Researchers Create Protective Sac for Growing Stem Cells
U.S. News & World Report (HealthDay News) March 27, 2007
THURSDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News)—A “mini stem cell lab” created by U.S. researchers holds promise for use in cell therapy and other biological applications, as well as in the design of certain kinds of electronic devices and new materials. The team at the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine at NORTHWESTERN University in Evanston, Ill., uses one polymer and one small molecule that instantly assemble into a flexible but strong sac that creates a “miniature laboratory” in which human stem cells can be grown. When used in cell therapy, this sac could protect stem cells from the body’s immune system until the stem cells reach their destination. The sac would then biodegrade and release the stem cells to do their work, the researchers said.
The NORTHWESTERN team also said this method can produce thin films with tailored sizes and shapes, and may have applications in the design of electronic devices by self-assembly (such as solar cells), and the design of new materials. “We started with two molecules of interest, dissolved in water, and brought the two solutions together,” research leader Samuel I. Stupp, professor of materials science and engineering, chemistry and medicine, said in a prepared statement.
Electrical Shocks Can Hone Sense of Smell, NU Researchers Say
Chicago Tribune March 27, 2008
The little electrical shocks that Wen Li gives subjects at her NORTHWESTERN University neuroscience lab feel less painful than a bad jolt of static electricity and more like the mild snap of a rubber band on skin. But getting just seven of those shocks trained people in a new study to distinguish between extremely similar odors, offering a new and perhaps potent way of changing a person’s power of perception.
Psychologists have used the basic conditioning technique for decades to alter the behavior of people and animals. But experts said the NORTHWESTERN study went further by actually modifying how the brain processes the sensation of smell. The findings may reveal some of the tools that evolution has given humans and other creatures to adapt quickly to new surroundings and sensations, said Li and one of her co-authors, NORTHWESTERN researcher Jay Gottfried.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
KNSD-TV (San Diego), KUSI-TV (San Diego), WCCO-AM (Minneapolis),KLAS-TV (Las Vegas), WGHP-TV (Greensboro), KWGN-TV (Denver), KLAS- TV (Las Vegas), KNBC-TV (Los Angeles), WWYZ-FM (New Haven) March 27 & 28. Reference to research by Wen Li, post doctoral fellow at the Cognitivie Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, on the sense of smell.
KCBS (San Francisco) March 28.
Jay Gottfried, assistant professor of neurology, discusses his research on the sense of smell.
Telegraph (UK) March 27, 2008
Human nose ‘can smell danger’
Star-Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul) March 27, 2008
Schizophrenia may spring from a smorgasbord
BBC March 27, 2008
Human noses ‘can detect danger’
CBC (Canada) March 27.
Wen Li, post doctoral fellow at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center , discusses her research on the sense of smell.
Bloomberg March 27, 2008
Human Nose Can Sniff Better After Shock Punishment, Study Says
CLTV March 27.
Reference to research by by Wen Li, post doctoral fellow at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, on the sense of smell.
Associated Press March 27, 2008
Emotion Makes Nose a Sharper Smeller
CBS News March 31, 2008
Can Your Nose Sniff Out Danger?
KABC-TV (Los Angeles) March 31.
Reference to research by Wen Li, postdoctoral fellow at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center on the sense of smell.
WGN-TV, WFLD-TV, WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, CLTV, WLS-AM March 27 & 28.
Reference to the University testing the new emergency alert system.
Loveable Losers? It’s All in Your Head
MLB.com March 27, 2008
Throughout the past century, Cubs fans have been described as the best fans on Earth, boozy bleacher bums and sober baseball masochists, cockeyed optimists and eternal pessimists. Aryeh Routtenberg, an expert on the brain, prefers to think of Cubs fans as being like mice. “If you have an animal that touches a ball for food, and it gets fed every time he touches the ball, if the food stops, he’ll stop right away,” Routtenberg said. “But if you now change things to, every five guesses gets you a piece of food, the animal doesn’t know what to expect. It’s called a variable ratio, where the animal doesn’t know when that food pellet is going to come. It’s almost inextinguishable. The Cubs fan is almost like that. Throughout the seasons, they’re loyal, and every now and again, hope is raised up to some level and then it decays, and then there’s another win.”
