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February 4, 2020

Research News Roundup–January 2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

If you're interested in genetics, diabetes, transplant or robotics, January was a good month.

The Mayo Clinic Research News Roundup includes brief summaries and links to these and a tidy sum of other recent research-related news releases from Mayo Clinic. You also might find some other handy resources.

Read on for more information from Mayo Clinic Research.

Mayo Clinic medical school student talking with a patient.

Human trafficking is a growing international public health concern. An estimated 400,000 people in the U.S. are affected, with as many as 88% of victims having seen a health care professional while they were being trafficked.

As human trafficking evolves as a health concern, medical schools are starting to include the topic in education. However, it’s still in the early stages, says a Mayo Clinic study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The research was led by third-year medical student at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Jennifer Talbott, who suggested that human trafficking training be included in the curriculum at the school.

Working with the medical school faculty, Talbott helped develop coursework to train fellow students to identify and provide resources to potential victims of human trafficking. Talbott's adviser, Juliana Kling, M.D., a Mayo Clinic women's health internist, says training in identifying and providing resources to human trafficking victims is essential for medical school students.


microscopic view of slide containing color-stained kidney biopsy tissue

Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that subtle structural features in kidneys from living donors that can only be seen with a microscope may predict the risk of transplant failure in recipients. The findings are published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"We think that those subtle abnormalities in the living kidney donor may make the kidney more susceptible to fail in the future in the recipients," says Naim Issa, M.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist and the study's lead author. "These important findings may provide insights into unrecognized predictors of kidney transplant failure in recipients."


microscopic image of liver-derived mesenchymal stromal cells

Mesenchymal stromal cells from fat tissue and bone marrow are widely used in therapeutic trials for their anti-inflammatory qualities, but new Mayo Clinic research finds that liver cells may be of greater value.

The study, published in Liver Transplantation, finds that liver mesenchymal stromal cells have immunoregulatory qualities that make them more effective than similar cells derived from adipose, or fat, tissue and bone marrow.


two female nurse midwives examining pregnant patient in hospital bed

Fewer physicians are pursuing careers in obstetrics, in part because of the intense, round-the-clock demands of the job and a high burnout rate. An unusually large number of practicing obstetricians are expected to retire within the next decade, which will add to an already acute physician shortage.

One solution to this staffing challenge is a collaborative care model used at Mayo Clinic Health System ― Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, where certified nurse-midwives lead the care team. Certified nurse-midwives provide care for obstetric patients who are at low to moderate risk as part of a team model described in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.


artistic interpretation of artificial intelligence and data analytics

Mayo Clinic announced the Clinical Data Analytics Platform as the first venture under the Mayo Clinic Platform, a strategic initiative to improve health care through insights and knowledge derived from data.

The Clinical Data Analytics Platform will apply advanced data analytics on deidentified data from Mayo Clinic and other organizations, as well as the vast information in the scientific literature to advance medicine and improve the health of patients. Clinical Data Analytics Platform is based on a federated architecture, which enables multiple participants to build a common, robust artificial intelligence and machine learning model without sharing datasets, thus addressing critical issues such as data privacy, security and access rights to heterogeneous sources of data.

Mayo selected nference, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, -based augmented intelligence company, as its first Clinical Data Analytics Platform partner to accelerate drug discovery and development across the biopharmaceutical ecosystem to create cures for patients.


female lab worker working under a glass hood, pipetting liquid, gloves, lab coat

A molecular switch has the ability to turn on a substance in animals that repairs neurological damage in disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS)Mayo Clinic researchers discovered. The early research in animal models could advance an already approved Food and Drug Administration therapy and also could lead to new strategies for treating diseases of the central nervous system.

Research by Isobel Scarisbrick, Ph.D., published in the Journal of Neuroscience finds that by genetically switching off a receptor activated by blood proteins, named Protease Activated Receptor 1 (PAR1), the body switches on regeneration of myelin, a fatty substance that coats and protects nerves.


extreme close up of tools used in DNA extraction

Mayo Clinic is creating a library of genomic sequencing data on 100,000 consented Mayo Clinic participants to advance research and patient care.

“We believe that whole exome sequencing has the potential to reveal predispositions to health problems and enable earlier use of preventive measures throughout a person’s lifespan,” says Keith Stewart, M.B., Ch.B., Carlson and Nelson Endowed director, Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.

Mayo is collaborating with Helix, a population genomics company. Helix’s clinical Exome+ sequencing is a technology that reads all 20,000 genes that code for proteins, plus hundreds of thousands of regions outside the protein-coding regions that are known to be informative, and thus have the most impact on an individual’s health. This comprehensive DNA test uses Next Generation Sequencing technology to screen the exome for genetic variants that can significantly increase the risk for disease.


Researchers used post-mortem genetic testing to find the underlying cause of multiple sudden deaths in young people and sudden cardiac arrests in two large Amish families.

Using an exome molecular autopsy, Michael Ackerman, M.D., Ph.D., and his associates conducted genetic testing of four siblings who each died suddenly during exercise. Dr. Ackerman is a genetic cardiologist and director of the Windland Smith Rice Comprehensive Sudden Cardiac Death Program at Mayo Clinic. The findings are published in JAMA Cardiology, with Dr. Ackerman as the senior author.


syringe laying on document titled Diabetes, next to the head of a stethoscope

The most commonly used forms of insulin cost 10 times more in the U.S. than in any other developed country, according to a commentary in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. This prohibitive cost is causing some U.S. patients with Type 1 diabetes to ration the amount of insulin they use, with life-threatening implications.

The commentary by S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician, describes the cost of insulin as an urgent public health issue. "There are 30 million patients with diabetes in the United States, and about 25%, or 7.4 million Americans, need insulin. For the 1.3 million patients with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is as vital as air and water. Some patients are rationing insulin or switching to cheaper forms without proper supervision. We cannot wait to act."


blood sugar tracker form on a clipboard, insulin injector pen, handheld digital gadget for reading blood sugar, foam heart and stethoscope artistically arranged

Heart problems are a common development for people with diabetes. In fact, about 33% of people in the U.S. admitted to the hospital for heart failure also have diabetes. Heart failure may be the result of a co-condition, such as hypertension or coronary heart disease, but not always.

A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings examines the idea of diabetic cardiomyopathy and heart failure from the effects of diabetes alone.

The study was conducted using the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a unique medical records linkage collaboration in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


two older women walking outdoors for exercise, smiling, each holding a water bottle

A study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases provides new evidence of an association between cardiorespiratory fitness and brain health, particularly in gray matter and total brain volume — regions of the brain involved with cognitive decline and aging.

The results suggest cardiorespiratory exercise may contribute to improved brain health and decelerate a decline in gray matter. While not conducted by Mayo researchers, the study was published in one of Mayo's two peer-reviewed journals. And experts from Mayo Clinic provided an editorial published in conjunction with the article, commenting on the study.

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At Mayo Clinic, research drives everything we do for patients. 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, or visit the Mayo Clinic College of Science and Medicine website to learn about our five schools.

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Tags: cardiology, Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, diabetes, Findings, genetic testing, health care value, heart failure, hereditary diseases, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Michael Ackerman, neurology, News, pharmacy, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Research News Roundup, robotic technology, Rochester Epidemiology Project, sudden cardiac arrest, Vincent Rajkumar

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