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.

April 1, 2021

Research News Roundup — Q1 2021

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

The first quarter of 2021 saw furthered understanding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and related COVID-19 viral infection. In addition, a number of advances occurred including in genetics knowledge, cancer treatments, as well as interinstitutional collaborations, expanding programs and recognition of some of the most exceptional contributions of current and former Mayo Clinic clinician-scientists.

Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator boosts health startups

March 30, 2021

Few things have better illustrated the need for innovative medical technologies than the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mayo Clinic and ASU MedTech Accelerator, a flagship program of the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care, was designed to help empower medical startups to better navigate challenges while bringing forth life-changing health innovations. The second cohort of this program is set to launch March 30, 2021.

The accelerator provides emerging companies with a multi-day immersive curriculum in health care entrepreneurship including: lectures and workshops with world-class scientific and engineering experts; resources to navigate regulatory pathways; and tools for product commercialization and customer acquisition. Additionally, participants attend mentoring, business development, and networking events.

Mayo Clinic, Thermo Fisher Scientific collaborate to benefit patients

March 25, 2021

Mayo Clinic and Thermo Fisher Scientific have joined forces to bring innovative solutions to patients by accelerating clinical validation, and commercialization of selected next-generation sequencing (NGS), mass spectrometry and immunology diagnostic tools. The Advanced Diagnostics Laboratory in One Discovery Square, which is part of the Destination Medical Center initiative, will be the home for this collaboration.

Lack of diversity in genomic databases may affect therapy selection for minority groups

March 19, 2021

Low representation of minority groups in public genomic databases may affect therapy selection for Black patients with cancer, according to new Mayo Clinic research published in npj Precision Oncology.

The researchers investigated the use of genomic databases and found that tumor mutation burden was significantly inflated in Black patients compared to White patients.

Genetic testing proves beneficial in prescribing effective blood thinners

March 17, 2021

Pharmacogenomics is a valuable tool for health care providers to help prescribe the right drug for the right patient to enhance efficacy and avoid side effects.

A new research paper funded in part by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows a clear advantage of genetic testing in helping health care providers choose the appropriate anti-platelet drug. Testing helps determine if a patient carries genetic variants in CYP2C19 that cause loss of its function. These variants interfere with the body's ability to metabolize and activate clopidogrel, an anti-platelet medication.

Reducing infection from asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers?

March 11, 2021

Ten days after receiving a first dose of a messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccine for COVID-19, patients without COVID-19 symptoms are far less likely to test positive and unknowingly spread COVID-19, compared to patients who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna messenger RNA vaccines for COVID-19 are authorized for emergency use in the U.S.

With two doses of a messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine, people with no symptoms showed an 80% lower adjusted risk of testing positive for COVID-19 after their last dose. Those are the findings of a Mayo Clinic study of vaccinated patients. These findings appear in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

COVID-19 pandemic has increased loneliness and other social issues, especially for women

March 4, 2021

Social distancing guidelines have reduced the spread of COVID-19, but lockdowns and isolation also have created or aggravated other well-being concerns, reports new researchMayo Clinic investigators found a significant increase in loneliness and a decrease in feelings of friendship during the pandemic. The study, published Feb. 20 in the journal Social Science & Medicine, also showed disproportionate negative effects among women and those with poorer health.

The researchers say that while physical distance is important during the pandemic, distance within and among relationships can cause undue harm to a person's mental health and well-being. The decision to close businesses and schools, and cancel social gatherings and events ― while effective at slowing the spread of disease ― can have unintended social, mental, financial and substance abuse issues.

Plans for an integrated education and research building in Phoenix

Feb. 26, 2021

The Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees approved the construction of a $131 million Integrated Education and Research Building in Arizona to accelerate the growth of Mayo Clinic’s education and research programs. The 150,000 square-foot building is part of a massive $748 million expansion project underway on Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus. The project was approved by the board on Feb 19.

Mayo Clinic researchers develop test to measure effect of breast cancer gene variants

Feb. 19, 2021

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have combined results from a functional test measuring the effect of inherited variants in the BRCA2 breast and ovarian cancer gene with clinical information from women who received genetic testing to determine the clinical importance of many BRCA2 variants of uncertain significance (VUS). The findings were published today in a study in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Proton therapy induces biologic response to attack treatment-resistant cancers

Feb. 17, 2021

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a novel proton therapy technique to more specifically target cancer cells that resist other forms of treatment. The technique is called LEAP, an acronym for "biologically enhanced particle therapy." The findings are published today in Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Researchers identify gene implicated in neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer

Feb. 15, 2021

A new study by Mayo Clinic researchers has identified that a chromosome instability gene, USP24, is frequently missing in pediatric patients with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of childhood cancer. The finding provides important insight into the development of this disease. The study is published in Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Ionic liquid formulation uniformly delivers chemotherapy to tumors while destroying cancerous tissue

Feb. 10, 2021

A Mayo Clinic team, led by Rahmi Oklu, M.D., Ph.D., a vascular and interventional radiologist at Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D., of Harvard University, report the development of a new ionic liquid formulation that killed cancer cells and allowed uniform distribution of a chemotherapy drug into liver tumors and other solid tumors in the lab. This discovery could solve a problem that has long plagued drug delivery to tumors and provide new hope to patients with liver cancer awaiting a liver transplant. The preclinical study results are published in Science Translational Medicine.

