in the brain and study patterns of connectivity that link brain regions.

Saint Louis Business Journal
Washington University professor steers X Prize to Alzheimer’s
Dr. Eric Leuthardt co-directed a brainstorming team at the annual X Prize Foundation’s “visioneering” conference in late April. Leuthardt and his team convinced the foundation to take on Alzheimer’s as their new cause.
Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (front page)
Efforts to reduce racial disparities in breast cancer deaths in St. Louis make headway
Dr. Sarah Gehlert, who is involved in the Siteman Cancer Center’s effort to reduce cancer disparities, has spent the last year and a half talking to women in ZIP codes with the highest death rates from breast cancer. Using a Komen grant, Gehlert opened a storefront in the city’s Ville neighborhood. Residents can drop in to print out a resume, get tutoring or ask medical questions; and health workers have gained the trust of residents and learned their stories. They have completed in-depth interviews with 100 breast cancer survivors.“I think it’s really important to hear it from women’s own lips,” Gehlert said. After gathering feedback on her findings, she will develop an action plan to make care as seamless as possible.

Treating relapsing multiple sclerosis
Living with multiple sclerosis means living with uncertainty. “Between 85% and 95% of MS patients begin with what we call remitting/relapsing MS,” said Dr. Anne Cross. During that phase of the disease, the pattern of relapses varies widely among patients. Some people have frequent relapses. Others have very few. The average is typically one to two attacks a year, according to Cross.

KMOX radio
Decontaminating patients cuts hospital infections
In a NEJM study co-authored by Dr. Vicky Fraser, decontaminating every patient in intensive care with antiseptic wipes and antibiotic nose ointment proved more effective in preventing infection than screening new patients for infectious germs. Other outlets: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (no link)
Related WUSM news release

15 healthy lifestyle tips after your hysterectomy
Good nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction, can offset the downside of a hysterectomy. Dr. Gladys Tse suggests that patients start implementing healthy behaviors before the surgery. “A lot of women get an exercise trainer before the surgery, and get into Weight Watchers or another program to change their diet,” Tse says. “They understand they would have a hard time after surgery, so they started this beforehand to avoid it. Some of the healthiest women I’ve seen are those who were counseled before their surgery.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Stroke symptoms call for dialing 9-1-1
A recent study in the journal Circulation found that more than a third of stoke victims don’t realize the seriousness of their symptoms and delay getting treatment. Caregivers at St. Louis’ primary stroke centers lament these missed opportunities. Mary Spencer, director of the neuroscience program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, comments on the hospital’s goal to be the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in the state of Missouri by the end of 2013.

Genomics – so hot right now
Worldwide, Dr. Richard Wilson is the hottest researcher of the year, with multiple Hot Papers (i.e. papers most frequently cited by other scientists). He is one of 4 researchers at Washington University School of Medicine who were included in the list of the top 21 hottest researchers. The others are Dr. Elaine Mardis and Dr. Li Ding (the only two women on the list) as well as Dr. Robert Fulton. Wash U is the only institution that had multiple researchers listed. Other outlets:St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal, KMOX-AM, KPLR-TV, Fort Mills Times (Ft. Mill, SC), Fox 2 KTVI-TV, The Republic (Columbus, IN), KY3-TV(Springfield, MO)

Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)
Food for thought: Cutting back on salt my cause you to eat more
Despite food companies lowering the amount of salt in their products due to pressure from government and consumer activists, research shows that people consume the same amount of salt (about 3,500 mg) on a daily basis. This result suggests that rather than eating the same amount of food per day with less salt, people are actually eating the same amount of salt each day and thereby eating more food. This instinct to consume a set amount of salt is driven by the physiological need to maintain an efficient cardiovascular system, according to researchers at WUSM.

Consumer Affairs
Do the math and lose weight
More people are starting to lose weight the old-fashioned way, by keeping track of the calories they ingest. A 2006 study at WUSM found that reducing calories in general was good for the heart, but increasing calories from vegetables promoted health.
Related WUSM news release

Pretesting cervical tumors could inform treatment
WUSM doctors have shown that testing cervical tumors before treatment for vulnerability to chemotherapy predicts whether patients will do well or poorly with standard treatment. “Even though this is a small study, its strength is that it links a lab test of the tumor’s chemotherapy response to survival outcomes for the patients,” said Dr. Julie K. Schwarz. “Very few cancers have been studied this way, and this is the first such report for cervical cancer.” Other outlets:Science Codex, Medical Xpress, Missouri Net
Related WUSM news release

Should kids be banned from restaurants?
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, shares her thoughts about whether children should be banned from certain restaurants. She says if the environment is more of a bar with loud music, it makes sense, but she also points out that there are many things that can annoy other restaurant patrons, like someone with body odor or a loud voice.

