Of the more than 20 episodes of the medical school’s Breakthroughs podcast produced in 2021, the most popular ranged across specialties from gastroenterology to nanotechnology. Listen to the top five episodes of the year and earn Continuing Medical Education credit.
Esophageal diseases are extremely common, and symptoms such as trouble swallowing, chest pain, regurgitation and choking diminish quality of life. There can also be psychosocial effects for patients with these diseases, including hypervigilance — a heightened focus on physical symptoms — and symptom-specific anxiety such as fear of choking. Identifying patients with issues could help providers better treat their disease, according to John Pandolfino, MD, ’94, ’96 GME, the Hans Popper Professor and chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Department of Medicine.
In a phase 3 clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the drug semaglutide, typically prescribed for treatment of type 2 diabetes, was used as a treatment for obesity and was found to be almost twice as effective at helping individuals lose weight than some of the current weight-loss drugs on the market. Corresponding author Robert Kushner, MD, ’80 ’82 GME, professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and of Medical Education, and a Northwestern Medicine internal medicine physician, discusses the results.
COVID-19 can be a multi-system disease, impacting many organs and the entire nervous system.
Igor Koralnik, MD, the Archibald Church Professor of Neurology and chief of Neuro-infectious Disease and Global Neurology in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, published the first study focused on long-term neurologic symptoms in COVID-19 “long haulers.” He explains the study and what he is seeing in the Neuro COVID-19 Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
An early clinical trial found that a spherical nucleic acid drug developed at Northwestern University kills tumor cells in people with the fatal brain cancer glioblastoma. This is the first time a nanotherapeutic has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause cell death. Lead investigator Priya Kumthekar, MD, ’08 ’11 ’12 GME, associate professor of Neurology in the Division of Neuro-oncology, explains the findings.
Regenerative nanomedicine is being used to develop new therapies for devastating conditions such as severe spinal cord injuries. Samuel Stupp, PhD, the Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering and director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology, is a pioneer in the field of regenerative nanomedicine and recently published a paper in Science that details how a new injectable therapy uses synthetic nanofibers to reverse severe spinal cord injuries in animals and how this therapy could soon be used in humans.