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Progress Updates Archive

November 22nd, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Detecting and Treating Cancer Recurrence in Time

By Admin

A Mayo Clinic laboratory study has revealed a possible mechanism to stop recurrence of cancer in mice. The approach, involving screening and a second-line treatment, prevented cancer from coming back in most of the mice in the study in which recurrence would have happened. The findings appear in Nature Medicine.

It’s been long known that cancer tumors change their appearance or phenotype, as well as their genomic characteristics, to avoid the natural immune response from the host body. A collaborative international team led by Richard Vile, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic molecular medicine researcher, attempted to detect or anticipate that shift and then initiate a “pre-emptive strike” before the tumor fully evolves, thus preventing a relapse.

The researchers say the findings may lead to new methods of early cancer detection and “appropriately timed, highly targeted treatment of tumor recurrence irrespective of tumor type or initial treatment.”

The research was supported by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Cancer Research UK, the National Institutes of Health, and a grant from Terry and Judith Paul.

Other collaborators in the research are: Timothy Kottke, Nicolas Boisgerault, Ph.D., Rosa Maria Diaz Ph.D, Diana Rommelfanger-Konkol Ph.D, Jose Pulido, M.D., Jill Thompson, Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic; Oliver Donnelly, M.D., Alan Melcher, M.D. Ph.D., and Peter Selby, M.D. Ph.D., of Cancer Research UK; Roger Kaspar, Ph.D., TransDerm, Santa Cruz; Matt Coffey, Ph.D., Oncolytics Biotech, Calgary; Hardev Pandha, M.D. Ph.D., University of Surrey; Kevin Harrington, M.D. Ph.D., The Institute of Cancer Research, London.





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November 12th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Reducing the Panic of Fecal Incontinence

By Admin

From Mayo Clinic's Discovery's Edge magazine

Imagine the distress of waiting in a stalled checkout line, the bathrooms located at the back of the store, when your bowels begin to rumble and you have the uncontrollable urge to go. For those with fecal incontinence, panic ensues with the very thought of being caught unprepared at moments like these.

Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Adil Bharucha has heard too many stories from his patients, mainly women over 40, about the panic created by the inability to control bowel movements, causing stool to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. In the worst cases, fecal incontinence can lead to a complete loss of bowel control.

Since one in 10 women experiences this embarrassing condition and since the prevalence increases with age, fecal incontinence was once thought to be the results of trauma during childbirth.  Dr. Bharucha discovered, however, that rectal urgency and diarrhea, rather than obstetric trauma, are the main risk factors for fecal incontinence among women

Adil Bharucha, M.D.

He also knew he needed better diagnostic tools to identify and assess anorectal function if he hoped to help women suffering from fecal incontinence. With that goal, he set about building an extensive network of collaborators both within Mayo Clinic and externally to develop new diagnostic tests and devices. This work has led him to collaborating widely across the institution to improve care for the patient.

The work of Dr. Bharucha and his research colleagues has earned international acclaim for Mayo Clinic's gastrointestinal motility clinic, the first center nationwide to introduce high resolution anorectal manometry into clinical practice; and to develop normal values and a system with which to classify patients with defecatory disorders, including fecal incontinence. It now offers a panel of tests to assess rectal stiffness, sphincter strength and urgency. This comprehensive approach provides an array of sophisticated diagnostic tools to help researchers zero in on the cause for fecal incontinence in each patient.

"Most of my collaborators had never considered working in my field," Dr. Bharucha says. "I am very grateful for their enthusiasm and expertise once they understood how common and distressing these disorders are. People say that the beauty of collaborating is that you work with smarter people. In my case, it's really true."

And, as a result, many women are also grateful to Dr. Bharucha for seeking new answers and new tests with his colleagues for this all too common and embarrassing condition.

