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.

June 14, 2021

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 6/14/2021

By Advancing the Science contributor

Read on for news of the week that includes Mayo Clinic Research and research experts. Topics include a new Alzheimer's medication, COVID-19, and various regenerative medicine innovations.


US approves first new Alzheimer's drug in 20 years 

BBC, 6/8/2021

A controversial drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States…Dr. Ronald Petersen, is an expert in the disease and a director of the Mayo Clinic Research Centre. "Potentially it's huge. Potentially... This is the first disease-modifying therapy that's ever been approved so that's what we've been lacking in the field - we've had symptomatic drugs but not drugs that get at the underlying-disease process."

NOTE: Listen to the 3-minute clip for more on the drug from Dr. Petersen and context.


Face to Face with Dr. Cheryl Willman

Yahoo News (via Albuquerque Journal), 6/13/2021

Jun. 13—Editor's note: Dr. Cheryl Willman has announced she is stepping down as director of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center to take charge of cancer programs at the Mayo Clinic. She took time to talk about growing up as a small-town girl in the Midwest and her work in New Mexico, which she says will always be her "spiritual home."


COVID Builds a Case for Remote Patient Monitoring in Cancer Care 

Medscape, 6/8/2021

At-home monitoring substantially reduced the number of cancer patients admitted for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Mayo Clinic health system. When the pandemic struck, Mayo customized its chronic diseases remote monitoring program (RPM) for people at risk for severe complications after a COVID diagnosis.

… Since then, more than 10,000 patients, some with and some without cancer, have participated in Mayo's COVID-19 RPM, with similar success, said senior investigator Tufia Haddad, MD, an associate professor of oncology and the RPM medical director across Mayo's multistate health system. "We are certainly very encouraged by these findings," she added. She said her team is now building off the momentum to establish new pilots for using RPM for cancer management, particularly among patients at high risk for treatment complications.

NOTE: Read the article for more from Dr. Haddad.


Clinical Challenge: BRCA-Mutant Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 

MedPage Today, 6/8/2021

The majority of breast cancers are "sporadic," developing in patients with no associated hereditary mutations. On the other hand, hereditary cancer susceptibility gene mutations, the most common being BRCA1, occur in about 5-10% of patients with breast cancer. Of those women found to have the BRCA1 mutation who develop breast cancer, the vast majority -- 60-80% -- will have triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), noted Roberto A. Leon-Ferre, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

NOTE: Read the article for more from Dr. Leon Ferre and other experts.


University of Minnesota, Mayo report COVID-fighting success with anti-aging therapy 

Star Tribune, 6/10/2021

Tests of an anti-aging therapy in mice are boosting hopes at Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota about a potential COVID-19 treatment that could reduce deaths and hospitalizations and improve vaccine effectiveness.

… "If you've got a lot of senescent cells, what's going to happen is you're going to have an exaggerated response ... and you're going to get all of these things that happen in older people that kill them with COVID," said Dr. James Kirkland, director of Mayo's Kogod Center on Aging and a lead author of the Science study. Kirkland and colleagues were among the first to hypothesize how infectious agents prompt senescent cells to increase harmful inflammation in the body. They also discovered how substances such as fisetin — a coloring agent in fruits and vegetables — clear out senescent cells.

NOTE: Read the article for more from Dr. Kirkland.


Cells or drugs? The race to regenerate the heart 

Nature, 6/9/2021

… "We essentially did a massive scan of every single protein in the heart,” says Andre Terzic, lead author of the study. The authors were able to identify almost 4,000 proteins, and showed that heart attacks distorted the structure of 450 of them. But with stem-cell therapy, that number fell to 283.

"Proteins are the intimate components that make our hearts work properly, and when the heart is diseased, they become damaged,” says Terzic, who is director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.


Mild TBI Linked with Worse Migraine Severity 

Neurology Today, 6/8/2021

​Nearly 40 percent of patients with migraine had a history of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which was associated with a higher likelihood of vertigo, depression, and disability, according to an analysis of registry data presented at the American Headache Society virtual annual scientific meeting.

 “A history of mTBI should be assessed in patients presenting with migraine," wrote the team of researchers, led by Ryotaro Ishii, MD, PhD, a researcher at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. “People with migraine who have a high exposure risk to mTBI, or repetitive head impacts, should be aware of the potential for migraine progression after mTBI."


Thousands of dollars later, some Arizona stem cell patients never got better 

Arizona Republic, 6/12/2021

… Instead of presenting data on the success rates of stem cell products, many stem cell businesses rely on patient testimonials to sell their product, said Zubin Master, a stem cell ethics and policy researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. But those narratives could be cherry-picked and not fully transparent about the risks of the procedure. In a 2019 study, Master analyzed 159 online patient testimonials of stem cell therapies and found that patients mentioned benefits in 95% of the videos but only mentioned risks in about 10%. In videos mentioning risk, Master wrote that in all but one, risks were underemphasized.


Stem cell studies take time, but Arizona researchers say the wait is safer for patients 

Arizona Republic, 6/13/2021

Researchers believe they're getting closer to getting approved stem cell treatments on the market, but it takes time.

… For researcher David Lott, it's throat tissue. Lott is the associate director at Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Arizona and he's trying to use stem cells to replace missing vocal cords and up to half the voice box…"Instead of asking them to passively turn into some sort of cell, you're actually actively making them turn into a different cell," Lott said. "So you have more control over that situation and the outcome is a lot more predictable."

NOTE: Read the article for more on Dr. Lott's work. More can also be found on Advancing the Science in a related story.

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Tags: About, aging, Alzheimer's disease, Andre Terzic, animal model, biomedical ethics, brain, BRCA1, breast cancer, cancer, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Cheryl Willman, concussion, COVID-19, David Lott, FDA, Findings, gene mutation, James Kirkland, Kogod Center on Aging, larynx transplant, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, migraine, multiple chronic conditions, News, News of the Week, People, Progress Updates, remote patient monitoring, Roberto Leon-Ferre, Ronald Petersen, Ryotaro Ishii, senescent cells, stem cell research, stem cell therapy, stem cells, telehealth, telemedicine, trauma, Tufia Haddad, vaccines, Zubin Master

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