A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS September 4, 2013
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

Health Day
Drinking before first pregnancy raises risk of breast cancer: Study
A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that drinking even one alcoholic drink a day in the years before a woman’s first pregnancy can increase her risk of breast cancer later in life. The new research is thought to be the first to focus on the effect of alcohol intake during the time frame between the start of menstruation and a first pregnancy. “Breast tissues are particularly susceptible to environmental exposures between [the onset of menstruation] and first pregnancy because they undergo rapid cellular proliferation,” Siteman’s Dr. Ying Liu said. During pregnancy, however, other cellular changes make the breast tissue less susceptible to cancer. Siteman’s Dr.Graham Colditz added that while heavy drinking is occurring on college campuses, more young women need to consider the health risks. Other outlets:Huffington Post, The Guradian (UK), Daily Mail (UK) The Independent (UK) MSN, KMOX radio,St. Louis Public Radio, Cleveland Now, Akron News Now (Akron, OH), The Telegraph (UK),Science Codex, Daily Rx, Medical XPress, Examiner, MedPage Today, Healthline, BioSpace,Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), Nurse.com, Psych Central, Inquistir, News.com (Australia)  Related WUSM news release

Los Angeles Times
Alcohol dependence and bulimia may share common genetic risk factors
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 and for “compensatory behaviors” such as starvation, laxative use and self-induced vomiting in women. Other outlets: Fox News, U.S. News & World Report, HealthDay, Everyday HealthPsych Central, Nature World News, KMOX radio, Medical News Today, Health24,Scicasts, Medical XPress, Red Orbit, MedicineNet, Newsmax Health, Examiner, Nine MSN(Australia) Related WUSM news release

Many young, white women frequently tan indoors
More than one in every four young, white U.S. women uses an indoor tanning facility at least once a year, according to a new study. Previous research has found that tanning before age 35 increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, by up to 75 percent. “We should be at the forefront of educating parents and consumers of tanning beds about the risks associated with ultraviolet radiation,” said WUSM dermatologist Dr. Brundha Balaraman, who advocates for stricter tanning bed regulations. Other outlets: CBS News, MSN News, NewsDaily

U.S. News & World Report
Brain protein is a key to ‘senior moments,’ study finds
Deficiency of a protein called RbAp48 in the hippocampus appears to significantly contribute to the memory loss that creeps up on you as you age.  WUSM neurologist, Dr. Nupur Ghosha, agreed that the study gives researchers a new take on exploring age-related memory loss. “Clinically, we’ve known that normal aging and Alzheimer’s are different, but we didn’t really have the thing to work on for normal aging,” said Ghoshal, who was not involved with the study. “This is really the first evidence of a molecule someone can focus on. Now we have a pathway we can learn a lot more about, and somewhere within that pathway may be a target for intervention.” Other outlets: Health Day, Health24, WebMD

Practice makes perfect, if your genes play along
Author Malcolm Gladwell suggested in his book Outliers, that to become a world-class competitor at anything from chess to tennis to baseball, all that’s required is 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.  Author David Epstein in his new book The Sports Gene, argues that the average number of hours needed for many pros may be about 10,000, but there is wide variation. Epstein explains the reason is genetic and cites a study from WUSM and other institutions that found 5 percent of participants who followed a strict workout regimen boosted their VO2 max levels, an indicator of aerobic capacity, by 40-50 percent, while another 5 percent of the participants had no gain at all.  Other outlets: Bend Bulletin (Bend, OR), The Daily Republic (Mitchell SD)

Huffington Post
Diabetes discovery: Protein pathway points to possible treatment
Scientists have discovered that one of the most diabolical proteins implicated in diabetes, called TXNIP, not only kills insulin-producing cells through one mechanism, but also damages the cells it doesn’t kill through a second, novel mechanism. WUSM endocrinologist Dr. Fumihiko Urano, a diabetes expert, described the research as a major advance in understanding the origin and progression of diabetes. Other outlets: LiveScience

Bloomberg Businessweek
PA girl starts new chapter after lung transplants
After six months in a hospital and two lung transplants, 11-year-old Sarah Murnaghan now will endure physical therapy, weekly hospital check-ups and efforts to wean her from a machine that helps her breathe. The Murnaghans went to federal court to challenge rules that put children like Sarah at the end of the waiting list for adult lungs. A federal judge intervened, forcing the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to add Sarah to the adult list.  WUSM pediatric transplant physician Dr. Stuart Sweet said Sarah’s comparatively long hospital stay and need for a second transplant makes the road more difficult. Her medical team needs to be alert for infections and any sign her body is rejecting the new lungs, along with side effects from various medications, he said. Other outlets: Fox News Latino

