A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS October 1, 2013
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

New York Times
Test of Alzheimer’s drug gets large federal grant
With 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s and their ranks projected to surge as baby boomers age, federal health officials consider the disease a major priority. WUSM recently received $1.5 million for a trial of three anti-amyloid drugs in people with rare gene mutations that lead to early-onset Alzheimer’s. The trial, led by WUSM’s Dr. Randall Bateman may receive a total of $6 million over four years. The new funding was one of six Alzheimer’s grants recently awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Other outlets: Science Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal, KOMU-TV (Columbia, MO),Bioscience Technology, Related WUSM news release

Huffington Post
Alzheimer’s disease may be detectable before signs of dementia and memory loss
It may be possible to detect Alzheimer’s in patients before memory loss and dementia are clinically apparent. Most researchers think this preclinical stage – which can last a decade or more before symptoms appear – is the critical phase when the disease might be controlled or stopped. “For new treatments, knowing where individuals are on the path to Alzheimer’s dementia will help us improve the design and assessment of clinical trials,” said WUSM neuro-scientist Dr. Anne Fagan. Other outlets: PsychCentral, News-Medical, Scicasts, Bioscience TechRelated WUSM news release

U.S. News & World Report
The case for skipping meals
In a clinical study, WUSM’s Dr. Luigi Fontana found that after an average of six and a half years on a calorie-restricted diet – about 30 percent fewer calories than normal – people had greatly reduced their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. But the problem with severe low-calorie diets is that most people can’t stand the ongoing deprivations. He is now launching a pilot study of 40 people to see if 500 or 600 calories two to three days a week can mimic the health benefits of a very low-calorie diet. Other outlets: Yahoo! News

‘Extreme’ binge drinking common among teens: study
One in five high school seniors reports binge drinking in the past two weeks, and one in 10 reports “extreme” binge drinking — having 10 or more drinks on one occasion, according to a new study. In the survey, 5.6 percent of the teens said they’d had at least 15 drinks on one or more occasions in the past two weeks. “I’m finding this 15 or more number shocking. I would not have guessed that it’s as high as it is,” said WUSM psychologist Dr. Richard Grucza. Other outlets: New York Daily News

Health Day
Girls who eat peanut butter may face lower breast cancer risk later in life
Eating peanut butter regularly as a preteen and teen girl appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult, new research has found. Researchers followed more than 9,000 females, beginning in 1996 when they were ages 9 to 15 until 2010. Eating peanut butter three days a week reduced the risk of developing benign breast disease by 39 percent, said Siteman’s Dr. Graham Colditz. Benign breast disease is a risk factor for breast cancer. “I think this gives us enormous hope there are strategies we could be following to help prevent breast cancer that we haven’t capitalized on yet,” Colditz added. Other outlets: CBS News, Health, Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, WebMD, Nature World News, Medical News Today, Counsel & Health, Daily Mail (UK), MSN, Daily Meal, Related WUSM news release

Chicago Tribune
Benefit of downtime a real no-brainer
In 2001, researchers at WUSM identified regions of the brain that are active when people are not doing anything in particular. Called “the default mode network” or just “the default network,” these regions were found to be responsible for introspective thought and our ability to imagine past and future events or even alternate realities. Other outlets:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

National Institutes of Health
Gut microbes and diet interact to affect obesity
A team led by WUSM’s Dr. Jeffrey Gordon took gut microbes from four sets of human twins in which one was lean and the other obese. They introduced the microbes of each twin into different groups of mice that had been raised in a previously germ-free environment. Mice populated with microbes from a lean twin stayed slim, whereas those given microbes from an obese twin quickly gained weight. Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Beacon
Children’s Hospital physician heads study on blood transfusions in children
Dr. Philip Spinella served 12 years in the U.S. military, including a year treating traumatic injuries in the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad. During his deployment, Spinella co-authored multiple studies indicating that transfusion of red blood cells stored for a prolonged period may be associated with an increase in complications and mortality. Now he’s received a $7.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study whether the age of transfused red blood affects organ failure in critically ill children who receive transfusions. “It’s like thinking you have a good car because the body is intact. But if the engine does not work, the car is not very functional. The red cells circulate intact, but we have no idea if, when they’re stored for 42 days or close to that, they actually deliver oxygen the way we think they should,” Spinella said. Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Public Radio (NPR affiliate)
Researchers discuss rare diseases
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic condition that causes tumors to grow on the brain and other parts of the body. Dr. David Gutman, director of the Neurofibromatosis Center at WUSM and SLCH, calls it the “most common disorder you’ve never heard of.” He explains the disease and highlights research at WUSM to find effective treatments.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
How I did it: Broken Heart
St. Louisan Daniel Watt explained how his heart was repaired with a new minimally invasive procedure performed by WUSM/BJH physicians Drs. Phillip Cuculich and John Lasala. After evaluating Watt’s heart, the doctors considered him a good candidate for the procedure that helps reduce the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation.

