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.

March 2, 2022

Research News Roundup — January, February 2022

By Advancing the Science contributor

At Mayo Clinic, researchers work across the spectrum of health care and disease, from basic discovery science to transformations in patient care. They translate early findings into therapeutic or preventive interventions via clinical research and innovative pilot projects. Mayo Clinic researchers publish thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals each year. A fraction of those findings are shared in news releases -- this post summarizes and links to the research news releases of recent months.

February research news

In February, Mayo highlighted a way to new way treat scoliosis, how vaccine technology may be used to heal bones, and new ways to predict treatment response in gastric cancer, and risk of death for alcohol-associated hepatitis. Read on for these and more research findings.

Community support can make you healthier — and can help you lose weight, too

 A recent Mayo Clinic community-based pilot study suggests that weight gain can be prevented and perhaps reversed — even during a pandemic — with the help and support of a person's community.

The pilot study examined the feasibility and acceptability of a 12-week behavioral program for weight loss and improved cardiovascular health. It was designed to be used with Somali and Hispanic immigrants living in Southeast Minnesota. The peer-led intervention was delivered by community-based "health promoters."

Vertebral body tethering: Another option for treating scoliosis in children

Fusion surgery has been the long-standing treatment for people with scoliosis - a side-to-side curve of the spine. But other options have become available — including vertebral body tethering for children with scoliosis.

 A. Noelle Larson, M.D., and her colleague Todd Milbrandt, M.D., are leading an FDA-approved study to assess the results of vertebral body tethering at two years after surgery. Dr. Larson is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the Mayo principal investigator for international scoliosis registries from the Setting Scoliosis Foundation and Pediatric Spine Foundation for patients treated with vertebral body tethering.

Harnessing vaccine technology to heal bone

To enhance the regeneration of bone, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2, or BMP-2. However, it is expensive and only moderately effective. It also produces side effects ― some severe.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic, along with colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany, may have a viable, less risky alternative: messenger RNA. This well-known platform for vaccines has already proven to be safe in human use by the FDA.

The findings in a study involving rats are published in Science Advances. These findings show that messenger RNA can be used at low doses to regenerate bone without side effects. Moreover, the quality of the new bone is superior to bone formed by BMP-2. 

Community leaders and Mayo Clinic researchers develop playbook for COVID-19 health equity, future pandemics

A team of Mayo Clinic medical experts and community leaders collaborated to find ways to reduce health disparities related to COVID-19. Their playbook included how to address communication gaps, identify community priorities and improve access to needed resources. They also predict that this approach will be effective in future public health emergencies and pandemics.

The findings are detailed in a paper recently published in Public Health Reports evaluating the first nine months of a community-based intervention that reached an estimated 39,000 people in immigrant and refugee populations in Southeast Minnesota. The intervention focused on COVID-19 communication gaps related to prevention and testing, and on the social and economic effects of the pandemic.

Study shows a new scoring system can help clinicians predict 30-day mortality risk for patients with alcohol-associated hepatitis

 Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a new scoring system to help health care professionals predict the 30-day mortality risk for patients with alcohol-associated hepatitis, and the tool appears to more accurately identify patients at highest risk of death and those likely to survive.

Mayo Clinic researchers develop model to predict treatment response in gastric cancer

A study by researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Florida is validating the use of genomic sequencing to predict the likelihood that patients with gastric cancer will derive benefit from chemotherapy or from immunotherapy. The study is published in Nature Communications.

Mayo Clinic, Carnegie Mellon University to collaborate on transplant innovation

Mayo Clinic and Carnegie Mellon University announced today a research agreement to transform organ transplantation. The institutions will bioengineer innovative approaches to address barriers in organ transplantation.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center researchers identify promising drug to treat gastrointestinal cancers

Gastrointestinal cancers are some of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, and they continue to be associated with poor survival outcomes. The drug adagrasib specifically targets the KRASG12C gene mutation that is common in gastrointestinal cancers and inhibits gastrointestinal function.

Tanios Bekaii-Saab, M.D., an investigator from Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, has conducted research on adagrasib that has demonstrated promising clinical activity in patients with gastrointestinal cancers that harbor KRAS G12C mutations, including pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancer and other upper gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Bekaii-Saab recently presented the results of this research as part of the KRYSTAL-1 clinical trial (NCT03785249) at the American Society of Clinic Oncology's Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

January research news

January's news from Mayo's scientists included several observations for people with cancer, including that cancer treatment may reduce effective immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, and that direct oral anticoagulants should be standard of care for patients with cancer-associated thrombosis. Other news highlighted findings relating to skin cancer, e-cigarettes and cardiovascular disease. Read on for these and other stories.

Knowing your risk for skin cancer may limit unhealthy behaviors

A recent Mayo Clinic study published in Dermatologic Surgery examined the role of risk perception in limiting potential behavior that could increase a person's chance of developing future melanoma. The findings suggest that having a knowledge of skin cancer risk could influence risky behavior, such as tanning bed use. 

