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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.

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5 days ago · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- 9/18/2020

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Allure Magazine, KAAL-TV, The Scientist and Yahoo! are just a few of the outlets that were talking this week with Mayo Clinic researchers and about Mayo Clinic Research. Read on for national and international news on COVID-19, cancer, disparities in health care access and outcomes, the relationship between migraine and pregnancy, vaping and more.

Coffee consumption may lower risk for death in advanced, metastatic colorectal cancer (HemOnc Today, 9/17/2020)

Drinking coffee may reduce the risk for disease progression and death among patients with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer, according to results of a prospective observational cohort study published in JAMA Oncology.

“We have some hypotheses regarding why this association exists, such as the high antioxidant content of coffee or caffeine’s insulin-sensitizing effects, which other research has implicated in cancer development,” Christopher Mackintosh, MLA, medical student at Mayo Clinic, told Healio. “However, our study was not designed to test such hypotheses.” …


Why Are Black Women More at Risk for Uterine Fibroids? (Allure, 9/16/2020)

Not only that, but Black women also have a more difficult time receiving adequate care for this condition. Here’s what you need to know, including how (and when) to talk to your doctor.

NOTE: The article references Mayo Clinic research on uterine fibroids. For more information on this and related research, visit this PubMed link.


Medicare for hormone therapies: Study finds huge variability (Medical News Today 9/15/2020)

A recent study has found great variability in terms of which hormone therapies are covered by Medicare. This may have a significant impact on transgender individuals’ access to appropriate gender-affirming therapy.

… Recently, a team of researchers — from the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, CT, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, and the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN — assessed Medicare coverage for a range of hormone therapies used by transgender people. Their research appears in the journal LGBT Health.


THE VAPING CRISIS ONE YEAR LATER (Project CBD, 9/14/2020)

Scientists identify synthetic cannabinoid adulterants in CBD vape oil cartridges, warn of “devastating toxicological consequences.”

It wasn’t so long ago that a frightening new lung disease linked to vaping dominated the news cycle. Although it might feel like a distant episode to Americans overwhelmed by COVID-19, during the summer of 2019 the vaping crisis became a national obsession. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an alarming report that attributed a sudden outbreak of deaths and pulmonary injuries to the consumption of harmful e-cigarettes and cannabis vape pen cartridges.

By February 2020, sixty-eight people in the United States, including teenagers and seniors, had died because of this mysterious respiratory illness and nearly 3000 were hospitalized with problems ranging from shortness of breath to severe nausea and coughing up blood. The CDC identified vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent added to poor quality cannabis oil extracts, as the likely culprit in cases of respiratory failure linked to vaping.

But the CDC stopped tracking vaping-related incidents shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical scientists turned their attention to the highly infectious coronavirus, which also kills by damaging the lungs – and does so in ways that aren’t easy to distinguish from the telltale signs of vaping. …

But a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine, coauthored by a team of Mayo Clinic physicians, cast aspersions on the vitamin E acetate hypothesis, noting that the pathology of vaping-associated lung illness “is poorly understood” and that “few reports of vaping-associated lung injury have included histopathological findings.” A histopathological diagnosis is based on direct examination of diseased tissue or cells under a microscope.

Upon inspection, some cases of vaping-associated lung injury look more like a chemical burn than lipid suffocation – which suggests that additives other than vitamin E acetate are responsible for damaging lung tissue. Accordingly, another group of doctors advised in a letter to the Journal of American Medicine that the presence of lipid-laden immune cells in the lungs “should be interpreted with caution because it may merely be a marker of exposure rather than a marker of toxicity.”


Researchers identify specific potential therapeutic targets for aggressive form of pancreatic cancer (news aggregator via TGen, 9/15/2020)

A team of researchers led by Mayo Clinic and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, has identified specific potential therapeutic targets for the most aggressive and lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

In what is believed to be the most comprehensive analysis of adenosquamous cancer of the pancreas (ASCP), the Mayo Clinic and TGen team identified, in preclinical models, therapeutic targets for this extremely fast-moving and deadly form of pancreatic cancer, and identified already available cancer inhibitors originally designed for other types of cancer, according to a study published today in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).


Increase in mask use causes some people to get mask acne (KAAL-TV, 9/14/2020)

Masks have become a part of our everyday lives, they have to be worn in public spaces or when social distancing is not possible, but masks are also causing problems for our skin. Many have begun to call this “maskne” or mask acne. 

