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Archive for January, 2013

Kinecting with Annerieke, Part 5

Posted on January 31st, 2013 by Admin

Annerieke Heuvelink, Ph.D. is a researcher with the Dutch institution TNO, who is spending a year at Mayo Clinic working in the HAIL Laboratory, a partnership between Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and Charter House.

During her time at Mayo, Annerieke will share video blog updates on her research and insights into the experience of working at Mayo Clinic and in the United States. In this installment, Annerieke interviews participants in her study about why they chose to participate in exer-gaming and what they like most about it.

We also filmed some gameplay footage for this post:


Researchers Gather to Learn More About Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by Admin

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida and the University of Florida have shed new light on the genetic and molecular underpinnings of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which may lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The findings were presented Jan. 17 at a symposium co-hosted by the ALS Association and Mayo Clinic.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that affects motor neurons responsible for controlling the body’s voluntary muscle activity. When the motor neurons are lost, the muscles involved in speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing become paralyzed. ALS is usually fatal within two to five years of diagnosis.

“I am very confident that in the near future we will have much better therapies and opportunities for patients living with the disease,” says Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., chief scientist for the ALS Association.

Her confidence stems from new investigations into the role genetic mutations and toxic proteins play in the disease as well as efforts to identify a biomarker that would allow clinicians to definitely diagnose ALS. While patients can currently undergo a simple blood test to learn whether they have high cholesterol or diabetes, no such test currently exists for ALS. As a result, the disease is underdiagnosed, says Dennis Dickson, M.D., who oversees all postmortem neuropathology studies as director of Mayo Clinic’s Brain Bank.

Thanks to a groundbreaking study in 2011, scientists now know an abnormality in the gene C9ORF72 is the most common cause of familial and sporadic ALS and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Rosa Rademakers, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, led the study that helped explain why patients with ALS often develop symptoms associated with FTD and vice versa.

“We’re now trying to learn why some patients develop ALS while others develop FTD and why some patients are affected at a younger age than others,” Dr. Rademakers says.

One key to unlocking the mystery may be to identify a link between abnormalities in the C9ORF72 gene and the major components of inclusions, or abnormal protein clumps, which are observed in the spinal cord and brain of ALS patients. Researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Florida are investigating how the aggregation of TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43), copper zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), and tau protein contribute to disease. Such understanding is an important step to identify where potential therapies should be targeted, says Tania Gendron, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

written by Caroline Stetler, Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida

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Fecal transplants vs. C. diff.

Posted on January 18th, 2013 by Admin

Nature is touting the first randomized clinical trial to show that fecal transplants are more effective than standard antibiotic treatment against that modern scourge of the gut, Clostridium difficile. The article by Ed Yong on Jan. 16 details the paper by researchers at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands as published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Great stuff. As Dr. Khoruts from the University of Minnesota says in the article, a number of medical centers, including Mayo, have been performing this procedure for some time, so the fanfare accorded the paper is interesting. It's important to do this type of validation so widespread use of the technique can move ahead. Mayo recently published outcomes of its experience at our Arizona campus. I include the abstract link here:

Gallegos-Orozco JFPaskvan-Gawryletz CDGurudu SROrenstein R.(2012) Jan;77(1):40-42. Rev Gastroenterol Mex. Successful colonoscopic fecal transplant for severe acute Clostridium difficile pseudomembranous colitis.

The difficulties in dealing with antibiotic resistant diseases is the topic of a special medical panel at next week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Mayo Clinic president and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., will join moderator David Agus, M.D., of USC; Paul Stoffels, M.D., research head of Johnson & Johnson; Muhammad Ali Pate, M.D., health minister of Nigeria; and Jeffrey Drazen, M.D., editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.


National Research Study on Lung Cancer Prevention

Posted on January 11th, 2013 by Gina Chiri-Osmond

Mayo Clinic in Rochester is a member of the Cancer Prevention Network (CPN) and is participating in a national research study on lung cancer prevention. You may be eligible to participate in this research study if you:

  • are age 45–79 .
  • are a current or former heavy smoker.
  • have never had cancer or have been cancer-free for at least 3 years.
  • are currently in good health.

What does this study involve?
This research study involves physical exams, ECGs, bronchoscopies, blood and urine tests, a chest CT scan, and taking the study medication Myo-Inositol (or placebo) twice a day for six months.

What is Myo-Inositol?
Myo-Inositol is a natural substance found in grains, seeds, and fruits.

Are there any risks involved?
If you choose to participate, you will be at risk for side effects from the medication and bronchoscopy procedure. Common side effects following bronchoscopy are coughing, sore throat, small streaks of blood in sputum, and mild elevation of temperature.

Will I get any benefit from being in the study?
If you agree to be in this study, there may or may not be any direct medical benefit to you. We hope what we learn from this study will benefit others at risk for lung cancer in the future.

Who can I contact for more information?
If you have questions, please call 507-538-1887.

This study is funded by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by the Cancer Prevention Network. CPN has more than 35 sites throughout the United States and Canada. Our goal is to learn how to prevent cancer before it starts.

There may be a CPN site close to you, so call now and become involved in a clinical research study today.

For more information about CPN, check out the CPN website at