Thursday, November 21, 2013

Special elections and runoffs change health news sources

At the end of Health news from the University of Cincinnati, I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the material I did use this past weekend."  Here it is, the health research and outreach news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dog origins) on Daily Kos, which featured the research and outreach stories from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, and the city of San Diego.

Two videos from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, begin this report.  First, UAB's Michael Morrisey talks health care premiums, which explains the subsidy structure under the Affordable Care Act.

Next, Safety first at 30,000 feet or at 60 mph shows the training program for the nurses and others who transport patients on UAB's helicopter fleet.

Members of UAB's Critical Care Transport team — ICU nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners and physicians — participate in a drill about safety procedures in the event something goes wrong on a flight.
Follow over the jump for the rest of the health care news from last week.

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Five flu myths debunked
By Bob Shepard
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Scientists and flu researchers with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Southern Research Institute shot down five common but wrong flu myths this week during an influenza seminar sponsored by the UAB Department of Anesthesiology and the Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center.

The presenters, Diana Noah, Ph.D., and James Noah, Ph.D, virologists at SRI and adjunct faculty in the UAB Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, used evidence, common sense and humor to squash five flu myths that never seem to go away.
University of Iowa: A happy patient is well connected to a doctor
UI study finds that patients in regular contact with primary physician are most satisfied with their care
By: Richard C. Lewis
2013.11.15 | 11:06 AM
A new trend in American health care is the patient-centered medical home. The approach revolves around a team of medical and health professionals who, working together, treat an individual, led by a primary-care physician who orchestrates the whole effort. The goal is the team knows everything about the patient, no matter how disparate the symptoms—from the earache last night to the long history of high cholesterol—and works together to treat the individual in a holistic way.

Patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) have gained popularity since the National Committee on Quality Assurance recognized them five years ago. There are more than 1,500 such practices recognized by the nonprofit health quality association.

Yet despite their growing popularity, questions remain about their effectiveness. In a new study, researchers at the University of Iowa evaluated a similar model being tested with military veterans, and conclude that maintaining a direct, regular channel of communication between the patient and the primary doctor is critical to success.
Iowa State University: Iowa State veterinary researcher studies new treatments for spinal injuries in dogs
Posted Nov 13, 2013 12:00 pm
AMES, Iowa – Experimental treatments for spinal cord injuries in dogs conducted at Iowa State University could someday lead to more effective therapies for humans suffering from similar injuries.

Nick Jeffery, professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, said the new treatment methods he’s studying in dogs can offer a more realistic picture of how humans would respond to new treatments than laboratory experiments on rats, a much more widely used method of gathering data on new medical procedures.

The tightly controlled laboratory conditions for rodents bear little resemblance to the clinical reality of human spinal injuries. But pet dogs that spontaneously suffer spinal injuries can offer a much closer match, Jeffery said.

“Lab conditions aren’t always useful for a good understanding of human clinical injuries,” he said. “But some of what we see in dogs is a step closer to how humans may respond to new treatments.”
University of Wisconsin: New look identifies crucial clumping of diabetes-causing proteins
by Chris Barncard
Nov. 11, 2013
People get type 2 diabetes. So do cats. But rats don’t, and neither do dogs.

Subtle differences in the shape of proteins protect some and endanger others.

“All mammals make this same protein called amylin, and it only differs a little bit from species to species,” says Martin Zanni, a UW–Madison chemistry professor. “The mammals that get type 2 diabetes, their amylin proteins aggregate in the pancreas into plaque that kills the cells around them. As a result, you can’t make insulin.”

Without insulin, hungry cells can’t tap sugar in the bloodstream for energy, and high blood sugar levels cause type 2 diabetes and its complications — stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease among them.
University of California, San Diego: Understanding a Protein’s Role in Familial Alzheimer’s Disease
Novel genomic approach reveals gene mutation isn’t simple answer
By Scott LaFee
November 14, 2013
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have used genetic engineering of human induced pluripotent stem cells to specifically and precisely parse the roles of a key mutated protein in causing familial Alzheimer’s disease (AD), discovering that simple loss-of-function does not contribute to the inherited form of the neurodegenerative disorder.

The findings, published online in the journal Cell Reports, could help elucidate the still-mysterious mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and better inform development of effective drugs, said principal investigator Lawrence Goldstein, PhD, professor in the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Neurosciences and director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program.

