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Regenerative nanomedicine is being used to develop new therapies for devastating conditions such as severe spinal cord injuries. Northwestern’s Samuel Stupp, PhD, is a pioneer in the field of regenerative nanomedicine and recently published a paper in the journal 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.

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Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered one of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease, proving that damaged neuronal mitochondria alone can cause symptoms of the disease, according to a study published in Nature. Senior author D. James Surmeier, PhD, chair of the Feinberg department of Neuroscience, who has over 30 years of experience in the field, explains the importance of these findings for future Parkinson’s research and therapeutics. 

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People who are Black make up the largest group of minorities in need of an organ transplant. In 2019, Northwestern Medicine launched the African American Transplant Access Program to help address this problem. Founding director of the program Dinee Simpson, MD, talks about the barriers to organ transplant for Black patients and how she is working to bring down those barriers in Chicago.

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As the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is causing breakthrough infections in some vaccinated people around the world, scientists at Northwestern Medicine are developing and studying potential next-generation COVID-19 vaccines that could be more effective at preventing and clearing breakthrough infections. Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, PhD, an assistant professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Feinberg, discusses work in his lab that could lead to better vaccines and treatments for coronaviruses.

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As heart conditions like arrhythmia become increasingly common, heart monitoring is becoming an even more important tool for disease prevention and treatment. Northwestern Medicine cardiac electrophysiologist Rod Passman, MD, who has over three decades of experience in the field, reviews the history of cardiac monitoring and looks to the future. He details his pioneering use of implantable heart monitors for arrhythmia in stroke patients and his partnership with a consumer electronics company to bring wearable heart monitors to patients.

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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.

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An early clinical trial found that a spherical nucleic acid drug developed at Northwestern 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, explains the results of the study.

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Daniel Batlle, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at Northwestern, has been studying ACE2 and its potential therapeutic uses for many years. When the pandemic began, he proposed a hypothesis that soluble ACE2 could treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus and lead to survival and full recovery, and now he has some exciting preliminary results.

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