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November 6th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic's Genomic Study on Prostate Cancer

By Admin

Certain types of "hard to treat" prostate cancer present an unanswerable challenge for physicians. That's a nicely worded sentence for very bad news for the patient. After hormone treatment yields no response, the patient usually has two years or less to live. Surgery isn't possible because the tumor cannot be shrunk. The reality of the condition underscores the urgency of a new study at Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine that uses the genomic information of the patient's tumor to find possible solutions, such as more targeted drugs. For more details on the study or to learn how you might participate, check the news release Mayo issued today.


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November 6th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Regenerating Heart Tissue Through Stem Cell Therapy

By Admin

From the pages of Mayo Clinic's Discovery's Edge --

Two years after a heart attack left him too exhausted to even tend his garden, Miroslav Dlacic is now able to walk again without becoming worn out.  An international team of Mayo Clinic doctors and researchers, led by André Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine, helped Dlacic reclaim his life by discovering a way to regenerate heart tissue through stem-cell therapy.

For decades, treating cardiac patients has typically involved managing heart damage with medication. It’s a bit like driving a car without fixing a sluggish engine; you manage the consequences as best you can and learn to live with them. But in collaboration with European colleagues, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a revolutionary means of repairing a damaged heart—of actually fixing the machine.

Dr. Andre Terzic

“It’s a paradigm shift,” says Dr. Terzic. “We are moving from traditional medicine, which addresses the symptoms of disease, to being legitimately able to cure disease.”

In this breakthrough process, stem cells are harvested from a cardiac patient’s bone marrow. They undergo a laboratory treatment that guides them to become cardiac cells. The treated cells are then injected into the patient’s heart in an effort to grow healthy heart tissue. The study is the first successful demonstration in human beings of the feasibility and safety of transforming adult stem cells into cardiac cells.

“We guide the stem cells to become something useful, in this case, cardioprogenitors,” Dr. Terzic explains.

This discovery has implications for millions of people. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 5.8 million people have heart failure, and the number is growing. Beyond heart failure, the Mayo research also is a milestone in the emerging field of regenerative medicine, which seeks to go beyond palliative treatments to fully heal damaged tissue and organs.

 Mayo Clinic is uniquely positioned to pursue this complex therapy. In addition to its global reach, Mayo Clinic has its Center for Regenerative Medicine at the forefront of efforts to develop reparative solutions for a range of conditions.

“With the cardiopoiresis research, we have shown that regenerative medicine can really work,” Dr. Terzic says. “We are now actively working on regenerative medicine in the areas of diabetes, liver and lung disease, neurologic disorders, and orthopedic surgery.”

 To read the full story about Dr. Terzic's research into regenerative medicine, visit Discovery's Edge, Mayo Clinic's research magazine, at

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October 2nd, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Tweeting on Individualized Medicine

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SRO at the Mayo-ABC Twitter chat

Perhaps it was the topic - translating individualized medicine and what it means for medicine. Maybe it was the positive mood of the conference attendees here in Rochester. Whatever it was, it seemed to infect the noon Twitter chat held by Mayo's External Relations group...along with the Personalized Medicine Coalition in Washington, and hosted by Dr. Richard Besser, back at his desk at ABC News in New York. About half of those you see at the laptops are Mayo doctors, most taking their first stab at Tweeting. Response and participation was great: over 1,000 Tweets, over 200 participants, and more then 5 million accounts reached.

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October 1st, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Mayo-Illinois Collaborations in Individualized Medicine

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UIUC Leaders visiting the Center for Individualized Medicine

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise and her administrative team attended Mayo Clinic's Individualizing Medicine Conference this week and held meetings on ongoing collaborations between the two institutions. The group from Urbana-Champaign included (l-r) Associate Vice Chancellor Jennifer Eardley; Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., director of the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo; Vice Chancellor Peter Schiffer; Chancellor Wise; Provost Ilesanmi Adesida; and Bryan White, Ph.D., who served as co-chair of the conference. Mayo and Illinois have been collaborating for years on medical genomic projects under the banner of the Mayo Illinois Alliance for Technology Based Health Care. Recently extensive work has been done in microbiome research and dozens of students and researchers have traveled between the campuses to work together.

