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.

February 5, 2019

Research News Roundup-January 2019

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

Zombie cells, anxious mice, safer hockey, women's health (and men's), artificial intelligence, and more in this month's roundup.

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

Diabetes, stress-induced aging and Alzheimer's disease, immigration-related obesity, and implantable drug testing devices are the targets of the research awards from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics in 2019. This marks the partnership's 16th year of spearheading new scientific ideas from Minnesota to improve health care for Minnesotans. The state-funded grants for these team science proposals total nearly $5.2 million.

Each team includes investigators from Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, and must demonstrate true collaboration.


Mindfulness may be associated with fewer menopausal symptoms for women, according to a Mayo Clinic study recently published in Climacteric: The Journal of the International Menopause Society. Researchers discovered that being mindful may be especially helpful for menopausal women struggling with irritability, anxiety and depression.

In the event you want to know more about mindfulness, here are some related resources to get you started:


Hockey researchers at Mayo Clinic and their colleagues are unveiling new recommendations that seek to ensure the well-being of hockey players, and lower the risk, severity and consequences of concussion in the sport.

In a rare arrangement, the recommendations are being published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, Advances in Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Annals of Sports Medicine and Research, and the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.


Mayo Clinic researchers, along with collaborators, have published findings from a safety and feasibility clinical trial on the removal of senescent cells from a small group of patients with pulmonary fibrosis. The findings appear in EBioMedicine.

“This was a short safety trial to determine if we should move ahead with actual large-scale human trials,” says senior author James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. “It's important to emphasize that, while some measurable improvement was noted in all the participants, this is simply the start of human studies. We don't know what lies ahead.”


A Mayo Clinic study finds that applying artificial intelligence (AI) to a widely available, inexpensive test – the electrocardiogram (EKG) – results in a simple, affordable early indicator of asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction, which is a precursor to heart failure. The research team found that the AI/EKG test accuracy compares favorably with other common screening tests, such as mammography for breast cancer. The findings were published in Nature Medicine.

Asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction is characterized by the presence of a weak heart pump with a risk of overt heart failure. It affects 7 million Americans, and is associated with reduced quality of life and longevity. But asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction is treatable when identified.

However, until now, there was no inexpensive, noninvasive, painless screening tool for asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction available for diagnostic use.


The percentage of women who are screened for cervical cancer may be far lower than national data suggests, according to a Mayo Clinic study recently published in the Journal of Women’s Health. Less than two-thirds of women ages 30 to 65 were up-to-date with cervical cancer screenings in 2016. The percentage is even lower for women ages 21 to 29, with just over half current on screenings. Those figures are well below the 81 percent screening compliance rate self-reported in the 2015 National Health Interview Survey.

“These cervical cancer screening rates are unacceptably low,” says Mayo Clinic family medicine specialist Kathy MacLaughlin, M.D., the study’s lead author.

This study is just one of hundreds that have used the linked medical records of the Rochester Epidemiology Project to discover what causes diseases, how patients respond to medical and surgical therapies, and what will happen to patients in the future.


Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators have shown in mice that obesity increases the level of "zombie" or senescent cells in the brain, and that those cells, in turn, are linked to anxiety. When senolytic drugs are used to clear those cells, the anxious behaviors in the mice dissipate. These findings appear in Cell Metabolism. 

In their paper the authors say, “Our data demonstrating a link between obesity, senescence and anxietylike behavior provide critical support for the potential feasibility of administering senolytics to treat obesity-associated anxietylike behavior, provided that clinical trials validate this approach.”

Read more senescent cell news from Mayo Clinic.


Genetic alterations in low-risk prostate cancer diagnosed by needle biopsy can identify men that harbor higher-risk cancer in their prostate glands, Mayo Clinic has discovered. The research, which is published in the January edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found for the first time that genetic alterations associated with intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer also may be present in some cases of low-risk prostate cancers.

The study found the needle biopsy procedure may miss higher-risk cancer that increases the risk of disease progression. Researchers say that men diagnosed with low-risk cancer may benefit from additional testing for these chromosomal alterations.

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At Mayo Clinic, research is integral to everything we do. From the laboratory bench to each patient's bedside, from training our own care providers to improving health for our global community, we are continuously striving to transform the practice of medicine, one piece of evidence at a time. Read about the Mayo Model of Research.

 

Tags: artificial intelligence, basic science, biomarkers, cancer, cervical cancer, clinical trials, concussion, heart failure, James Kirkland, Kathy MacLaughlin, Kogod Center on Aging, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, menopause, mindfulness, Minnesota Partnership, News, obesity, prostate cancer, Research News Roundup, Rochester Epidemiology Project, senescent cells, women's health

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