Rolla teen survives fluke sports injury to his heart
A young baseball player suffered a ruptured aorta and collapsed lung due to a freak accident while going for a fly ball. Dr. Mark Halstead says freak accidents can happen anywhere – on or off the field – and people shouldn’t let this small risk keep them from participating. He does suggest that kids who play organized sports make sure they eat well, participate in a variety of activities and take at least one month off each year to let the body rest.

Wesley Matthews underwent elbow surgery
Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews had successful arthroscopic debridement on his left elbow. According to the team’s press release, the surgery was performed by Dr. Ken Yamaguchi, and Matthews is expected to fully recover in 3-4 weeks. Other outlets: YardBarker

The St. Louis American
Alzheimer’s Association recognizes Wash U. neurologist for excellence in research
The Alzheimer’s Association presented Dr. John Morris with the 2013 Medical and Scientific Award on May 11. The award honors Morris for a career of advancing Alzheimer’s research, treatment and care.
Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Beacon
Wash U scientist Elson honored for research that makes heart tissue thump, molecules glow
“My only regret is that I haven’t accomplished more,” the School of Medicine’s Elliot Elson tells the St. Louis Beacon in a story profiling Elson and the many things he has accomplished in his career. Elson was recently elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a result of his work creating artificial heart tissue and modern molecular imaging technology, among other things.

St. Louis Jewish Light
What’s Jewish about breast cancer?
One in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carries a BRCA gene mutation, which is nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, making Jews more susceptible to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. WUSM’s Jen Ivanovich, urges women to get checked, saying, “The greatest predictor of risk is a family history of cancer.”

St. Louis American
Health Profile: Viron Washington
In this profile, patient care technician Viron Washington describes his work in radiation oncology at Siteman Cancer Center as humbling but fulfilling. “Life has a way of throwing you a curve,” says Washington. “I have met some very courageous people battling cancer.”

Tim Curry living with stroke
Actor Tim Curry and country music legend Charlie Daniels are among many high-profile figures living with the effects of a stroke. Daniels is speaking out about the importance of a rapid response to stroke symptoms. Dr. Jin-Moo Lee shares how reducing stroke treatment times has the potential to improve patient outcomes and save lives.

Valley News (Lebanon, NH)
Potent drug halts MS, with risks
About 55 percent of multiple sclerosis patients harbor a potentially lethal virus that can be reactivated by the MS drug Tysabri. The drug, while effective in controlling the disease, was pulled off the market after just three months of sales in 2005 when three patients developed the brain disorder, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). But, passionate appeals from patients and doctors led regulators to allow sales to resume the following year with strict rules governing its use. Now regulators in the U.S. and Europe recommend taking Tysabri for no longer than two years, and patients must enroll in a registry and are closely monitored. Dr. David Clifford suggests that the risk of PML doesn’t climb with successive years of use. He says the risk appears to peak after 24 infusions.

Medical News Today
First drug to help melanoma of the eye
AstraZeneca’s experimental drug, selumetinib, is the first targeted medication to show a significant clinical benefit for patients with melanoma of the eye (metastic uveal melanoma). This finding builds on research done at WUSM, which found that histone deacetylase inhibitors stop metastic tumor from growing in patients with uveal melanoma.
Related WUSM news release

Pacific Standard Magazine
Why you should be scared of someone stealing your genome
Dr. Michael White writes a column about a growing fear that as scientists learn more about the human genome, individual privacy may be threatened.

Unsteady heartbeat could spell early dementia
A new study in 5,000 people over the age of 65 showed that those with atrial fibrillation tend to suffer mental decline earlier than people without the condition. The link between the heart condition and dementia is unclear, but Dr. Allyson Zazulia thinks the connection may be “silent strokes.” The clotting from the heart disease could cause a series of small strokes that someone could experience without even knowing it, causing his or her cognition to become impaired.
Other outlets: Yahoo! News

Medical Xpress
Gene sequencing project finds new mutations to blame for a majority of brain tumor subtype
The St. Jude Children’s Hospital and WUSM Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has identified mutations responsible for more than half of low-grade gliomas, the most common childhood brain tumor.

The Guardian Express (Las Vegas, NV)
HIV mapped protein structure may lead to new AIDS drugs
Scientists have successfully mapped HIV’s protein structure, which encases its genetic information, an achievement that could lead to new drugs to fight against AIDS. Another breakthrough in AIDS prevention came when WUSM scientists discovered that bee venom can destroy HIV.
Related WUSM news release

Poorer patients often less happy with knee replacement
A study led by Dr. Robert Barrack found that lower-income patients are more likely to be dissatisfied and have worse knee function after knee-replacement surgery than more affluent patients. The researchers surmised that this may be due to inadequate post surgical rehabilitation for patients with lower incomes.

