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 22, 2014
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

 scientists find lung cancer can lie hidden for 20 years
Two papers detailing the evolution of lung cancer reveal how after an initial disease-causing genetic fault – often due to smoking – tumor cells quietly develop numerous new mutations. These mutations make different parts of the same tumor genetically unique. Dr. Ramaswamy Govindan said better understanding of such genetic alterations is key to developing more effective treatments. The research was published in the journal Science.
Other outlets: The Globe and Mail, New York Daily News, Japan Times,
Health24, Times of Malta

U.S. News & World Report
Ovarian cancer DNA detected in vaginal fluid, researchers report
Researchers have found it is possible to detect ovarian cancer gene mutations in vaginal fluid samples, a finding they hope is a step toward an effective screening test for the disease. The new findings lay the groundwork for future research, according to Dr. David Mutch, who wrote an editorial published with the study. 
Currently, there is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer, and symptoms are non-specific.
Other outlets: WebMD, HealthDay, Winnipeg Free Press (Canada),
Philadelphia Inquirer, Medical Xpress

More Magazine
One of these women might save your life
October issue
Dr. Li Ding, and her medical genomics research is featured in this story, which highlights life-extending advances for cancer patients. Using advanced technology they created, Ding and her colleagues found 127 significantly mutated genes in 12 types of cancer, including breast, uterine, ovary and brain. While some are exclusive to one type of cancer, others commonly occur in several different cancers. Therefore, a drug known to stem one kind of cancer-causing mutation has the potential to treat malignancies that occur in
several different parts of the body.

New York Daily News
St. Louis professor says breast cancer prevention should start at age 2
Dr. Graham A. Colditz wrote in a recent blog post for the American Association for Cancer Research that breast cancer prevention efforts should begin at the age of 2. Colditz added that the years between a woman’s first period and when she delivers her first child are when her breast tissue ages the fastest and cells change the quickest. These changes, coupled with an unhealthy diet, little exercise and drinking alcohol, could up the risk for breast cancer.

San Francisco Chronicle
Laws and taxes that curb smoking also reduce drinking
According to recent research from WUSM, state laws designed to curb smoking rates have also resulted in lower beer and hard liquor drinking rates. Wine drinkers weren’t affected by smoking laws. Scientists found that every 1 percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes led to a slightly less than 1 percent decrease in total alcohol consumption per person. The research was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Other outlets: Medical Xpress,
Daily Mail (UK) Wine Spectator  Related WUSM news release

Yahoo! News
Free birth control implants slash teen pregnancy rates
A WUSM study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that teenagers who had access to free birth control and counseling on the most effective options had far fewer pregnancies, births and abortions than their peers. Most teens chose long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs and implants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently endorsed these long-acting forms of birth control as the best contraceptive methods for adolescents and teens. Related WUSM news release

U.S. News & World Report
Allergy to some metal implants linked to rare skin cancer, study says

A rare type of skin cancer has been linked to allergic reactions to metal implants, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Study author Dr. Wayne Yokoyama described the case of a woman who had a metal rod implanted to repair a broken bone and later had a skin rash near the site of the implant. The rod was removed, but the woman developed a rare skin cancer at the rash site. Yokoyama said people who have metal devices implanted near the skin may need to be monitored for this type of reaction. Other outlets: Science Times,
News-Medical, Latinos Health, Science World Report, Bioscience Technology
Related WUSM news release

Yahoo! News
The horror of waking up during surgery
A recent study found that the incidence of awareness under general anesthesia is about 1 in every 19,000. Dr. Alex Evers, who was not involved in the study, said, “The average episode of anesthesia awareness is relatively brief. And it’s not always crystal clear.” The research was published in the journal Anesthesia.

MedPage Today
Ebola: Patient’s family quarantined
In a story on Eric Thomas Duncan, who was being treated in Dallas for Ebola, Dr. Steven Lawrence said, “the risk of an ongoing or uncontained outbreak in the U.S. is highly unlikely within our public health and medical infrastructure.” Lawrence added that infection is unlikely to spread within the hospital where Duncan was treated. Other outlets: Missouri Net, KMOV-TV

The Conversation   UK

Babies’ gut bacteria mostly fixed by time spent in the womb

Researchers at WUSM, publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that even though we are exposed to a wide range of bacterial species from the environment, our gut bacteria don’t change very much later in life. The main criteria that determines the constituent bacteria of the gut are decided by how long a baby remained in the womb.

