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.

September 11, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 9/11/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
graphic art of a person whispering to someone else, 'pssst...!'

In case you missed them - or you just weren't looking, this blog post includes a host of stories, from across the nation and around the world, that discuss Mayo Clinic research or cite Mayo researchers. Read on for excerpts and links to stories on what we know about herbs and supplements for anxiety, proposed federal guidelines limiting alcohol consumption for men (really), the benefits of tennis and walking, and an article that launches (perhaps) the term 'humaneer.' Plus a dozen or so other topics.

Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of safety issue (NBC News, 9/8/2020)

The 'routine action' was taken to allow an independent review of safety data, drugmaker AstraZeneca said.

Clinical trials for the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine have been put on hold, drug maker AstraZeneca said Tuesday…

"Serious reactions do occur in vaccine trials," Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, said in an email to NBC News. "Generally, when these events occur, trials are paused, data collected, and an independent data monitoring and safety board reviews the details to make a determination whether to resume the trial or alter it in some way."

"Often these events are coincidental, but these precautions are necessary to ensure the safety of the trial participants," Poland said.

“Would America Be Better Off Without Religion?” (Patheos, 9/10/2020)

… Chalk says many research reports substantiate the following Mayo Clinic overview: “Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.” Also, “several studies have shown that addressing the spiritual needs of the patient may enhance recovery from illness.”

Mayo Clinic saw increase in victims reporting sexual harassment when #MeToo started (Bring Me – MN – The News, 9/8/2020)

From September 2017-September 2019, 153 sexual harassment allegations were filed, and 88 were substantiated.

The Mayo Clinic saw an increase in staff who reported sexual harassment in the months following the start of the #MeToo movement in late 2017. But by early 2018, the volume of reports had gone down, mirroring a nationwide trend…

The Rochester-based company recently published a study and article on the investigations in its peer-review journal. Sharing this data is among the ways Mayo is working at addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. 

"Our novel approach includes being transparent about results as we work toward elimination of sexual harassment at Mayo Clinic. Until we eliminate every case of harassment, we cannot be complacent ― period," Cathy Fraser, Mayo's chief human resources officer and study co-author, said in a news release.  …

Clinician Burden May Discourage E-Cigarette EHR Documentation (EHR Intelligence, 9/8/2020)

While a separate e-cigarette EHR workflow has its documentation benefits, only 6 percent of clinicians utilized the workflow.

Implementing a separate EHR section to document patient e-cigarette use is achievable, and it provides a consistent avenue to assess e-cigarette use. However, only 6 percent of clinicians utilized the newly implemented EHR section, which researchers linked to potential clinician burden, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine. …

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN aimed to design and implement a separate area within the EHR workflow to observe and collect e-cigarette information from patients. Researchers designed the workflow outside of other tobacco use information. This was the first Epic Systems EHR implementation of its kind, and a similar e-cigarette EHR workflow was in a recent optimization. …

Mayo Clinic Named a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot for Patients, Staff and Visitors (Business Wire, 9/10/2020)

The nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS), an industry leader in the validation of gluten-free food services, announces that Mayo Clinic joins its roster of Validated Gluten Free Safe Spots. Mayo Clinic, considered one of the top hospitals in the nation, expands on its commitment to the highest quality in patient care by becoming a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot. …

“It’s very exciting to award gluten-free validation to a hospital dedicated to supporting the study and treatment of celiac disease and the potential to help millions of people in the U.S. and globally affected by celiac,” said Lindsey Yeakle, GFFS program manager. “Mayo Clinic has demonstrated a strong commitment to the gluten-free community by taking a leadership role in the study of celiac and building this kitchen to make safe gluten-free meals possible to support that commitment.”

What Is Psoriasis? Everything You Need to Know (SELF, 9/9/2020)

It’s more than just a skin thing.

“What is psoriasis?” might seem like a pretty straightforward question—it’s a skin condition that causes raised bumpy patches, right? Not quite, actually. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes issues with the skin. And it’s so much more than the physical symptoms you probably associate with it. For one, there are several different types of psoriasis and each person’s experience with the condition is unique. Moreover, psoriasis’s impact is more than skin-deep, with the potential to cause everything from painful psoriatic arthritis to serious self-image issues…

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes someone’s immune system to malfunction this way, but according to the Mayo Clinic, researchers believe that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. What they do know is that psoriasis is not contagious and, although treatments can help manage the condition, there is no cure.

In ALS and FTD, Two Different Routes to TDP-43 Aggregation (ALZForum, 9/9/2020)

Different genetic mutations can converge on the same downstream pathology. The C9ORF72 repeat expansion and progranulin haploinsufficiency both trigger the RNA-binding protein TDP-43 to abandon the nucleus and settle in cytoplasm. TDP-43 deposits underlie cases of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. How does each mutation promote this pathology? Quite differently, according to two new papers.