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Front Page)
Wash U doctor offers hope for thousands of African women
It is estimated that more than 3 million of the most impoverished women in the world needlessly suffer due to obstetric fistulas – an abnormal opening between the bladder and vagina that develops because their pelvis tissue has been crushed during obstructed labor. Fistulas cause women to lose bladder and sometimes bowel control. These women are ostracized and forced to live a life of isolation and shame. Dr. Lewis Wall founded the Worldwide Fistula Fund nearly 20 years ago, and last year, he opened the Danja Fistula Center, a 42-bed hospital that provides free fistula repair.    “Ending fistulas requires developing the medical infrastructure to the point where every women gets obstetric care, and every emergency is treated in a timely fashion,” Wall said.

St. Louis Public Radio
Returning from war: The science of war’s invisible wounds
WUSM professor of psychiatry Dr. Rumi Price joined a panel discussion about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  With the recognition of PTSD as a psychological condition, large-scale studies of the disorder began, said Price.  “Now we have very well-established evidence-based treatments for PTSD,” she said. “That took three decades (to develop).”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
10-year-old shows no sign of sickle cell after stem cell transplant in St. Louis
After spending three months undergoing and recovering from a risky stem cell transplant, 10-year-old Caitlyn Hill left St. Louis Children’s Hospital without any signs of her sickle cell disease. Caitlyn is only the third person to receive a cord blood transplant to treat sickle cell as part of a nationwide study led by WUSM’s Shalini Shenoy, who is a pioneer in developing the protocol for transplanting grafts from unrelated donors without using massive amounts of damaging chemotherapy and radiation – opening the door to the rapidly evolving field of using transplants to treat non-cancerous diseases like sickle cell.

Pedal the Cause
Pedal the Cause has helped fund Dr. David DeNardo’s research into pancreatic cancer at Siteman Cancer Center.  He and his colleagues worked to determine why pancreatic cancer is so resistant to chemotherapy, an investigation that yielded new therapeutic targets now being tested in a clinical trial. “Pedal the Cause directly funded our collaborative research, which has allowed us to pursue this clinical trial, and to look at the basic science that underlies the rationale for the clinical trial and to make it better.” DeNardo said.  Pedal the Cause is slated for Oct. 5 and 6 in downtown St. Louis.

KMOX Radio
St. Louis researchers test heart failure treatment
Washington University researchers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are testing a new way to treat heart failure patients. The trial “uses a unique drug that is injected directly into the heart cells by using a small screw-in catheter going directly into the heart,” interventional cardiologist Dr. John Lasala explains.  The drug secretes a protein that attracts stem cells, which could potentially work as an internal repair system to fix the damaged tissue and trigger new blood vessel growth.

Siteman Cancer Center breast health
Siteman’s Breast Health Center Manager, Susan Kraenzle, stresses the importance of yearly mammograms after age 40 for most women. Kraenzle says women should talk to their primary care physicians to discuss circumstances when earlier mammograms are appropriate.

Red dye and its link to hyperactive kids
A Washington University pediatric hospitalist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Kathleen 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.

St. Louis Business Journal
Washington University medical school gets $7.8 million grant
A new five-year $7.8 million grant, from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, will fund research on red blood cell transfusions. Researchers led by Dr. Philip Spinella want to determine if the length of time red blood cells are stored affects organ failure in critically ill children receiving the transfusions.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis couple leaves big gift to 2 hospitals
St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Shriner’s Hospital will share a $25 million  bequest from the Hebebrand family, the largest gift in St. Louis Children’s Hospital history. The Hebebrands did not have children of their own and chose to leave their fortune to further pediatric medicine. Janice Bailey, vice president of St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, calls the gift ‘transformational.’ Howard Hebebrand grew up in St. Louis and attended Washington University. He was president and owner of Design Manufacturing & Equipment Co. and also owned Bates Sales Co., a supplier of power transmission equipment. His wife was vice president. Other outlets: Miami Herald, Charlotte Observer

Brain tumor survivor becomes pediatric nurse
St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatric nurse Leah Biskup Coady was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 14 years old.  She fought through aggressive chemotherapy twice – once in her teens and then after relapsing in college. The therapies were successful attacking the cancer in her brain, but they also caused problems with her memory and comprehension. Leah had to work exceptionally hard to keep up in school. She got straight A’s and recently fulfilled her dream to work with children going through cancer treatment. Her neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeff Leonard, believes Leah’s story is “an exercise in the human spirit.”

