New York Times Magazine
Some of my best friends are germs
This cover story delves into the human microbiome and references WUSM research: Much of what we’re learning about the microbiome’s role in human metabolism has come from studying “gnotobiotic mice” — mice raised in labs like Dr. Jeffrey Gordon’s — to be microbially sterile, or germ-free. Gordon says he looks forward to a day “when people can cultivate this wonderful (microbial) garden that is so influential in our health and well-being” – but that day awaits a lot more science.
Related WUSM news release
First stop on the itch express
In an NIH laboratory, scientists have bred a group of mice immune to itching. You can dab their skin with substances that would send most of us into a scratching frenzy, and they’ll be completely unfazed. For the longest time, scientists regarded itching as a milder cousin of pain. But Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen’s research group buried that idea. In 2009, they found itch-specific neurons in the spines of mice. Other outlets: Popular Science
Related WUSM news release
ABC News (Associated Press)
St. Louis doctor with cerebral palsy offers hope
Dr. Jan Brunstrom founded the cerebral palsy center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Brunstrom has cerebral palsy herself, and her victory over the disease from which she was once told she’d never survive, recover, or thrive, has been an inspiration to her patients, families and colleagues across the country. Other outlets:
US News & World Report, Fox News, NPR San Francisco Chronicle,
USA Today, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Denver Post, Anchorage Daily News, Kansas City Star,Businessweek, Seattle Times, Houston Chronicle,
A fate worse than death for scores of African women
Obstetric fistulas are no longer a problem in the U.S. and other western countries, but an estimated 2 million women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa live with the condition. A woman with a fistula, who is perpetually leaking urine and sometimes feces, is often rejected by her husband and shunned by her village because of her foul smell and inability to bear more children. Dr. Lewis Wall last year opened the Danja Fistula Center in Niger, a 42-bed hospital specializing in fistula repair surgeries with an operating room, outpatient clinic and hostel facilities for about 100 women. Since opening the fistula center, Wall estimates the facility has taken on 50 fistula cases per month. Related WUSM news release
Reflections on the centenary of the Rockefeller Foundation
The influence of the Rockefeller Foundation on the history of science and medicine has been profound. The foundation helped to establish psychiatry as a scientific discipline at major U.S. medical schools, including WUSM.
The Daily Show
Founder of The Mission Continues shares SLCH success story
The Mission Continues program helps returning veterans transition into civilian jobs. Its founder, Eric Greitens, told Daily Show viewers about a returning vet who was hired as a nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Cancer treatment’s brutal side effects may be cut, studies find
Chemotherapy, radiation and the use of radioactive follow-up tests aren’t needed for some cancers, according to two studies that add to a growing debate on ways to lessen side effects and lower patient costs. “The question is, do we treat 100 percent to save 20 percent?” said Siteman’s Dr. Timothy Eberlein, “And so we over treat.” Other outlets: Bloomberg, Arlington Heights (IL) Daily Herald
Alzheimer’s research: biomarkers predict start of mental decline
Researchers have figured out new ways to identify who is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s by showing various biomarkers are reliable predictors of the disease even years before symptoms become evident. “We wanted to see if one marker was better than the other in predicting which of our participants would get cognitive impairment and when they would get it,” said Dr. Catherine Roe. “We found no differences in the accuracy of the biomarkers.” The findings, researchers say, provide more proof that scientists can detect Alzheimer’s well before the onset of memory loss and cognitive decline. Other outlets: KMOX Radio,
Science Daily, Zee News (India), News Medical, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Related WUSM news release
How do you make a painkiller addiction-proof?
OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and other similar drugs are the number-one cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States, including overdoses from illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. As a solution, drug companies are turning to chemistry to alter the composition of drugs, but preliminary numbers show that abusers are replacing their pills with other drugs. In a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from WUSM found that in telephone interviews, the number of drug abusers who said they primarily abused OxyContin fell by 64 percent. At the same time, those same abusers reported higher rates of using other prescription opioid drugs and heroin.
Related WUSM news release
10 commandments for next generation sequencing
As next-generation sequencing has become more widely available, there have been growing pains in the field. Geneticist Dan Koboldt from The Genome Institute offers his 10 commandments for using the technology.
