Today Show / NBC National News
Unraveling Alzheimer’s mysteries in search of new treatment
No effective therapies exist for Alzheimer’s disease. WUSM’s Dr. John Morris says the new trend in research is to focus on preventing the disease. Morris and his team are studying more than 100 families worldwide with a rare genetic mutation that predisposes them to early onset Alzheimer’s. “Never before have people who don’t have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease been given medication,” to prevent or slow the progression, said Morris.
BBC World Service (audio)
Gut bacteria ‘may be obesity weapon’
While studying the relationship between weight and gut microbes, scientists took intestinal bacteria from lean and obese twins and transplanted them into the guts of mice lacking bacterial colonies of their own. The results? “Mice that received gut communities from the obese twin developed more fat and greater body mass than those mice that received lean sibling microbes,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gordon. Keeping both sets of mice in the same cage kept them both lean if they were fed a low-fat, high-fiber diet. However, a high-fat, low-fiber diet meant the mice still piled on the pounds, Gordon added. Other outlets: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, NPR Science Friday, Scientific American, Associated Press/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MSN Now, The Guardian, NPR, Huffington Post, The Scientist, CBC News(Canada), The Independent (UK), Yahoo News (UK), Voice of America, The Australian (log in required) Science Magazine, Nature News, Salon, Science News, MedPage Today, Baltimore Sun, Charleston Daily Mail (WV), Health 24, Fast Company, Science Recorder, Medical News Today, EMax Health, Medical News Today, Health-Tribune, Nine MSN, The Verge, Yakima Herald (WA), Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MS), Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME), Related WUSM news release
Wall Street Journal
Skin-cancer groups push for more checkups
With current estimates that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, dermatologists and cancer groups are stepping up efforts to screen patients at least annually and teach them to perform their own self-exams as often as monthly. While widespread screening for melanoma in children isn’t necessary, says WUSM chief of dermatology Lynn Cornelius, she tells parents, “know your kids’ moles, and when something is persistent, changing or bleeding, or it is unusual looking and new, bring it to your pediatrician’s attention.”
New York Times
Drinking when young increases breast cancer risk
A prospective study of more than 150,000 women with no history of cancer found that alcohol use before pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for breast abnormalities that raise the risk for cancer. “Limiting alcohol can pay off through reduced breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Graham A. Colditz, co-author of the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. A woman’s breast cancer risk accumulates most rapidly during this period because it’s when breast tissues undergo their most rapid cellular proliferation, says lead researcher WUSM epidemiologist Dr. Ying Liu. Other outlets: Huffington Post, Women’s Health Magazine, Wine Spectator Related WUSM news release
Alzheimer’s patients mentor med students in program
Few medical students receive extensive classroom training about Alzheimer’s disease or have much experience with someone diagnosed with it. A mentoring program pairs medical students with patients to teach the students what everyday life is like for someone with mild Alzheimer’s. The program is helping to improve medical students’ knowledge and familiarity with Alzheimer’s, while heightening sensitivity and empathy towards dementia patients, according to recent research presented at the International Alzheimer’s conference in Boston. Washington University is among medical schools participating.
The link alcoholism and eating disorders share
A new statistical analysis suggests that alcohol dependence and binging and purging behaviors, all believed to be influenced by genetic factors, may actually be influenced by the same genes. WUSM researcher Melissa Munn-Chernoff and colleagues report that genetic risk factors that make people susceptible to alcoholism also appear to influence risk for binge eating in both men and women. Related WUSM news release
Scientists: We’ve found a protein that guards memory
Age-related memory loss has been linked to a single protein, RbAp48, which becomes deficient in our brains as we age. The loss of this protein appears to contribute to memory loss. Replenishing that protein could reduce moments of forgetfulness according to a new study published in Science Translational Medicine. WUSM neurologist Dr. Nupur Ghoshal, who was not involved in the study, said, “This is really the first evidence of a molecule someone can focus in on. Now we have a pathway we can learn a lot more about, and somewhere within that pathway may be a target for intervention.”
FOX 2 Now
Wash U doctor explains how ‘Stop HF’ works
WUSM interventional cardiologist Dr. John Lasala explains a new clinical trial for people in heart failure. “We inject a piece of DNA into the heart tissue – into the muscle,” he said. “The DNA secretes a protein that attracts stem cells to the heart.” The hope is the stem cells will work as an internal repair system, creating blood vessels or new heart muscle cells where they are needed. Lasala says researchers should know if participants benefit in about six months, but more research is needed before the procedure is FDA approved.