Mayo Clinic Dermatologist, Dr. Dawn Davis has done some research on how to keep both your face and mask clean. (Read article or watch the news clip on the KAAL website).


Many Women With Severe Migraine Might Avoid Pregnancy, But Should They? (Medical Dialogues, 9/16/2020)

A survey of 607 women who suffer from severe migraine found twenty percent of the respondents are currently avoiding pregnancy because of their migraines. The women avoiding pregnancy due to severe migraine tend to be in their thirties, are more likely to have migraine triggered by menstruation, and are more likely to have very frequent attacks (chronic migraine) compared to their counterparts who are not avoiding pregnancy, according to a new study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Their decision appears to be based on perceived fears about their own health and the health of their child, even though evidence shows that migraine improves in up to 75 percent of women during pregnancy. …


Investigators ID Predictors of CKD Progression After Radical Nephrectomy (Renal & Urology News, 9/18/2020)

Nephron hypertrophy and nephrosclerosis may be important determinants of chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression and death after radical nephrectomy (RN), according to new study findings.

Using a precise approach, pathologists detailed microstructural features of kidney parenchyma (a large wedge not involved with tumor) obtained from 936 patients without a specific kidney disease (mean age 64 years; 92% White). Mean estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at 4 months after RN was 48 mL/min/1.73 m2. Over a median follow-up of 6.4 years, 117 patients had CKD progression (dialysis, kidney transplantation, or a 40% decline in eGFR), 183 died from noncancer causes, and 116 died from cancer.

Larger glomerular size and more severe nephrosclerosis significantly predicted later CKD progression, Andrew D. Rule, MD, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.


Data, data and more data will make a coronavirus vaccine safe, USA TODAY’s vaccine panel says (USA Today, 9/17/2020)

USA TODAY’s expert panel sees steady progress toward a safe and effective COVID vaccine, urge public’s patience as trials proceed and data comes in.

… The bar for how effective an experimental vaccine is must be very high to make early release a reasonable choice, said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group and editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine.

The only circumstances under which he sees justification for early release is if there were major changes in either the rate of death or complications among people who got COVID-19, he said. 


Why You Should Be Worried About COVID If You Snore, Study Says (Yahoo!, 9/15/2020)

The coronavirus has proven to affect different people in different ways—and for some, it’s particularly serious and potentially deadly. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has isolated various conditions that could increase one’s risk for getting a severe case of COVID, such as diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease. But there’s another condition new research is highlighting that may pose the same risks: obstructive sleep apnea. If you snore as a result of sleep apnea, you could be three times more likely to die from COVID, new research has found.


Indian Study Shows No Survival Benefit of Plasma in COVID-19 (The Scientist, 9/15/2020)

In the absence of a vaccine or an effective antidote to SARS-CoV-2, the use of convalescent plasma therapy is in vogue globally. It involves the infusion of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and thus carry protective antibodies into patients who are currently infected with the coronavirus. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for its use, although the absence of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the gold standard of scientific research, has led to skepticism about its effectiveness among experts.

In light of this, the PLACID (PLAsma Convalescent InDia) trial helps fill this gap. Recently conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex medical research body in India, it is the first RCT for plasma in COVID-19 patients to be completed in the world. …

Michael Joyner, the lead author of the Mayo Clinic study that prompted the FDA to grant EUA for convalescent plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 in the US, tells The Scientist that the authors, the Indian research council, and the country deserve a lot of credit for doing this trial under very difficult circumstances. “I think that’s most impressive. . . . So, high compliments there.”

“I see the cup being half full in terms of the viral load data and the improved oxygenation and so forth,” Joyner says. The half empty part, he adds, is that most of the plasma had low titers of antibodies and was given relatively late during the course of the disease—a median of eight days after onset of symptoms. “Those are the two main limitations of the study.” …


Lymphoma Treatment Paradigm Refined Over Years, Expert Says on World Lymphoma Awareness Day (Targeted Oncology, 9/15/2020)

In an interview with Targeted Oncology, Thomas M. Habermann, MD, reflects on the advancements he has observed in the treatment paradigm for lymphomas.

The treatment paradigm for lymphomas has undergone significant advancements over the recent years. Although there are more than 100 types of lymphomas, investigators have refined the treatment landscape, particularly for some of the most common lymphomas, which include Hodgkin lymphomas (HLs) and non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs).

NOTE: You can read the whole interview online with Dr. Habermann, a Mayo Clinic hematologist.


ASCO updates guidelines on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (HemOnc Today, 9/16/2020)

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is a potentially debilitating consequence of many cytotoxic drugs for the treatment of cancer.

