Minneapolis Star Tribune (Associated Press story)
Experimental surgery for unusual form of infertility produces a baby boy for Japanese woman
A 30-year-old infertile woman gave birth after surgeons removed her ovaries and re-implanted tissue they treated in a lab. The experimental technique was only tried in a small group of Japanese women with a specific kind of infertility problem, but scientists hope it also can help women in their early 40s who have trouble getting pregnant because of their age. Experts say the procedure shows promise but more research is needed. OB/GYN Dr. Amber Cooper called the technique “very much an experimental method.” Other outlets: Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! News,NBC News, ABC News, New York Daily News, Rome News Tribune (Rome, Italy) The Globe and Mail (Canada), Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Io9
After melanoma, people head back to the sun: Study
Two to three years after being diagnosed with melanoma, people spent as many days in the sun and were exposed to at least as much UV radiation as their peers without the disease, researchers found. Dermatologist Dr. Brundha Balaraman said she found the results “not entirely surprising” because skin cancer is more common among people who spend lots of time in the sun to begin with. Other outlets: Yahoo!News, MSN, Globe and Mail (Canada), Health24
Malibu school officials battle health fears
A mysterious illness is spreading through Malibu High School. School officials fear that environmental contamination in the area may be the cause, but some fear it may be a cancer cluster, pointing to three teachers that were recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Polls show that Americans are barely aware that the most common causes of cancer include smoking, obesity, and poor diet and that they are far more worried about chemicals and pollution, which cause fewer than 5 percent of cancer cases, according to Siteman’s Dr. Graham Colditz. Other outlets: MSN News
The good news on Alzheimer’s: Better ways to diagnose it. Drug trials offer promise.
Over the past 15 years, researchers have developed a greater understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease works and how it can be diagnosed. No longer must families wait for an autopsy to see the telltale plaques and tangles to confirm the disease. Amyvid scans are now FDA approved to test for Alzheimer’s, but are not available everywhere, cost $3,000 to $4,000 and are not covered by Medicare or other insurers. Still, said Dr. John Morris, “Families want to know.” A few of his patients have paid for the test out of pocket. “They want to put a name on it, to deal with it, even if there isn’t a curative therapy for it,” he said.
Important facts every young woman should know about breast cancer
The October issue of Glamour Magazine lists eight of the most important facts that every young woman should know about breast cancer. One of these facts is the genetic nature of the disease, something that actress Angelina Jolie has brought to public attention with her double mastectomy. Genetics counselor Jennifer Ivanovich said the media attention Jolie received is valuable. “If it gets people to ask more questions about their family history, I’m in favor of that,” she said.
Painkiller misuse numbs NFL pain
The years of head trauma Tom McHale suffered as an NFL offensive guard and tackle may have contributed to his irrational behavior and problems with addiction. According to a recent scientific study conducted by researchers at WUSM found additional examples of undiagnosed concussions and misuse of prescription pain medication, which add to mounting evidence of this connection.
Dementia-hearing loss link warrants routine hearing checks, BHI stresses for National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Researchers at WUSM, Brandeis University and the University of Pennsylvania found that people with poor hearing had less gray matter in the auditory cortex, a region of the brain that is necessary to support speech comprehension, compared with those that have normal hearing. Study authors believe the participants’ hearing loss had a casual role. Researchers hypothesize that when the sensory stimulation is reduced due to hearing loss, corresponding areas of the brain reorganize their activity as a result. As people move through middle age and later years, researchers recommend annual hearing tests. Other outlets: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Daily Express (UK)
Jab to cure Alzheimer’s a step closer
Researchers at WUSM said their experiments in mice could provide a basis for a promising therapy for patients with neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. David Holtzman wrote in the journalNeuron, “We have identified anti-tau antibodies that can decrease tau accumulation and improve cognitive function in a mouse model of a neurodegenerative disease. This could be an exciting treatment for a large number of patients.” Other outlets: MediLexicon
Your secret allergy triggers revealed
Eleven common allergens are listed along with tips on how to avoid them. Limonene, a zesty compound in lime and other citrus fruits, gives many people watery eyes and a burning sensation in the nose, according to Dr. James Wedner. Wedner also warns allergy sufferers about candles, perfume, carpeting, soaps and Christmas trees.
