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.

January 25, 2021

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 1/25/2021

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

From acupuncture, breast cancer, diabetes, euthyroid ... all the way to Zika, Mayo Clinic research and experts are featured in the news. Also find COVID-19 observations, advice and findings.

The Rochester Epidemiology Project: “The greatest medical resource you’ve never heard of”

Rochester Magazine, 1/22/2021

The Rochester Epidemiology Project has changed the way we view ADHD. Led directly to new dementia diagnoses. Created a roadmap for treating epilepsy. Right now, dozens of researchers from around the world are relying on The REP for treating COVID-19 patients and tracking vaccine efficacy. The REP has, in the words of the New England Journal of Medicine, “revolutionized medical research.” And, if you’ve ever lived in Rochester, you’re probably a part of it. …

NOTE: Learn more about the Rochester Epidemiology Project, visit the historical timeline and explore the data portal.

Acupuncture Cancer Pain Results - Florida, Minnesota, Arizona

HealthCMI, 1/22/2021

Florida, Minnesota, and Arizona Mayo Clinic researchers find systematic review evidence indicating that acupuncture is safe and effective for the alleviation of pain due to cancer. Acupressure and laser acupuncture were excluded from the study; however, filiform acupuncture needling, electroacupuncture, auricular acupuncture, percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS), and scalp acupuncture were included. The researchers note that the exclusion of acupressure and laser acupuncture from the investigation reduces heterogeneity and improves the quality of the results. …

New studies clarify which genes may raise breast cancer risk

Action News Jax (via AP), 1/20/2021

Two large studies give a much sharper picture of which inherited mutations raise the risk of breast cancer for women without a family history of the disease, and how common these flawed genes are in the general population.

… One was led by Fergus Couch, a pathologist at the Mayo Clinic and included researchers from the National Institutes of Health, which sponsored the study with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

They looked for any mutations in 12 genes that have been tied to breast cancer in more than 64,000 women, about half with the disease and half without it, pooling results from studies throughout the United States including some in specific minority groups such as Blacks.

They found troublesome mutations in about 5% of women with the disease and in 1.63% of the comparison group. …

Related: Not Just BRCA: Large Studies ID Other Key Breast Cancer Risk Genes, MedPage Today, 1/20/2021

Minnesota Partnership awards 5 collaborative research grants for 2021

University of Minnesota, 1/21/2021

Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics announced today their 2021 research awardees. This marks the partnership's 17th year of spearheading new scientific ideas from Minnesota to improve the health of, and health care for, Minnesotans. The state-funded grants for these team science proposals total nearly $5 million. Some of these proposals include: a long-lasting COVID-19 vaccine, new treatments for breast and other cancers, and gene-editing techniques to prevent birth defects. …

NOTE: Each project is led by a paired team of Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota investigators.


VolumeOne, 1/20/2021

everything you wanted to know about CBD, but didn’t know who to ask …


Yes, it can. “Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does,” writes Dr. Peter Grindspoon of Harvard Medical School. CBD can also impact the metabolism of some chemotherapy treatments, according to Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Mayo Clinic Integrative Medicine and Health Research Program. Bauer advises that people talk to their health care providers about using CBD. “I’m very optimistic that there will be something beneficial there,” Bauer said in Mayo Clinic News Network video. “I don’t think it’s going to be magic.”

NOTE: Read the article for more FAQs on CBD.

Diabetes, insulin resistance strongly associated with premature coronary heart disease among women

Cardiovascular Business, 1/22/2021

Diabetes and insulin resistance are “major determinants” of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) among women, according to new findings published in JAMA Cardiology. Researchers also identified other risk factors associated with premature CHD, noting that many of them can be modified through “lifestyle or preventive interventions.” …

“Prevention is better than cure, and many risk factors for heart disease are preventable,” co-first author Sagar Dugani, MD, PhD, an internal medicine practitioner at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a prepared statement. “This study shows the impact that lifestyle has on heart health in women of all ages, and younger women in particular.” …

Related: Women under 55 with Type-2 Diabetes Had a Tenfold Greater Risk of Having CHD Later, Bel Marra Health, 1/22/2021

One-third of patients remain euthyroid after ending thyroid hormone replacement

Endocrine Today, 1/19/2021

More than one-third of individuals taking thyroid hormone replacement remained euthyroid after discontinuing their medication, according to study findings published in Thyroid.

NOTE: 'Euthyroid' means the thyroid function is normal, neither over- or underexpressing hormones.

Blood Biomarker May Predict Alzheimer's Disease Progression

Medscape, 1/20/2021

Plasma levels of phosphorylated tau at threonine 181 (p-tau181) may provide a means of monitoring disease progression for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), new research suggests.

In a study of more than 1000 participants, changes over time in levels of p-tau181 were associated with prospective neurodegeneration and cognitive decline characteristic of AD. These results have implications for investigative trials as well as clinical practice, the investigators note. …

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, David S. Knopman, MD, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, said that this is "an outstanding study" because of its large number of participants and because the investigators are "world leaders in the technology of measuring plasma p-tau and NfL."