Aging really is ‘in your head:’ Scientists answer hotly debated questions about how calorie restriction delays aging process
Dr. Shin-ichiro Imai and his colleagues at WUSM have identified the mechanism by which a specific sirtuin protein called Sirt1 operates in the brain to bring about a significant delay in aging and an increase in longevity. In the new study, published in Cell Metabolism, Imai and his team have shown how Sirt1 prompts neural activity in specific areas of the hypothalamus of the brain, which triggers dramatic physical changes in skeletal muscle and increases in vigor and longevity. “In our studies of mice that express Sirt1 in the brain, we found that the skeletal muscular structures of old mice resemble young muscle tissue,” said Imai. Other outlets: RedOrbit, Medical XPress, News-Medical, Examiner,
Bioscience Technology Related WUSM news release
Diabetic patients at high risk for aortic valve surgery experienced lower all-cause mortality when treated with SAPIEN valve
Cardiologist Dr. Brian Lindman presented a new data analysis at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2013, demonstrating that diabetic patients with aortic stenosis in need of heart valve replacement, but at high surgical risk, experienced a 35 percent lower relative all-cause mortality one year after treatment with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), compared to those treated with surgical aortic valve replacement (AVR).
St. Louis Beacon
Bridging the gap in early autism diagnosis for minority children
Early diagnosis and treatment of autism can help prepare children for the wider world, according to WUSM researcher Dr. Robert Fitzgerald. By studying the medical records of 8-year-olds, he has found disparities in the early diagnosis of autism between minority and nonminority children. “Embedded in that is the suspicion that these minority children are being identified later, or not at all,” Fitzgerald said.
The 6 weight-loss tips that science actually knows work
Forbes lists six points about how the body gains, loses and maintains weight. The first piece of advice is that dieting will help people lose weight more than exercise will. “Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss. If you want to achieve a 300 kcal energy deficit, you can run in the park for three miles or not eat 2 ounces of potato chips,” says WUSM’s Dr. Sam Klein.
How to lighten a heavy purse
Toting heavy handbags has led to more women complaining of neck and shoulder pain, according to doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors from coast to coast. “Many patients don’t realize that their heavy handbags are contributing to their problems,” says WUSM’s Dr. Heidi Prather. A quick way to gauge if you’re carrying too much – hold your bag in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other. “The bag shouldn’t weigh much more than the jug,” says Prather.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A swallowing problem opens the door to a new surgery technique
By passing surgical instruments through a patient’s mouth, WUSM physicians Dr. Faris Murad and Dr. Michael Awad have corrected a problem that prevented a woman from easily swallowing food and liquids. The operation is one of the first of its kind in the region performed through a natural opening in the body rather than an incision. Awad said that the technique approaches the “holy grail” of surgery in that a person can have the surgery and wake up with little or no pain. Other outlets: Health Canal
Related WUSM news release
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
High school athletes get more medical attention at St. Louis sports clinics
Both SLU and WUSM offer walk-in sports injury clinics during after-school and Saturday hours. Washington University sports medicine specialists are booking patient appointments into December, a sign of the demand for more access to care, said WUSM’s Dr. Heidi Prather. The sports injury clinics can help fill the void between expensive emergency rooms and urgent care centers that aren’t equipped to handle complex orthopedic conditions, Prather said. Other outlets:University City Patch
Related WUSM news release
St. Louis American
No sickle cells or pain to zap child’s sparkle
Sickle cell diseases affect millions of people around the world and is most common among African, Indian, Mediterranean, Middle-eastern, Caribbean, and Latin populations. Seven-year-old Gabby Carter recently received a cordblood stem cell transplant at SLCH, and it seems to be working. “Gabby’s testing has come back consistently as having engrafted, which means that the donor cells have settled in and are now making normal donor blood, as opposed to her own,” said WUSM’s Dr. Shalini Senoy, director of pediatric stem cell transplantation program at SLCH.
Other outlets: Radio Iowa
Breast Cancer research at Siteman
Dr. Cynthia Ma and Dr. Ron Bose discuss breast cancer research at Siteman, including targeted therapies for people with Her2 negative disease.
