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October 19, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 10/19/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
graphic art newspaper laptop

The news media recently highlighted a range of interesting topics, featuring Mayo Clinic Research and researchers on a new way to hunt down and capture deadly brain cancer cells, MSG in food, Angelman syndrome, the connection between screen time and life expectancy, COVID-19 (of course), and much more. Read on for brief excerpts and links to the full articles online.


Dietitians say there is no scientific evidence that MSG is bad for you and is actually found in everything from tomatoes to instant noodles

(Insider, 10/16/2020)

 MSG is a flavor enhancer commonly associated with Chinese takeout food, but it's also found in some canned goods and processed meats. Once thought to cause adverse side effects like headache and nausea, MSG has become a controversial additive. But, the science says it's not all that bad. 

Here's what you need to know about MSG and its effects on your health. …

NOTE: This article quotes Mayo's own Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., and other scientists.


New test can target and capture most lethal cells in fatal brain cancer

(Medical Xpress, news release from Johns Hopkins University, 10/15/2020)

A laboratory test developed by a research team led by Johns Hopkins University bioengineers can accurately pinpoint, capture and analyze the deadliest cells in the most common and aggressive brain cancer in adults.

The method's ability to capture the invasive proliferating and very mobile cells in the fatal condition called glioblastoma could lead to the discovery of new drugs to prevent or slow the cancer's spread. The test can also accurately predict which patients have the least or most aggressive form of glioblastoma.

The findings are described in a paper published in the most recent edition of Nature Biomedical Engineering.

NOTE: Several co-authors are from Mayo Clinic, and the study abstract can be found on PubMed.


Young women who suffer a heart attack have worse outcomes than men

(European Society of Cardiology, 10/14/2020)

Women aged 50 or younger who suffer a heart attack are more likely than men to die over the following 11 years, according to a new study published (Oct. 14, 2020) in the European Heart Journal.

The study found that, compared to men, women were less likely to undergo therapeutic invasive procedures after admission to hospital with a heart attack or to be treated with certain medical therapies upon discharge, such as aspirin, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and statins. …

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Marysia Tweet, assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Minnesota, USA, writes that “it is essential to aggressively address traditional cardiovascular risk factors in young AMI [acute myocardial infarction] patients, especially among young women with AMI and a high burden of comorbidities. Assessing clinical risk and implementing primary prevention is imperative, and non-traditional risk factors require attention, although not always addressed”. …

NOTE: read the article for more about the study as well as Dr. Tweet's observations.


Race for coronavirus cure hits reality as clinical trials suffer setbacks

(Bloomberg News, 10/14/2020)

… However, the trial complications are happening in an environment of intense scrutiny, executives and industry observers said, and the highly public nature of the hunt for vaccines and treatments is magnifying events that in other studies would be considered routine.

“I’m not surprised at all that these pauses are happening. Where I would be surprised is if they weren’t happening,” said Greg Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The U.S. has poured nearly $18 billion into Operation Warp Speed, its program designed to hasten the development of virus drugs and inoculations. Companies have been moving at unprecedented speeds to develop complex and innovative products for a virus that has killed more than 215,000 Americans. …

NOTE: Dr. Poland's comments continue throughout the article.


How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people

(Nature, 10/14/2020)

COVID-19 poses the greatest threat to older people, but vaccines often don’t work well in this group. Scientists hope drugs that rejuvenate the immune system will help.

NOTE: In this article you can read about various aging research intersections with COVID-19, including Mayo Clinic work led and discussed by James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D.


Mayo Clinic awarded $22 million pancreatic cancer research grant

(KROC Radio, 10/18/2020)

… Mayo Clinic says a research team will build algorithms that will identify people at high risk of pancreatic cancer and enable image-based identification of early cancer and precancerous lesions. The project will also strive to discover and validate new molecular biomarkers for the illness and develop a collaborative clinical model for caring for people facing a high risk of pancreatic cancer. …


Iron Therapy May Improve Sleep Quality in Young Angelman Patients

(Angelman Syndrome news, 10/13/2020

Sleep disturbances in people with Angelman syndrome may be at least partly associated with iron deficiency, according to a small study in the U.S. …

Notably, iron deficiency has been shown to contribute to sleep problems. But whether it is a contributing factor in Angelman patients is unknown.

Now, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., evaluated whether sleep disturbances in people with Angelman were associated with iron deficiency. …


Phase 3 study of three-drug regimen for biliary tract cancer exceeds enrollment goal

(HemOnc Today, 10/13/2020)

…  The phase 2 study, performed at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, involved 60 patients with advanced biliary tract cancers. Patients received cisplatin and Gemzar (gemcitabine, Eli Lilly and Co.) in combination with Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel, Celgene). …


Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group Director on J&J's Vaccine Trial Pause

(Bloomberg News - video, 10/13/2020)

Mayo Clinic vaccine research group director Gregory Poland, discusses the coronavirus vaccine and Johnson and Johnson's pause in vaccine trials. He speaks with Guy Johnson and Alix Steel on "Bloomberg Markets."


Mayo Clinic, startup launch 'health passport' app with initial focus on COVID-19

(Fierce Healthcare, 10/12/2020)

Mayo Clinic has teamed up with a health technology company to launch a new digital service focused on reducing the high cost of testing and care for COVID-19, sexually transmitted diseases and other common medical conditions.