Piecing together the Parkinson’s puzzle
Researchers are making strides in understanding Parkinson’s disease, its causes and treatment. A recent study by WUSM’s Dr. Gerald Dorn has found evidence that damage to cellular power plants called mitochondria may explain why people with Parkinson’s disease have a 50 percent higher risk of dying from heart failure. Related WUSM news release
The big fat truth
Some public health researchers oppose a report by epidemiologist Katherine Flegal that argues people deemed ‘overweight’ by international standards were 6% less likely to die than were those of ‘normal’ weight, among them WUSM’s Dr. Sam Klein. “One study may not necessarily tell you the truth, but a bulk of studies saying the same thing and being consistent, that really is reinforcing,” he says.
Northeast Public Radio / WAMU
Dr. Natalie Spillman explains research that points to an effective way to kill the microorganism that causes malaria.
Other outlets: Inside Higher Education
Waking up to anesthesia: What happens when you go under?
When preparing for surgery, once you’ve become unconscious from anesthesia, the anesthesiologist uses monitors and medications to keep you that way. In rare cases, though, something can go wrong. “It’s a real problem, although it’s quite rare,” says Dr. Alex Evers. “Anesthesia awareness can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Related WUSM news release
Gene test may help guide prostate cancer treatment
A new genetic test to gauge the aggressiveness of prostate cancer may help tens of thousands of men each year decide whether they need to treat their cancer right away or can safely monitor it. “The question is, what’s the magnitude of difference that would change the patient’s mind?” said Dr. Bruce Roth. Other Outlets: BioNews.com (UK)
MS patients choose death risk with potent drug treatment: health
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.
Chicago Tribune (Reuters)
Labs reject dramatic findings on cancer drug in Alzheimer’s mice
U.S. scientists say a dramatic result last year suggesting that a cancer drug already approved by U.S. regulators could quickly clear out Alzheimer’s plaques in mice was too good to be true. Dr. David Holtzman was among a group of scientists who wanted to see if the stunning results could be replicated in their own labs, but they failed to see any effects on Alzheimer’s plaques in three strains of mice that were treated with bexarotene. Other outlets: Daily Mail (UK), NBC, The Scotsman (Scotland),
New Straits Times (Malaysia), Medicine Net, Baltimore Sun,
Winnipeg Free Press, The DANA Foundation
Philadelphia Daily News
Opinion: Prevent more Gosnells by increasing birth-control access
Over a four-year period, researchers at WUSM tracked 9,200 low-income women in the St. Louis area who were given their choice of FDA-approved birth-control methods at no cost. They found that among teens, the birthrate plunged to one-fifth the national average for teens, and abortions dropped to less than half the regional and national rates, demonstrating that broadening access to birth control among low-income women reduces abortion rates. Related WUSM news release
Africa: new rapid diagnostic test for worm infection provides substantial improvement over current standard according to new African field study
A new diagnostic test strip to rapidly detect lymphatic filariasis – also known as elephantiasis – in human blood has significant advantages over the standard card test that has been used for more than a decade to map, monitor and assess the success of the massive global campaign to eliminate the disease. “Like a compass, this new test will help guide global public health officials in their efforts to stop the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Gary J. Weil. The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other outlets: News Medical, Science Codex, Med India
Related WUSM news release
Bee venom destroys HIV and spares surrounding cells
Nanoparticles containing the bee venom toxin melittin can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while at the same time leaving surrounding cells unharmed, scientists from WUSM reported recently in the journal Antiviral Therapy. The finding is a major step toward creating a vaginal gel that can prevent HIV spread. “Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventive measure to stop the initial infection,” said Dr. Joshua Hood. Related WUSM news release
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Front page)
Holliday’s mom goes to bat against cancer
Cardinal’s outfielder Matt Holliday and his mom Kathy are partnering with Siteman this season to stress the importance of colon cancer screening. Kathy Holliday was diagnosed with colon cancer last fall and successfully treated at Siteman. Other outlets: KMOV-TV, Fox 2 KTVI-TV(Kathy Holliday), Fox 2 KTVI-TV (Dr. Steve Hunt), MLB.com, KMOX radio,
FOX Sports Midwest-TV Related WUSM news release
Fox 2 – KTVI-TV
Doctor: Jolie’s double mastectomy disclosure will benefit women
The genetic threat of breast cancer prompted actress Angelina Jolie to take a major step – she had a preventative double mastectomy. WUSM/Siteman surgeons Dr. Julie Margenthaler, Dr. Terry Myckatyn and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum spoke with several local reporters about the effect Jolie’s decision may have on women in similar situations. Other outlets: KMOX radio (Myckatyn with Charlie Brennen), KMOX radio (Margenthaler with Mark Reardon), KMOX radio (news story with Margenthaler) KTRS radio, KSDK-TV, KPLR-TV
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dedicated runner thought he was in perfect health
After being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and being told to go home and get his affairs in order, elite runner Ed Heigl sought a second opinion from WUSM doctors at Siteman Cancer Center. A year later, he continues to run but with a greater purpose – for awareness and in recognition of others who have suffered from the disease. This weekend Heigl will compete in four races at the Senior Olympics.