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October 1st, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Getting Genomic-Drug Alerts into the Electronic Medical Record

By Admin

"Getting the what in the what?" That's going to be a problem if health care professionals are asking that question in the future. Many medical centers are finding that patients have allergies or will be put at considerable risk if given the wrong drug for their genetic makeup or even the standard dose of the right drug. Pharmacogenomic screening prior to prescribing medications will one day be a normal practice. It's the mantra of giving the right dose of the right drug at the right time. One size, one standard pharmaceutical practice, does not fit all. Your genome can often provide the answer. At Mayo's Individualizing Medicine Conference today, we've been hearing about how pharmacogeneomic screens are done at St. Jude Children's Hospital (thanks Dr. Mary Relling) and how those results are immediately going into those patients' electronic medical record.

The problem comes in if patients aren't exposed to appropriate screens --- or if they don't have an EMR. With an EMR, any physician can see almost immediately through a genomic-drug alert in the record (at Mayo a red flag pops up) that a patient should not be given drug X. This avoids a trial and error system of letting the patient's physiology reject the drug while exhibiting associated side-effects. We are used to hearing the slogan "There's an app for that." Well, soon we'll be able to say "There's a test for that" -- before you take a drug, any drug. There's relevance for you.

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September 30th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Individualizing Medicine Conference Kicks Off

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Yes, hundreds of people have enjoyed eggs, sausage and bagels and now Dr. Gianrico Farrugia is on stage introducing Dr. John Noseworthy, President and CEO of Mayo Clinic.    He says Mayo Clinic decided that including medical genomics into Mayo's future and present was essential. "We use medical genomics every day to treat our patients."

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September 19th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Receives Federal Award to Launch Radiation Safety Clearinghouse

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Mayo Clinic radiology researcher Cynthia McCollough, Ph.D., and her team were awarded a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health that will allow Mayo to establish a national clearinghouse for CT dose reduction research. Dr. McCollough is internationally known for her work in limiting radiation exposure to patients. She is head of Mayo's CT Clinical Innovation Center.

Their NIH grant application, in response to a request for proposals to reduce CT doses to the level of background radiation, was the only one funded in a highly competitive field. 

“This grant is unique in that it provides funding for Mayo Clinic to establish a national clearinghouse to share the data sets, software algorithms and imaging methods developed by our team with the entire CT imaging community,” says Dr. McCollough.

This will be the first information depository of its kind in the field of CT dose reduction, providing reference data sets for use in developing and validating the many noise reduction and iterative reconstruction methods currently under development. “Mayo Clinic will provide a tremendously valuable resource for all researchers working on dose reduction in CT,” she says.
Other investigators involved include Joel Fletcher, M.D., Shuai Leng, Ph.D., Lifeng Yu, Ph.D., David DeLone, M.D., Jeff Fidler, M.D., David Levin, M.D., Ph.D., Rickey Carter, Ph.D., and David Holmes III, Ph.D. 

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September 5th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Does Anesthesia Cause Problems for Kids Later On?

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A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic Children's Center are trying to answer that question. From what they can tell from animal studies, it may cause problems with learning and memory. They've conducted a study of records -- both medical and school records - in the area around Rochester, Minn. There was some correlation: an association with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder for some children who'd been exposed to anesthesia multiple times at a young age.

But as we know, correlation does not mean causation. So they are now working on a much larger and detailed study to test  1000 children to see if they can better define what injury or injuries may be associated with anesthetic exposure (if any).

Ultimately they hope to find if there is a problem with how anesthesia is administered or if changes are needed to minimize potential problems. It's one more way Mayo Clinic is trying to improve safety of the medical practice and share its findings with everyone.

If you, as a parent, are interested in having your child participate in this study -- and you live in the Rochester, Minn. area, you may be interested in learning more about it from this YouTube video:  

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