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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 19, 2021

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 4/19/2021

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

This week saw some advances in neurology for patients with memory loss or Parkinson's disease, as well as furthered understanding of the role race plays in personalized medicine. Read about these, updates on COVID-19, and a number of other findings in health care and biomedical research.


Blood-Based Markers Tied to Brain Cell and Memory Loss

MedPage Today, 4/16/2021

Another step closer to clinical utility for tracking neurodegeneration

Two proteins in blood -- plasma neurofilament light chain (NfL) and total tau -- were associated with cognition and neuroimaging outcomes, strengthening their potential as blood-based biomarkers of neurodegeneration, a large longitudinal study showed.

At baseline, NfL was more strongly associated with brain atrophy in multiple areas, white matter alterations, and changes in global cognition, reported Michelle Mielke, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The combination of elevated NfL and total tau at baseline was more strongly associated with worse global cognition and memory loss and with neuroimaging measures, including temporal cortex thickness and increased number of infarcts. …


Physical activity slows cognitive decline in APOE e4 carriers with Parkinson’s disease

Healio News, 4/13/2021

Patients with Parkinson’s disease who increased their physical activity saw positive modification of the APOE e4 allele’s impact on early cognitive decline, according to findings from a multicenter cohort study published in Neurology. …

In a related editorial, Jacob Raber PhD, of the departments of behavioral neuroscience, neurology and radiation medicine in the division of neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, Sirwan K.L. Darweesh, MD, PhD, of the department of neurology at Radboud University Medical Center of Expertise for Parkinson & Movement Disorder in the Netherlands, and Rodolfo Savica, MD, PhD, FAAN, of the department of neurology and health science research at Mayo Clinic Rochester in Minnesota, discussed the treatment implications of the study results from Kim and colleagues, since “physical activity has emerged as a promising avenue for treatment.”

NOTE: Read the editorial and more about Dr. Savica.


Why Race Matters in Personalized Health Care

Scientific American, 4/13/2021

Achieving better, more equitable treatments requires looking at multiple factors that affect populations differently, including genetic variations

… TED is not often diagnosed in the Black population, even though its most common precursor, Graves’ disease, is more common among Black people than white people. My team has examined this discrepancy in the literature to understand whether there is some factor that protects Black patients with Graves’ disease from progressing to TED, or if the condition is simply underdiagnosed in this group because of disparities in care. Since there is limited literature discussing TED (thyroid eye disease) in Black people, I connected with our external expert, endocrinologist Marius Stan at the Mayo Clinic.

NOTE: Read the article for more from the author. Dr. Stan is also a health services researcher at Mayo Clinic, focusing on autoimmune thyroid diseases.


What to Do About the Disproportionately Increased Risk of Non-Hemorrhagic Stroke in Native Americans

Neurology Today, 4/15/2021

New research shows a higher risk of non-hemorrhagic stroke in Native Americans when compared with other racial groups. Neurologists and other physicians who work with Native Americans highlight public health and outreach strategies to address the increased risk for stroke in this population.

… “This study reveals that the increased stroke risk in Native Americans persists even in the absence of Afib and even after controlling for confounders, suggesting there are additional factors we don't understand or haven't identified possibly responsible for this increased risk,” said Cumara O'Carroll, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, who provides stroke services to patients at Tuba City Regional Health Care through a telestroke network. It also highlights the need for further stroke research in Native American populations and for better representation of Native Americans in national stroke trials, she added.

NOTE: Read the article for more from Dr. O'Carroll.


Study claims good dental health may help prevent heart infection from mouth bacteria

ANI, 4/18/2021

NOTE: Full article available online, including discussion of the new American Heart Association scientific statement. The consensus group was chaired by Walter Wilson, M.D., an infectious disease physician at Mayo Clinic.


New NINDS Consensus Criteria for Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome

Neurology Today, 4/15/2021

The NINDS has published the first expert consensus criteria for diagnosing traumatic encephalopathy syndrome. The criteria will help refine research, experts say, but is not yet ready to be used in clinical practice.

… Another shortcoming of the new criteria is that they are based primarily on studies of American football players and, to a lesser extent, boxers, said Amaal J. Starling, MD, FAAN, who primarily studies and treats headache disorders, including migraine and post-traumatic headache at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. …

NOTE: Read the article for more on the consensus criteria and comments from Dr. Starling.


Trachette Jackson Fights Cancer With Math

Quanta Magazine, 4/12/2021

Quantitative models built by the mathematical biologist Trachette Jackson can make cancer therapies safer and more effective.

The term “mathematical biology” might have been considered an oxymoron more than a few decades ago: How could mathematics enrich the largely descriptive disciplines of biology? But Trachette Jackson of the University of Michigan has become a pioneer in this area, bringing deep mathematical insights to cancer therapeutics. In this episode, Jackson tells host Steve Strogatz how a tumor resembles a box of pencils, and how she came to appreciate the usefulness of mathematics for piercing biological mysteries.

Jackson: That’s a good question. That’s a good question. Like I said, there’s a lot of, you know, splashes in the pond. I think the work of Kristin Swanson in the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale; she is doing some amazing work on glioblastoma, and she is on the forefront of personalized precision medicine with that. I think some of her work is probably what I would point to as a, you know, a bright light. Yeah.

NOTE: Listen to the podcast or read the transcript of the full interview online.


Total Knee Arthroplasty: Kidney Injury Common With Antibiotic-Loaded Spacers

Medscape, 4/12/2021

A large study has revealed that acute kidney injury (AKI) is a relatively common occurrence in patients treated for periprosthetic joint infections after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) with antibiotic-loaded bone-cement (ALBC) spacers.

More than one in 10 such patients developed AKI and 2% went on to develop chronic kidney disease, according to a team of Mayo Clinic researchers.

NOTE: Read the article for discussion from study lead author Matthew Abdel, M.D., an orthopedic clinician-scientist at Mayo Clinic. Read the study.


Artificial Intelligence–Enabled ECG may help Detect Aortic Stenosis, Finds Study

Medical Dialogues, 4/19/2021

NOTE: Read the full article online, or the study itself.


Biomedical engineering student graduates with five prestigious graduate offers

UAB News, 4/15/2021

Jason Zhang has been accepted into five elite graduate programs with offers of full financial support to continue his studies in the biomedical engineering industry. graduating senior Jason Zhang received offers of full financial support for graduate school from five schools: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, Georgia Tech, Mayo Clinic Regenerative Sciences and Boston University.

NOTE: Zhang is familiar with Mayo Clinic, having been part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.


COVID-19 and Mayo Clinic

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Tags: About, acute kidney injury, Amaal Starling, artificial intelligence, brain cancer, brain tumor, chronic kidney disease, clinical trials, cognitive impairment, concussion, COVID-19, Cumara O'Carroll, diversity, education, Findings, glioblastoma, health disparities, infection, infectious disease, knee replacement, Kristin Swanson, Marius Stan, Matthew Abdel, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, medical research education, memory loss, Michelle Mielke, migraine, Native American, neurology, News, News of the Week, ophthalmology, oral health, Parkinson's disease, People, Rodolfo Savica, stroke, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, thyroid disease, Walter Wilson

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