Cheap magnetic helmet detects some kinds of brain damage
A helmet that sends a magnetic field through the wearer’s head might someday offer a quick way to reveal whether the brain is swelling or bleeding as the result of an injury. But the novel technique is relatively unproven. The pilot study does not have the statistical power to permit generalizations about the technology’s promise, says Dr. David Brody.
St. Louis Beacon
Picture of Health: breast cancer
Siteman’s Dr. Graham Colditz looks at data from the St. Louis Regional Health Commission’s Decade Review of Health Status about the change in breast cancer over the past 10 years. He uses age adjusted rates, which is a way to more equitably compare groups with different age distributions.
Fox 2- KTVI-TV
FOX Files: Heart disease number one killer of women
According to the American Heart Association, 43 million women are affected by heart disease. Dr. Andrew Kates says there are often warning signs to indicate you may be at risk. Those signs include fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion with exercise, and chest pain or pressure.
Alzheimer’s disease: A new hope in scientific study
Through the current DIAN Network Study and Drug Trials headquartered at WUSM, early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease could become a reality. Dr. Randall Bateman explains a possible cause of the disease and who is at risk for early onset.
Nerve stimulation treatment shows change in brain function for people with depression (AUDIO)
Researchers at WUSM have found an alternative way that could treat patients with severe depression. Dr. Charles Conway says a nerve stimulator implanted in the brain could help treat patients with severe depression who don’t respond to standard anti-depressant medication. Conway says little is known about how this stimulation works to relieve depression, but patients who receive stimulation of the vagus nerve, located in the lower-back of the brain, can begin to see positive changes in brain function and brain metabolism within weeks or months.
Other outlets: Ozarks First Related WUSM news release
ASCO: More radiation no good in non-small cell lung cancer
Boosting the dose of radiation therapy in stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) actually compromises outcomes and cuts survival, a randomized trial showed. Overall survival was 56% higher with standard radiation than with a higher dose. Dr. Jeff Bradley says the conventional thinking was that more radiation would more effectively kill the tumor and improve outcomes, as suggested in prior phase II studies. “This phase 3 trial was designed to test this hypothesis,” he says. Other outlets CNN, El Paso News, Healio, Oncology Times
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In the lab: Local doctor has a plan for emergency blood donations
Dr. Philip Spinella of St. Louis Children’s Hospital will meet with federal health officials in Washington to discuss whole blood donations in emergency situations. Spinella served as a physician with the U.S. Army, including a year in Iraq, and now directs a research program at WUSM on blood use and storage in critical care.
Siteman celebrates grand opening
Siteman Cancer Center’s new outpatient facility in South County celebrated its public grand opening May 18. The free event featured health screenings and disease risk assessments; samples of healthy food; and other activities.