“In some ways, this is a powerful technical demonstration of the promise of stem cells and genomics research in better understanding and ultimately treating AD,” said Goldstein, who is also director of the new Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego. “We were able to identify and assign precise limits on how a mutation works in familial AD. That’s an important step in advancing the science, in finding drugs and treatments that can slow, maybe reverse, the disease’s devastating effects.”
University of California, San Diego: MIDAS animation.

Single-cell genome sequencing with MIcrowell Displacement Amplification System (MIDAS).
University of California, San Diego: Single-Cell Genome Sequencing Gets Better
By Daniel Kane
November 12, 2013
Researchers led by bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have generated the most complete genome sequences from single E. coli cells and individual neurons from the human brain. The breakthrough comes from a new single-cell genome sequencing technique that confines genome amplification to fluid-filled wells with a volume of just 12 nanoliters.
“Our preliminary data suggest that individual neurons from the same brain have different genetic compositions. This is a relatively new idea, and our approach will enable researchers to look at genomic differences between single cells with much finer detail,” said Kun Zhang, a professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the corresponding author on the paper.

The researchers report that the genome sequences of single cells generated using the new approach exhibited comparatively little “amplification bias,” which has been the most significant technological obstacle facing single-cell genome sequencing in the past decade. This bias refers to the fact that the amplification step is uneven, with different regions of a genome being copied different numbers of times. This imbalance complicates many downstream genomic analyses, including assembly of genomes from scratch and identifying DNA content variations among cells from the same individual.
University of California, San Diego: Un-junking Junk DNA
By Debra Kain
November 12, 2013
A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine shines a new light on molecular tools our cells use to govern regulated gene expression. The study will be published online in advance of print November 10 in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

“We uncovered a novel mechanism that allows proteins that direct pre-mRNA splicing – RNA-binding proteins – to induce a regulatory effect from greater distances than was thought possible,” said first author Michael T. Lovci, a biomedical sciences graduate student working in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the Stem Cell Research Program and Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego.

Researchers from California, Oregon, Singapore and Brazil made this finding while working toward an understanding of the most basic signals that direct cell function.  According to Lovci, the work broadens the scope that future studies on the topic must consider. More importantly, it expands potential targets of rationally designed therapies which could correct molecular defects through antisense RNA oligonucleotides – small pieces of DNA or RNA that can bind to specific RNA targets to either block interactions with RNA-binding proteins and/or initiate degradation of the target RNA.

“This study provides answers for a decade-old question in biology,” explained principal investigator Gene W. Yeo, PhD, assistant professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, member of the Stem Cell Research Program and Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego, as well as with National University of Singapore.  “When the sequence of the human genome just over a decade ago, we learned that less than 3 percent of the entire genome contains information that encodes for proteins. This posed a difficult problem for genome scientists – what is the other 97 percent doing?”
University of California, San Diego: New Therapeutic Target Identified for ALS and Frontotemporal Degeneration
By Debra Kain
November 08, 2013
A team of scientists led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have identified a novel therapeutic approach for the most frequent genetic cause of ALS, a disorder of the regions of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement, and frontotemporal degeneration, the second most frequent dementia.

Published ahead of print in last week’s online edition of the journal PNAS, the study establishes using segments of genetic material called antisense oligonucleotides – ASOs – to block the buildup and selectively degrade the toxic RNA that contributes to the most common form of ALS, without affecting the normal RNA produced from the same gene.

The new approach may also have the potential to treat frontotemporal degeneration or frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a brain disorder characterized by changes in behavior and personality, language and motor skills that also causes degeneration of regions of the brain.
University of Alabama, Birmingham: Bariatric surgery safe for teens, new study finds
By Nicole Wyatt
Friday, November 08, 2013
The largest-ever multicenter, prospective study on the safety of bariatric surgery among adolescents found that population faces few short-term complications after undergoing such a procedure.

The study, recently published online in JAMA Pediatrics, is the first to provide data on this weight-loss option, which has become increasingly used as obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Initial data from the study suggests weight-loss surgery can be offered to adolescents with a reasonable expectation of short-term safety. Seventy-seven percent of study participants showed no post-procedure complications, and an additional 15 percent exhibited only minor complications, such as dehydration. Eight percent of the patients suffered major complications — some requiring reoperation. There were no deaths.
Auburn University: Auburn poultry scientists link enzyme level to green muscle disease
November 6, 2013
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – After more than a decade of research into an increasingly common and costly broiler condition known as green muscle disease, a team of poultry scientists at Auburn University has identified a blood enzyme that could give breeders a noninvasive tool to screen birds for susceptibility to the disease.

