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.

August 26, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 8/26/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
An elderly man in a hospital bed, enjoying a visit from a small pet therapy dog

Although it hasn't even been a week, many news outlets have featured Mayo Clinic Research and our research experts in articles across a broad range of topics. In order not to overload - it really is shaping up to be an interesting week - we'll save COVID-related news for another day.

Read on to hear about Mayo research intersections with therapy dogs, honey for colds, pigs, social media and back-to-school, stem cells, standing desks and a whole lot more.

Therapy Dogs Give Relief to Fibromyalgia Patients, by Pat Anson

It’s well-known that having a pet or support animal can provide significant psychological benefits to people suffering from stress, anxiety or loneliness. A new study at the Mayo Clinic suggests that pet therapy can also help people with fibromyalgia. ...

The research findings, recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, are striking. People who interacted with a therapy dog had a statistically significant increase in levels of salivary oxytocin – a hormone released by the pituitary gland that is known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.”

Adding a bit of this to your tea may be better for the common cold than drugs, by Olivia Kelley

When you are feeling down with a bad cough or a cold, you may brew up a cup of warm tea with honey to help you feel better. New research published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine suggests that this home remedy may actually be more effective at treating cold symptoms than antibiotics and over the counter medicines.

High blood pressure during pregnancy means even worse hot flashes throughout menopause, by Drew Simms

Females with a history of hypertension conditions during pregnancy are more likely to experience annoying menopausal signs such as hot flashes and night sweats, according to a study published Wednesday, Aug. 19, in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

“We already know that women with high blood pressure during pregnancy or those who experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Our research discovered that women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were much more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats during menopause,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., the study’s lead author. Dr. Faubion is the Penny and Bill George Director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health.

Pigs grow new liver in lymph nodes, study shows, by University of Pittsburgh

Hepatocytes—the chief functional cells of the liver—are natural regenerators, and the lymph nodes serve as a nurturing place where they can multiply. In a new study published online and appearing in a coming issue of the journal Liver Transplantation, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that large animals with ailing livers can grow a new organ in their lymph nodes from their own hepatocytes. A human clinical trial is next. ...

These findings bolster the results of another recent study, in which Lagasse and colleagues at Mayo Clinic showed that healthy liver tissue grown in the lymph nodes of pigs with a genetic liver defect spontaneously migrated to the animals' livers, where they replaced diseased cells and cured the animals' liver disease.

Seeking a better test for Alzheimer's, by Greg Miller

By the time a person starts exhibiting the memory problems and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a catastrophic cascade of cellular events has been playing out inside their brain for years or even decades. Misfolded proteins and fragments of protein have been ever so slowly clumping together, forming microscopic plaques and tangles that interfere with the function of neurons. Eventually, these brain cells die and this neurodegeneration takes its toll on memory and cognition. ...

"About a third of the people who were enrolled in these clinical trials for 'Alzheimer's disease' actually turned out not to have Alzheimer's disease," says Clifford Jack, a brain imaging researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "That's a really huge problem."

Stem Cell Marketing: Hundreds Of Businesses Pitch Unproven Stem Cell Products To Treat Different Conditions, by Mifliha Noor

Ambitious claims are not out of place in the realm of stem cell marketing, in which hundreds of U.S. businesses aggressively pitch unproven stem cell products to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from autism to Parkinson’s disease to macular degeneration. It is a gray area of regenerative medicine that rheumatologists and orthopedic providers are typically familiar with, as the promise of stem cell injections to relieve joint pain or bypass invasive surgeries often resonates among patients with osteoarthritis. ...

In addition, according to Shane A. Shapiro, MD, medical directors for the Regenerative Medicine Therapeutics Program at the Mayo Clinic, the science of cell-based, or cell-derived, therapies for musculoskeletal disorders has made promising progress over the last decade.

“We have given this subset of treatments the moniker ‘orthobiologics’ to help separate these types of treatments from pure mesenchymal stem cell treatments, which are still in various phases of research, and quite far from ready to market or FDA approval,” Shapiro told Healio Rheumatology. “Additionally, we need to draw the distinction between orthobiologics and ‘biologic’ agents used as treatments in inflammatory arthritic diseases, which modulate the immune system and have been approved for use in several arthritis and systemic inflammatory diseases.”

Parents and guardians: As online school begins, beware of media consumption, by Jack Graham

It’s August, which means many students across our nation are starting a new school year — virtually.

Because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), school systems and private schools throughout the country have had to adopt new modes of learning. While some have chosen to open and provide options for onsite or online learning, others have delayed opening, choosing online learning to kick off the year. And while technology certainly has its merits, it is not without its pitfalls. 

As parents and guardians, we have a responsibility to help our children navigate media well, especially now that they will be spending a significant amount of time online.

So, how can we wisely guide the children that have been entrusted to us?

A Standing Desk Changed My Life—It Can Save Yours Too, by Simon Hill

DOES YOUR BACK ache? Ever get shooting pains in your arms? For me, the answer to those questions, and any others involving nagging back pain, is yes.

I’ve seen doctors, tried exercises from physiotherapists, paid for massages, and guzzled painkillers to dull the persistent aches in my lower spine. I’ve had more than my fair share of pinched nerves. Now and then, I throw my back out badly enough to make walking in anything other than a shuffle a lofty ambition.

For a long time, I figured it was simply an occupational hazard, as my career requires me to spend long hours every day hunched over a computer. Then, I bought something that has all but vanquished my pain: an adjustable standing desk.

NOTE: Mayo investigators have conducted a range of research related to using standing desks and treadmill desks. Read more on PubMed.

Animal therapy aids humans, canines, via Veterinary Practice News

Like patients, therapy dogs also enjoy human-animal support interactions, according to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic and Purina

The “Better Together” study looked at the emotional-physiological state of individuals with fibromyalgia before and after a session with a therapy dog, as well as the state of the animal.

Plakous Therapeutics extends research through agreement with Mayo Clinic, news release via BioSpace

... The multi-year agreement will focus on understanding the results of a natural history study of the factors associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a rare disease affecting premature babies. Plakous has received Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Disease designations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of NEC in premature babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy. 

Continuing importance of stem cell research: Expanding medical knowledge, by Megan Hackbarth

Imagine a world where all forms of dementia, brain disorders and neurological diseases are cured with the patients’ own cells. This could be the same world where the shortage of organ donors has been replaced with the ability of people to grow their own replacement organs free of transplant rejection. This is a world where stem cell research has been allowed to unlock the secrets of cells and move forward the knowledge of medicine in profound ways. ...

Med City start-up lands $500,000 Air Force contract, by Jeff Kiger

A Rochester medical device start-up that sells a specialty eye dropper landed an estimated $500,000 contract with the U.S. Air Force.

Nanodropper, co-founded by a Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine student, designed and makes a specialized eye drop bottle adapter that reduces medicine waste by delivering a more precise drop for patients and doctors.

Allisa Song, a third-year medical student, is CEO and co-founder of the company. Song founded the company in 2017 while at the University of Washington with Elias Baker, Jennifer Steger and Mackenzie Andrews. They later moved the young business to Rochester.


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Tags: Allisa Song, Alzheimer's disease, animal model, Clifford Jack Jr., dogs, fibromyalgia, Findings, hypertension, Innovations, liver disease, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, medical research education, menopause, mesenchymal stem cells, News, News of the Week, pediatric research, pregnancy, regenerative medicine, Shane Shapiro, stem cell research, stem cells, Stephanie Faubion, women's health

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