Epoch Times
Intestinal bacteria may cause weight gain
Research from Dr. Jeffrey Gordon’s lab found that the dominant bacteria in the gut of obese mice are Firmicutes, types of bacteria that have more genes for breaking down the complex starches and fiber. Mice who are thin have more Bacteroidetes in their guts, and these bacteria are not as efficient in breaking down fiber and complex carbohydrates. Transplanting Firmicutes bacteria into the guts of lean mice made them fat. The human study found similar results: heavier people had more Firmicutes in their guts while thin people more Bacteroidetes. When heavy people lost weight by eating a low-fat, low-refined carbohydrate diet, Bacteroidetes colonies grew.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ebola outbreak puts Washington U research on hold
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has forced a number of WU doctors to abandon their research. Dr. Gary Weil is part of a team researching the most efficient way of treating river blindness, and Dr. Mark Manary treats about 250 severely malnourished children per month with a peanut butter-based mixture using local ingredients. With their research in limbo, Weil and Manary are finding alterative ways to help. Weil sent $5,000 worth of PPE to colleagues in Liberia and Manary is working to keep the non-profit Project Peanut Butter operating, since most of the staff are Sierra Leoneans.

KTVI-TV Fox 2 / KPLR-TV News 11
Shrinking budgets slowing Ebola vaccine
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, (NIH), visited WUSM recently to talk to researchers, administrators and entrepreneurs about scientific research and the need to boost and sustain federal funding for it. At an afternoon news conference, all the questions were about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Collins explained that the NIH has been working on an Ebola vaccine since 2001, and they already have done trials in animals and a small number of volunteers. The NIH hopes to start field trials of the vaccine in West Africa in December. Other outlets: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Two children treated for paralysis following EV-68
Dr. Greg Storch explained that while two children are being treated at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for muscle weakness and possible paralysis, it is still too soon to link these symptoms with the mysterious EV-68 infection that has been sending hundreds of children to emergency rooms across the country. While it’s possible there is a link, he reminded parents that these complications are very rare, and that it’s too soon to draw any connections. Other outlets: KTRS, WGEM and the Associated Press.

St. Louis American
Sickle cell no more
Andria Lloyd underwent a bone marrow transplant one year ago to combat sickle cell disease, which had caused severe breathing problems all of her life. One year after the procedure took place at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, she is officially considered ‘cured’ of the disease.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 (Front Page/Sunday)
Max was born a girl but always felt like a boy
A St. Louis fourth grader is among the 1.5 million people in the United States who describe themselves as transgender, with a biological sex that does not match the gender with which the person identifies. The child was born a girl but identifies as a boy. WUSM pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Abby Hollander explained she typically begins working with transgender children as they are about to enter puberty. When Hollander began her training in the early 1990s, she had no transgender patients. Now, she sees about 20 children.
 Other outlet: Pocono Record (PA)

CAT scans of mummies produce amazing pictures
Radiologists from WUSM and curators from the Kemper Art Museum and the St. Louis Art Museum recently examined three mummies in a CT scanner at the Center for Advanced Medicine. The mummies, two owned by Washington University and one owned by the Art Museum, will be studied for months. Preliminary results revealed that one of the mummies, an upper-class woman who lived in the thirteenth century B.C., had something surrounding her head like beads or pebbles. Another mummy, a priest from the third or fourth century B. C., was shorter than his case. Researchers could see a severe fracture in his spine that may have happened during an attempted grave robbery. Video images taken as the mummies were moved from the Art Museum to the School of Medicine and during the scans will be part of a new exhibit at the Art Museum beginning in 2016. Other outlets:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KWMU St. Louis Public Radio, DFW.com (Dallas, TX), Southeast Missourian, Artnet News, Modesto Bee (CA)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch   (Front page/Sunday)
Popular painkillers will be harder for patients to get
New federal rules move products with hydrocodone into a stricter drug class reserved for the most dangerous and addictive substances. The changes mean each prescription must be handwritten by a doctor, not called in or faxed to a pharmacy, and only doctors can write the prescriptions, not nurse practitioners or physician assistants. “This is going to have a big impact on our practice,” said Dr. Robert Swarm. “Every time you prescribe a medication, the doctor has to sign a piece of paper, and the patient has to get to the pharmacist. In a lot of situations, that’s difficult to put together.”
 Other outlet: Detroit News