The avuncular Routtenberg, a neurobiology-psychology professor at NORTHWESTERN and self-avowed former Cubs fan (He declared any serious interest kaput after a particularly painful LaTroy Hawkins appearance in 2004), was one of the panelists earlier this month at a book release party at the Cubby Bear for “Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans,” a look into the minds of sports fans and athletes by doctors, psychologists and medical experts who sometimes moonlight as baseball fans. “I think it’s also, to a great extent, a sense of hope,” said Al Cubbage, a longtime fan and the vice president of communications for NORTHWESTERN University. He attended the panel discussion with several of his friends. “Each year it is renewed, and you are hopeful that this year will be different than all other years that you will be successful. Last year, the Cubs won their division and it was remarkable re-affirmation of hope. There was no reason to expect it. The year before, they lost 98 games. So last year we had hope and the hope was realized.”
Hot Tips for Medical School Students
U.S. News and World Report March 26, 2008
Sure, bioethics and humanities courses have been staples of medical school curriculums for years. But sculpting, art observation, improvisation, and dance/movement therapy? At NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine they’re not only offered, first- and second-year medical students must take at least one each year. Similarly unconventional courses are cropping up at medical schools across the country, part of a national effort to give future physicians tools to bring their whole selves—not just their brains—to patient care.
Weight-Loss Tales Inspire, at What Cost?
Associated Press March 26, 2008
While diet experts acknowledge the stories can be inspiring, they say reading and watching so many testimonials can also be problematic. There is no “one size fits all” approach to weight loss, says Dr. Robert Kushner, medical director of diet.com’s premium membership, who worries people may try to pattern themselves after the successful dieter. “You can follow one program after another and none of it works for you,” he says. “You can end up being more frustrated. There’s no filtering (with these stories). There’s no one saying, ‘results vary, this may not work for you, read it with caution.'”
Discouragement could be a byproduct of so many success stories focused on huge—and unusual—amounts of weight loss, Kushner says. He also takes issue with shows like “The Biggest Loser,” because they make weight loss a competition. “I think that is the antithesis of what we are trying to convey as a health care community,” says Kushner, also a professor at NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine “Weight loss is not a game or a sport.”
College Drinking and Heart Problems
Time March 27, 2008
In many ways, I was a pretty typical premed student. I studied hard with hopes of becoming a doctor, and on the weekends I drank socially with good friends. As I got older and passed through medical school and residency, my thirst for alcohol waned considerably. As it turns out, that may have been a good thing for many reasons. I didn’t know it at that time, but drinking heavily, even as far back as college, could have increased my risk of heart disease. Dr. Robert Bonow, a NORTHWESTERN University cardiologist and member of the AHA, isn’t as sold on checking your levels of CRP. He reminds us that lots of things can cause the number to fluctuate. Besides an illness like a simple cold, other factors—including being overweight, smoking or having diabetes—are also known to raise CRP levels. Bonow’s best advice is not to worry so much about past college drinking and focus instead on controlling current drinking and other variables.
Journey to the Center of the Skull
Evanston Review March 27, 2008
Brain surgeon James Liu bends down over the cadaver’s head, his fingers nimbly pulling away layers of skin to expose the area underlying the ear. Using a microdissector, he points to the arteries and veins leading to the frontal lobe of the brain, just behind the forehead, and the temporal lobe, next to the ear. The arteries on this cadaver’s head have been dyed red to make them easy to identify; the veins have been dyed blue. Dr. Liu points out the frontal and temporal lobes, the optic nerves, the carotid artery, and the pituitary gland way below. “Isn’t it a pretty structure,” Liu says of the brain. “It’s a very good looking structure.” To see a video of Liu’s voyage into the brain, go to http://video.ap.org/v/Legacy.aspx?partner=en-ap&g=76b9286d-1843-46da-854a-371c434c9a8a&f=ILCHS&mk=en-ap.
It is obvious Liu loves his work. In fact, Liu said he can easily stay seated for five to seven hours straight during an operation, even though the patient would suffer no harm if he took a few minutes for a break. “Sometimes you are so focused that time flies,” said Liu, a California native who now lives on the North Shore. Liu is codirector of the Skull Base Surgery and Skull Base Laboratory at Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare’s Evanston Hospital, 2650 Ridge Ave. Liu, 34, assistant professor of neurological surgery and otolaryngology—head and neck surgery at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, became enthralled with skull base surgery when he started his residency after medical school. Over the years, Liu has published 70 papers on skull base surgery, contributing to further advances in anatomy and novel techniques.