Several new developments happening in the CWE
The new St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children, which steel workers topped off on Wednesday, is just one of several projects under way in the Central West End. The biggest is a 10-year, $1 billion renewal of the BJC/Washington University School of Medicine hospital complex on Kingshighway.

St. Louis Beacon
International health assignments improve skills for caring for the underserved at home
Dr. Arielle Yang, a Washington University Global Health Scholar and third-year internal medicine resident, said she learned the importance of primary care in a month-long rotation in a Guatemalan hospital earlier this year. The lack of medicines and supplies challenged her abilities as a physician and taught her to “think outside the box” when treating patients. As a result of her experience, Yang said she has decided to go into primary care. “It helped me to become really dedicated to providing primary care to the underserved,” she said. “I don’t feel like I can ever ignore the underserved after watching them in a resource poor environment.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Magnets help legs grow
A new procedure to stimulate growth in legs that are misshapen or shortened by injury or disease involves inserting magnets into the tibia or femur bones and activating an external magnetic device over the leg a few times a day. Dr. J. Eric was the first to use the internal device in the St. Louis region and has now performed the surgery on two children.

MO Task Force 1 returns from Colorado
Dr. Stephen Liang from BJH/WUSM’s division of infectious diseases and the emergency medicine department was one of about 80 members of a Missouri task force team that recently returned from helping those affected by the floods in Colorado. He explained how he became interested in emergency medical care at disaster sites. “As a first-year medical student I was behind a fence observing members of MO Task Force 1 and other FEMA members doing search and rescue work during 9/11,” Liang says. “I knew at that point it was something I wanted to do with my emergency care work.”

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Ovarian cancer has been referred to as the “silent killer” because most symptoms are vague – bloating, pelvic pain and changes in bowel movements – and can be attributed to other conditions. Siteman gynecological oncologist Dr. Premal Thaker said it’s important for women to have regular gynecological exams, even after menopause, and to pay attention to subtle changes in their bodies.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Coventry jumps into Missouri health care exchange, adds BJC hospitals
Coventry Health Care Missouri will offer BJC Healthcare’s 13 hospitals to Missouri residents who buy insurance on the federal health care exchange. This article updates a previous Post-Dispatch story that reported BJC would be excluded from policies sold on the health insurance exchange in Missouri.

St. Louis Business Journal
@4240 developers blend historic look with cutting-edge technology (video)
A $73 million redevelopment will transform the Heritage Building, an old phone factory in Midtown, into a 183,000-square-foot space known as @4240 that will house companies in the life sciences, research and technology sectors. WUSM is already on board as an anchor tenant. This project kicks off phase two of the CORTEX district.

Clown docs clown around at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 15 years
The troupe of clowns that entertains children, primarily on the SLCH cancer floor recently celebrated 15 years of making rounds at the hospital. “For just a few moments [the children] can forget about where they are and what’s wrong about everything going on in their bodies and that they’re not with their friends and just have fun,” explained clown doc Dr. Dana Abendschein, a WUSM cardiologist.

Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
Alzheimer’s research at crossroads; treatment strategy debated
Scientists theorize that clumps of brain plaques, known as beta amyloid plaques, crowd the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, killing nerve cells and scuttling memory and thinking. But some scientists now question whether amyloid is the correct target. Still, amyloid believers, such as researchers at WUSM, aren’t ready to give up the fight for a blockbuster, plaque-clearing drug. “By the time symptoms appear, there is already an irreversible loss of nerve cells,” said Dr. John Morris. “By the time you are giving a patient drugs, you are treating a damaged brain.” Other outlets: Cincinnati.com, Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)

Pittsburgh Tribune (Pittsburgh, PA)
Bullskin teen doesn’t let Wolfram syndrome keep her down
Each year, the Jack and J. T. Snow Fund at WUSM supports a research clinic for families and patients affected by Wolfram Syndrome, a rare, severe form of juvenile diabetes that has a complex genetic component and affects many of the body’s organ systems. A 16-year-old girl from the Pittsburgh area who has the disease, has joined forces with her soccer team and the players’ parents and coaches to raise money for the fund. Dr. Fumihiko Urano, whose research involves locating biomarkers that may lead to more effective treatments for patients said, “The fundraising event will help us raise awareness of Wolfram syndrome and juvenile diabetes, and find a cure for the disease.”

Opposing Views
Is intelligence a genetic trait?

