Micrograph showing fibrocystic breast changes. Photo credit: Wikipedia.org.

A Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher has identified characteristics in benign breast disease associated with future cancer risk in African-American women.

Michele Cote, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology for the School of Medicine and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, recently reviewed data from about 1,400 20- to 84-year-old African-American women who underwent breast biopsies between 1997 and 2000. Researchers identified biopsies that showed benign breast disease, or BBD, and also tracked subsequent breast cancers.

BBD is an established risk factor for breast cancer among Caucasian women, Cote said, but less is known about it in African-American women, who tend to get breast cancer earlier, in more aggressive forms and die more frequently from it.

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POPULATION HEALTH RESEARCH: Culturally tailored smoking cessation for American Indian college students

University of Kansas School of Medicine researchers are promoting smoking cessation among American Indian college students while respecting cultural traditions around tobacco use.

Partially funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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The American Cancer Society has awarded Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher and clinician Jinping Xu, M.D., M.S., a five-year, $1.76 million Research Scholar Grant (RSG-13-164-01-CPPB) to analyze how men with low-risk localized prostate cancer choose to manage their disease.

Dr. Xu, a School of Medicine associate professor of family medicine and public health sciences, and a physician with the Wayne State University Physician Group’s Family Medicine practice in Rochester, Mich., will lead the team on the project “Why Don’t More Men with Low-Risk Prostate Cancer Choose Active Surveillance?”

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Women undergoing radiotherapy for locally advanced esophageal cancer are three and a half times more likely to develop treatment-related heart problems than their male counterparts, said researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

“It’s a women’s health issue,” said Andre Konski, M.D., M.B.A., professor and chair of the WSU Department of Radiation Oncology. “In the theme of personalized medicine, we need to personalize not only for diseases, but for the gender of the patients.”

Dr. Konski, a member of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, presented the results of the study, “Dosimetric modeling of cardiac toxicity in patients with esophageal cancer receiving chemoradiotherapy,” at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology forum April 19-21 in Geneva, Switzerland.

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EPIDEMIOLOGY: Identifying risk factors that contribute to substance use disparities among LGBT youth

To reduce the disproportionate burden of substance disorders in sexual minority adolescents, researchers aim to identify at-risk subpopulations and barriers to treatment.

Partially funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) have identified the oncoprotein that allows a common and usually harmless virus to transform healthy cells into a rare but deadly skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and funded in part by the NIH, could improve diagnosis for MCC and may help in understanding how other cancers arise.

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is the first virus in the family of polyomaviruses shown to cause human cancer. Scientists are actively seeking to determine whether six other recently discovered polyomaviruses can also cause cancer. MCV is the second human cancer virus found by the Chang-Moore laboratory, which previously discovered the virus causing Kaposi’s sarcoma—the most common cancer among AIDS patients.

Funding: This work was supported in part by NIH grants CA136363 and CA120726.

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Joseph Wu, MD, PhD

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine describe a “clinical trial in a dish” using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells to predict whether a drug will dangerously affect the heart’s function. The technique may be more accurate than the current in vitro drug-safety screening assays used by pharmaceutical companies, say the researchers, and may better protect patients from deadly side effects of common medications.

Read more 

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Dr. Haider, a mechanical and biomedical engineer and professor of orthopedic surgery research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, his laboratory team and a team of UNMC orthopedic surgeons thought hip and knee replacement surgeries could be better.

The problem: A successful joint replacement requires a talented surgeon with a mastery of skills gained through countless hours of experience and repetition. Success also requires a complement of specialized nurses, staff and very costly and cumbersome mechanical implant alignment instruments.

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HEALTH CARE RESEARCH/CBPR: Increasing health care access for vulnerable populations through patient portals

An interdisciplinary research team from Wake Forest University School of Medicine seeks to identify how to make patient portals more accessible to populations who could benefit most from increased access to health care services.

Partially funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Device Prevents Chemo-Related Hair Loss for Breast Cancer Patients

“Cold-cap therapy is empowering,” says Dr. Tessa Cigler, the lead researcher for Weill Cornell’s ongoing DigniCap clinical trial. “It allows women to maintain their self-esteem and sense of well-being, as well as to protect their privacy.”

‪#‎DigniCap‬ is a Swedish device that has been successfully used in Europe since 1999, but is not currently available in the United States. Read more about Weill Cornell Breast Center and the research trial via New York Daily News: http://nydn.us/1n6OJep

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Invention of New Cancer-Seeing Glasses

The defining moment of Sam Achilefu’s career was playing out in a surgery room at Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Siteman Cancer Center on Feb. 10. It was the day he was unveiling the special goggles he developed to detect cancer, but the release was not what he had planned.

Achilefu spent the past five years dedicated to the project, and its success (or failure) was about to be viewed by a surgical room packed full of journalists.

Could he create glasses similar to the military’s night vision goggles but for surgeons?

Read more about Dr. Achilefu’s invention

Funding: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invested $2.8 million in Achilefu’s technology.