News In Health
Gene tests may improve therapy for endometrial cancer
Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the United States and researchers predict that nearly 50,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2013. A study co-led by Dr. Elaine Mardis found genetic changes identified in endometrial tumors might lead to more targeted therapies, thus improving outcomes.
Related WUSM news release

Chipley Bugle (Chipley, FL)
Researchers uncover genetic key for improved blood-thinning therapy for African American patients
Researchers have discovered a difference in one part of the genome that strongly influences how African American’s metabolize the blood-thinning drug warfarin, a finding that will make the drug safer for about 40 percent of African Americans. Dr. Brian Gage says that existing algorithms do not accurately predict the best warfarin dosing for African Americans.
Other outlets: University of Florida Health

MedPage Today
Disturbed sleep common in nerve disorder
Dr. Amy Licis found that children diagnosed with neurofibromatosis were more likely to have sleep disturbances than other children. Licis suggests that more studies be done to understand how the disorder affects sleep and how treatment can be optimized.

Daily Herald (Chicago, IL)
Specialty physicals lure execs to scans some doctors doubt
Standard physicals are geared more to detecting disease than preventing it, and if an abnormality is found, it’s the patient’s schedule that suffers. As an alternative, some U.S. hospitals are offering specialty physicals, costing around $2500, that include extensive blood work, full-body CT scans, and bone density and lung function exams in a day-long process. Dr. Stephen Lefrak warns that the many tests up the risk of false positives, which can lead to unnecessary treatment. “Only a handful of screening tests beyond those for cervical, colon and rectal cancer are of proven efficacy in terms of prevention,” he says.

Health Canal
Discovery helps show how breast cancer spreads
In a new study, WUSM researchers have discovered why breast cancer patients with dense breasts are more likely than others to develop aggressive tumors that spread. “It doesn`t explain why women with dense breasts get cancer in the first place. But once they do, the pathway that we describe is relevant in causing their cancers to be more aggressive and more likely to spread,” said Siteman’s Dr. Greg Longmore.
Related WUSM news release

Complications from robotic surgery may be reduced by surgical checklist
Researchers at WUSM found that complications from robotic surgery may be avoidable by using simple surgical safety checklists before and during lengthy operations. The checklist is designed to maximize patient safety and promote communication among the surgical team.

MedPage Today
ASCO: Targeted agent has slim NSCLC benefit
The novel kinase inhibitor nintedanib may slightly delay relapse of non-small cell lung cancer when added to chemotherapy, according to the recently published LUME-Lung 1 trial. Siteman’s Dr. Bruce Roth cites the need for more trials. ”Moving forward, the question is did we look at the right population, did we ask all the right questions in the beginning,” he said.

Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar
Scientists at WUSM found that when they kept sugar away from critical immune cells called T cells, the cells no longer produced interferon gamma, an inflammatory compound important for fighting tumors and some kinds of infection. Dr. Erika Pearce said “By understanding more about how sugar metabolism affects interferon production, we may be able to develop treatments that fight tumors by enhancing T cell function.”
Other outlets: News Medical, Bioscience Technology,
Related WUSM news release/video

New comprehensive effort to model how humans respond to viral pathogens
In an effort to sort out why some viruses such as influenza, Ebola and West Nile are so lethal, a team of U.S. researchers plans a comprehensive effort to model how humans respond to these viral pathogens. Studies on West Nile virus will be led by Dr. Michael Diamond. Other outlets:Infection Control Today, University of Wisconsin – Madison News, Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI),
Related WUSM news release

Your secret allergy triggers revealed
In a slideshow that details common allergic reactions, Dr. James Wedner advises people with allergies to avoid limes, candles, perfume, and various other everyday items.

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
New imaging techniques probe brain’s long-range connections
David Van Essen is co-leading a team to describe the structure and function of different brain connections. Another team is working on the same project, but using a different imaging technique and way of calculating white-matter trajectories. “It will probably turn out in the end that one method is modestly better than the other, and it will be valuable to sort that out,” says Van Essen.

New hope for treating fatal neurological disorder in kids
Scientists at WUSM and Kings College London have discovered dramatic improvements in life span and motor function in mice with the infantile form of Batten disease by treating the animals with gene therapy and bone marrow transplants. The results could provide lasting benefits to infants with this fatal and currently untreatable disease.
Related WUSM news release

The Bolton News, UK
Five-year-old from the UK can walk unassisted, does not need more surgery
Adam Oomer is one of dozens of children who have traveled to St. Louis from the UK this year for surgery with Dr. T.S. Park to improve mobility problems caused by cerebral palsy. The procedure involves cutting spinal roots that cause the spasticity, which relaxes the muscles. This allows children who once used wheelchairs to walk with walkers, and those who previously used walkers, to walk unassisted. Other outlets The Portsmouth News, North Wales Pioneer, East Lothian Courier

Quincy Family donates to NICU at Children’s Hospital
The Peters family lost their son after eight days of life, due to a rare birth defect. Inspired by the care they received while he was in the hospital, the family has been raising money to benefit the unit.

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Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
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Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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