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April 4, 2022

Research News Roundup — March 2022

By Advancing the Science contributor

March news reports are often focused on college basketball, daylight savings time and Mardi Gras. This year, Ukraine and the its people are top of mind for many, providing a sobering counterpoint. Behind the scenes, research has continued at Mayo Clinic, and several findings were released in March that help build the evidence and point to ways to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients and people everywhere.

Read on for multiple findings on Alzheimer's disease, drugs that might slow aging, and new treatment possibilities for people with bone marrow cancer. Learn about a new Limb Loss and Preservation Registry, new findings about genomic data disparities among racial groups, and using artificial intelligence to predict outcomes for youth prescribed different antidepressants, a new philanthropic partnership, and a host of other topics.

What experts know about COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.2

The World Health Organization designated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, named omicron, a "variant of concern" on Nov. 26, 2021, and the first confirmed case in the U.S. was on Dec. 1, 2021. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified two subvariants, BA.1.1 and BA.2.

All omicron subvariants are classified as variants of concern, the third highest of four classifications.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center adjusts chemotherapy schedules to accommodate more patients

Researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center have developed, tested and implemented new system that schedules outpatient chemotherapy appointments throughout the day, thus preventing crowded outpatient infusion facilities in the middle of the day. A study of the researcher's findings is published in JCO Oncology Practice.

Arizona couple donates Collaborative Research Building to Mayo Clinic

Thomas R. and Ruth Ann Hornaday of Paradise Valley, Arizona, have donated the Collaborative Research Building to Mayo Clinic. The 110,000-square-foot biomedical research facility, which opened on Mayo Clinic's Scottsdale campus in 2005, is valued at $64.4 million.

The Collaborative Research Building houses laboratory-based research activity at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Mayo Clinic researchers, physicians and other investigators are leading the scientific discovery of the mechanisms of human disease, as well as the latest procedures, diagnostics, innovative surgeries and new treatment options to address unmet patient needs.

Lack of sleep increases unhealthy abdominal fat

New research from Mayo Clinic shows that lack of sufficient sleep combined with free access to food increases calorie consumption and consequently fat accumulation, especially unhealthy fat inside the belly.

Findings from a randomized controlled crossover study led by Naima Covassin, Ph.D., a cardiovascular medicine researcher at Mayo Clinic, show that lack of sufficient sleep led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to control sleep. Visceral fat is deposited deep inside the abdomen around internal organs and is strongly linked to cardiac and metabolic diseases.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and the study was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

New computational model proposed for Alzheimer’s disease

Mayo Clinic researchers have proposed a new model for mapping the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease to brain anatomy. This model was developed by applying machine learning to patient brain imaging data. It uses the entire function of the brain rather than specific brain regions or networks to explain the relationship between brain anatomy and mental processing. The findings are reported in Nature Communications.

Mayo Clinic researchers develop new antibody test to diagnose MS

Mayo Clinic researchers have validated a new antibody test to diagnose multiple sclerosis (MS), a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are affected by MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

An antibody typically consists of two immunoglobulin heavy chains and two light chains. There are two types of light chains: kappa and lambda. The validated test measures kappa immunoglobulin free light chains in cerebrospinal fluid. The authors conclude the test is a valid alternative to a commonly used test to detect oligoclonal bands in cerebrospinal fluid, according to findings published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Oligoclonal bands are proteins that indicate inflammation of the central nervous system.

Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate program begins with four AI startups

 Mayo Clinic Platform_Accelerate, an immersive program for health tech startups, has launched with its initial cohort of participating companies. The 20-week program will help four artificial intelligence (AI) companies get market-ready.

The program offers participants access to Mayo Clinic experts in regulatory, clinical, technology and business domains with a focus on AI model validation and clinical readiness. Technology experts from Google and Epic also will provide workshops for the participants.

Breakthrough hospitalizations ‘extremely uncommon’ after COVID-19 immunity, Mayo study finds

Fewer than 1 in 1,000 people who have been vaccinated or previously infected with COVID-19 were hospitalized with a new breakthrough infection, Mayo Clinic research finds. The study, which is published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, supports previous studies that show vaccination is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.

Study involving investigators from Mayo Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine applies drug-gene testing to improve patient care and reports outcomes

In a newly published study appearing in Genetics in Medicine, investigators from Mayo Clinic and Baylor College of Medicine found that targeted genomic information can play an important role in drug prescribing practices.

The results from the "Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Time: Using Genomic Data to Individualize Treatment" (RIGHT 10K) study strongly suggest that preemptive testing could benefit nearly every patient at some point, particularly when the testing extends beyond DNA variants already known to influence drug metabolism.

Mayo Clinic discovery in bone marrow cancer points to potential drug targets 

New research from Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine finds that patients with ASXL1-mutant chronic myelomonocytic leukemia — an uncommon type of cancer of the bone marrow — have distinctive epigenetic changes that can activate harmful genes and cause the cancer to grow faster. The ASXL1 genetic mutation also can transform the disease into the more aggressive acute myeloid leukemia.

The study, published in Nature Communications, helps to clarify a potential therapeutic strategy and adds to the knowledge of ASXL1 gene expression.

Plasma biomarker screening could improve accuracy, health equity in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis

Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a new set of molecular markers in blood plasma. This discovery could lead to the development of improved diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 6.2 million people in the U.S.

The Mayo Clinic study, published in eBioMedicine, is the first study to focus on RNA molecules in plasma as biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in African Americans — the population at greatest risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. This approach enabled researchers to pinpoint specific molecules in plasma that could serve as biomarkers to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in this population.

Mayo Clinic study reports genomic data disparities among racial groups

Mayo Clinic researchers studied the differences in genomic data quality among racial groups in one of the largest and most widely used cancer research datasets, The Cancer Genome Atlas.

"We found lower quality genomic sequencing data in self-reported Black patients and patients of African ancestry," says Yan Asmann., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic bioinformatician and senior author of the study. "This finding serves as a reminder that when designing, conducting and interpreting cancer genomic studies, the underlying data quality differences between patients need to be carefully examined."

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the first study to report data quality disparities among racial groups. 

Mayo Clinic researchers use AI to predict antidepressant outcomes in youth

Mayo Clinic researchers have taken the first step in using artificial intelligence (AI) to predict early outcomes with antidepressants in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder, in a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. This work resulted from a collaborative effort between the departments of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Psychiatry and Psychology, at Mayo Clinic, with support from Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine.

Senolytic drugs boost key protective protein

Mayo Clinic researchers say senolytic drugs can boost a key protein in the body that may protect older people against aspects of aging and a range of diseases. Their findings, which are published in eBioMedicine demonstrate this in mice and human studies.

Mayo Clinic launches first national collaborative Limb Loss and Preservation Registry

Mayo Clinic has received authorization from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program to begin operating the Limb Loss and Preservation Registry, a national collaborative warehouse for data on people who have lost limbs and may or may not have access to prosthetics. The registry will be the first of its kind in the U.S.

The goal of the Limb Loss and Preservation Registry is to generate knowledge about which advances make a difference in the care of people with limb loss and limb difference. Mayo is in sole charge of registry development and operations, reporting to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.


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Tags: aging, Alzheimer's disease, animal model, artificial intelligence, biomarkers, chemotherapy, collaboration, COVID-19, depression, discovery research, drug discovery, Findings, genomics, health disparities, immunity, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Platform, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, MS, multiple sclerosis, Naima Covassin, News, obesity, Opportunities, pharmacogenomics, plasma, prosthesis, psychiatry, psychology, Research News Roundup, RIGHT 10K study, RNA, visceral fat, Yan Asmann

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