Mayo Clinic is partnering with Los Angeles-based Safe Health Group on the venture to improve access to efficient, affordable treatment for common medical conditions, the health system announced in conjunction with the start of the HLTH 2020 virtual conference Monday.

The venture will focus on testing for STDs and common ailments but will initially target COVID-19 through symptom tracking and testing by linking consumers, clinicians and test distribution into one digital solution, called HealthCheck. …


Bone Marrow Transplant Bonds Mother And Daughter: 'It Just Worked Out To A Miracle'

(KIMT TV, 10/9/2020)

A mother battling cancer and her daughter are telling their story to raise awareness about bone marrow transplants and the power of becoming a donor.

You would never know Cyndi Nardiello was sick by looking at her. The mother of two was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia back in March. In May, she uprooted her life to get treatment at Mayo Clinic. …

Cyndi and Elyse tell KIMT News 3 they're now a part of research studies to help other people who will go through what they've gone through. …


AI Can Help Diagnose Some Illnesses—If Your Country Is Rich

(Wired, 10/11/2020)

Algorithms for detecting eye diseases are mostly trained on patients in the US, Europe, and China. This can make the tools ineffective for other racial groups and countries.

Vikash Gupta, a research scientist at Mayo Clinic in Florida working on the use of AI in radiology, says simply adding more diverse data might eliminate bias. “It’s difficult to say how to solve this issue at the moment,” he says.

In some situations, though, Gupta says it might be useful for an algorithm to focus on a subset of a population, for instance when diagnosing a disease that disproportionately affects that group. …


Optimal Strategies for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma in Newly Diagnosed Patients

(Targeted Oncology, 10/11/2020)

The multiple myeloma treatment paradigm has seen an assortment of therapeutic advances in recent years with agents that have demonstrated the ability to extend survival in patients and improving disease outcomes. However, the severity of the disease continues to linger without a cure, calling for oncologists to take new approaches to ensure that patients do not lose benefit while on treatment.

During a presentation at the National Comprehensive Cancer Institute (NCCN) 2020 Virtual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Shaji K. Kumar, MD, explained that each case of multiple myeloma requires a long-term strategy that starts with a strong approach in the frontline setting. …


Researchers Face Hurdles to Evaluate, Synthesize COVID-19 Evidence at Top Speed

(Science Magazine, 10/9/2020)

Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic started, physicians at the Mayo Clinic wanted guidance, and fast. How should they treat patients with blood clots? What outcomes should they expect for pregnant women?

They didn’t have time to sort through the flood of scientific papers, recalls Hassan Murad, a Mayo internist. Some research reported results that contradicted other papers, and medical societies hadn’t agreed on clinical guidelines.

Normally, such confusion would be sorted out with the help of “systematic reviews”: exhaustive, scholarly evaluations of relevant literature and data by groups of specialists. Systematic reviews often yield conclusions about the safest, most effective treatments that are more authoritative than any single study. But the reviews typically take 1 or 2 years to complete. And in the middle of a pandemic, “you don’t have time to do that,” says Murad, who specializes in conducting evidence-based reviews. So, this spring, he and colleagues hit the accelerator: They created an archive of relevant scientific articles and quickly produced seven reviews about COVID-19, some taking just 3 days to complete. …


No joke – laughter is healthy

(New York Times, 10/9/2020)

A good sense of humor helps you live longer, medical specialists say.             

… Increasingly, humor is being integrated into mainstream medical practice, said Dr. Kari Phillips, a resident physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Phillips observed over 100 clinical encounters and discovered that humor typically surfaces about twice during a half-hour doctor visit. It is initiated in equal measure by doctors and patients, often to break the ice between them or to help to soften the impact of a difficult medical conversation.

“We found that introducing humor results in better patient satisfaction and empowerment, and it helps people feel more warmth in their connection with the doctor,” she said. …


Make Black and Brown Queer Votes Matter

(Los Angeles blade, 10/9/2020)

Who and what you are in the United States can determine your voting method. Is it a coincidence that one of those methods, voting by mail, is under attack by the privileged and the powerful?

… For racial minorities, the desire to vote by mail, rather than in person, is to have access, since many of their polling places are closed. Voting by mail is also to be more sheltered from the threat of COVID-19. For minorities, this is a legitimate concern. “Research increasingly shows that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people had an age-adjusted COVID-19 hospitalization rate about 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic white people. COVID-19 hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people,” states William F. Marshall, III M.D of the Mayo Clinic.

“These factors — underlying health conditions, dense living conditions, employment in the service industry or as an essential worker, access to health care and racism — contribute to the impact of COVID-19 on people of color.” …


Too much television reduces life expectancy

(The Washington Newsday, 10/10/2020)

A research team at the University of Glasgow concludes that a restriction to a maximum of two hours per day in front of the television seems to be associated with fewer health problems and a lower risk of premature death. The results were published in the English language journal “Mayo Clinic Proceedings”. …

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Tags: acute myeloid leukemia, aging, Angelman syndrome, artificial intelligence, biomarkers, brain cancer, cancer, cancer research, Center for Digital Health, clinical trials, collaboration, COVID-19, Findings, Gregory Poland, health disparities, heart attack, hepatology, James Kirkland, Kari Phillips, Katherine Zeratsky, Kogod Center on Aging, M. Hassan Murad, Marysia Tweet, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Platform, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, News, News of the Week, pancreatic cancer, pharmacology, Progress Updates, radiology, Shaji Kumar, sleep medicine, vaccines, Vikash Gupta, William Marshall, women's health

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