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 29, 2013
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

Wall Street Journal
Same gene mutations tied to 12 cancers

New results from the Cancer Genome Atlas research project published in the journal Natureidentify a host of genetic mutations that are common among 12 different types of cancer. The discovery reflects the growing understanding that tumors can be defined by their genetic make up rather than their location in the body. The goal, said Genome Institute researcher Li Ding, “is to come up with a common reference gene panel that could be used for diagnosing and designing treatment strategies for patients.” Other outlets: Bloomberg, Bioscience Technology, Missourinet,St. Louis Beacon, FirstPost, Medical News Today, Science Codex, Medical Xpress
Related WUSM news release

NPR – Morning Edition
Should severe premenstrual symptoms be a mental disorder?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is defined by psychiatrists in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-5, as a rare syndrome that prompts disabling emotional and sometimes physical reactions to the hormonal changes that come with a woman’s period. Siteman’s Dr. Sarah Gehlert, who studies health disparities, said that PMDD is a diagnosis that could be used against women. At the very least, Gehlert worries that PMDD could be overdiagnosed, pathologizing healthy women who are experiencing normal hormonal shifts. Other outlets: Bustle, Opposing Views, Medical Daily, This Week Magazine

NBC News
A good night’s sleep scrubs your brain clean, researchers find

Beta amyloid protein – which is associated with Alzheimer’s when it clumps together in the brain to form plaques – was cleared twice as rapidly from the brains of sleeping mice compared with mice that were kept awake. “This is very important because I don’t think people have been thinking of how the sleep-wake cycle might influence a process of neurodegeneration,” said neurologist Dr. David Holtzman. “This work emphasizes how we might want to think about ways our normal habits, even sleep, predispose us to certain problems later in life.” Other outlets: NPR,Forbes, New Scientist, MSN (Canada), Medical News Today

CBS News
How the gut’s “microbiome” affects weight gain

Scientists at WUSM transplanted intestinal bacteria from obese and lean people into mice who had been bred to be germ-free. The mice that received gut bacteria from the obese people gained more weight and experienced unhealthier metabolic changes than mice that received bacteria from the lean subjects, even though both sets ate the same amount of food. Other outlets: Student Science
Related WUSM news release

Poor sleep tied to Alzheimer’s-like brain changes

Plaque buildup in the brain indicative of Alzheimer’s disease has been found in scans of older adults who get a poor night’s sleep, according to a new study. While researchers can’t be sure which came first, the plaque buildup or disrupted sleep, neurologist Dr. Yo-El Ju said, “All of the studies so far are kind of showing the same thing, that there is an association between disrupted sleep and Alzheimer’s pathology, meaning brain changes.” Ju added that everyone can benefit from sleeping better, and it never hurts to make sleep a priority. Other outlets: CBS News

Here and Now (NPR)
St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Nixon halts execution using controversial drug – why the change of plans?
Governor Jay Nixon postponed the execution of an inmate that was set for later this month. That execution was going to be carried out using propofol, a widely used anesthetic that has never been used for lethal injection. Anesthesiologists like to use propofol for surgical procedures because it acts fast and has few side effects. Anesthesiologist Dr. Ellen Lockhart said on a busy day, she’ll use propofol 10 to 12 times. “If the patient’s going to have general anesthesia, I use it every time,” Lockhart said. “Almost every time.” St. Louis Public Radio

ABC News
‘Wind turbine syndrome’ blamed for mysterious symptoms in Cape Cod town

Dozens of people in the small Cape Cod town of Falmouth have filed lawsuits, claiming that three 400-foot-tall wind turbines were responsible for an array of symptoms. Dr. Alec Salt, an otolaryngology specialist at the Cochlear Fluids Research Lab at WUSM said the level of infrasound generated by a wind turbine one mile away could be harmful. Other outlets:Yahoo!News

Associated Press
MRSA: A silent danger lurking in NFL locker rooms

An NFL locker room can be as dangerous to players as the field when cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection are found. This year in Tampa, guard Carl Nicks, kicker Lawrence Tynes and cornerback Johnthan Banks have been diagnosed with MRSA, which is easy to spread in a locker room. “They’re often working out together, in close physical proximity, they often have skin abrasions and wounds, they often share towels, sometimes to wipe off their sweat, and some have a ‘lucky’ towel or jersey that they don’t wash, which may become contaminated with MRSA,” said Dr. Victoria Fraser, who helped the CDC investigate the St. Louis Rams’ outbreak.

St. Louis Beacon
New marker — used with new goggles — let surgeons see cancer in new (infrared) light

Using an infrared light with a newly created biomarker that binds to cancer cells and “lights up” tumors, coupled with special goggles, researchers hope to revolutionize cancer surgeries. The goggles help surgeons to clearly see where cancers begin and end so that they don’t have to rely so heavily on how a tumor feels or looks. Professor of radiology Dr. Samuel Achilefu put a team together to develop the goggles. WUSM surgeons will test the goggles later this month.