Epileptic Seizures Strike Much Like Earthquakes
Discover Magazine March 27, 2008
Epileptic seizures can erupt when neurons fire excessively in a sudden burst of energy in the brain. It is not unlike what happens in earthquakes, where shifting tectonic plates send waves of energy through the crust. The similarity, scientists now say, is more than metaphor: Techniques developed for predicting earthquakes may someday be used to warn patients that a brain seizure is on the way. Discovery of those relationships means that advances in earthquake prediction may one day trickle down to the arena of seizure prediction and, ultimately, even prevention. Researchers like Dante Chialvo, professor of physiology at NORTHWESTERN University in Chicago, caution that forecasting seizures may be years away and will be limited by the same major problem dogging earthquake prediction: figuring out exactly when the initial quake will strike. Even so, Chialvo says, this new model of epilepsy could spawn improved seizure forecasting technologies, which would open many doors for treating the disorder.
Drug for Alzheimer’s Patients a Step Closer
Chicago Tribune March 25, 2008
A discovery by scientists at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine brings us one step closer to the development of a drug that could improve memory for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia. Led by assistant professor of physiology Peter Penzes, the research team used rats to study a brain protein called kalirin-7 and how it affects synapses, which Penzes describes as “brain cell connectors.”
“We already knew that kalirin controlled the synapses,” Penzes explained. “But now we understand how it works and that it could be responsible for memory storage. Kalirin acts like a volume dial, making the synapses stronger. This suggests that a drug that would stimulate kalirin could improve memory or delay the progression of memory loss.” The study supports previous research showing that Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia patients have reduced levels of kalirin. And, conversely, intellectual activity can delay cognitive decline because it stimulates kalirin, which keep the synapses strong. The next step, Penzes said, is to conduct clinical trials with humans.
Involve Community in Battle Against Fat
Orlando Sentinel (Fla.) March 25, 2008
A number of Central Florida organizations are trying to form a consortium to tackle the problem of childhood obesity as a community. Recently, Dr. Katherine Christoffel, professor of pediatrics at NORTHWESTERN University’s medical school and medical and research director of CLOCC, talked with Orlando Sentinel reporter Linda Shrieves.
Question: Why is a consortium an important way to attack the problem?
Answer: This is a problem that cuts across multiple sectors and levels of society. In other words, it’s not just one thing that causes childhood obesity. The problem is that there are so many things that contribute to the risk for childhood obesity. I often describe it as a perfect storm. Now there’s one car per adult in the family and there’s computers and there’s video games and a government subsidy of corn, which makes fast food cheap, and on and on and on. There are numerous things that have happened over the last generation which have fueled this epidemic. So we were pleased to have the opportunity to address it the way it needs to be addressed, in this comprehensive fashion.
Trial and Error: Delays in Drug’s Test Fuel Wider Data Debate
Wall Street Journal March 24, 2008
In January, Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. disclosed surprising news: A long-overdue study of their blockbuster cholesterol drug Vytorin found it was no better at fighting heart disease than a far-cheaper generic. Doctors and public officials questioned whether the companies had delayed the results for more than a year to protect billion of dollars in sales. In Vytorin’s case no safety risk emerged from the data, but the episode has renewed a growing concern among medical journal editors and policy makers over “selective publication,” in which positive trials are submitted quickly for dissemination while negative studies are delayed or shelved. The conduct of the trial helped “damage the public trust” in medical research, says Philip Greenland, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and editor of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, who wasn’t associated with the Enhance study. Academic researchers should respond by avoiding studies where sponsors can “put [the data]in a drawer and trash it or have the endpoint changed,” he says.
Dummies Used to Train Doctors
Reuters March 22, 2008
Dr Carla Pugh seems an unlikely patron of porn shops. But that’s exactly where Pugh, assistant professor of surgery at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, procured some of the male body parts she uses to train medical students about human anatomy. Pugh has patented technology that combines portions of fully formed anatomical mannequins with computers to teach medical students to do exams on the body’s most private and sensitive areas—genitalia, breasts and rectums. These are the exams, she said, that students are often most afraid of and that many medical school instructors, themselves often long-time practising physicians, still find to be a source of embarrassment. The simulators are a far cry from the flesh and bones of a living, breathing person. But they are close enough to the real thing to let students know whether their touch is too rough, too soft or if they’ve missed a key spot entirely.