Elevated levels of the enzyme, creatine kinase, can signal muscle breakdown and damage. In humans, high levels of the enzyme in the blood can be indicators of heart attack, muscular dystrophy, acute renal failure and other serious muscle conditions. In broilers, they indicate the development of green muscle disease.

Technically called deep pectoral myopathy, green muscle disease is a degenerative condition of broiler chickens’ minor pectoral muscles, or tenders, that causes the muscle tissue to bruise. The discolored tissue is not discovered until processing and deboning, and then it must be trimmed and discarded, costing the U.S. poultry industry an estimated $50 million a year in losses.
Auburn University: Auburn, military researchers working to better treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, post-concussion syndrome
November 11, 2013

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University and military researchers are studying the structures and activity of the brains of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to better understand post-traumatic stress disorder and post-concussion syndrome.

The project brings together the Auburn University MRI Research Center, the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Ft. Rucker, Ala.

Faculty and graduate students in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Psychology are testing 160 soldiers – those diagnosed with PTSD, those diagnosed with PCS and healthy control soldiers. A percentage of the healthy control soldiers have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, but do not have PTSD or PCS.
University of Wisconsin: Impulsivity, rewards and Ritalin: monkey study shows tighter link
by David Tenenbaum
Nov. 13, 2013
Even as the rate of diagnosis has reached 11 percent among American children aged 4 to 17, neuroscientists are still trying to understand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One classic symptom is impulsivity — the tendency to act before thinking.

Scientifically, impulsivity can appear as a choice for a small but immediate reward over a larger one that requires some delay. Choosing between present and future rewards is a fundamental need in schooling, says Luis Populin, associate professor of neuroscience at UW-Madison. “If you say to an impulsive child, ‘Do your homework so you will get a good grade at the end of the quarter,’ that has less appeal than ‘Let's play baseball this afternoon instead of studying chemistry.’”
University of Wisconsin: Lead Exposure Dooms Some Wisconsin Kids to Struggle in School
Madison, Wisconsin - Two studies funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program paint a grim reality for Wisconsin children exposed to lead before age 3.

The more recent, published in the November Annals of Epidemiology, reveals that children who had moderate lead exposure as toddlers scored significantly lower than non-exposed children on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, given to all Wisconsin fourth graders.

It follows another study that showed that Milwaukee children exposed to lead were nearly three times as likely to be suspended from elementary school. Taken together, the studies suggest that disparities in lead exposure account for a significant part of the academic achievement gap.
The Gazette: University of Iowa professor helped draft new cholesterol guidelines
State-of-the-art testing will replace previous guidelines established 10 years ago
November 14, 2013
When new national guidelines on heart health and cholesterol were released this week, University of Iowa professor Jennifer Robinson felt a sense of accomplishment – and a little exhausted.

“We worked so hard,” said Robinson, an expert in epidemiology and cardiology. “It’s nice to have this out there for people to begin using.”

Robinson served as vice chair for the cholesterol guidelines expert panel convened in 2008 to review the previous recommendations, and she told The Gazette this week that said her group conducted a rigorous systematic review in updating the guidelines.

What they came up with moves away from using targets for lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels and instead looks at patient risk levels in advising the use of cholesterol-lower statin drugs. The change could double the number of people on the medication, and it could increase the dosing for some, according to Robinson.
University of Alabama, Birmingham: UAB professor’s textbook still published after quarter of a century
By Marie Sutton
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In January 2014, McGraw-Hill will release the seventh edition of “Medical Ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases,” a textbook by Gregory Pence, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy. This is the 25th year the text is being published, a feat in academic publishing.

The book, which was first published in 1990, includes an in-depth look at famous past medical ethics cases, such as those of Karen Quinlan, Terri Schiavo and Ana Pou. The latest edition contains new chapters on the Affordable Care Act and intersex and transgender persons, as well as enhancements in medicine. The text is used in undergraduate courses, medical and law schools, and graduate programs in public policy and health administration. It has been translated into Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Serbo-Croatian.

Pence follows up on famous cases five, 10 and 20 years later, and it is this in-depth, case approach that has allowed the book to remain relevant, “and because their results so often surprise us,” he said.
That's it for this week's health news from campuses on the campaign trail.  As you can see, changing the sources neither diminished the number of health stories nor lower their quality.

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