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.

May 1, 2019

Research News Roundup-April 2019

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.

In collaboration with the University of Kentucky, the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Cambridge in the U.K., and other institutions, Mayo Clinic researchers helped to establish a name for a degenerative brain disease that afflicts the elderly and mimics features of Alzheimer’s disease. This working group describes "limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy," or LATE, as an underrecognized risk for public health and calls for an urgent focus on research to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The report appears in the journal, Brain.

"LATE is a prevalent but underrecognized condition in the elderly," says Dennis Dickson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neuropathologist. "We have been studying this protein for many years, but now we have a common goal to target, which is something we want to make clinicians aware of. LATE needs to be recognized and differentiated from Alzheimer's disease."

Cancer cells have various tricks up their metaphorical sleeves to survive in the face of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other cancer treatments. Now researchers at Mayo have decoded one of those tricks using cell lines and patient-derived cancer cells, and proposed a way to resensitize breast cancer cells to treatment.

Cells have proteins on their outer surface that provide information to the body. Some cancer cells have a protein called "PD-L1" on their surface, and it links up with a protein called "PD-1" on the surface of an immune cell called a "T cell." On the T cell, PD-1 acts as a brake on the immune response. When PD-L1 and PD-1 link, T cells gets the message that the cell they're linked to is normal, and no immune response is necessary. Tumor cells, however, use increased PD-L1 on their surface to evade immune surveillance. Today, drugs that target these checkpoints are among the most promising forms of cancer immunotherapy.

But in a new publication in Molecular Cell, a team of researchers at Mayo Clinic are sharing another way that PD-L1 helps cancer cells.

Half of all U.S. states have laws on the books that invalidate a pregnant woman's advance directive if she becomes incapacitated, and a majority of states don't disclose these restrictions in advance directive forms, according to a study by physicians and bioethicists at Mayo Clinic and other institutions.

The report, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed statutes in effect as of February in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. All states have laws regarding decision-making for individuals who can't make their own medical decisions, but the content of statutes and advance directive documents for “decisionally incapacitated” pregnant women nationwide varies widely.

An advance directive is a legal document completed by a patient that appoints a surrogate to make health care decisions if a person becomes incapacitated and unable to participate, and it indicates what the person’s health care preferences would be.

“Magic mouthwash,” an oral rinse containing diphenhydramine, lidocaine and antacids, significantly reduced pain from oral mucositis, mouth sores, in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck when compared to placebo. These were the findings of a multi-institution, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III clinical trial, led by Robert Miller, M.D., an emeritus Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist. Dr. Miller and his colleagues published their findings on Tuesday, April 16, in JAMA.

Research was conducted through the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and included investigators from several institutions.

Mayo Clinic's Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and The Children's Hospital at OU Medicine are collaborating within a consortium to provide solutions for patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a rare and complex form of congenital heart disease in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.

The consortium aligns regional centers into a collaboration led by the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome at Mayo Clinic to accelerate innovation on hypoplastic left heart syndrome, discovery sciences and clinical expertise by investing local resources back into research.

Recent research led by Andrea Cheville, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, suggests that remotely delivering rehabilitation services to patients with late-stage cancer improves their physical function, pain and quality of life while allowing them to spend less time in hospitals and nursing homes. The findings are published in the online issue of JAMA Oncology.

Telerehabilitation research like this is one of the many ways Mayo Clinic extends knowledge and care to more people through innovative telemedicine platforms that improve access and outcomes for patients, and collaboration with other providers and researchers.

Historically, most pancreatic cancer patients whose tumors grow outside the pancreas to encompass veins and arteries have been told the cancer is inoperable and they should prepare for an average survival time of 12 to 18 months. A newly published Mayo Clinic study finds that a pre-surgery treatment plan focused on three factors can extend life years beyond that. The findings are published in the Annals of Surgerythe journal of the American Surgical Association and European Surgical Association.

“We now have more advanced surgical techniques and more effective chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We can take all of these advances and put them together to get the outcomes we are looking for,” says Mark Truty, M.D., an oncologic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “The goal is to extend patients’ lives and maintain or improve their quality of life.”


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.

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Tags: advance directive, Andrea Cheville, cancer, cardiology, clinical trials, Findings, HLHS, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Mark Truty, News, pancreatic cancer, quality of life, radiation therapy, Research News Roundup, Robert Miller, women's health

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