New study in NFL concussions

A recent study in Scientific Reports looked at brain images of retired NFL football players and showed unusual activity linked to how many times they had head injuries during their careers. Neurologist Dr. David Brody said 90 percent of people who suffer one concussion can make a complete recovery with no long-lasting effects. “The risk is if you have another concussion too soon after the first one, when the symptoms are still persistent,” he said. “That’s when the effects can become cumulative.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Shutdown is casting a wide net of grief

The government shutdown effects were felt throughout the country, including at WUSM. “There are a lot of grants that were submitted and supposed to be reviewed this month,” said associate dean for research Dr. Jennifer Lodge. “Nobody knows when those grants will end up getting reviewed. It’s a little nerve-racking.”

St. Louis Beacon
ConnectCare patients transition to specialty care at new locations

After ConnectCare closed its specialty-care clinics, citing financial constraints, healthcare providers throughout St. Louis and St. Louis County have been scrambling to come up with places to treat the more than 2,000 patients left without access to care. Barnes-Jewish Hospital will serve some of the patients. “Most of the patients who come to our specialty clinics will require additional lab services, radiology and procedures. Those services could easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreimbursed care,” said Dr. John Lynch, chief medical officer of BJH. “We’re considering these patients eventually uninsured.” Dr. Jim Crane, CEO of the faculty practice plan at WUSM and chairman of the ConnectCare transition committee said “the committee has more work to do in terms of permanent solutions.”

The physiological reasons we love being scared
From film and haunted houses to costumes and lawn decorations, Americans spend countless dollars each year to be scared. Fear is generally perceived as negative and yet we grasp for it in large part due to the physiological jolt it gives us, according to Dr. Randi Mozenter. People like being scared because the response is stimulating and exciting, like riding a giant rollercoaster while, at the same time, knowing it is safe.

KMOX (no link)
Caution about contact lenses
Dr. Mary Migneco emphasized the importance of buying decorative contact lenses under the supervision of a doctor even if you may be wearing them for only a short time for Halloween. “If you’re not properly fit with contact lenses then you could cause some permanent vision loss,” said Migneco.

Database of disease genes shows potential drug therapies

Identical twin brothers Dr. Obi Griffith and Dr. Malachi Griffith at the Genome Institute have created a massive online database that matches thousands of genes linked to cancer and other diseases with drugs that target those genes. The database is geared toward researchers and is publicly available and free to use. “There’s an amazing depth to this resource, which will be invaluable to researchers working to design better treatment options for patients,” said Genome Institute director Dr. Richard K. Wilson. Other outlets:
News-Medical, Health Canal, Medical XPress
Related WUSM news release

Why chronic itching can be so excruciating

WUSM researchers found that in chronic itching, neurons that send itch signals also co-opt pain neurons to intensify the itch sensation. The new discovery may lead to more effective treatments for chronic itching that target activity in neurons involved in both pain and itch. “In normal itching, there’s a fixed pathway that transmits the itch signal,” Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen said. “But with chronic itching, many neurons can be turned into itch neurons, including those that typically transmit pain signals. That helps explain why chronic itching can be so excruciating,” he said. Other outlets:TruthDive, News-Medical MediLexicon, EmaxHealth, Medical News Today
Related WUSM news release

Medscape News (Free registration required)
MicroRNA profiling may provide biomarkers for monitoring MS

Circulating microRNAs could be a readily accessible blood biomarker for diagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS) and monitoring disease activity, new research suggests. “Diagnosing progressive MS can be clinically challenging,” said neurologist Dr. Robert Naismith. “The studies can help us not only select the right treatment for patients [with MS] but also to enroll patients in clinical trials.”

Daily Rx
Eating plants to reduce breast cancer risk

Researchers found that women who adhered to a plant-based diet had a reduced risk of developing breast cancer compared with those who ate relatively few fruits and vegetables. “Greater emphasis on plant-based diets remains a promising avenue for breast cancer prevention,” said Siteman’s Dr. Graham Colditz. “The importance of this diet pattern earlier in life cannot be forgotten, as almost one quarter of breast cancer diagnoses are among women under age 50.”

Medical XPress
Communication factors aid cancer diagnosis disclosure

A study led by OB/GYN Dr. Lindsay Kuroki in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that patient satisfaction is improved when disclosure of a gynecological cancer occurs in a private setting and when that conversation lasts for more than 10 minutes.

Medical XPress
Gene influences success of nicotine replacement therapy in smokers

A gene that controls how quickly smokers process nicotine also predicts whether people who try to kick the habit are likely to respond to nicotine replacement therapy, a new study shows. Researchers at WUSM and colleagues also have found that the gene has very little impact on the success of treatment with the drug buproprion—commercially known as Zyban—an antidepressant that is used to help people stop smoking by reducing their cravings and other withdrawal effects. “Smokers often struggle with cravings and withdrawal when stopping smoking,” said senior investigator Dr. Laura Bierut. “This study gives us insights into who may respond to different types of smoking cessation medications so that we can improve their odds of quitting.”
Related WUSM news release

MedPage Today (Free registration required)
Air space: A lung transplant ‘first’?
Dr. Daniel Kreisel discusses the potential implications of a recent development out of Belgium in which lungs awaiting transplant were preserved 11 hours outside the body. “An ability to store lungs for longer periods of time would undoubtedly grant transplant centers enhanced flexibility,” said Kreisel.