Neuropathies caused by taxanes, platinums, vinca alkaloids, epothilones, eribulin and bortezomib (Velcade, Millennium/Takeda), among other agents, have not been well-defined, and measurement approaches have lacked consistency. However, the use of uniform measurement tools in several recent clinical studies has enabled a more detailed comparison of neuropathies caused by paclitaxel and oxaliplatin.

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy [CIPN] continues to be a major clinical problem,” Charles L. Loprinzi, MD, FASCO, Regis professor of breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in an interview with Healio“A large number of additional randomized clinical trials provided new data from what was available when the first ASCO CIPN guidelines were published.”

Loprinzi served as co-chair of an ASCO expert panel dedicated to updating the society’s guidelines on prevention and management of CIPN among adult cancer survivors, based on these new data. He spoke with Healio about the need for effective treatment for CIPN, the updated guidelines and how the recommendations can be applied in clinical practice. …


As evidence builds that COVID-19 can damage the heart, doctors are racing to understand it (Science, 9/15/2020)

… Whether SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, induces cardiac injury including myocarditis more often, or with greater severity, than other viruses is still unclear. Because SARS-CoV-2 can trigger an intense immune response throughout the body, survivors may be at heightened risk of cardiac inflammation. Another idea suggests COVID-19 patients might be prone to the condition because the virus enters cells by binding with the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which sits on heart muscle cells. But researchers caution against outrunning the data. “It’s a good hypothesis, but it’s not a tested one,” says Leslie Cooper, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, about ACE2.


Study Finds Ibuprofen Likely Doesn’t Make COVID-19 Symptoms Worse (Healthline, 9/14/2020)

During the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that people shouldn’t take ibuprofen if they had COVID-19.

The organization then backtracked and said they didn’t recommend against it. Now, newly published research shows that the medication isn’t associated with having more severe disease. …

“Considering the available evidence, there is no reason to withdraw well-indicated use of NSAIDs during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic,” the authors state. There are well-established adverse effects from NSAIDs, which should be considered in any patient.

“I would urge caution to jumping to any conclusions,” Dr. Joseph Poterucha, an ICU physician with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin, told Healthline.

That’s because there are numerous side effects of NSAIDs, including cardiac, renal, and gastrointestinal complications that need to be considered, he added.

“In certain individuals with chronic medical comorbidities, the burden of this side effect profile in concert with an active coronavirus infection could be detrimental,” he said.


COVID-19 raises urgency for getting your flu shot (Post Bulletin, 9/13/2020)

COVID masking will reduce spread of the flu, but pandemic could also reduce utilization of flu vaccine

With a Minnesota mask order in place, the approach of fall may offer the first flu season in 100 years to test the role of masks in reducing the spread of the virus — if they are used correctly.

The relationship between the flu and COVID-19 is complex.

On one hand, the coronavirus has us taking extraordinary precautions to limit mingling and breathing on each other, and that should reduce the spread of the flu. On the other hand, the flu threatens to reduce the utilization of flu shots.

Flu shots are underutilized as it is, with just 45% of adults and 63% of children receiving them in 2018-2019. That figure rose to 68% for adults over 65. Health officials hope the public’s concern over an approaching “twindemic” of the flu and COVID-19 will increase participation this year. …

When masks were last used to prevent a flu, in 1918, research shows that people wore them, but did not maintain a social distance. Studies also found that Americans back then wore masks outside, but took them off once they got indoors to socialize.

Both of these would have short-circuited the effectiveness of masks against the flu. …

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Fri, Sep 11 7:52am · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- 9/11/2020

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In case you missed them – or you just weren’t looking, this blog post includes a host of stories, from across the nation and around the world, that discuss Mayo Clinic research or cite Mayo researchers. Read on for excerpts and links to stories on what we know about herbs and supplements for anxiety, proposed federal guidelines limiting alcohol consumption for men (really), the benefits of tennis and walking, and an article that launches (perhaps) the term ‘humaneer.’ Plus a dozen or so other topics.


Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of safety issue (NBC News, 9/8/2020)

The ‘routine action’ was taken to allow an independent review of safety data, drugmaker AstraZeneca said.

Clinical trials for the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine have been put on hold, drug maker AstraZeneca said Tuesday…

“Serious reactions do occur in vaccine trials,” Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, said in an email to NBC News. “Generally, when these events occur, trials are paused, data collected, and an independent data monitoring and safety board reviews the details to make a determination whether to resume the trial or alter it in some way.”