Study examines role of biomarkers to evaluate kidney injury in cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy

Feb. 3, 2021

study by Mayo Clinic researchers published in Kidney International Reports finds that immune checkpoint inhibitors, may have negative consequences in some patients, including acute kidney inflammation, known as interstitial nephritis. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are used to treat cancer by stimulating the immune system to attack cancerous cells.

Mayo Clinic research yields breakthrough in mobile determination of QT prolongation


Researchers from Mayo Clinic and AliveCor Inc. have been using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a mobile device that can identify certain patients at risk of sudden cardiac death.  This research has yielded a breakthrough in determining the health of the electrical recharging system in a patient's heart. The researchers determined that a smartphone-enabled mobile EKG device can rapidly and accurately determine a patient's QTc, thereby identifying patients at risk of sudden cardiac death from congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) or drug-induced QT prolongation.

First hybrid gene therapy shows early promise in treating long QT syndrome

Jan. 28, 2021

In a new study published in Circulation, Mayo Clinic researchers provide the first preclinical, proof-of-concept study for hybrid gene therapy in long QT syndrome, a potentially lethal heart rhythm condition.

Researchers demonstrated its potential therapeutic efficacy in two in vitro model systems using beating heart cells reengineered from the blood samples of patients with type 1 long QT syndrome. They targeted the whole KCNQ1 gene rather than specific LQT1-causative mutations, making this study applicable to all patients with type 1 long QT syndrome, regardless of their specific disease-causing variant.

Minnesota Partnership awards 5 collaborative research grants for 2021

Jan. 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.

Study findings improve accuracy of breast cancer risk estimates for women with no family history

Jan. 20, 2021

 A new multi-institution study led by Fergus Couch, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic pathologist, provides more accurate estimates of breast cancer risk for U.S. women who harbor inherited mutations in breast cancer predisposition genes. The findings of the CARRIERS Consortium study, which were published Wednesday, Jan. 20 in The New England Journal of Medicine, may allow health care providers to better assess the risk of breast cancer in women ― many of whom have no family history of breast cancer ― and provide more appropriate risk management strategies.

Mayo Clinic study indicates age has distinct influences on sex-related outcomes after heart attack

Jan. 20, 2021

Approximately 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in men and women in the U.S. Sex and age play a large part in who experiences a heart attack, the methods used to treat these heart attacks, and the eventual post hospital outcomes of the people who experience heart attacks. Mayo Clinic researchers discuss these sex and age differences in study findings published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Mayo Clinic announces 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Jan. 12, 2021

Mayo Clinic announces the recipients of its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards:

  • Miguel Cabanela, M.D.
  • John Cooke, M.D., Ph.D.
  • David Holmes Jr., M.D.
  • Edward Laws Jr., M.D.
  • Robert Rizza, M.D.
  • Nicholas Talley, M.D., Ph.D.

The award was established in 1981 to acknowledge and show appreciation for exceptional contributions of Mayo Clinic alumni to medicine.

People who have received the award have been recognized nationally and often internationally in their fields. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding attributes and accomplishments of people who have served at high levels in all aspects of their respective fields.

People who have received the award have been recognized nationally and often internationally in their fields. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding attributes and accomplishments of people who have served at high levels in all aspects of their respective fields.


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Tags: Arizona State University, biomarkers, brain cancer, BRCA2, breast cancer, chemotherapy, COVID-19, David Holmes Jr., diversity, education, Fergus Couch, Findings, gene variant, genetic testing, genome, health disparities, heart attack, hereditary cancer, immune system, immunology, individualized medicine, kidney disease, long QT syndrome, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, medical innovation, medical research education, messenger RNA, Minnesota Partnership, News, Nicholas Talley, pediatric cancer, People, pharmacogenomics, precision medicine, Progress Updates, proton beam therapy, psychology, radiation therapy, radiology, Rahmi Oklu, research, research education, Research News Roundup, Robert Rizza, stroke, substance abuse disorder, sudden cardiac death, women's health

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