Friday, October 11, 2013

More health news from campuses on the campaign trail

The campuses on on the campaign trail have been rich sources for health stories.  First Health news from campuses on the campaign trail and now all the health stories from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (ACA and shutdown on campus).  I'll begin with this editorial from Boston University, which was the featured story over at Daily Kos.

POV: Opposition to Obamacare Is Maddening
Ignore the critics: here’s what the law really does
By Stephen Davidson
Predictably, this week’s rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) received attention high in volume and intensity. While the administration signs up uninsured Americans flooding the health insurance exchanges, the government is shuttered thanks to a deadlock over opponents’ efforts to repeal the act, or failing that, to starve the implementation process for funds.

As one who has written about health policy for many years, I find the opposition to be nothing less than maddening. Some, like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), are just nasty and cynical. As the New York Times’ Gail Collins points out, he wants to kill the act because it is bound to be popular, and therefore, hard to take away from people later on. Others continue to spew falsehoods about the law. Either they have not taken the time to inform themselves of the facts or they just don’t care what the facts are. It is maddening because the issues are serious, they affect us all, and those guys treat it like a game in which the only prize is a government job for themselves in the national legislature, where, historically at least, the object was to pass legislation.

While the law is hard to master because it is long and has many parts, most of the ideas are pretty simple and have been around for a long time. What follows is an attempt to set the record straight on the assumption that not everyone is taken in by the cacophony from the far-right chorus.
I couldn't agree more.

University of Virginia brings Emily Drake discusses New Postpartum Testing, which bears on a story I reported in Last night's top news from Reuters.  It turns out that that the poor woman who attempted to crash the gates at the White House and Capitol and was shot dead for her trouble was reported to have been suffering from post-partum depression.

Nursing professor Emily Drake's character lends a touch of humor to a serious condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of women after childbirth.
Follow over the jump for more health and health care news.

New York University: Researchers identify traffic cop for meiosis--with implications for fertility and birth defects
October 1, 2013
Researchers at New York University and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have identified the mechanism that plays “traffic cop” in meiosis—the process of cell division required in reproduction. Their findings, which appear in the journal eLife, shed new light on fertility and may lead to greater understanding of the factors that lead to birth defects.

“We have isolated a checkpoint that is necessary for a genome’s viability and for normal development,” said Andreas Hochwagen, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Biology, who co-authored the paper with Hannah Blitzblau, a researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. “Without this restraining mechanism, chromosomes can end up irreversibly broken during meiosis.
Rutgers University: Rutgers Scientists Discover Molecules that Show Promise for New Anti-Flu Medicines
Chemicals block ability of flu virus to replicate in cells; goal is to develop medicines that fight much-feared pandemic influenza outbreaks
By Carl Blesch
Friday, October 4, 2013
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A new way to attack flu viruses is taking shape in laboratories at Rutgers University, where scientists have identified chemical agents that block the virus’s ability to replicate itself in cell culture.

These novel compounds show promise for a new class of antiviral medicines to fight much-feared pandemic influenzas such as the looming “bird flu” threats caused by the H5N1 influenza A virus and the new H7N9 virus responsible for a 2013 outbreak in China.

Timely production of a vaccine is difficult when a pandemic flu strikes.  A viable alternative is to treat with drugs.
Rutgers University: Doctoral Research on Fruit Flies Seeks Answers to Cell Signaling Problems
Friday, October 4, 2013
CAMDEN — In a research lab on the Rutgers–Camden campus, Matt Niepielko reaches for a vial containing about 50 fruit flies and begins to observe them. The tiny species may seem insignificant — or annoying, if they’re floating around your kitchen — but in this room, each fly plays an important role in our understanding of genetics.

Niepielko, a doctoral student in computational and integrative biology at Rutgers–Camden, is using the flies to answer questions about a cell signaling pathway that can cause cancer when something goes wrong.
The EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) is a highly conserved regulator of tissue development across all animals, including humans. In other words, “it catches chemical signals from other cells,” Niepielko says.

“The EGFR is like a baseball glove that will catch the signal, and the signal directs the cell to divide,” he says. “If a cell gets the wrong information, it could become overactive or underactive.”
Boston University: MED Prof Earns Drucker Award
Brian Jack redesigned hospital discharge procedures
By Leslie Friday
The problem first came to Brian Jack’s attention 10 years ago. The School of Medicine professor and chair of family medicine noticed that patients at Boston Medical Center (BMC), like patients at most hospitals, were leaving without a good understanding of how to care for themselves in the short term. Jack started to track the amount of time that nurses and doctors spent with patients before sending them home. The average was five minutes.

“Patients in the hospital are not at the top of their cognitive game,” says Jack, explaining that sick, feverish, or sleep-deprived people are unlikely to comprehend first-time instructions about prescriptions or at-home care procedures.