Latest Teen Hangout: The Nearest Gym
Chicago Tribune March 22, 2008
Gaggles of teenage girls rounded the indoor track engrossed in conversation while boys in baggy shorts swarmed on a basketball court below. In a nearby weight room, other young males cracked jokes while strutting among the machines. As he took a break from a triceps machine, JP O’Connor, a 17-year-old in a sleeveless T-shirt, said that for many teens local health clubs like Pavilion Fitness in Elk Grove Village have become social gathering spots.
“Even if it takes a health club being a social entity to get them there, it’s great news,” said Joel Press, associate professor at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a medical director at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “A lot of the health-care costs are because of problems associated with obesity. If you can get kids exercising as part of their lifestyle, it will be beneficial to society as a whole.”
KYW-TV (Philadelphia) March 24.
Boris Pasche, MD, professor of medicine, comments on folic acid and colon cancer.
Less Pain, More Gain
Newsweek March 24, 2008
No athlete wants an aching back. Yet it’s extremely common. In 2005, 15 percent of U.S. adults reported back problems, and an estimated 60 to 90 percent of Americans get lower back pain at some time in their lives. “There’s nothing you can do that’s going to guarantee that you’ll never get lower back pain,” says Dr. Stanley Herring, chair of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Clinical Sports Medicine Leadership Committee and a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners. But you can lessen the odds—and take proper steps if pain strikes.
A few tips: Keep moving. If you do injure your back, take it easy for a day or two, but then get mobile in order to stay flexible and prevent stiffness. “When you’re sitting, you’re putting more pressure on your back than when you’re walking around,” says Dr. Joel Press of NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
A ‘Most Generous’ Donor to Causes Near and Far
Crain’s Chicago Business March 10, 2008
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of NORTHWESTERN University was endowed by Ann Lurie after her husband’s death from colon cancer in 1990. The National Cancer Institute in 1998 awarded the center the “comprehensive” designation, reflecting high standards of research, patient care, and prevention. It is the only cancer center in Illinois and one of only 39 in the nation to hold this status. Last fall Ms. Lurie, a former pediatric intensive care nurse, pledged $100 million to build the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, to be completed in 2012. On Tuesday evening, Ms. Lurie and Maggie Daley will cochair the first major fundraiser for the center, honoring its
director, Steve Rosen, and his colleagues.
This story was also carried on the following news outlet:
Crain’s Chicago Business March 18, 2008
…philanthropist Ann Lurie and Chicago first lady Maggie Daley, who teamed up as cochairs of “Light Up a Life” to honor the center’s director, Steve Rosen, and his staff for their tireless devotion to patient care. It was the first-ever fund-raising effort for the center, which was endowed by Ms. Lurie, and it raised $1.27 million…
Sleep Times Drop during Workweek
American Medical News March 24, 2008
Washington—Long workdays are taking a toll on Americans’ ability to get enough sleep, according to a new poll released on March 3 by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep experts worry that the trend could hurt people’s health. A phone survey of 1,000 adults found that about 90 percent of respondents worked outside the home and arose, on the average weekday, at 5:35 a.m. after sleeping for about 6 hours and 40 minutes. This average worker reported spending 9Â½ hours at the workplace each day topped off by another 4Â½ hours per week working from home. Researchers presented findings that covered sleep quality from birth to old age. Age is the strongest factor influencing normal sleep and its distribution between REM, or active phases, and non-REM phases, said Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and physiology and associate director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at NORTHWESTERN University medical school in Chicago.
On the Radio
KNX-AM March 17.
Reference to research by Gokhan Mutlu, MD, assistant professor of medicine, on blood clotting and lungs.
WDRV-TV (Medford) March 17.
Reference to research by Wen Li, post doctoral fellow in medicine, on smell and likeability.
WMDT-TV (Salisbury) March 18.
Reference to research by Richard Burt, MD, associate professor of medicine, on stem cell research.
‘Boot Camps’ Treat Pain Sufferers
Associated Press March 17, 2008
New research suggests chronic pain affects the brain’s ability to rest, disrupting a system that normally charges up some brain regions and powers down others when a person relaxes. “I ask a patient who has had chronic pain for 10 years to put the mind blank, don’t think about anything,” says Dr. Dante Chialvo, a researcher at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine who is not involved with the boot camp. MRI images show the pain sufferer’s brain lighting up but not as a normal brain at rest would, he said. “There is an objective biological difference in the brain.” The early findings could explain the sleep disturbances, decision-making problems and mood changes that often accompany chronic pain, he said. And they could explain why the boot camp approach worked for Parseghian. The Chicago program, affiliated with NORTHWESTERN’s medical school, attacks pain on three fronts—biological, psychological and social. It doesn’t claim to cure chronic pain, but instead gives patients tools to lessen its hold on their lives.
