Friday, October 18, 2013

Another dose of health news from campuses on the campaign trail

The campuses on on the campaign trail continue to be rich sources for health stories.  First Health news from campuses on the campaign trail, then More health news from campuses on the campaign trail, and now all the health-related stories from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2013 Nobel Prizes) show what a cornucopia of health research and outreach these campuses are.

I begin with a story related to the Affordable Care Act from Rutgers University, which I'm posting to celebrate the end of the shutdown over the ACA and the raising of the debt ceiling.

Improving Health Care, Controlling Costs – Rutgers Launches New Initiative
One key factor sets Robert Wood Johnson Partners apart from other attempts at reform – the Accountable Care Organization has the power of a major research university behind it
By Andrea Alexander
Monday, October 7, 2013
During nearly three decades as a primary care physician, Alfred Tallia has identified a daunting list of flaws with the nation’s health care.

Specialists rarely coordinate care for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure – which can lead to repetitive, expensive tests.

In most doctors’ offices, no one is responsible for developing plans with patients to lose weight, exercise and change their diet – or for following up with those patients to help them meet their goals.

But Tallia, chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School – now part of Rutgers – is getting ready to launch a solution he believes will deliver more effective care at a lower cost.
Follow over the jump for the rest of the stories.

Rutgers University: Knocking Out Spinal Cord Injury: Neuroscientist and Professional Boxer Team Up
Rutgers' Wise Young and Army Capt. Boyd Melson fight to bring clinical trials to the United States
By Robin Lally
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
What would one of the world’s leading researchers in spinal cord injury and a professional boxer have in common? Under normal circumstances not much.

But Wise Young, a Rutgers neuroscience professor who is searching for a cure for spinal cord injury, and Boyd Melson, a West Point graduate and Army captain who is dedicating his life and boxing prize money to help make this dream happen, are two men on the same mission.

“Wise is such a believer,” says Melson, who met Young in 2005 with his then girlfriend and “forever soul mate” Christan Zaccagnino who became a quadriplegic at just 10-years-old after a backyard swimming pool diving accident. “I think I can help deliver this message and inspire a lot of different people to get involved in this fight.”
Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech researchers and Blacksburg firm, FitNet, to develop advanced cyber fitness tool
BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 10, 2013 – Virginia Tech networking researchers and local technology entrepreneurs are working on a groundbreaking broadband-enabled health and fitness tool called FitGENI that is unlike anything currently on the market.

FitGENI pairs FitNet’s software, which allows exercisers to attend classes from any device, via a rich, interactive videoconference, with Virginia Tech’s link to the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI). GENI is a federally funded virtual laboratory for high-speed computer networking that will be used to resolve connectivity concerns experienced when FitNet is used over low-bandwidth networks. The goal is to create a virtual exercise experience where participants can reliably get real-time feedback from their instructor and interact with their peers, the same way they might if they had traveled to the class location.

Regular exercise, particularly in group settings with the support of a teacher or coach, has been shown to improve health, increase lifespans, and maintain mobility and quality of life, while reducing the overall cost of healthcare. Despite this knowledge, only a small percentage of the overall population currently participates in these types of programs. FitNet seeks to lower the barriers to participation by providing convenient access to group fitness classes via any consumer device over the Internet, making it possible for people to join a class and receive instruction from any location.
University of Alabama, Birmingham: PARP inhibitors may hold key to better HER2-positive breast cancer treatment
By Beena Thannickal
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Shih-Hsin (Eddy) Yang, M.D., Ph.D., the ROAR Southeast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Radiation Oncology, has received a $450,000 grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to further investigate HER2-positive breast tumor susceptibility to PARP inhibitors.

Eddy_Yang_sHER2-positive breast cancer tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer.

Once a tumor is determined as HER2-positive, women are treated with very specific therapies. However, many women with this form of cancer either fail to respond to these targeted therapies or initially respond but then become resistant to these treatments.

Yang’s research focuses on a highly publicized new class of drug known as PARP (Poly ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitors that interfere with a cancer cell’s ability to repair DNA damage, hastening cell death. PARP inhibitors are in clinical trials to treat breast and ovarian cancers linked with inherited mutations in the BRCA genes, which are particularly prone to DNA damage.
University of Alabama, Birmingham: UAB study could lead to revisiting of non-cardiac surgery stent guidelines
By Tyler Greer
Monday, October 07, 2013

In a finding contrary to current treatment guidelines, patients with drug-eluting coronary stents face no greater risk of heart attack than those with bare-metal stents if they have a non-cardiac surgery, according to a study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Current American College of Cardiology guidelines recommend delaying non-cardiac surgery in patients after coronary stent procedures for one year after implanting a drug-eluting stent (DES) and for six weeks after implanting a bare-metal stent (BMS). Undergoing a second surgery after having a stent implanted has been linked by past studies to the formation of blood clots around a stent, with the potential to block the coronary artery and cause a heart attack.