Study finds that patients with alcohol-associated cirrhosis have worse outcomes in recovering from critical illness, compared with other cirrhosis patients

Patients with alcohol-associated cirrhosis have poorer outcomes after ICU discharge, compared to patients with cirrhosis linked to other causes, according to new Mayo Clinic research.

According to the new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, patients with alcohol-associated cirrhosis had significantly higher post-ICU, in-hospital death rate ― 10% versus 6.5% ― as well as higher mortality at the 30-day benchmark after ICU discharge ― 18.7% versus 11.2% ― than patients with cirrhosis attributed to other causes.

Cancer treatment may inhibit immune response to COVID-19 vaccination

A study by researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has found that patients with cancer who receive chemotherapy ― and some targeted therapies, such as CDK4/6 inhibitors and therapies targeted at B cells ― may mount an inadequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. The findings are published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovation, Quality & Outcomes.

Direct oral anticoagulants significantly decrease recurrent venous thrombosis for adult cancer patients, Mayo Clinic study finds

Direct oral anticoagulants should be considered the standard of care to treat adult patients with cancer-associated thrombosis, according to a new, ongoing study by Mayo Clinic researchers.

The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, examined the results of four randomized clinical trials involving 2,894 patients. This study found that direct oral anticoagulants significantly decreased cancer-associated venous thrombosis recurrence without significantly increasing bleeding, compared with parenteral dalteparin.

Lifestyle changes can be critical for kidney transplant patients’ long-term survival

Cancer, infections and heart disease pose the greatest risk to kidney transplant recipients ― not organ rejection ― according to a recently published Mayo Clinic study. Researchers discovered that recipient death due to factors other than organ rejection is the leading cause for transplanted kidney loss. Only 1 in 4 transplanted kidney losses were caused by organ rejection.

"Immunosuppression medication to prevent rejection is often the focus when caring for patients posttransplant. But this study highlights the increased risk of death from cancer and infection for transplant patients, especially those who are older and have diabetes," says Andrew Bentall, M.B., Ch.B., M.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist and the study's co-first author. The study was recently published in Transplantation Direct.

E-cigarette users who test positive for COVID-19 are more likely to experience COVID-19 symptoms

People who use electronic cigarettes and test positive for COVID-19 have a higher frequency of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, compared to people who don't vape, according to new research from Mayo Clinic.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Primary Care & Community Health, finds that people who vape and test positive for COVID-19 have a higher frequency of experiencing symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches and pain, chest pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of the sense of smell or taste. Also, the study finds that people who vape and also smoke tobacco, and who test positive for COVID-19, complained of labored breathing and had more frequent emergency department visits than those who did not vape.

Cardiovascular risks may be worse for thinking, memory skills in middle-aged women

Mayo Clinic study shows heart conditions such as coronary artery disease and cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes and high cholesterol have stronger association with decline in memory and thinking skills during midlife for women than men. That's despite a higher prevalence of those conditions in men. The research is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

New study highlights need for prevention efforts to address causes of cardiovascular disease in African Americans in Minnesota

Minnesota has the lowest age-adjusted heart disease mortality in the U.S.; yet, African American adults 35 to 63 have nearly double the rate of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to their white counterparts.

Findings of a new study show that basic health beliefs and demographics, such as age, sex, marital status and level of education attained, were associated with the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Of the study group, the prevalence of common risk factors were hypertension, 68%; hyperlipidemia, 47%; diabetes, 34%; and current cigarette smoking, 25%. Also, 18% of participants had cardiovascular disease, and the pervasiveness increased by 30% or greater with three or more risk factors.


Meet our researchers and check out the research and education that after 150 years, continue to provide the underpinning for the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit medical group practice.

Mayo Clinic podcasts and other discussions of research and practical patient information can be found online.

Information about many of the clinical trials available across Mayo Clinic is online as well.

Much of our content is available in Spanish, and we also have news and patient resources in PortugueseMandarin Chinese and Arabic.

STAY CONNECTED — Advancing the Science

  • If you enjoyed this article, you might want to subscribe for regular updates.
  • If you want to share this story with friends, social media links are at the top of the article.
  • And if you want to see other recent stories on the blog, the index page is a great place to start.

Tags: A. Noelle Larson, Andrew Bentall, animal model, anticoagulant, biomedical engineering, bone regeneration, cardiovascular disease, chemotherapy, cirrhosis, COVID-19, gastrointestinal cancer, health disparities, hepatitis, immunotherapy, kidney transplant, liver disease, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, memory loss, messenger RNA, nephrology, News, oncology, pediatric orthopedics, population health, Research News Roundup, scoliosis, skin cancer, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, thrombosis, Todd Milbrandt, transplant, vaccines, vaping, weight loss, women's health

Please sign in or register to post a reply.
Contact Us · Privacy Policy