Knopman, who was not involved with the research, noted that the study had no substantive weaknesses.

NOTE: Read the full article to learn more about the research and Dr. Knopman's remarks.

FDA Approves First and Only Treatment for AL Amyloidosis

Medscape, 1/20/2021

The first and only treatment for a rare and often fatal blood cell disorder has been approved in the United States. …

"This represents a major step forward in the treatment of light chain amyloidosis," Morie A. Gertz, MD, from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News. He was not involved in the trial and was approached for comment at the time of the EHA presentation. "The high-level activity of adding daratumumab in terms of deeper hematologic responses as well as demonstrated organ responses will likely be practice changing for newly diagnosed AL amyloidosis," he added. …

People with diabetes open to remote digital monitoring; more concerned about intrusiveness than AI per se

AI in Healthcare, 1/19/2021

Diabetes patients offered remote digital monitoring are warmly receptive to the concept as long as its adoption doesn’t mean signing up for either of two ongoing interventions. One is remote food monitoring. The other is real-time feedback—whether from a live healthcare professional or an AI algorithm. …

The team’s study report is posted in JAMA Network Open.

The research was coordinated at the University of Paris, and the report’s co-authors include Victor Montori, MD, of Mayo Clinic and Philippe Ravaud, MD, PhD, of Columbia University. …

NOTE: Dr. Montori holds an M.D., as does Dr. Ravaud – corrected in above excerpt for this post.

Not-so-Young at Heart

Brigham and Women's Communications, 1/22/2021

Drivers of premature heart disease in younger women analyzed

Heart disease deaths have declined among older people, but the trend is less encouraging among younger people, particularly women. Indeed, research suggests that heart disease and death rates from heart disease in these younger groups have remained unchanged or have even gone up slightly.

To understand which factors put younger individuals at higher risk of premature coronary heart disease (CHD), Harvard Medical School researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic analyzed more than 50 risk factors in 28,024 women who participated in the decades-long Women’s Health Study. …

Does Zika vaccine development need an Operation Warp Speed?

Healio News, 1/21/2021

In less than a year, scientists created multiple effective COVID-19 vaccines. Five years after the Zika virus epidemic, there is still no vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease.

We asked Gregory A. Poland, MD, professor of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, if Zika vaccine development needs a public-private partnership on the scale of Operation Warp Speed, the government’s endeavor to speed up development of COVID-19 vaccines.

NOTE: Read the article for the full interview with Dr. Poland.

Nationwide survey finds physician satisfaction with telehealth

Tyler Morning Telegraph (via Mayo Clinic), 1/22/2021

In late November, the COVID-19 HealthCare Coalition, comprising more than 1,000 health care organizations, technology firms and nonprofits, including Mayo Clinic, published the Telehealth Impact Physician Survey results.

The survey, managed through Mayo Clinic and led by Steve Ommen, M.D., medical director, Mayo Clinic Center for Connected Care and Nilay Shah, Ph.D., chair of Mayo's Division of Health Care Policy and Research, two of the project's co-investigators, had several research goals. One was to assess how telehealth served the clinical needs of patients during COVID-19. Additionally, the survey sought to get feedback from physicians on the kinds of telehealth platforms and technologies they used and respondents' feelings about the value of telehealth and their expectations for using telehealth after the pandemic. …

Consensus on Diagnosis, Management of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Medscape, 1/22/2021

A large group of researchers has reviewed the literature related to acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) and has summarized current knowledge of this illness in a new consensus document.

In it, researchers describe the epidemiology and potential causes of AFM, the disease's clinical presentation, the methods required to diagnose it, effective strategies for acute management, and considerations for long-term rehabilitation. …

"This is the most comprehensive review [of AFM] published to date," Marc C. Patterson, MD, professor of neurology, pediatrics, and medical genetics at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News. "The review emphasizes the importance of considering this diagnosis in any child with weakness, particularly asymmetric weakness, and provides useful guidance in differentiating alternative diagnoses." …

Mayo Clinic shows expertise while combatting COVID-19


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Tags: acupuncture, acute flaccid myelitis, ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, amyloidosis, artificial intelligence, biomarkers, breast cancer, Brent Bauer, cancer, cancer genomics, cannabidiol (CBD), collaboration, COVID-19, David Knopman, dementia, diabetes, Fergus Couch, Findings, gene mutation, Gregory Poland, heart disease, Innovations, integrative medicine, Marc Patterson, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Minnesota Partnership, Morie Gertz, National Institutes of Health, News, News of the Week, Nilay Shah, physician burnout, plasma, preventive medicine, Progress Updates, Rochester Epidemiology Project, Sagar Dugani, Steve Ommen, team science, telehealth, telemedicine, thyroid disease, University of Minnesota, vaccines, Victor Montori, women's health

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