“Often these events are coincidental, but these precautions are necessary to ensure the safety of the trial participants,” Poland said.


“Would America Be Better Off Without Religion?” (Patheos, 9/10/2020)

… Chalk says many research reports substantiate the following Mayo Clinic overview: “Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.” Also, “several studies have shown that addressing the spiritual needs of the patient may enhance recovery from illness.”


Mayo Clinic saw increase in victims reporting sexual harassment when #MeToo started (Bring Me – MN – The News, 9/8/2020)

From September 2017-September 2019, 153 sexual harassment allegations were filed, and 88 were substantiated.

The Mayo Clinic saw an increase in staff who reported sexual harassment in the months following the start of the #MeToo movement in late 2017. But by early 2018, the volume of reports had gone down, mirroring a nationwide trend…

The Rochester-based company recently published a study and article on the investigations in its peer-review journal. Sharing this data is among the ways Mayo is working at addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. 

“Our novel approach includes being transparent about results as we work toward elimination of sexual harassment at Mayo Clinic. Until we eliminate every case of harassment, we cannot be complacent ― period,” Cathy Fraser, Mayo’s chief human resources officer and study co-author, said in a news release.  …


Clinician Burden May Discourage E-Cigarette EHR Documentation (EHR Intelligence, 9/8/2020)

While a separate e-cigarette EHR workflow has its documentation benefits, only 6 percent of clinicians utilized the workflow.

Implementing a separate EHR section to document patient e-cigarette use is achievable, and it provides a consistent avenue to assess e-cigarette use. However, only 6 percent of clinicians utilized the newly implemented EHR section, which researchers linked to potential clinician burden, according to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine. …

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN aimed to design and implement a separate area within the EHR workflow to observe and collect e-cigarette information from patients. Researchers designed the workflow outside of other tobacco use information. This was the first Epic Systems EHR implementation of its kind, and a similar e-cigarette EHR workflow was in a recent optimization. …


Mayo Clinic Named a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot for Patients, Staff and Visitors (Business Wire, 9/10/2020)

The nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS), an industry leader in the validation of gluten-free food services, announces that Mayo Clinic joins its roster of Validated Gluten Free Safe Spots. Mayo Clinic, considered one of the top hospitals in the nation, expands on its commitment to the highest quality in patient care by becoming a Validated Gluten Free Safe Spot. …

“It’s very exciting to award gluten-free validation to a hospital dedicated to supporting the study and treatment of celiac disease and the potential to help millions of people in the U.S. and globally affected by celiac,” said Lindsey Yeakle, GFFS program manager. “Mayo Clinic has demonstrated a strong commitment to the gluten-free community by taking a leadership role in the study of celiac and building this kitchen to make safe gluten-free meals possible to support that commitment.”


What Is Psoriasis? Everything You Need to Know (SELF, 9/9/2020)

It’s more than just a skin thing.

“What is psoriasis?” might seem like a pretty straightforward question—it’s a skin condition that causes raised bumpy patches, right? Not quite, actually. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes issues with the skin. And it’s so much more than the physical symptoms you probably associate with it. For one, there are several different types of psoriasis and each person’s experience with the condition is unique. Moreover, psoriasis’s impact is more than skin-deep, with the potential to cause everything from painful psoriatic arthritis to serious self-image issues…

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes someone’s immune system to malfunction this way, but according to the Mayo Clinic, researchers believe that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. What they do know is that psoriasis is not contagious and, although treatments can help manage the condition, there is no cure.


In ALS and FTD, Two Different Routes to TDP-43 Aggregation (ALZForum, 9/9/2020)

Different genetic mutations can converge on the same downstream pathology. The C9ORF72 repeat expansion and progranulin haploinsufficiency both trigger the RNA-binding protein TDP-43 to abandon the nucleus and settle in cytoplasm. TDP-43 deposits underlie cases of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. How does each mutation promote this pathology? Quite differently, according to two new papers.

NOTE:  One of the papers discussed in this article was the result of Mayo Clinic-led research. It was published in Science Translational Medicine.


