New York Times
Malnutrition: Starving children lack crucial gut bacteria
Millions of severely malnourished children suffer from stunted growth, cognitive problems and weakened immune systems, and many don’t fully recover even after they are fed nutrition-dense therapeutic foods. Recent research published in Nature by Dr. Jeffrey I Gordon suggests that underdeveloped collections of gut microbes may be the cause.
Other outlets: BBC, National Geographic, NBC News, The Scientist, St. Louis Public Radio, Science News, Health Canal Related WUSM news release
New York Times
In a first, test of DNA finds root of illness
Researchers in San Francisco recently sequenced the DNA of a young patient, looking for a potential pathogen that was causing encephalitis. Doctors found that the child was infected with an obscure species of bacteria. They treated him, and he was better within days. While this outcome is encouraging, Dr. Greg Storch, who was not involved in the study, warned that DNA-based tests will turn up many species in any patient sample. Often, he said, it may be hard to figure out which species is making someone ill. Other outlet: The Globe and Mail (UK)
U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay
New drug may boost survival for advanced prostate cancer patients: Study
Men who took a daily dose of the drug enzalutamide started chemotherapy nearly a year and a half later than men who received a placebo, even though their prostate cancers had spread to other parts of their bodies, according to a new study. And enzalutamide improved survival by nearly a third, compared with placebo. “Certainly, anything that can delay the onset of chemotherapy is a plus for patients,” said Dr. Bruce Roth, who was not involved in the study. “There are a number of patients where you’re just not ready to pull the trigger on something as toxic as chemotherapy, if you can put it off.”
NPR: Here & Now
Young doctor becomes crusader to keep teens out of tanning beds
The Missouri legislature recently sent a bill to Gov. Jay Nixon that would require tanning facilities to receive parental consent for anyone younger than 17. Research has shown that tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Dermatology resident Dr. Brundha Balaraman shared how she and colleagues campaigned for seven years to get Missouri representatives to consider legislation regulating tanning beds.
[Nixon signed the bill into law on 6/5/14]
New York Times
FDA announces stricter rules on tanning beds
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it would require tanning bed manufacturers to put a black-box warning on the devices, stating that they should not be used by anyone under age 18.
Research has determined that indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, up to 75 percent. The story also mentions a WUSM study that found that operators at 43 percent of Missouri’s tanning facilities claimed there were no risks to indoor tanning.
Related WUSM news release
Tau could be the key to monitoring brain damage from concussions
Diagnosing concussions has become more sophisticated over the years. Currently, professional and amateur team physicians have a diagnostic system that includes cognitive and physical response assessments. Now, researchers think looking at tau proteins in the brain can offer more clues to how the brain responds to a concussion. In 2011, researchers from Milan University and WUSM collaborated on a study correlating high tau levels with “adverse clinical outcomes after severe traumatic brain injury.” The researchers argued that tau measurement promised more easily quantifiable results than tests for speed and fine motor control. However, their technique for measuring tau is not yet practical to use as a diagnostic tool.
Can your house be too clean to be healthy?
Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann explained that children need exposure to germs in order to build their immune systems. Even having pets can strengthen the system. If a house is kept too clean, it could actually impede a child’s ability to fight off diseases.
Discovery / Live Science
Brain-zapping implant could aid injured soldiers
In 2010, neurosurgeons at Washington University were among the first in the United States to use a laser probe on brain tumors thought to be inoperable. The team, led Dr. Ralph G. Dacey Jr., employed a new MRI-guided probe to kill cancer cells deep in a patient’s brain, leaving the surrounding tissue intact.
New optical brain scanner can see your brain ‘blush’ – rivals PET & MRI
In a recent Nature Photonics study, senior author Dr. Joseph Culver found that Diffuse Optical Tomography (DOT) – a brain-scanning technology that tracks brain activity – can successfully image two-thirds of the brain without the bulky magnets or radiation exposure that come with MRI or PET imaging. He compared the process to seeing embarrassment in a rush of blood to the cheeks – though in this case the “cheeks” are parts of the brain doing more work such as focusing on language processing, daydreaming and other functions. Other outlets: phys.org, scicasts, phototonics.com Related WUSM news release
NL Times (The Netherlands)
Sleep deprivation increases Alzheimer’s risk: Radboud Hospital
A recent study in the Netherlands found that chronic sleep deprivation disrupts the natural process of clearing beta-amyloid peptides from the brain and concludes that sleep deprivation increases the risk for Alzheimer’s. The story mentions other research on sleep and Alzheimer’s, including Dr. Sharon Ooms’ study at WUSM, which looks at the role of specific deep sleep on the development of Alzheimer’s.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Front Page)
Young breast cancer survivors get unique benefits from exercise
Exercise is especially important for young breast cancer survivors, who are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive types of tumors and face a greater chance of recurrence. Nearly three years ago, the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program at Siteman Cancer Center began offering a free weekly exercise class to any adult cancer survivor diagnosed at age 45 or younger.
KWMU St. Louis Public Radio
A freezer at Washington University may hold the key to developing new antibiotics
Super bugs — those bacterial diseases that are resistant to antibiotics — are growing, according to a World Health Organization report. This story references a patient of Dr. Eric Dubberke, who struggled with recurrent urinary tract infections. Antibiotics helped for a while but then stopped working. Also mentioned is Dr. Tim Wencewicz’s arsenal of 10,000 strains of frozen bacteria kept in freezers on the Danforth campus. Wencewicz works to develop new antibacterial medicines and routinely sends samples to researchers across the country.
