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.

November 9, 2020

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

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
graphic art newspaper laptop

As SARS-CoV-2 spreads throughout the world, COVID-19 has become the subject of almost every conversation. Not surprisingly, the media are actively following developments in research on symptoms, testing, treatment and vaccines. In addition to some of these stories, you'll find Mayo Clinic research and researchers highlighted across a wide range of topics. We are also joined in mourning the loss of one of our clinician-researchers, David Ahlquist, M.D.

head and shoulders shot of Dr. Ahlquist
David Ahlquist, M.D.
Death of Dr. David Ahlquist, a Pioneer in Early Cancer Detection

Exact Sciences, 11/2/2020

Unwavering. That’s how we think of our chief scientific advisor, Dr. David Ahlquist. With deep sorrow, we announce Dr. Ahlquist’s untimely passing yesterday at the age of 69, one year after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). …

'I could live a hundred lives and not meet as amazing of a person as Dave'

MedCity Beat, 11/3/2020

Dr. David Ahlquist, a groundbreaking Mayo Clinic researcher who helped provide the first major alternative to a colonoscopy, died Sunday from complications related to ALS. He was 69. …


With area cases on the rise, Mayo Clinic Health System debunks 10 common COVID-19 myths

KTOE radio, 11/6/2020

This fall, there has been a surge of COVID-19 infections across Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, including in communities served by Mayo Clinic Health System. … Below are 10 myths debunked and the facts that support the truth. 


T-cell discovery points to potential strategy for managing chronic lung disease after COVID-19

Fierce Biotech, 11/6/2020

Respiratory viral infections from influenza and SARS-CoV-2—the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19—cause a disproportionally high number of deaths among elderly people. And older survivors are prone to long-term impairment of lung function. But the exact mechanisms regulating the development of chronic lung disease after viral pneumonia are unclear.

A new study offers one explanation for why older people may be more susceptible to lung inflammation and fibrosis following viral infection. By studying aged mice, Mayo Clinic researchers found that T cells that reside in tissues—as compared to circulating T cells—were defective after influenza infection. Rather than being protective, these T cells in old animals contributed to inflammation, according to findings published in Science Immunology.

The researchers argued that the discovery could help guide a T-cell-targeted treatment strategy for elderly patients with chronic lung disease after viral pneumonia, including COVID-19.


TDP-43 Protein Declines Years Before Death in Alzheimer's

Medscape, 11/9/2020

Brain levels of TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43), a key factor in the neurodegeneration that occurs with Alzheimer's disease, begin declining nearly two decades prior to the end of life and show an independent effect on the rate of hippocampal atrophy that occurs with the disease, new research shows.

"TDP-43 Is strongly associated with changes early in the atrophic process with strong relationships throughout the last 17 years of life," first author Marina Buciuc, MD, of the Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, said in presenting the findings as part of the American Neurological Association's ANA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting. …


What is The Best Dose of Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Cardioprotection?

Clinical Advisor, 11/9/2020

… Omega-3 research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings is the most comprehensive analysis to date on EPA and DHA dosage and its role in cardiovascular prevention, with a review of 40 clinical trials.4 The authors found that EPA plus DHA supplementation is associated with a statistically significant reduced risk for:

  • Fatal myocardial infarction (MI) (35%)
  • MI (13%)
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) events (10%)
  • CHD mortality (9%)

NOTE: Read the article to learn more about the research and how to apply the findings for healthier patients.


After a Broken Bone, the Risk of a Second Fracture

NY Times, 11/9/2020

Far too few patients are referred for treatment that could stave off another costly, debilitating and sometimes deadly fracture.

… “We’ve become so wedded to the concept of bone density that we ignore the simple fact that fracture is itself the definition of the disease,” Dr. Sundeep Khosla, endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in an interview.

NOTE: Dr. Khosla and other experts are quoted throughout the article.