Medical XPress
New clue to aggressive brain tumors

Scientists at WUSM have identified a biological marker that may help predict survival in people with deadly brain tumors. The researchers showed that when the marker is present at higher levels, brain cancers known as glioblastomas are more aggressive. Other outlets:
Bioscience Technology
Related WUSM news release

Medical XPress
Unlikely gene variants work together to raise Alzheimer’s risk

Studying spinal fluid from people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at WUSM have found that a gene variation that had not been considered risky actually can increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease when it occurs in tandem with another gene variant known to elevate risk. According to Dr. Carlos Cruchaga, the study’s senior author, “Now we know that some of these variants, and particularly some combinations of variants, can be strong risk factors for the disease, but most researchers haven’t focused much attention on them. We believe our findings may change that.” Other outlets: Bioscience Technology
Related WUSM news release

Findings: Private NICU rooms may affect preemies’ development

Staying in NICU private rooms can influence development of the language area of preemies’ brains, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers at WUSMfound the children who had stayed in private rooms had poorer language skills and trended toward lower motor scores, even after the researchers tried to account for contributing factors. “This preliminary finding raises questions about the amount of sensory exposure and other characteristics of different NICU room types,” first author Bobbi Pineda said. “More research is needed to examine the best ways to support development in the NICU environment.” Other outlets: Medical XPress, News-Medical
Related WUSM news release

The American Prospect
Popping the pill’s bubble

Obamacare has the potential to end the birth control pill’s dominance over the contraceptive market. Under the Affordable Care Act, all forms of female contraception will be offered without a co-pay to insured women as part of a larger package of preventive-care services. In 2007, researchers at WUSM implemented a pilot program called the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, which showed that most women choose a long-acting contraceptive method, like an IUD or an implant, when price is eliminated.
Related WUSM news release

Medical XPress
Considerable morbidity with disc herniations in NFL players

Disc herniations represent a substantial source of injury in the National Football League, according to a recent study published in the journal Spine. Orthopedic resident Dr. Benjamin L. Gray and colleagues analyzed 275 disc herniations that occurred in the spines of professional football players. ”Disc herniations represent a significant cause of morbidity in the NFL,” the authors wrote. “Although much attention is placed on spinal cord injuries, preventive measures targeting the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine may help to reduce the overall incidence of these debilitating injuries.”

Risk for breast cancer: Key prevention awareness tips for young women

By the end of 2013, more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United Sates. College-age women generally don’t consider themselves at risk, but some key risk factors associated with breast cancer for women in their early 20’s include excessive weight gain, family history, and alcohol consumption. According to research from WUSM, if a young female averages a drink per day, her risk of breast cancer increases by 11 percent.
Related WUSM news release

A Garden Life
The Giving Garden
The Olsen Garden on the roof of SLCH has evolved over the years into an event space for concerts, special visitors from the zoo and other venues and a unique setting for a therapy clinic. As part of the clinic, kids work by grabbing a trowel and digging in the dirt or controlling a hose to improve their coordination. “It’s a place for kids and their families to get away from the clinical setting, to get away from all of these doctors and nurses and these IV poles and the sterile room to get back to nature again,” said SLCH horticulturist Gary Wangler.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Let your kids stay up for the World Series
Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann shared her perspective on letting kids stay up late to watch the World Series. “My parents (let me stay up to watch the World Series), and those are some of my favorite childhood memories,” said Dr. Berchelmann. She notes that the most important rule for kids to follow if they get to stay up late: Don’t be cranky or complain in the morning.

Jewish Light
Rabbis take philanthropic look at World Series
St. Louis area rabbis placed a friendly wager with their colleagues in Boston. Rabbis from the losing team’s city will make a donation to the Children’s Hospital in the winning team’s city.

KHQA-TV (Quincy, IL)
Caden’s Carnival in its 5th year
Caden Frericks died when he was just one week old in the NICU at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a condition that shifts the abdomen into the chest cavity, crowding the heart and lungs. CDH only has a 50% survival rate. Since his death, Caden’s parents have held an annual carnival in their home-town of Quincy, Illinois, to raise awareness about the disease, and to raise funds to support research into the disease by Dr. Brad Warner, director of pediatric surgery. Other outlets: Quincy Herald-Whig.

Free Press (UK)
Chepstow boy has pioneering surgery to walk
A five-year-old boy from the United Kingdom is recovering from spinal surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to correct spasticity caused by cerebral palsy and to improve his ability to walk unassisted. The surgery, called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, is performed by Dr. T.S. Park, who is one of the only physicians in the world to perform this highly specialized procedure.

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Washington University
School of Medicine
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