Daily Mail (UK)
Why some dieters are doomed to fail: From a stressed-out immune system to a miswired brain, the reasons why you can’t resist that extra biscuit
Scientists better understand how the body responds to food and believe that, in some cases, some dieters may be hard-wired to find weight loss more difficult. Having the wrong type and amount of bacteria in your stomach could also hamper your dieting success. In a recently published study in the journal Science, WUSM researchers showed that transplanting gut microbes from obese humans into mice led to metabolic changes in the rodents associated with obesity. Related WUSM news release
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tom Archer helps others breathe easier
Double-lung transplant recipient Thomas Archer shared about his experiences before and after his transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He considers himself lucky to live near a hospital nationally recognized for its expertise in lung disease and lung transplants.
Tanning bed use before age 30 increases risk of cancer by 75%
The World Health Organization says people who use tanning beds before age 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent. New mother Mindy White tanned extensively as a young woman and found her fourth melanoma when she was 7 months pregnant. Her physician, Siteman’s Dr. Lynn Cornelius, said indoor tanning is dangerous because “tanning bulbs can be very intense, and they offer a higher amount of UV exposure than natural light.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Healthy Kids: Do kids and guns belong under the same roof?
Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann wrote a column about the impact of gun ownership on families with children. In addition to increasing the incidence of homicide, having a gun in the home also increases the risk of suicide.
Thousands of bikers turn out for Pedal the Cause
Thousands of cyclists participated in the fourth annual Pedal the Cause event to raise money for cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and SLCH. “Because of shrinking federal funding we need events like this to continue our work to find cures,” said Dr. Robert Hayashi, who cycled in the event.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Trials at Washington U. medical school offer hope for Alzheimer’s treatment
A new clinical trial at WUSM holds promise for helping scientists prevent Alzheimer’s in patients who carry a rare genetic mutation that predisposes them to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s. Led by Dr. Randall Bateman, the study includes patients who are at an extremely high risk of developing the disease at an early age because of the mutation.
Related WUSM news release
8 ways to prevent cancer
Siteman’s Dr. Graham Colditz said more than half of all cancers could be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular cancer screenings. He suggests eight simple behaviors to greatly lower cancer risk.
Well-connected hemispheres of Einstein’s brain may have sparked his brilliance
The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study. The research team’s findings show that Einstein had more extensive connections between certain parts of his cerebral hemispheres than younger and older control groups. WUSM’s Tao Sun was part of the research team. Other outlets: Science Codex, Medical News Today
Possible culprits in congenital heart defects identified
Researchers at WUSM and the University of Padua-Dulbecco Telethon Institute in Italy have shown that mitochondria remarkably orchestrate events that determine a cell’s future, at least in the embryonic mouse heart. The new study identifies potential genetic culprits in the origins of some congenital heart defects. Related WUSM news release
MedPage Today (requires free registration)
Parkinson’s ‘freezers’ likely to stumble
Patients with Parkinson’s disease who experience symptoms of “freezing” — being stuck in position while trying to walk — also have significantly impaired balance, reported physical therapist Ryan P. Duncan. “Because freezers may have deficits in postural responses and stability and gait, rehab clinicians might tailor their interventions to these areas to improve balance in patients with freezing problems,” Duncan concluded. Other outlets: AllVoices,Examiner
Abnormal limbic activity in consciousness disorders reportedly associated with the default mode network — the ‘brain at rest’
A group of European investigators has observed an abnormally active area within the limbic region of patients with consciousness disorders that seems tied to the default mode network. Dr. Marcus E. Raichle thinks that the finding raises the possibility that something could be done to change the imbalance in the system. “It might be attackable with deep brain stimulation or transcranial magnetic stimulation,” he added.
St. Louis Business Journal
Wash U receives two major grants for leukemia research
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded two grants totaling $26 million to WUSM for leukemia research at Siteman Cancer Center. The first, a Program Project grant (PPG) is for $14.3 million and calls for scientists to figure out the genetic make up and genetic changes underlying the development and progression of leukemia cells. The second award, Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, is for $11.3 million and is aimed at clinical trials of new therapies that originated in WUSM labs. “There’s important synergy between the two grants,” said Dr. Timothy Ley. “The PPG focuses on basic research to generate ideas, concepts and technologies that can be evaluated in clinical trials via the SPORE grant.” Other outlets: KSDK-TV, St. Louis American, Related WUSM news release
Discovery goes from lab to patient
A team of researchers from University of North Carolina, WUSM, the University of Utah and the BC Cancer Agency designed a test that categorizes breast tumors into one of four main subtypes by looking at the expression of 50 genes and estimates the risk of breast cancer relapse. Researchers say this is a step toward individualized treatment for cancer patients.
Wash U. students write book explaining Obama Care
Dr. Nathan Moore, a resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Elizabeth Askin wrote The Health Care Handbook in 2012 while medical students at WUSM. Moore said he and Askin were hoping to break down the extremely complex issue so it’s more understandable.