Proton Beam, Gabapentin Improve Care in Head and Neck Cancer

Medscape, 11/6/2020

Two new approaches are improving care for patients with head and neck cancer. One is proton beam therapy, which yields less toxicity and better swallowing and quality-of-life outcomes compared to conventional radiotherapy. The other is gabapentin used prophylactically before radiotherapy, which reduces the need for opioid pain relief afterward. …

"We're now seeing a preponderance of human papillomavirus [HPV]–related oropharyngeal cancers, and these patients are in their 40s and 50s and are otherwise healthy and have a significant life span ahead of them," commented Samir Patel, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona. He was lead author on the study of proton beam therapy. …

NOTE: Dr. Patel's study, and the other highlighted in this article were presented during the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2020 Annual Meeting.


Guideline Testing Can Miss Genetic Mutations, Study Finds

Oncology Nursing News, 11/4/2020

While genetic testing lays the groundwork for individualized cancer care and better outcomes, many patients are having their targetable mutations missed, according to recent research published in JAMA Oncology.

Researchers analyzed 2984 genetic testing results from patients with cancer who were treated at one of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center’s 3 locations: Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota. Findings showed that 13.3% (397) patients had a pathogenic germline variant (PGV) that was associated with the development of cancer. …


The FDA's cutoff for Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness is 50 percent. What does that mean?

NBC News, 11/3/2020

No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but some work better than others.

… But even if a Covid-19 vaccine is only 50 percent effective, it could make a difference, experts say, pointing out that the flu vaccine effectiveness can vary widely from year to year, anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent over the last decade, and the shots still offer benefits. When the flu vaccine matches up well with the influenza viruses that are circulating, the shots can reduce illness, hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC says.

And if enough people were immunized, a Covid-19 vaccine wouldn’t need to be near-perfect to have a substantial impact in the community, said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group and editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine.

NOTE: Dr. Poland's comments continue through the article, along with those of other experts.


Alzheimer's and Cerebral Small Vessel Disease Processes Worsen Cognition Independently Prior to Dementia

Neurology Today, 11/5/2020

A new paper finds that the deleterious effect of amyloid-beta on cognition worsened when white matter hyperintensities were also present. The findings underscore an associated but synergistically independent interaction between cerebral small-vessel disease and Alzheimer's disease.

… “This study finds a statistical interaction between cerebral small-vessel disease and Alzheimer's disease,” said James Meschia, MD, FAAN, professor and chair of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. “But the statistical interaction does not prove that cerebral small vessel disease and Alzheimer's disease are tightly, mechanistically linked. We would need evidence beyond observational studies to prove a mechanistic link.”

NOTE: Dr. Meschia's comments continue in the article.


Dr. Bekaii-Saab on the Future of Telemedicine in CRC

OncLive, 11/3/2020

Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, MD, FACP, medical oncologist, medical director, Cancer Clinical Research Office, vice chair and section chief, Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, discusses the future of telemedicine in colorectal cancer (CRC).

NOTE: This is a video podcast.


Memory Loss Slower for Working Women

MedPage Today, 11/4/2020

— Those who never had paid job twice as likely to show memory impairment at age 70

Working women had slower memory decline as they aged than women who had not worked outside the home, a longitudinal study found.

Non-working mothers were twice as likely to develop memory impairment at age 70 as working married mothers, reported Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, PhD, MPH, of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles, and co-authors. ...

"Of studies in the dementia field that have incorporated sex and gender, the vast majority focus on sex differences or sex-specific factors including pregnancy, the menopausal transition and use of hormone therapy, genetics, or differences in biomarker profiles," said Michelle Mielke, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Bryan James, PhD, of Rush University in Chicago, in an editorial accompanying the study. …

NOTE: Further comments are included in the article. To find out more about Dr. Mielke, read her research profile.

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Tags: About, ALS, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, animal model, ASTRO, bone disease, cancer screening, cardiovascular medicine, clinical research, colorectal cancer, COVID-19, David Ahlquist, dementia, DNA, endocrinology, Findings, genetic testing, Gregory Poland, head and neck cancer, heart attack, heart disease, hereditary cancer, hormones, HPV, human papillomavirus, immunization, influenza, integrative medicine, James Meschia, lung disease, Marina Buciuc, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Michelle Mielke, neurology, News, oncology, People, Progress Updates, radiation therapy, Samir Patel, Sundeep Khosla, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, telemedicine, vaccines, women's health

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