Supersized babies – a ‘growing’ trend
Dr. Kelly Ross, a Washington University pediatric hospitalist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, discusses the increase of large birth weight babies, which can prove dangerous to baby and mom. Large babies (over 8lbs. 13oz) can be difficult to deliver, placing baby at risk for complications like not receiving enough oxygen in the birth canal.  For mothers who deliver large babies, there is the risk of severe bleeding after delivery.  Ross suggests that women visit their physician before getting pregnant and if weight is an issue, work to lose the excess weight before conceiving.  Ross says healthy weight gain during a normal pregnancy is under 35lbs.

Leukemia patient receives perfect ACT score
Michael Wefelmeyer fought acute lymphoblastic leukemia through four years at Lafayette High School and encountered many severe side effects of his treatment. In spite of it, he was determined to stay in school and get good grades. He not only accomplished this goal, he exceeded it by achieving a perfect score on the ACT. Pediatric nurse practitioner Jennifer Woffard says his perseverance is an inspiration to her and Michael’s fellow patients on the oncology floor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Heat exhaustion sends several to hospital
Summer may have come late to the St. Louis region, but the recent heat wave is a powerful reminder of the toll nature can take on the body. Dr. Mark Levine warns that people can “deceive themselves” about how well their bodies are tolerating the extreme heat. “You just think it`s a really nice day, and then by the time you get overheated it is almost too late,” Dr. Levine said. “By the time you stop sweating, you might think that it’s okay but the rest of your body really is telling you yes, you are very sick.”  Other outlets: KTRS radio (no link)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
His survival was an assignment to help other men with prostate cancer
Prostate cancer survivor Isadore Wayne Sr. says that his own battle inspired him to raise awareness about the disease, especially in the black community. Wayne helped form the Empowerment Network, which urologist Dr. Arnold Bullock says is probably “the largest and most active group… in the country” for reaching out to black men who are at risk for prostate cancer.

Researchers say MRI scans effective in catching early Alzheimer’s
Two methods of early detection for Alzheimer’s are regarded as reliable indicators of the disease. One, a PET scan, requires an injection, and the other is a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. Washington University researchers say they have shown that MRI brain scans could be just as effective and less invasive. “All we’re doing is asking the individual to lie quietly, keep their eyes open and just be, and we can see functional connections within the brain,” WUSM neurologist Dr. Beau Ances said.  The scan tracks the rise and fall of blood flow in different regions as patients rest in the scanner. The resting data can be used to assess connections between regions of the brain to look for signs of Alzheimer’s. Related WUSM news release

Life after concussions difficult for former Mizzou running back
Former NFL running back and St. Louis native Curtis Brown recently underwent testing for dementia that may stem from the multiple concussions he sustained throughout his playing career. WUSM’s Dr. David Brody, Brown’s neurologist and the site director for the NFL’s player care program, talked about the implications of injuries like the ones Brown and many other NFL players have suffered. “We really think of the reported concussions like the four that Mr. Brown experienced as potentially the tip of an iceberg,” Brody said. “There might be a lot under the surface that we don’t know about.”

Transplant recipients meet families of donors
Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Mid-America Transplant Services hosted more than 1,000 families of organ donors and recipients at a candlelight ceremony celebrating transplantation. Heart transplant recipient and musician, Gus Thornton, provided the entertainment and had the opportunity to meet his donor family.

KMOX radio
Fake service dogs pose problems for those in need
There’s a new scam among pet owners.  For just a few dollars and without showing any proof of training, you can search online retailers like eBay and buy a patch or ID that denotes your pet as a service dog.  “If there are folks bringing dogs into the community and saying they’re highly-trained dogs and they misbehave or are inappropriate, it could potentially give a bad name to service dogs that are highly-trained, ” says WUSM OT Kerri Morgan, who has a service dog.

Girl sews, donates pillows to hospital
Inspired by a story about an American Girl doll, Emma Page, a fifth grader from Des Peres, decided to make and donate 15 pillow cases to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Rams player befriends cystic fibrosis patient
Corey Goldwasser, a teenager from North Carolina who traveled to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for a lung transplant, has been regularly visited by Rams safety Matt Daniels. Daniels, a graduate of Duke University, met Corey through her mom, Elise, who is Duke’s internship coordinator.