Jack and his team found that nearly a third of patients experienced a medical setback after going home, and that one in five returned to the hospital within 30 days. That’s when the team started brainstorming solutions and identified 11 areas that must be covered during each discharge—steps like making appointments for follow-up care, identifying and creating a plan for prescriptions, and educating patients about their diagnoses. That list formed the foundation of Project RED (Reengineered Discharge), a practice that has been shown to lower the rate of returns to the hospital in the month after discharge by 30 percent.
University of Cincinnati: Biomarker, Potential Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer Discovered
October 4, 2013
CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati researchers have discovered a biomarker, known as phosphatidylserine (PS), for pancreatic cancer that could be effectively targeted, creating a potential therapy for a condition that has a small survival rate.

These findings, being published in the Oct. 4, 2013, online edition of PLOS ONE, also show that the use of a biotherapy consisting of a lysosomal protein, known as saposin C (SapC), and a phospholipid, known as dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS), can be combined into tiny cavities, or nanovesicles, to target and kill pancreatic cancer cells.

Lysosomes are membrane-enclosed organelles that contain enzymes capable of breaking down all types of biological components; phospholipids are a major components of all cell membranes and form lipid bilayers—or cell membranes.
University of Massachusetts: UMass Amherst Polymer Scientists are Pioneering Wearable Biosensors for Personalized Health Care
October 3, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. – Chances are good that when medical device manufacturers offer a wearable biosensing patch that will allow a nurse to monitor a patient’s blood sugar or insulin level remotely, for example, it was designed and the prototype built by polymer scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by Jim Watkins.

Watkins, who directs the National Science Foundation’s Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) at UMass Amherst, says its research has helped to establish that such devices are feasible, and projects beginning this month at the new Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM) should soon lead to prototypes being developed and tested for commercialization.
“The first generation of these devices is coming out now, but they’re not there yet in terms of size, wearability, efficiency of data transmission and other important factors,” Watkins notes. “They need to be small, a bandage-sized patch rather than a helmet, in order to be useful for a physician monitoring a patient’s blood glucose or oxygen levels remotely. It all comes down to making a very small, light, flexible smart device that is relatively inexpensive to manufacture. We are getting close to that.”
University of Alabama, Birmingham: Study says hormone therapy for menopausal women should be restricted by dose, time
By Tyler Greer
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Hormone therapy should only be used for a short period of time near the time of menopause for women experiencing hot flashes and not as therapy for chronic disease prevention, according to findings released today by the Women’s Health Initiative in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

hese findings are the latest results to emerge from the WHI’s 15-year, multi-million dollar endeavor that is one of the largest prevention studies of its kind in the United States, said Cora E. Lewis, M.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Preventive Medicine, principal investigator for the WHI at UAB and co-author of the research paper.

“Menopausal hormone therapy continues in clinical use, but questions remain regarding its risks and benefits for chronic disease prevention,” Lewis said. “Our data, which is a comprehensive, integrated overview of findings from the two WHI hormone therapy trials with extended post-intervention follow-up, continues to suggest that long-term hormone therapy is not the appropriate treatment. Small doses, used for a finite window, should be the appropriate practice for treatment of menopausal symptoms.”
New York University: NIH awards grant for new NYU step program created to bolster biomedical research training
NYU School of Medicine and NYU Partner to Provide Expanded Career Development Training and Planning for Graduate Students and Postdocs
October 2, 2013
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a five-year grant to Keith J. Micoli, PhD, postdoctoral program director, NYU School of Medicine, Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and Carol Shoshkes Reiss, PhD, professor, Department of Biology and Center for Neural Science at NYU, to enhance the training of biomedical graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for a wide range of careers.

“We believe that creating a comprehensive training infrastructure and a defined career planning and exploration pathway will result in a more efficient, effective, and satisfying training experience,” said Dr. Micoli. “We will transform the nature of scientific training at NYU from a one-size-fits-all approach into a tailored program that can be broadly applicable across institutions nationally.”

The grant, totaling just under $2 million, is among the first given under NIH’s Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards program. It will fund the new NYU Scientific Training Enhancement Program (NYU-STEP), a partnership between NYU School of Medicine and NYU. The program will help prepare approximately 1,100 trainees, including postdoctoral scholars and PhD students, in the sciences for careers that extend beyond university campuses and into the for-profit industry, government, communication, and non-profit corporations.
Rutgers University: As Health Care Professionals Treating HIV/AIDS Dwindle, Rutgers Steps In
Nursing schools receive federal funding to serve urban populations
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
NEWARK, NJ – Rutgers will receive new federal funding to train more nurses to care for those living with HIV/AIDS – numbers which could tax the system once the Affordable Health Care Act kicks in and clinicians who have been at the helm of AIDS care retire.

The five-year, $1.5 million grant – one of five similar grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration – is designed to expand the number of nurse practitioners skilled in working with infected and at-risk populations, with an emphasis on care of minority, inner city and urban populations.  Rutgers joins Duke, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Johns Hopkins in capturing nursing grants; SUNY Downstate earned a grant to educate physician assistants.

“People think HIV is no longer an issue,” says Suzanne Willard, associate dean and clinical associate professor at Rutgers College of Nursing who leads the project. “But HIV is still here and people are continuing to be infected.  The stigma is still there.  So much needs to be done."
And that's it for this week in health and health care news from campuses on the campaign trail.  Stay tuned for another installment next week.

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