Soybeans Stall Prostate Cancer
Victoria Times Colonist (Canada) March 17, 2008
A compound in soybeans almost completely prevented the spread of human prostate cancer in mice, according to NORTHWESTERN University researchers in cancer research. The amount of the chemical, genistein, used was no higher than a human would eat in a soybean-rich diet. The study found genistein decreased metastasis of prostate cancer to the lungs by 96 percent.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel March 18, 2008
Battling prostate cancer with soy
Ivanhoe March 18, 2008
Soy you Later, Prostate Cancer!
An Epidemic of Violent Death
Chicago Tribune March 16, 2008
By Judith A. Weinstein (Weinstein teaches in the medical humanities and bioethics program at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.)
Epidemiologist Les Roberts has measured death and disease in more than a dozen countries while working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and International Rescue Committee. His studies of postinvasion mortality in Iraq, published in the British medical journal The Lancet caused great controversy in the United States. President Bush and conservative commentators disputed the findings, saying the estimates of Iraqi deaths were far too high. Reaction in the scientific community was mixed. Many experts supported the methods Roberts and his colleagues used; others found fault with the size of the sample and other aspects of the survey. Roberts, who teaches at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, recently returned from Zimbabwe, where he studied the aftermath of President Robert Mugabe’s forced displacement of at least 700,000 people.
Hospital Operator Eyes New Partner
Chicago Tribune March 15, 2008
Hospital operator Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare, amid a dispute with NORTHWESTERN University over the school’s demand for more money to continue a teaching affiliation, may link up with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, according to a memo obtained by the Tribune. Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare operates hospitals in Evanston, Glenview, and Highland Park and has had a longtime affiliation with NORTHWESTERN to assist in the graduate medical education of doctors in training, but that relationship could be on the verge of ending. “Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare has approached Rosalind Franklin University to discuss the possibility of a partnership that would bring our two outstanding institutions closer together,” K. Michael Welch, president and chief executive of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, said in an internal memo sent Friday to faculty and doctors. “Exciting as it is, please recognize that we are in a due diligence phase and the discussions we are having are simply that, discussions.”
Acts of Kindness
Chicago Sun-Times March 11, 2008
Dr. William Pearce wanted to help soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. So he volunteered his skills as a vascular surgeon for two weeks at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where many wounded soldiers are taken. Pearce, who runs the vascular surgery division at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, got the idea to go to Ramstein after doing a similar two-week stint at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he saw “not a single injury you’d see in civilian practice.”
The experience prepared him for the severe injuries he treated at Ramstein in January—everything from bullet wounds to bomb blasts. Pearce recalled treating one patient badly wounded during his second tour in Iraq. A group of soldiers who’d served with the young man on his first tour stayed with him in the hospital room, holding his hand until his father arrived. “It was a pretty amazing experience to see all that in front of you,” Pearce said. “The quality of the soldiers is just awe-inspiring.” Pearce left Germany with a better appreciation for the military surgeons on the base. “They see the same thing day in and day out. You wonder why they don’t get burned out.”
Rebuilding Bryan Anderson
Esquire March 2008
Disclaimer: Readers may find some words in this story offensive.
Two years ago, a bomb in Iraq took his legs and an arm. Now Bryan Anderson needs a hand that won’t break all the time when he’s skateboarding or riding a motorcycle or, someday, holding his kids. And he wants this hand to have fine motor movements, just like his other one did. And he wants legs that will let him walk naturally and feel when his feet are on the ground…And as Anderson and other veterans push the technology, the technology responds.
Drug Find Worth $700 Million, but Chemist Finds It a Tough Sell to Turn Over Project
Chicago Tribune March 10, 2008
In a chemist’s version of a winning PowerBall ticket, Richard Silverman’s discovery eventually became a blockbuster drug that showered him and NORTHWESTERN University with more than $700 million in royalties. Still, there was disappointment along the way. Once Pfizer Inc., the giant pharmaceutical concern, took control of the drug’s development, Silverman was pushed aside. “I was an outsider,” said Silverman, 61. “There was no talk with their scientists. No comments. They had a launch party for the drug, and I asked to come. Nope. No party for me. They take your stuff and tell you to go away.”