KMOV-TV/Great Day St. Louis
Siteman Cancer Center: Breast cancer awareness
Dr. Susan Holley explained that a screening mammogram is the most effective way to prevent breast cancer. “Since screening mammography went mainstream in the mid ‘80s, the number of women dying from breast cancer has dropped markedly, by over 30 percent,” she said. Dr. Holley also encouraged women older than 40 to get annual mammograms.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dangerous heart rates in children treated remotely with smartphone device
A recent study found a mobile ECG recorder outfitted for smartphones was able to generate quality readings, and doctors were able to use the information to make changes to treatments remotely. The study involved 30 families with children who were suffering from irregular heartbeats. “What we’ve been able to do with this device is manage patients outside the emergency room,” Dr. Jennifer Silva said. “It’s all transferred to us by email, so it’s very quick. We can instantly see what the rhythm is and what to do next.” Silva presented the findings earlier his year at the annual conference of the Heart Rhythm Society.

KMOV-TV News 4
Cardinals show support for child battling rare brain illness
Pediatric neurosurgeon Matt Smyth explained the rare seizure condition of 4-year-old Charlie Patrick, who underwent surgery to disable the dysfunctional part of his brain. While in the hospital, Charlie received visits from his favorite St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
For laboring women with an epidural, when is it best to push?
Doctors in St. Louis are joining others in three other states to study when it is best for women with epidurals to push in labor — when the cervix has fully dilated, or after waiting for more contractions. When the cervix becomes fully dilated in labor, women have reached the second stage of labor and reflexively feel the urge to push. But women using epidural anesthesia often are so numb, they don’t feel the same urge. Dr. Alison Cahill and Dr. Methodius Tuuli received an $8.7 million federal grant to study whether it’s better to encourage women to push when their cervix is dilated to 10cm, mimicking the natural process, or wait and let the uterus do more work and allow the baby to move down the birth canal naturally.
Other outlet: Health Canal   Related WUSM news release

KWMU/St. Louis Public Radio
African-Americans needed for study of asthma medications
Doctors at WUSM are asking African-Americans with asthma to enroll in a study evaluating different treatments. Previous research suggests some medications may not work as well for blacks as for whites. Dr. Len Bacharier, who’s leading the study, said a drug trial like this one is very much needed because African-Americans bear a disproportionate burden of asthma compared to Caucasians. The study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health. Other outlets: Phys.org
Related WUSM news release

A recent Time magazine article suggested that timeouts were not productive when disciplining children. In her regular STL Moms segment, Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann explained that timeouts are effective when used in the proper situation. She added other forms of discipline like timeins are sometimes better. A “timein” refers to a situation where a parent actively sits down with a child and talks about why the child’s behavior was not appropriate and what behavior is expected.

Medscape    (Subscription required)
Comforting touch has benefits in the neonatal intensive care unit
Joan Smith, PhD, RN, discusses her work developing the M technique, a series of stroking movements done in sequence that have been shown to benefit many patient populations, including newborn infants. The ‘M’ stands for a structured, manual method of touch, not massage.

St. Louis American
Deaconess awards $500,000 to St. Louis Children’s Hospital
The Deaconess Foundation awarded half a million dollars to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for the purchase of kidney dialysis equipment.

STL Sprout & About
Have a spook-tacular Halloween
Dr. Bo Kennedy shares some tips for keeping kids safe when they trick-or-treat, including wearing costumes with reflectors and making sure kids are accompanied by an adult.

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Jessica Church

Washington University
School of Medicine
Media Relations



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