Students use 3-D printer to produce prosthetic arm for $200
Orthopedic hand surgeons Dr. Charles Goldfarb and Dr. Lindley Wall collaborated with biomedical engineering students to build a robotic prosthetic arm using a 3-D printer, which cost about $200. Conventional prosthetics cost roughly $6,000. The IFLScience! site published a story and the social media stats show about 83,000 shares on Facebook and 440 Tweets.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann explains that teenagers are choosing to smoke e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. She warns that the product is being marketed to children, with different flavor options. But there is no research to indicate that e-cigarettes are safe. In reality, the vapor left behind by the cigarettes contains nicotine, which causes cancer.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Researchers urge better scrutiny of infant sleep deaths
A new paper published in the journal Pediatrics calls for a nationwide overhaul of the way sudden unexplained infant deaths are documented and reported by states to the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Death, which keeps a statistical database. The goal is to create a more detailed reporting system nationwide that consistently accounts for different standards or definitions for SIDS and suffocation rulings, said study co-author, Dr. James Kemp.
KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Doctors working on cancer vaccine
Thousands of St. Louisans plan to participate in the Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure to help find a cure for breast cancer. Dr. William Gillanders has received $6.5 million from Komen to develop personalized breast cancer vaccines.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Families of heart transplant patients have a place to stay in St. Louis
Larry Bonds of north St. Louis County received a new heart in 2008 at BJH and since has worked to build organ donor registries and transplant awareness. The Larry D. Bonds Foundation for Life sponsors an apartment for families of organ recipients during their medical treatment. The foundation pays the rent and utilities for the one-bedroom apartment.
Other outlets: KTVI-TV FOX 2
St. Louis Business Journal
Hospitals see spike in ER volumes under ACA
Some hospital emergency rooms around St. Louis are reporting record volumes, and some say the spike is a result of more individuals gaining access to health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).Barnes-Jewish Hospital reported no increase in ER visits.
St. Louis Magazine
St. Louis Magazine’s Excellence in Nursing awards 2014
St. Louis Magazine recognizes nursing excellence each year. This year, the following Barnes-Jewish Hospital and WUSM nurses were recognized: Paul Sevigny, Georgia Stobbs-Cucchi, Patsy Stapleton, Michael Rybak, Donna Prentice, Stacy Smugala, Karen Holtmann, Diane Athmer, Kathleen O’Neal.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Parenting Chat: Curse words and summer crushes
MomDoc Kathleen Berchelmann encouraged parents to not be afraid to approach teachers or coaches to discuss issues their children are having; to have open, conversations with children who have developed summer crushes, and to be firm but not overly dramatic when a young child curses. Berchelmann offered advice in her weekly online chat hosted by Post-Dispatch columnist Aisha Sultan.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Turning used wedding dresses to bereavement gowns for babies
Allison’s Angel Gowns was created by Janet Scheller after the death of her infant daughter, Allison, who died at BJH in December 2012. Among the many things Scheller struggled with was how to dress her daughter for the funeral, until her pastor gave her a bereavement gown. In 2014, Scheller started Allison’s Angel Gowns to help other parents dealing with the loss of a child. The group accepts wedding gowns and is always looking for volunteer seamstresses. Scheller donates the gowns to BJH and SLCH.
Fatty liver disease prevented in mice
Blocking a path that delivers dietary fructose to the liver prevented mice from developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to WUSM investigators. “One leading hypothesis about the origins of metabolic syndrome is that insulin resistance begins to develop in the liver first,” said first author Dr. Brian J. DeBosch. “The thought is if we can prevent the liver from becoming unhealthy to begin with, maybe we can block the entire process from moving forward.”
Cassens third graders introduced to DNA
Researcher Kelsi Rotter and Dr. Kristine Wylie, both from The Genome Institute, showed students at local elementary schools how to extract DNA from a strawberry in celebration of National DNA Day.
Common pregnancy hormone helps reduce MS symptoms in women
A small study, led at WUSM by Dr. Anne Cross, found that women with MS who took the hormone estriol had an almost 50 percent reduction in their relapse rates during the first year on the drug.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital ranked among country’s best
SLCH is ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. SLCH was the only hospital in Missouri to rank in each of the specialties surveyed. Other outlets: KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5, U.S. News & World Report
KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Custom RV helps kids breathe easier
Asthma is the number one reason for visits to the emergency department at SLCH and for missed school days in the city of St. Louis. The Healthy Kids Express mobile health program has a van dedicated to treating kids with asthma. It visits schools identified as at-risk and provides free services to children in need.
Feeling stressed? Illinois residents aren’t alone
A new report ranked states by stress level using data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. Illinois made the list as one of the most stressed-out states in the country. “Stress plays a large role in overall health,” Dr. Brian Froelke said. “It can impact the immune system, among other things.”
St. Louis Rams.com
Third annual softball game a big hit
More than 4,000 fans attended the Coach Jeff Fisher and Friends charity softball game at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. Proceeds from the event benefitted The Jack and J.T. Snow Scientific Research Foundation. The Snow foundation, founded in part in memory of former Rams receiver and broadcaster Jack Snow, teams with WUSM researchers to raise awareness for Wolfram syndrome, a rare form of diabetes.
Largest study combining iMRI and endoscopy shows promise
Surgery is one of the main ways that pituitary tumors are treated. But for patients with more difficult or larger tumors, even with the best efforts, the tumors may grow back. “We know that there is some limit to the best practices of surgery,” Dr. Michael Chicoine, one of the study authors, said.
The study was published in the journal Pituitary.
McNaughton family sets out for new fundraising drive
After successfully undergoing selective dorsal rhizotomy spinal surgery with Dr. T.S. Park to relieve muscle spasticity caused by cerebral palsy, a young boy from the U.K. again is planning to travel to St. Louis for a follow-up procedure with Dr. Matthew Dobbs, pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Dobbs will lengthen the muscles in the child’s heels. The end goal for Jack McNaughton, who currently uses a walker, is to walk unassisted, and ski.