Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

December 4, 2018

Research News Roundup — November 2018

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

The Mayo Clinic Research News Roundup includes brief summaries and links to research news releases from the past month. It also connects readers to related resources. Read on for more information from Mayo Clinic Research.

An enzyme intended to prevent autoimmune disease can be hijacked and used by some viruses to avoid immune detection. That discovery from Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators appears in PLOS Biology.

There's also good news. The same team also defined how much viral genetic material is needed to reverse the process and instead activate the immune system against the virus.

Mayo Clinic’s Nuclear Medicine Division on Mayo Clinic's Arizona, Florida and Minnesota campuses significantly increased services provided to clinical and research patients in 2018. The division debuted a new therapeutic-diagnostic, or “thera-nostic,” practice, joined major research trials, and advanced radiotracer production capabilities.

In Mayo’s thera-nostic practice, a therapeutic agent is paired with a diagnostic imaging agent of almost identical molecular structure. Patients are imaged with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, treated with a radioactive chemotherapy, and rescanned to determine if the therapy was effective.

“The concept is, if we can see it, we can treat it; and if we can then no longer see it, it’s dead,” says Geoffrey Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Division of Nuclear Medicine.

Read the release for more on the new therapeutic developments in prostate, brain and neuroendocrine cancers.

And one extra note: nuclear medicine is a subset of radiology, learn more on the Department of Radiology website.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change health care, including the practice of radiology, profoundly. But rather than machines taking over, clinicians and researchers will use them to improve patient care.

“If somebody puts their head in the sand, and wakes up and pulls their head out five years later, the practice will be very different,” says Bradley Erickson, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic diagnostic radiologist.

To help with this transitional time, Dr. Erickson and colleagues in the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and Nvidia Corp., a computer chip manufacturer and technology company, developed a course for radiologists interested in acquiring or developing the skills needed to navigate AI advancements. This course, called the “Deep Learning Institute,” was offered at the RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting Nov. 25–30 in Chicago.

While this may not appear as rigorous as some of the research you might see in the blog, this project is going to expand access to cessation treatment specifically for cancer patients. The hope of course is that for these especially vulnerable patients, transforming this aspect of their care may reap near and long-term benefits ... and translate into better care everywhere for patients with cancer.

This project is led by the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence  Center.

Another headline that might seem off-topic, this announcement actually ramps up our ability to better prepare doctors to work in the fast-changing world of big data in health care, machine learning to augment human intelligence, and embedded, practice-transforming research.

This endowment gift from Jay Alix, noted philanthropist of Birmingham, Mich., and founder of the firm, AlixPartners, is the largest ever to Mayo Clinic. It recognizes the importance of educating the next generation of physicians who will carry on Mayo’s tradition of solving the most serious and complex medical challenges – one patient at a time.

“My primary philanthropic interests are medicine and education. Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine will offer an ideal opportunity to advance both fields,” says Mr. Alix. “Genetics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other technologies are transforming medical research, education and practice. This gift will further enable Mayo’s medical school to recruit the best medical students and to create a curriculum that trains them to harness evolving radical advances in medical science and technology to the greatest benefit of patients.”

For patients who have been diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), Mayo researchers have found a direct correlation between a specific antibody, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein — also known as MOG, and an increased risk of recurring attacks in these individuals.

Mayo Clinic neurologists Sean Pittock, M.D., and Sebastian Lopez, M.D., have found that when patients test positive for the MOG antibody, they have an increased possibility of another ADEM episode. The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

Note: While not the same disease, ADEM can look similar to acute flaccid myelitis, a rare condition that has recently been cropping up around the world. More information on these and related conditions can be found on The Transverse Myelitis Association website.


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Tags: artificial intelligence, basic science, Bradley Erickson, brain tumor, cancer, Geoffrey Johnson, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, neurology, News, Nicotine Dependence Center, Opportunities, prostate cancer, radiology, Research News Roundup, Sean Pittock

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