The delays set down in the current guidelines were meant to reduce that risk. The rationale for why patients should wait a year after DES implant, versus just six weeks with a BMS, is that the risk of heart attack has been greater.

The UAB study showed, however, that major adverse cardiac events were associated with whether a patient had recent, emergency surgery or advanced cardiac disease (e.g., heart failure), not with stent type or timing of surgery. The study focused on patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery within two years of coronary stent placement.
Auburn University: Food safety expert: Athens outbreak underscores importance of safeguarding against Salmonella
October 11, 2013
AUBURN UNIVERSITY – An Alabama Cooperative Extension System food safety specialist says that the recent salmonella outbreak that resulted in dozens of people reporting to the Athens-Limestone Hospital, in Athens, Ala., last weekend complaining of diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and fever is not only a reminder of the insidious nature of the potentially deadly pathogen, but also why people should take proactive steps to protect themselves from exposure.

Food safety specialist Jean Weese, an Auburn University professor of poultry science who heads Alabama Extension’s food safety team, said salmonella is insidious in terms of how readily it can infect food and ultimately people.

One of the common sources of foodborne illness in the United States, salmonella is the name of a group of bacteria found in the intestines of animals. However, when the excreta of the animals get in the soil, bacteria can be carried to almost any food, Weese said.
University of Cincinnati: HEALTH LINE: Avoid Heat When Wearing Pain Patches
CINCINNATI–When used appropriately, prescription pain patches are a safe and effective way of dispensing pain medications transdermally, or through the skin and into the bloodstream.

However, wearing a pain patch and simultaneously exposing the body to heat creates the potential for overdosing, say University of Cincinnati (UC) experts.

"People will lie on a heating pad, or turn on the electric blanket, or sit out in the sun, not even thinking about the pain patch they have on,” says Gerald Kasting, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics  and chair of the division of pharmaceutical sciences at UC’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

By doing this, says Kasting, they are unknowingly cranking up a potentially fatal dose of pain medication.
Virginia Commonwealth University: Study reveals information about the genetic architecture of brain’s grey matter
Findings may one day provide clues to understanding neuropsychiatric disorders
By Sathya Achia Abraham
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
An international research team studying the structure and organization of the brain has found that different genetic factors may affect the thickness of different parts of the cortex of the brain.

The findings of this basic neuroscience study provide clues to better understanding the complex structure of the human brain. Ultimately, knowledge of genetic factors that underlie brain structure may help to identify individuals at risk for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia or dementia.  However, further research is necessary and the road to preventing or treating these conditions based on this work remains a long one.

The team was led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and included scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University, Boston University, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Helsinki in Finland and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.
University of Alabama: UA Leads Study on Emotional Effects of Natural Disasters on Children
Oct 7, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The psychological effects caused by a natural disaster can linger years into a child’s life, long after communities have been rebuilt and emotions have leveled.

The effects, both good and bad, can be shaped by a child’s support system, which can include counselors, teachers and caregivers.

Dr. John Lochman, professor and Saxon Chair of Clinical Psychology at The University of Alabama, is leading a nationwide team that will spend the next five years studying the effects of degree of exposure to the April 27, 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa on 360 children and their families.
New York University: Crystal mysteries spiral deeper, NYU chemists find
October 9, 2013
New York University chemists have discovered crystal growth complexities, which at first glance appeared to confound 50 years of theory and deepened the mystery of how organic crystals form. But, appearances can be deceiving.

Their findings, which appear in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have a range of implications—from the production of pharmaceuticals and new electronic materials to unraveling the pathways for kidney stone formation.

The researchers focused on L-cystine crystals, the chief component of a particularly nefarious kind of kidney stone. The authors hoped to improve their understanding of how these crystals form and grow in order to design therapeutic agents that inhibit stone formation.

While the interest in L-cystine crystals is limited to the biomedical arena, understanding the details of crystal growth, especially the role of defects—or imperfections in crystals—is critical to the advancement of emerging technologies that aim to use organic crystalline materials.
Virginia Commonwealth University: The surgeon as sculptor
By Erin Lucero
Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013
“All right, let’s move.”

The command breaks the silence, and the novice sculptors wheel their chest-high tripods counter-clockwise, circling the model posed on the stand.

The instruction comes from Morgan Yacoe, a 2011 graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts’ nationally ranked sculpture program. Her students — plastic surgery residents from the VCU Medical Center — pause to absorb their new perspective on the model before turning again to their clay.
That's it for last week's stories.  Stay tuned for more installments until after election day.


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