Silverman thoroughly enjoys unraveling nature’s mysteries to satisfy curiosity as much as to reveal potential therapies. His unlikely journey to discovering what became Lyrica, a drug widely prescribed for neuropathic pain, started in the 1980s in Silverman’s NORTHWESTERN lab, where his research team studied chemicals made in the brain. It was more than 15 years from Silverman’s discovery of pregabalin until Lyrica reached the U.S. market in 2005. During that time, Pfizer Inc. bought Warner-Lambert and took control of the drug.
Late last year, NORTHWESTERN sold a portion of its Lyrica royalty rights to New York-based Royalty Pharma for $700 million. The university’s tech transfer rules call for sharing approximately one-fourth of royalties with faculty who make discoveries. Despite his new-found millions, Silverman said his life is mostly unchanged. Silverman put much of his earnings toward a $95 million NU chemistry building that will bear his name, and NORTHWESTERN spends freely to recruit academic research stars to enhance its glittering nanotechnology research faculty.
Silverman continues to lead research teams and has some pending projects that could become medical products some day. “When it happens once, you figure it could happen again,” he said. “You need some luck. Even before NORTHWESTERN made its $700 million deal, Lyrica royalties pushed NU into the upper ranks of research moneymakers. In 2004 NU’s license income from its intellectual property was about $1.5 million. In 2007 that had climbed to $85.2 million.
Study Shows Anemia Drugs Worsen Death Risk
Daily Herald March 10, 2008
“The findings of mortality are new and are different from prior reports,” said Dr. Charles Bennett of NORTHWESTERN University. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He said the drugs also increased the risk of blood clots in the lungs and legs by 57 percent in cancer patients, confirming other findings. “Our findings, in conjunction with basic science studies, raise the concern that the drug may be stimulating cancer and shortening cancer patients’ survival,” Bennett said in a statement.
Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat Doughnuts
Daily Mail (UK) March 10, 2008
Researchers at NORTHWESTERN University in Chicago carried out functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans while volunteers were shown the pictures. After the eating binge, neither image generated much of a reaction. But after volunteers had fasted for eight hours, two distinct parts of the brain “lit up” at the sight of the doughnuts. The first was the limbic brain, an ancestral part of the brain present in all animals from frogs to humans. “That part of the brain is able to detect what is motivationally significant,” said Dr. Marsel Mesulam, senior author of the research published on line in the journal Cerebral Cortex. “It says, not only am I hungry, but here is food.” Next the brain’s spatial attention network locked onto the doughnuts, deciding they were more important than the screwdrivers.
Dr. Aprajita Mohanty, another of the scientists, said: “There’s a very complex system in the brain that helps to direct our attention to items in the environment that are relevant to our needs, for example, food when we are hungry but not when we are full.”
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
Birmingham Post (UK) March 10, 2008
INTERNATIONAL: Doh! Just feed me another doughnut
The Courier Mail (Australia) March 12, 2008
Homer’s No Doh-nut
Science Daily, March 8, 2008
Your Brain On Krispy Kremes: How Hunger Motivates
Daily Star (UK) March 10, 2008
Why Homer’s Hooked on D’oh Nuts
WGN-TV March 21.
Aprajita Mohanty, post doctoral fellow, comments on her research on the brain and Krispy Kremes.
Adult Stem Cells May Improve Treatment of Certain Cardiovascular Disorders and Autoimmune Diseases
Medical News Today (UK) March 8, 2008
A review of previous studies related to clinical indications and outcomes for use of blood and bone marrow derived cells between January 1997 and December 2007 was performed by Richard K. Burt, MD, of the NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues. They combed databases to yield 323 reports that were analyzed for feasibility and toxicity of treatment. 69 studies were evaluated based on outcomes.
FDA Panel Weighs More Action on Safety Concerns That Have Battered Amgen’s Stock
The Associated Press March 7, 2008
Amgen shares have dropped 27 percent the past year with two-thirds of the decline coming since early December, reflecting investor fears its best-selling anemia drugs could plunge again this year after 25 percent revenue drops in 2007. Given that all blood donations are now screened for HIV, Dr. Charles Bennett argued doctors can cut down on prescribing drugs like Aranesp. “It’s clear that these drugs were overused because we’ve seen sales drop so dramatically in the past year without seeing reports of people dying in the streets,” said Bennett, a professor at NORTHWESTERN University, who authored the most recent analysis of anemia drug risks. Bennett and other cancer experts said it’s unlikely FDA would withdrawal Aranesp and its peers for use in all cancer patients but analysts are not ruling that possibility out.