St. Louis Public Radio
The ‘Bittersweet Progress’ of the demolition of St. Louis’ Old Jewish Hospital
In the latest construction planned for the medical campus, three of the old Jewish Hospital buildings will be replaced by a new patient tower and an expanded Children’s Hospital. Barnes-Jewish president Rich Liekweg says the change in the hospital’s physical footprint won’t alter its ultimate mission and strengths. “It’s not the physical space that necessarily represents our culture. It’s the people,” he says. “And so the time has come, as it has come often in the last 100 years, to renew this space.”
Discovery pinpoints cause of two types of leukemia, providing insights into new treatment approach
Patients with two forms of leukemia, who currently have no viable treatment options, may benefit from existing drugs developed for different types of cancer, according to a new study. The study’s discovery, published in the New England Journal of Medicine is promising for patients as it will aid in diagnosing these cancers, which are currently difficult for physicians to distinguish from other leukemias. Dr. Stephen T. Oh contributed to this research.
Clinical Endocrinology News
LARC use leads to dramatic drop in teen pregnancies
Long-acting reversible contraceptives reduced teen pregnancy by 56%, compared with national statistics for teens overall, preliminary results from an ongoing analysis demonstrated. Dr. Tess Madden shared the data at a recent meeting of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Related WUSM news release
People on higher incomes are happier with new knees
Dr. Robert Barrack and colleagues investigated if any socioeconomic factors were associated with less successful outcomes of knee replacement surgery. Their study found that lower-income individuals reported higher levels of dissatisfaction and poorer function than those with higher incomes.
St. Louis Jewish Light
Former Jewish Hospital staff say farewell to longtime facility
Housekeepers, carpenters, nurses, physicians and others offer reminiscences about their time at the former Jewish Hospital of St. Louis. Dr. Stephen Lefrak says to those who are sad about the demolition of the old facility: “When push comes to shove, the important thing isn’t buildings, it’s people.”
KPLR – TV
April Simpson: Surviving a brain tumor
During Brain Tumor Awareness Month, cancer survivors April Simpson and Lauren Dwyer share their experience having been diagnosed with and treated for brain tumors.
New treatment could save life of girl with brain tumor
The Neurofibromatosis Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is just one of a handful of institutions looking to an old drug for a new treatment. “About 10 to 15-percent of children with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 will develop a tumor on their eye nerves,” said Dr. Allison King. She is studying whether the drug Everolimus, which has been used to help transplant patients avoid rejecting their organs, will shrink these types of tumors.
Hookah not a safe alternative to cigarettes
Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann, pediatric hospitalist, discusses the growing trend of hookah use and warns of its dangers. Dr. Berchelmann explains that while nicotine concentrations may be lower than in cigarettes, typical hookah use is for a much longer period, thus exposing the user to more toxins in the long run.
KMOX (no link)
Google CEO’s vocal cord paralysis
Larry Page, CEO of Google, revealed that the reason for his prolonged absence from public life was due to vocal cord paralysis. Dr. Randal Paniello talked with KMOX’s Fred Bodimer about the causes of this condition and the latest treatments available.
The Southern Illinoisan
9-year-old girl is arthritis walk honoree
Cheyenne Oldham from Murphysboro thanks her doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for helping get juvenile arthritis into remission, allowing her the opportunity to represent children like her in this year’s walk.
Spokane boy walks for first time in his life
A child with cerebral palsy from Spokane, Washington, traveled to St. Louis for spinal surgery with Dr. T. S. Park, neurosurgeon-in-chief. The surgery, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, corrects spasticity in many children with the condition and improves mobility. In many cases, it helps a child transition from using a wheelchair to using crutches, or from using crutches to walking unassisted. Dr. Park sees children from all over the world, some of those patients were profiled this week in UK publications, including
Barry and District News , Peterborough Telegraph, Glasgow Evening Times, Herald Scotland, and The Courier
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Healthy Kids: As the weather warms, some tips for playground safety
St. Louis Children’s Hospital Answer Line Nurse Courtney Moore writes a column on the proper use of playground equipment. Tips include making sure there’s a soft surface underneath the equipment to absorb falls; and avoiding weathered materials such as aging wood with splinters, rusting metal or exposed bolts and especially on sunny days, check the temperature of slides and dark or metal surfaces.