NOTE:  One of the papers discussed in this article was the result of Mayo Clinic-led research. It was published in Science Translational Medicine.

Humanigen Attempts Revival via Battle Against COVID-19 (ClinicalOMICS, 9/8/2020)

Burlingame, CA-based Humanigen is testing whether its engineered antibody or “Humaneered” technology developed over two decades can catapult the company to a leading role in the scramble to conquer COVID-19. This coming four years since its emergence from a bankruptcy, touched off by the arrest of its former CEO, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli…

Lenzilumab is a “Humaneered” monoclonal antibody designed to prevent or minimize the cytokine release syndrome that precedes lung dysfunction and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in serious cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. It does so by targeting and neutralizing granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a key cytokine in the initiation of cytokine storm…

In a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings this week, Mayo Clinic researchers showed that lenzilumab led to rapid clinical improvement with a median time to recovery of five days (vs 11 days in the control arm), median time to discharge of five days (vs. 11 for the control group), and 100% survival to the data cutoff date. Patients also showed rapid improvement in oxygenation, temperature, inflammatory cytokines, and key hematological parameters consistent with improved clinical outcomes. The patients all required oxygen supplementation and had elevation in at least one inflammatory biomarker prior to receiving lenzilumab.

30 Reasons Walking Is the Best Exercise (24/7 Wall St, 9/10/2020)

Americans are no longer under orders to stay at home. Gyms and other facilities where people can work out are have reopened in most of the country. That may encourage people who want to stay in shape or lose the so-called “Quarantine 15” because, as research has found, walking is often just as beneficial a workout…

20. Prevents dementia

Taking a 20-minute walk each day could reduce the risk of developing dementia by 40%, according to a research study conducted by neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, who helped prepare the study, said dementia is often connected with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vascular diseases that impede the flow of blood to the brain, leading to a decline in brain tissue and memory function. Walking regularly can diminish the risk of blocked blood flow.

Studies: Cancer screenings dropped sharply during pandemic (Leader-Telegram, 9/7/2020)

… People missed 285,000 breast cancer screenings alone in the U.S. between mid-March and late May, according to the Epic study.

It’s too early to tell how COVID-19 has specifically impacted cancer care in the Chippewa Valley, said Dr. Timothy Burns, oncologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

“At this point it is difficult to accurately predict how COVID-19 will impact the trend of cancer diagnoses per se, but Mayo Clinic is dedicated to researching and answering exact questions like this,” Burns said in an email to the Leader-Telegram, adding that there are ongoing studies on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care.

Medical Errors Jump After 'Spring Forward' to Daylight Saving Time  (Medscape, 9/10/2020)

The week after the annual "spring forward" to daylight saving time (DST) might not be the best time to seek medical care.

Researchers found a statistically significant increase in patient safety–related incidents in the week following the annual change to DST.

"Patient safety errors are an important and preventable cause of morbidity. Every year with daylight saving time, healthcare workers have less time in bed, which can result in sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of errors," lead investigator Bhanu Kolla, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News.

Tackle Football in Childhood: Does Age Matter? (MedPage Today, 9/9/2020)

— Early exposure may not be linked to short-term concussion recovery

Kids who played tackle football at a young age weren't at increased risk for prolonged or worsened concussion symptoms as college players, researchers said…

Research about early exposure to football has yielded mixed results, with some studies suggesting head impacts at young ages raise the risk of negative long-term neurological consequences, and others saying age of first exposure doesn't affect long-term brain health, noted Robert Lynall, PhD, of the University of Georgia in Athens, and Kevin Barrett, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, in an accompanying editorial.

In the short term, it's unclear how early exposure may affect concussion recovery, "limiting the clinician's ability to prognosticate and tailor post-concussion management based on prior duration of exposure," they wrote.

Flu is approaching. Here’s why coronavirus could make season better, or worse. (The Virginian-Pilot, 9/7/2020)

As summer comes to a close, public health officials are viewing the next season with white knuckles, unsure how the flu could compound the pandemic.

A bad influenza season could overrun busy hospitals, and if vast numbers of people skip being vaccinated, that could lead to additional strain on supplies and equipment needed by patients with either respiratory illness…

Though some skeptics say they don’t get the shot because it’s not that effective, Fisher said that regardless of how accurate each year’s vaccine is, it almost always protects a person from severe disease or death.

When it comes to COVID-19, which has no vaccine, there could be partial protection offered through other types of vaccines — perhaps even the flu shot, according to some new Mayo Clinic research. Though the correlation might be slight, some physicians, like Fisher, believe anything that encourages more people to get the shot is worth mentioning.