Biomedical professor receives 2013 Transformative Research Award from NIH
Dr. Lihong Wang has received a 2013 Transformative Research Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of research is to translate Wang’s technology, called single-cell label-free photoacoustic microscopy into the clinic. By imaging circulating single red blood cells and single circulating tumor cells in people, physicians may be able to detect metastases at an early stage, which may allow for earlier therapeutic interventions and curative surgical treatment.
Learn more before you go under
About once in every 1,000 to 2,000 surgeries, patients may gain some awareness when they should be unconscious. They may hear the doctors talking and remember it afterward. Worse yet, they may feel pain but be unable to move or tell the doctors. “It’s a real problem, although it’s quite rare,” said anesthesiologist Dr. Alex Evers. “Anesthesia awareness can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Wash U research team working to end river blindness in more than 30 countries
WUSM scientists received a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work to create a new diagnostic test for “river blindness,” a parasitic disease that affects some 37 million people in 30 countries. “River blindness remains a devastating illness for millions of people, most of whom live in poverty in Africa and Latin America,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Gary Weil. “We have most of the tools we need to eliminate this disease, but improved diagnostic methods are necessary to help steer the program.” Related WUSM news release
St. Louis Business Journal
What you need to know for flu season
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not operating its flu surveillance nationwide because of the government shutdown. Locally, St. Louis has good virology labs at WUSM and Saint Louis University to detect when flu starts to circulate locally, but the labs can’t provide a picture of what’s happening in the region.
Newsmagazine Network (Chesterfield, MO)
Health capsules: Reducing breast cancer risk
A study from WUSM and Harvard Medical School showed that girls aged 9-15 who regularly ate peanut butter or nuts were significantly less likely than other girls to develop benign breast disease by the time they reached the age of 30. Benign breast disease is known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Stomach cells naturally revert to stem cells
Scientists from WUSM and Utrecht Medical Center in the Netherlands report that a class of specialized cells in the stomach reverts to stem cells more often than they thought. ”The fact that [chief cells are] making this transition more often, even in the absence of noticeable injuries, suggests that it may be easier than we realized to make some types of mature, specialized adult cells revert to stem cells,” said Dr. Jason Mills. Other outlets: ScienceBlog, Health Canal, Related WUSM news release
Stem cell age may explain trial failures
In May 2012, oncologist Dr. Timothy Ley found most mutations in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, made from skin cells, occurred before becoming iPS cells. A few months later, Ley and colleague Dr. Richard Wilson found a similar phenomenon occurs in healthy hematopoietic (blood) stem cells before they take a cancerous turn.
KMOX radio (Associated Press)
Docs protest WashU’s use of cats in med training
A group protested Washington University’s use of sedated cats and ferrets to train medical students how to intubate infants struggling to breathe. Dr. F. Sessions Cole explained that the teaching regimen is a necessary tool. He cited research indicating that pediatric doctors in training only succeed in 20 to 35 percent of their initial attempts to intubate infants, which he said was too low to justify relying only on simulators. “The real-life situation involves anatomy that moves,” Cole said. “I am convinced, and I know (our) institutions are, that the best training for physicians involves a combination of simulators and animals. We feel we have an obligation [to see] that every one of our trainees is confident and competent to do this procedure.” Other outlets: Sacramento Bee (CA)
The Daily Bulletin
St. Louis Children’s patient one of first in Midwest to receive implantable heart pump
Jacque Fair was one of the first pediatric patients to get an adult implantable device, the Heartware, which pumps blood through the body and gives young patients with a failing heart time to await a donor organ. Children with the device can be discharged from the hospital and resume normal activity until a donor heart is available. “This is the forefront for care of children with heart failure resistant to medical management,” explained pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Umar Boston, who implanted Jacque’s device. “We don’t have an ideal device for kids right now, but we’re learning how to adapt this adult device successfully in adolescent-sized children.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ronald McDonald House reopens
The Ronald McDonald House provides services for out-of-town families who travel to St. Louis for medical care, including many being treated at SLCH. The 20-bedroom Ronald McDonald House on West Pine Blvd. re-opened after a $1.5 million renovation. Pediatric social worker Lennell Jackson said the real strength of the house is the bonding that happens among the families.
Little Jack takes first steps toward new life
A four-year-old from the United Kingdom celebrates taking his first unassisted steps after spinal surgery by Dr. T. S. Park. Park developed a procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy that improves mobility in children with spastic muscles caused by cerebral palsy.