This story was also carried on the following news outlet:
FDA weighs new limits on Amgen drugs
Sleep Disorder Questions and Answers
ABC7Chicago March 7, 2008
How do you know if you’re sleep-deprived? And what can you do to ensure a better night’s sleep? Dr. Phyllis Zee, who directs the Sleep Disorders Center at NORTHWESTERN University, visits ABC7 Chicago to answer questions.
Is Mind Reading Next?
Chicago Tribune March 6, 2008
A research team has managed to crack the mind’s internal code and deduce what a person is looking at based solely on brain activity, a feat that could pave the way for what the scientists described as “a brain-reading device.” The ability to read minds reliably is still beyond the grasp of science, but the study published Wednesday by neuroscientists at the University of California at Berkeley builds on a growing body of work on how to hack into the brain’s inner language. One shortcoming of the Berkeley study is that the accuracy plummeted when the computer program tried to guess in real time which photo a subject was looking at, said Julius Dewald, a neurophysiology expert at NORTHWESTERN University. The program made its best guesses when it could analyze everything after the fact, using an average of how the subject’s brain looked during multiple views of the same photo.
Today’s 101; Tips For Dealing With Jet Lag
“Today Show” (NBC) March. 5.
…Mr. GREENBERG: Many experts say that most of these jet lag remedies are largely untested.
Dr. LISA WOLFE (sleep medicine physician, NORTHWESTERN University): A great sleep environment means that you have the tools that you need to really turn off your brain and go to sleep.
Mr. GREENBERG: The best your hotel can provide is simply to give you a good night’s sleep. And when you’re on the plane: no airline food, drink plenty of water, try not to get decaffeinated by the beverage cart. Walk around twice. And then, wherever you’re going, no matter what time you land, try to stay up until 11:00 at night local time.
Do Heart Docs Slight Women?
Chicago Sun-Times March 5, 2008
Women suffering from coronary artery disease are less likely than men to be treated with the standard drugs—statins, aspirin, and beta-blockers, according to a study of patients at Rush University Medical Center. The study was based on a relatively small group of patients. But its key finding echoes what previous studies found: Women are less likely to receive treatment for coronary artery disease and are more likely to die from it. Dr. Dan Fintel, a cardiologist at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said he sees no gender difference in treatment for heart disease, but the Rush study is “an important clarion call that women need to be treated every bit as aggressively as men.”
Embryonic Stem Cell Protein Inhibits Melanoma
Washington Post (HealthDay News) March 3, 2008
(HealthDay News)—A protein called Lefty that regulates development of human embryonic stem cells can inhibit the growth and spread of deadly melanomas and aggressive breast cancers, says a study by researchers at NORTHWESTERN University in Chicago. Lefty is secreted only in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and not in any other types of stem cells, including those isolated from amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, or adult bone marrow, the researchers said.
In an earlier study, the NORTHWESTERN team found that aggressive melanoma and breast cancer produce a protein called Nodal, which may serve as a marker of aggressive behavior in human cancers. “The remarkable similarity of the responses of the two tumor types is likely attributable to the commonality of plasticity (for example, the aberrant and unregulated expression of Nodal) that indiscriminately unifies highly aggressive cancer cells, regardless of their tissue of origin,” team leader Mary J. C. Hendrix, scientific director of the Children’s Memorial Research Center and professor in the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of NORTHWESTERN University and the Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. “Further, the tumor suppressive effects of the hESC microenvironment, by neutralizing the expression of Nodal in aggressive tumor cells, provide previously unexplored novel therapeutic modalities for cancer treatment,” Hendrix said.
This story was also carried in the following news outlets:
New Scientist March 4, 2008
Cancers inhibited by embryonic stem cell protein
Ivanhoe March 5, 2008
Stem Cell Protein Stops Cancer in its Tracks
KCAL-TV (Los Angeles) March 3.
Boris Pasche, MD, associate professor of medicine, discusses folic acid and colon cancer.