Powerful mechanism helps viruses evade body’s immune response
A new study describes a novel mechanism that a group of so-called “enveloped viruses” uses to disarm the host’s innate immune response. The mechanism the scientists uncovered is based on these viruses activating a class of molecules, known as TAM receptors, which are located on the outside of certain immune cells. WUSM’s Drs. Bimmi Shrestha and Dr. Michael S. Diamond are co-authors of the study.

Herald Tribune    (Sarasota, FL)
The elusive ‘workout pill’
Scientists at WUSM tried to replicate earlier work showing that large doses of resveratrol, the chemical found abundantly in red wine, increase the creation of new mitochondria in isolated muscle cells, mimicking aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, the very high doses of resveratrol needed to create mitochondria, have a “toxic effect,” said Dr. John O. Holloszy.

Aiken Standard (Aiken, SC)
Essential skills for college freshmen
College freshmen should be aware that dorms are a breeding ground for bacteria. Changing sheets, staying up to date on vaccinations and keeping the room clean are great ways to prevent the spread of germs. WUSM pediatrician Dr. Doug Carlson adds that students are more susceptible to chronic illness because of the close living quarters of residence halls. “It’s important to take precautions such as washing your hands and not exposing yourself to others if you are sick.”

Medical XPress
Brain network decay detected in early Alzheimer’s
New WUSM research shows that in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, disruptions in brain networks emerge about the same time as chemical markers of the disease appear in the spinal fluid. “Tracking damage to these brain networks may also help us formulate a more detailed understanding of what happens to the brain before the onset of dementia,” said senior author Dr. Beau Ances. Other outlets:  KMOX Radio Related WUSM news release

Default mode network integrity associated with spinal fluid markers in preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease
Amyloid beta and tau pathologies appear to be associated with default mode network integrity before clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “Resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging has great potential for characterizing pathophysiological changes during the preclinical phase of Alzheimer disease,” wrote Dr. Liang Wang.

Alzheimer’s disease pipeline takes multiple hits
Researchers are putting more effort into developing therapies that could ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, such as a five-year study planned by the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network based at Washington University School of Medicine. The trial will assess several agents in approximately 160 subjects (aged 18-80 years) with gene mutations that virtually guarantee they will develop Alzheimer’s at a young age.

Medical XPress
Receptor may aid spread of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in brain
Scientists at WUSM have found a way that corrupted, disease-causing proteins spread in the brain, potentially contributing to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain-damaging disorders. The research identifies a specific type of receptor and suggests that blocking it may aid treatment of theses illnesses. The finding “suggests that it may one day be possible to unify our understanding and treatment of two or more broad classes of neurodegenerative disease,” neurologist Dr. Marc I. Diamond said.  Related WUSM news release

Daily Rx
Safe, new ways to make a baby
A recent study found that surgically taking sperm from a man’s testicles can be safe and effective for in vitro fertilization procedures. The study, led by Dr. Kenan Omurtag  concluded that extracting sperm from men’s testicles was a “…safe and effective option regardless” of the reason that sperm were not in the man’s semen.

Medical News Today
The search for genetic mutations enhanced by new tool
WUSM is part of a collaboration that recently reported findings in Nature Methods on a new software tool known as DeNovoGear, which uses statistical probabilities to help identify mutations and more accurately pinpoint their source and their possible significance for health. Improvements in the accuracy of mutation identification and validation could have a profound impact on the diagnosis and treatment of mutation-related diseases.  Other outlets:Health Canal, Science CodexMedical XPress, News-Medical

Medical Xpress
Intellectual disability linked to nerve cells that lose their ‘antennae’
A genetic mutation that causes intellectual disability also blocks formation of the neuronal primary cilium, a hair-like structure that protrudes from the bodies of nerve cells according to new WUSM research. “The primary cilium acts as a kind of antenna for nerve cells,” said Dr. Yoshiho Ikeuchi. “It’s covered in receptors that monitor environmental conditions outside the cell and may influence the cell’s functions.” According to Dr. Azad Bonni, learning more about how the mutation sabotages production of the nerve cell cilium eventually will help scientists develop drugs to treat intellectual disability. Other outlets: Phys.org  Related WUSM news release

Lancaster Guardian  (UK)
Twins return home after pioneering surgery in US
Twins with cerebral palsy recently returned to the UK after spending a month in St. Louis to receive spinal surgery with Dr. T.S. Park.  Park specialized a procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy that improves mobility in children with spastic muscles caused by cerebral palsy. Other outlets: Cornish Times.

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Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
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Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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