The links between genetics and intelligence are complicated. A few genes have been linked to higher IQ, but the effects aren’t always clear. For example, in 2007, researchers from WUSM found that a gene called CHRM2 had a measurable impact on performance IQ — a person’s ability to score high on tests of visual-motor coordination, spatial perception, logical reasoning, and abstract problem solving. Related WUSM news release

Researchers identify gene mutation linked to age-related macular degeneration
An international team of researchers, led by scientists at WUSM’s Genome Institute has identified a gene mutation linked to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 50. The researchers report that a change in the C3 gene, which plays a role in inflammation and in the body’s immune response, also contributes to macular degeneration. ”Finding the variant that had been identified previously helped confirm that we were on the right track,” explained Genome Institute co-director Dr. Elaine Mardis. “And it’s likely this new variant was discovered because of the very large number of patients whose DNA we sequenced.”Related WUSM news release

MedPage Today (free registration required)
Surgery tops muscle training for incontinence

Women with stress urinary incontinence reported better subjective improvement and had higher cure rates at one year when treated initially with surgery instead of pelvic floor-muscle training. Although the study confirmed that short-term results are better with surgery, it did not make a case to disregard the potential benefits of physical therapy, said WUSM PT Theresa Spitznagle. “Not all women are seeking a cure and would prefer not to have surgery as their only option. Strategies to control their incontinence, thereby offering them a better general quality of life, may be all that they are seeking,” she said.

5 stress busters for students
Kathryn Tristan, a WUSM research scientist, shares tips for helping students have a lower-stress semester. They include staying positive, exercising, choosing healthy foods, and staying in the present. Tristin also recommended taking four deep breaths when feeling stressed. “Stressed out, shallow breathing is automatic, and you can take charge and do diaphragmatic or belly breathing to restore a sense of calm,” she said.

A genome-forward approach to tackling drug-resistant cancers
Researchers at WUSM have shown that human breast tumors transplanted into mice are excellent models of metastatic cancer and could be valuable in the search for better treatments. Siteman’s Dr. Matthew Ellis said the research is a step toward precision medicine. Other outlets:Medical News Today, Cure, Medical XPress Related WUSM news release

Science Blog
Michael Jackson drug discovery may aid development of new anesthetics
WUSM’s Dr. Alex Evers and researchers at Imperial College London have identified the site where the widely used anesthetic drug propofol binds to receptors in the brain to sedate patients during surgery. The researchers believe the findings, reported in Nature Chemical Biology, eventually will lead to the development of more effective anesthetics with fewer side effects. “Propofol can lower blood pressure or interfere with breathing,” said Evers. “By understanding precisely what the binding sites look like on the proteins that induce those potential problems, we eventually hope to design and select for drugs that have the benefits we want without dangerous side effects.” Other outlets: Science Codex,
Scicasts, KMOX radio, Red Orbit, HealthCanal, Drug Discovery & Development Related WUSM news release

Newly identified antibodies effectively treat Alzheimer’s-like disease in mice
A recent study conducted in mice led by WUSM Drs. David Holtzman and Marc Diamond suggests that newly identified antibody treatments can prevent the accumulation of tau proteins, a toxic protein in the brain that is believed to underlie the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. “Similar tau pathology is seen in Alzheimer’s disease, implying that this could be an exciting treatment for a large number of patients,” said Holtzman. Other outlets: Daily Express(UK), MediLexicon

Medical XPress
Procedure to open blocked carotid arteries tested
Doctors at WUSM are investigating a minimally invasive procedure to open blocked carotid arteries in patients whose poor health or advanced age makes the traditional open surgery too risky. Called transcarotid stenting with dynamic flow, the procedure may reduce the risk of stroke posed by current methods. “The term ‘transcarotid’ refers to the technique of delivering a stent directly into the carotid artery from a small incision in the neck,” said WUSM vascular surgeon Dr. Jeffery Jim. “It is a shorter and potentially safer route than the traditional minimally invasive method of stenting via the groin.”
Related WUSM news release

Ladue News
St. Louis Children’s Hospital – one child at a time
The Healthy Kids Express mobile health program provides basic medical care for children without access to primary care physicians. Initiated in 1999, Healthy Kids Express is funded by donations and now has three mobile health care units, with each devoted to an area of care: preventative screenings and immunizations; dentistry; and asthma. The vans visit schools in at-risk communities throughout the St. Louis area. “Most of the issues we’re addressing are public health crises for these kids and for the whole community,” said Greta Todd-Morgan, SLCH director of child health advocacy and outreach. “There’s a need for a lot more than just our services, but we’re the first step.”

Daily Post (UK)
Wish campaign – 2013

Parents from the United Kingdom celebrate the success of their child’s spinal surgery performed by Dr. T. S. Park. He is internationally-known for the selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure that he pioneered, which relieves spasticity caused by cerebral palsy and improves mobility.

Digital Journal
Seven-year-old patient announced as Pedal the Cause Ride for a Child
Sierra Miller, a 7-year-old dynamic and fun-loving cancer patient, has been selected as one of the Ride for a Child honorees for this year’s Pedal the Cause bike ride. The event raises money for cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and the Children’s Discovery Institute at SLCH. The Ride for a Child Program enables teams to fundraise and ride in honor of a child who is undergoing treatment for cancer at SLCH. ”Sierra is a very brave little girl and always has been,” said Kris Gannon, a child life specialist at SLCH. “Sierra is always happy to help me with other patients. She’s very social and just a happy and wonderful little girl.” Other outlets: Edwardsville Intelligencer.

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Washington University
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Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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