Why younger women could benefit from mammograms after all
Women should get screened for breast cancer in their 40s, a study concludes, because they face a greater risk of death when cancers aren’t found early. Women who were diagnosed with cancer in their 40s and died of the disease were more likely to have never had a mammogram than were older women, according to the study. “There are people who feel that screening doesn’t reduce death rates, that it’s all in treatment,” said WUSM’s Dr. Barbara Monsees. “This study corroborates prior studies that screening mammograms save lives.” Other outlets: Health Day,CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network)
National Institutes of Health
NIH grants expand search for role of microbes in health and disease in adults, infants
The National Institutes of Health will fund a joint project by research teams at WUSM and Stanford University that will examine the microbes in the gut and nose and determine how alteration in certain microorganisms may trigger the development of diseases such as diabetes. The new research is part of the second phase of the Human Microbiome Project.
Origin of a hereditary east Texas bleeding disorder
A severe hereditary bleeding disorder was described in a large family from east Texas in 2001. The affected family members routinely had bruising, nosebleeds, massive blood loss following injury or surgery, and often required blood transfusions. WUSM’s Dr. Thomas Girard suggests that treatment with tissue factor pathway inhibitor-α (TFPI) inhibitors may relieve symptoms of the disorder.
Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)
Turn off the heat
A cooking school in New Mexico offers classes on preparing meals with foods that are not cooked or only minimally warmed and are not refined or processed. But caution may be advised. Sharon Himmelstein, a registered dietitian, cites a study conducted by WUSM researchers who showed that people maintaining a raw foods diet for an average of 3.6 years had lower bone density.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Prevent doctor shortages by preserving graduate medical education
Washington University medical student Landon Oetjen writes about a national campaign called America Deserves Doctors that urges Congress to preserve funding for graduate medical education. Oetjen organized a group of classmates to meet with staffers from the local offices of Missouri’s U.S. Senators, Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill. “At the meeting, we asked for a simple fix to protect access to care and address physician shortages: to preserve, instead of cut, the funding for adequate graduate medical education. They heard our thoughts and agreed it was crucial to the health of our community and region,” Oetjen writes.
Siteman researcher writes about cancer ‘crisis’
The United States is facing a crisis in how to deliver cancer care in the coming decade as baby boomers reach their tumor-prone years and doctors have a tough time keeping up with complex new treatments, according to a national report co-authored by Siteman Cancer Center’s director, Dr. Timothy Eberlein. One of the key recommendations is to make sure cancer patients “derive full benefits from the treatment that is proposed,” he said. That includes looking at the costs, side effects and whether the treatment will make a meaningful impact.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tough ragweed season makes a bad season worse
Local levels of ragweed pollen and mold have been high and steadily climbing since late August. “Those two combined can make life pretty miserable,” said Dr. H. James Wedner, director of the WUSM Asthma and Allergy Center. But effective treatments are available. Wedner suggests starting allergy shots for those severely affected, to help build up the body’s resistance to allergens. Other suggestions to help get some relief: prescription nasal sprays, over-the-counter drugs, staying indoors and exercising only in the evening.
‘Incidental findings’ rare but significant events in pediatric CT scans
The largest study of computed tomographic (CT) scans taken in emergency departments across the country for children with head injuries describes the prevalence of “incidental findings,” ranging from enlarged tonsils to life-threatening cancers — results that were not expected from the injuries. The study categorizes them by urgency. One of the co-authors for the study is WUSM’s Dr. Kimberly Quayle.
Spotting early-onset dementia
The Alzheimer’s Association expects the number of people with dementia to nearly triple over the next four decades. “The aging of the population is a huge issue,” said WUSM neurologist Dr. Jason Hassenstab. “There’s a major push to diagnose dementia well before people have symptoms. Once people start showing symptoms, trying to treat the disease at that point may be too late.”
IMPACT21 taps eighth-, ninth-grade students to design video game for disabled children
An after-school program at St. Louis’ Youth Learning Center will help students from underserved communities develop and utilize entrepreneurship and technology to make a positive social impact in the community by designing a game for children with physical disabilities. The IMPACT21 Social Enterprise Academy is collaborating with Paraquad and WUSM’s Dr. Jack Engsberg.