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COMPARATIVE EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCH: Promoting physical activity with virtual health advisers among Latino populations.

The use of virtual health advisers may be an effective and cost-efficient way to increase levels of physical activity and promote healthy living among Latino adults.

Stanford University research partially funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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A UW-Madison research team received a five-year, $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to discover drugs from bugs, marine life and other species.

“We’re finding compounds that have never been described before,” said Andes, chief of infectious diseases at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “We’ve only scratched the surface.”


Photo by John Hart (State Journal): Laura Muller, a researcher in the lab of UW-Madison bacteriologist Cameron Currie, views a petri dish containing ants. Currie and other researchers on campus have received a $16 million federal grant to look for potential new antibiotics in bacteria that associate with ants, beetles, bees and other species.

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historyatnih:

He won the Nobel Prize in 1970, discovered the analgesic properties of acetaminophens like Tylenol, and spurred the development of the first anti-depressants.  And Dr. Julius Axelrod used this “National” model 1767 slide rule to simplify his calculations.  Far from being a glorified ruler, this slide rule, produced by Dietzgen Co. 1955-1959, was used by Axelrod to analyze the data from his seminal experiments on neurotransmitter re-uptake.  Before electronic calculators became available in the early 1970s, scientists used slide rules to accurately calculate logarithms, square roots, and trigonometric and exponential functions.

Axelrod enjoyed a long and productive career in neurological research at NIMH.  He worked at the NIH while earning his PhD at George Washington University, studying the tissue distribution and metabolism of caffeine, amphetamines, LSD, and narcotic drugs.  After becoming a principal investigator, he discovered that the physical effects of the pineal gland are due to its production of melatonin.  His most famous breakthrough, the discovery of the regulation of brain chemistry through neurotransmitter re-uptake, won him a Nobel Prize in 1970 and paved the way for the development of modern antidepressant drugs.

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neurosciencestuff:

Neuroscientists Find Brain Activity May Mark the Beginning of Memories

By tracking brain activity when an animal stops to look around its environment, neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins University believe they can mark the birth of a memory.

Using lab rats on a circular track, James Knierim, professor of neuroscience in the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins, and a team of brain scientists, noticed that the rats frequently paused to inspect their environment with head movements as they ran. The scientists found that this behavior activated a place cell in their brain, which helps the animal construct a cognitive map, a pattern of activity in the brain that reflects the animal’s internal representation of its environment.

In a paper recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers state that when the rodents passed that same area of the track seconds later, place cells fired again, a neural acknowledgement that the moment has imprinted itself in the brain’s cognitive map in the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is the brain’s warehouse for long- and short-term processing of episodic memories, such as memories of a specific experience like a trip to Maine or a recent dinner. What no one knew was what happens in the hippocampus the moment an experience imprints itself as a memory.

“This is like seeing the brain form memory traces in real time,” said Knierim, senior author of the research. “Seeing for the first time the brain creating a spatial firing field tied to a specific behavioral experience suggests that the map can be updated rapidly and robustly to lay down a memory of that experience.”

A place cell is a type of neuron within the hippocampus that becomes active when an animal or human enters a particular place in its environment. The activation of the cells help create a spatial framework much like a map, that allows humans and animals to know where they are in any given location. Place cells can also act like neural flags that “mark” an experience on the map, like a pin that you drop on Google maps to mark the location of a restaurant.

“We believe that the spatial coordinates of the map are delivered to the hippocampus by one brain pathway, and the information about the things that populate the map, like the restaurant, are delivered by a separate pathway,” said Knierim. “When you experience a new item in the environment, the hippocampus combines these inputs to create a new spatial marker of that experience.”

In the experiments, researchers placed tiny wires in the brains of the rats to monitor when and where brain activity increased as they moved along the track in search of chocolate rewards. About every seven seconds, the rats stopped moving forward and turned their heads to the perimeter of the room as they investigated the different landmarks, a behavior called “head-scanning.”

“We found that many cells that were previously silent would suddenly start firing during a specific head-scanning event,” said Knierim. “On the very next lap around the track, many of these cells had a brand new place field at that exact same location and this place field remained usually for the rest of the laps. We believe that this new place field marks the site of the head scan and allows the brain to form a memory of what it was that the rat experienced during the head scan.”

Knierim said the formation and stability of place fields and the newly-activated place cells requires further study. The research is primarily intended to understand how memories are formed and retrieved under normal circumstances, but it could be applicable to learning more about people with brain trauma or hippocampal damage due to aging or Alzheimer’s.

“There are strong indications that humans and rats share the same spatial mapping functions of the hippocampus, and that these maps are intimately related to how we organize and store our memories of prior life events,” said Knierim. “Since the hippocampus and surrounding brain areas are the first parts of the brain affected in Alzheimer’s, we think that these studies may lend some insight into the severe memory loss that characterizes the early stages of this disease.”

(Image: Shutterstock)

This research was supported by NIH grants R01 MH094146, R01 NS039456 and P01 NS038310.

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