'Limited, Arbitrary, and Unsystematic:' Flawed Federal Dietary Report Targets Alcohol (, 9/5/2020)

Experts are blasting proposed federal guidelines that call for men to consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Critics are lining up to blast a report, issued by a federal committee earlier this summer, that urges the government to make steep cuts to the definition of moderate alcohol consumption. These critics are concerned because the group—the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a rotating crop of experts that meets every five years—is the government's primary vehicle for recommending updates to the nation's dietary policies…

This DGAC controversy does not surprise me. Indeed, it's no stretch at all to argue that the DGAC is best known—in recent years, at least—for its controversial recommendations. In 2015, I blasted the DGAC report for proposing new food taxes, pushing for restrictions on food marketing, and suggesting local food bans. In a separate column that same year, I spoke with a university researcher whose analyses, published in the esteemed, peer-reviewed Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests, as I explained, "that the DGAC's work—and the research used to support that work—is so off base as to be scientifically useless." ...

The Way Free Clinic to share in $100,000 grants for aging adults (Clay Today, 9/9/2020)

Community Foundation’s grants will support programs, services for vulnerable elders

… Mayo Clinic received a $20,000 grant to increase awareness and knowledge of pre-screening, diagnosis, and treatment services for Alzheimer’s and related dementias within the African-American community. Based on best practice research, Mayo plans to train members of the clergy within the AME church, and in partnership with AARP, will conduct educational workshops so clergy can sustainably continue workshops going forward.

How drugmakers can keep their pledge and still deliver an October vaccine surprise (Reuters, 9/9/2020)

As questions mount over whether the United States will authorize a coronavirus vaccine ahead of November elections, experts say there is a slim chance that enough evidence will be available to prove one is safe and effective in that time frame…

Pfizer’s trial calls for four interim analyses by the DSMB, the first after just 32 recorded infections. “We may have enough data to be able to share the first analysis by October,” said Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts.

Moderna’s first interim analysis will come after 53 trial subjects become infected, the company told investors last month.

Basing a decision on 53 cases, is “an absolutely insufficient number,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester who has served on FDA vaccine advisory panels. “You would know very little about safety.”

To halt the trials due to positive results, vaccines would likely have to exceed the 50% efficacy threshold…

Let's Talk About Severe Obesity (Health Central, 9/9/2020)

About 25% of people with obesity fall into the "severe" classification. Here's what that means and how treatment can help.

… The prevalence of severe obesity has increased fivefold over the past five decades, outpacing obesity in general, which has nearly tripled in the same time frame, according to new research out of the Mayo Clinic. It’s believed that about 10% of Americans now fall into the category of having severe obesity…

Study shows tennis players live longer (Australasian Leasure Management, 9/9/2020)

A new study has shown the benefits of sports participation for longevity, with those who regularly play tennis gaining, on average, an extra 9.7 years to their lives.

The research from the US-based Mayo Clinic, shows the specific sports that have the most significant impact on participant's lifespan, with tennis players benefiting from increased aerobic capacity, better metabolic function, higher bone density and lower blood pressure.

Can Certain Supplements Actually Help With Anxiety? (, 9/8/2020)

Anxiety is skyrocketing right now, especially among women.

A quarter of all women report severe anxiety with physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat, compared to only 11 percent of men, and more than half also report sleep issues, according to a survey.

What's more, women have a higher risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome, a May 2020 study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity found.

Given all this, the idea of popping an over-the-counter supplement to ease your jitters may sound very appealing. But you still need to be careful.

"Herbal supplements aren't monitored by the FDA the same way medications are," says Brent Bauer, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program. "Natural doesn't always mean safe."

NOTE: Dr. Bauer comments throughout on the various supplements covered in the article.

Readers Predict Biggest Medical Breakthroughs by 2045 (Medscape 9/11/2020)

… Use of telemedicine has fallen off from its initial highs recently after skyrocketing growth during the pandemic's initial stage. But many experts believe it has tremendous growth potential.

An architect of Mayo Clinic's model of healthcare at home launched this summer, John Halamka, MD, said that before the pandemic, "maybe some organizations were at 5% virtual, went to 95% virtual, and are now at 25% virtual, but they're going to stay at 25% virtual. So you went from 5% to 25% in 6 months. The cultural expectation will keep that going forward."


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Tags: About, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, autoimmune disorder, Bhanu Kolla, Brent Bauer, cancer screening, celiac disease, clinical research, clinical trials, concussion, COVID-19, dementia, dermatology, Findings, gene mutation, gluten free, Gregory Poland, health disparities, hematology, influenza, integrative medicine, Jay Van Gerpen, John Halamka, Kevin Barrett, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, mental health, multiple myeloma, News, News of the Week, Nicotine Dependence Center, obesity, patient experience, patient reported outcomes, psoriasis, psychology, Shaji Kumar, telemedicine, Timothy Burns, vaccines, vaping, women's health

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