Whatever happened to the carpal tunnel epidemic?
Dr. Brad Evanoff estimates that 1 to 2 percent of American workers suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. He traces the degree to which carpal tunnel syndrome is considered to be work-related has been influenced by social perceptions as well as medical knowledge
Transplant awareness day with St. Louis Rams
The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center recently hosted Transplant Awareness Day, with a pre-game celebration at Baer Park, across from the Edward Jones Dome. Rams veteran safety Aeneas Williams and the transplant center staff welcomed heart and lung transplant recipients, physicians and guests to celebrate. “The heart, lung and ventricular assist device recipients are living proof of the positive benefits of innovation, transplantation and organ donation,” said Dr. Jeffrey S. Crippin.
Reducing hospitals’ ‘bounce backs’
Studies have shown that hospital readmissions can stem from patients misunderstanding prescription changes during visits. The mobile pharmacy program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital has made it easier for patients to fill their prescriptions before they leave.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Rams fan receives game ball after narrowly escaping death
Rams fan Mike Morton had just arrived at a Rams game when he felt like he had been hit in the chest. His son took him to the first aid area of the Edward Jones Dome and Morton was rushed to the WUSM/BJH Heart and Vascular Center, where doctors unclogged his left anterior descending coronary artery. The artery’s nickname is the “widowmaker.” Time is always a key factor when someone has a heart attack, said WUSM/BJH cardiologist Dr. Richard Bach. “The faster an artery can be opened when a patient is having a heart attack, the lower their likelihood they’re going to die from that,” he said.
Can red dye cause behavioral problems?
Pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann shares insight on recent concerns that food with red dye can cause hyperactive or aggressive behavior. Berchelmann explained that while there is no universal scientific proof that red dye can lead to ADHD, if your child is hyperactive, it’s possible that limiting foods with red dye could improve his behavior.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Sibling’s bone marrow may save sister’s life
Dr. Monica Hulbert explains how advances in bone marrow transplant therapies for sickle cell patients may cure the disease. KTVI shares the story of a little girl with sickle cell disease, who has two siblings who are bone marrow matches. The family faces a difficult decision about whether to subject their child to the transplant, and if they decide to move forward, which sibling should be the donor.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In the lab: Research round-up
This feature lists recent medical research grants awarded to scientists in the area.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Asthma cases spike in St. Louis
SLCH Pediatric nurse practitioner Lila Kertz explains that asthma is exacerbated in the fall due to school starting and “germs, germs and more germs” coming home with kids, which can cause viral infections that trigger asthma. In addition, the weather is changing, and mold and ragweed counts are high. Symptoms include recurrent cough, nighttime awakening coughs, and coughing or shortness of breath during exercise. Asthma can be controlled with medication, but if you think your child might be suffering from asthma, Kertz suggests a visit to your pediatrician.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
Can soda cause aggression in children?
In the United States, we spend $73 billion annually on soda. Pediatrician Dr. Kelly Ross explains research showing a strong association among aggression, negative behavior, ADHD and the amount of soda consumed by children.
KTVI-TV Fox 2
St. Louis Children’s Hospital wins $250,000 grant for cancer research
The Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to Dr. Joshua Rubin, pediatric cancer researcher. The grant will be used to investigate how gender affects tumor biology and tumor response to radiation and chemotherapy. Other outlets: KSDK-TV
Parents make blanket in honor of child’s heart transplant
The parents of an almost 3-year-old in Tulsa have collected more than 150 blankets and hope to have 500 before the end of the year. They will donate the blankets to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of St. Francis in Tulsa, where their child originally was treated, in celebration of the child’s recovery and survival from a rare disease called Turner Syndrome.
St. Louis Business Journal
St. Louis Children’s Hospital will share MHA grant
The Missouri Hospital Association awarded a total of $2 million in grants to hospitals throughout the state of Missouri, including St. Louis Children’s Hospital. At Children’s, funding will support a computer-based gaming program to help train clinical leaders on decision-making skills related to workforce efficiency.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital goes live with new anesthesia tool
BJC has gone live with iMDsoft MetaVision Anesthesia Information Management Systems at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The tool standardizes electronic documentation from pre-op through post-op and recovery. The same tool was rolled out at Barnes-Jewish Hospital last year.
School of Medicine