Scalpels Drawn in Evanston
Crain’s Chicago Business March 3, 2008
NORTHWESTERN University’s medical school is threatening to end an affiliation with Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare over a protracted financial dispute, according to people familiar with the matter. Feinberg School of Medicine Dean J. Larry Jameson in recent months has pressed Evanston NORTHWESTERN—one of the school’s five medical-training partners—for more cash support and to redouble its commitment to research and academic programs, two people with knowledge of the talks say. Dr. Jameson aired his concerns to Evanston NORTHWESTERN’s board within the last month, these people say. He and Evanston CEO Mark Neaman have discussed restructuring the affiliation since last summer but haven’t reached a deal, the sources say.
“The dean’s message has been that, for this partnership to continue, it would require a major change in the commitment from Evanston,” one source says. There’s much at stake for Evanston NORTHWESTERN. Mr. Neaman risks losing the marketing cachet the three-hospital system has long enjoyed from the NORTHWESTERN tie. Nearly 200 medical residents serve as low-cost manpower, mainly at its flagship Evanston Hospital. And some physicians on its 1,700-member medical staff, most of whom hold faculty positions at Feinberg, could bolt if they’re unable to practice in an academic setting. “That affiliation really distinguishes Evanston,” says Don Hamilton, a Chicago hospital consultant and managing director of the health care practice at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. There are potential downsides for Dr. Jameson, as well. He could be forced to find a partner to replace Evanston or trim his enrollment of about 1,500 residents, interns and fellows, especially because space is tight at the school’s main teaching site, NORTHWESTERN Memorial Hospital.
Experts: Two-Thirds of Hysterectomies Unnecessary
CNN March 3, 2008
One-third of all women get a hysterectomy before they turn 60. Some experts think two-thirds of them don’t need it. Searing back pain. Endless periods with clots the size of plums. Bloating that turns even your “fat” pants into a tourniquet. Every year, symptoms like these drive thousands of women to consider getting a hysterectomy. The surgery is so popular, in fact, that one-third of all women will have a hysterectomy before they turn 60. For many, the procedure provides real relief. But here’s a shocker: More than two-thirds of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed every year may be unnecessary, experts say. The truth: Several other approaches are available that may have fewer complications and shorter recovery times. And some research suggests that hysterectomy may lead to sexual problems, incontinence, and a slight loss of physical strength. Other studies dispute those findings. If you ever face this surgery, “ideally, you’ll have time to consider all your options,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at NORTHWESTERN University.
Bodies Don’t ‘Spring Ahead’
USA Today March 2, 2008
…What will trigger this mass bout of drowsy driving, this predictably mopey Monday? It will be the first weekday of daylight saving time—that once-a-year “spring ahead” that robs us of one hour of sleep (which is returned when clocks “fall back” in November). It’s just one hour, but experts in chronobiology—the study of our internal body clocks—say it takes most people several days to adjust. (The fall change also is disruptive but less so.) One recent study from German researchers, published in the journal Current Biology, found that some habitual night owls have trouble getting enough sleep for weeks after the spring shift—which, in effect, demands that we all go to bed and get up an hour earlier. We’re getting less sleep overall, thanks in part to the 24/7 lure of our electronic devices. “People are staying up all night doing online trading, following the markets in Hong Kong,” says Fred Turek, a researcher at NORTHWESTERN University.
KRNV-TV (Reno), KCOP-TV (Los Angeles) NECN (Boston) March 2.
Richard Burt, MD, professor of medicine, comments on his research into stem cell treatment.
Caffeine Buzz Can Take a Toll on Health
Chicago Tribune March 1, 2008
Hooked on your morning venti latte? You’re not alone. A recent study named Chicago as the “most caffeinated” city among 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Whether your pick-me-up of choice is coffee, soda, or an energy drink like Red Bull, you probably haven’t considered the possibility of taking in too much caffeine. Yet health experts now warn that too much of this ubiquitous stimulant can be dangerous. Dr. Danielle McCarthy, an emergency medicine resident at NORTHWESTERN University, presented a study a little more than a year ago that examined the number of calls concerning caffeine overdose to the Illinois Poison Center in Chicago. The center receives about 90,000 calls annually, and during the course of three years, 265 calls met the criteria for caffeine abuse, 12 percent of whom were hospitalized. Although these cases involved people who had ingested caffeine medications and dietary supplements, not coffee or tea, abusing caffeine can have health consequences.
“I think the most important thing is [that]caffeine is a drug, and that any drug taken in excess can act on the body like a poison,” McCarthy said. “Laypeople and a lot of physicians think of it as a food product, and therefore don’t consider it dangerous.”
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