Humanigen Attempts Revival via Battle Against COVID-19 (ClinicalOMICS, 9/8/2020)

Burlingame, CA-based Humanigen is testing whether its engineered antibody or “Humaneered” technology developed over two decades can catapult the company to a leading role in the scramble to conquer COVID-19. This coming four years since its emergence from a bankruptcy, touched off by the arrest of its former CEO, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli…

Lenzilumab is a “Humaneered” monoclonal antibody designed to prevent or minimize the cytokine release syndrome that precedes lung dysfunction and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in serious cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. It does so by targeting and neutralizing granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a key cytokine in the initiation of cytokine storm…

In a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings this week, Mayo Clinic researchers showed that lenzilumab led to rapid clinical improvement with a median time to recovery of five days (vs 11 days in the control arm), median time to discharge of five days (vs. 11 for the control group), and 100% survival to the data cutoff date. Patients also showed rapid improvement in oxygenation, temperature, inflammatory cytokines, and key hematological parameters consistent with improved clinical outcomes. The patients all required oxygen supplementation and had elevation in at least one inflammatory biomarker prior to receiving lenzilumab.


30 Reasons Walking Is the Best Exercise (24/7 Wall St, 9/10/2020)

Americans are no longer under orders to stay at home. Gyms and other facilities where people can work out are have reopened in most of the country. That may encourage people who want to stay in shape or lose the so-called “Quarantine 15” because, as research has found, walking is often just as beneficial a workout…

20. Prevents dementia

Taking a 20-minute walk each day could reduce the risk of developing dementia by 40%, according to a research study conducted by neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, who helped prepare the study, said dementia is often connected with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vascular diseases that impede the flow of blood to the brain, leading to a decline in brain tissue and memory function. Walking regularly can diminish the risk of blocked blood flow.


Studies: Cancer screenings dropped sharply during pandemic (Leader-Telegram, 9/7/2020)

… People missed 285,000 breast cancer screenings alone in the U.S. between mid-March and late May, according to the Epic study.

It’s too early to tell how COVID-19 has specifically impacted cancer care in the Chippewa Valley, said Dr. Timothy Burns, oncologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

“At this point it is difficult to accurately predict how COVID-19 will impact the trend of cancer diagnoses per se, but Mayo Clinic is dedicated to researching and answering exact questions like this,” Burns said in an email to the Leader-Telegram, adding that there are ongoing studies on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care.


Medical Errors Jump After ‘Spring Forward’ to Daylight Saving Time  (Medscape, 9/10/2020)

The week after the annual “spring forward” to daylight saving time (DST) might not be the best time to seek medical care.

Researchers found a statistically significant increase in patient safety–related incidents in the week following the annual change to DST.

“Patient safety errors are an important and preventable cause of morbidity. Every year with daylight saving time, healthcare workers have less time in bed, which can result in sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of errors,” lead investigator Bhanu Kolla, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News.


Tackle Football in Childhood: Does Age Matter? (MedPage Today, 9/9/2020)

— Early exposure may not be linked to short-term concussion recovery

Kids who played tackle football at a young age weren’t at increased risk for prolonged or worsened concussion symptoms as college players, researchers said…

Research about early exposure to football has yielded mixed results, with some studies suggesting head impacts at young ages raise the risk of negative long-term neurological consequences, and others saying age of first exposure doesn’t affect long-term brain health, noted Robert Lynall, PhD, of the University of Georgia in Athens, and Kevin Barrett, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, in an accompanying editorial.

In the short term, it’s unclear how early exposure may affect concussion recovery, “limiting the clinician’s ability to prognosticate and tailor post-concussion management based on prior duration of exposure,” they wrote.


Flu is approaching. Here’s why coronavirus could make season better, or worse. (The Virginian-Pilot, 9/7/2020)

As summer comes to a close, public health officials are viewing the next season with white knuckles, unsure how the flu could compound the pandemic.

A bad influenza season could overrun busy hospitals, and if vast numbers of people skip being vaccinated, that could lead to additional strain on supplies and equipment needed by patients with either respiratory illness…

Though some skeptics say they don’t get the shot because it’s not that effective, Fisher said that regardless of how accurate each year’s vaccine is, it almost always protects a person from severe disease or death.

When it comes to COVID-19, which has no vaccine, there could be partial protection offered through other types of vaccines — perhaps even the flu shot, according to some new Mayo Clinic research. Though the correlation might be slight, some physicians, like Fisher, believe anything that encourages more people to get the shot is worth mentioning.


‘Limited, Arbitrary, and Unsystematic:’ Flawed Federal Dietary Report Targets Alcohol (Reason.com, 9/5/2020)

Experts are blasting proposed federal guidelines that call for men to consume no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Critics are lining up to blast a report, issued by a federal committee earlier this summer, that urges the government to make steep cuts to the definition of moderate alcohol consumption. These critics are concerned because the group—the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a rotating crop of experts that meets every five years—is the government’s primary vehicle for recommending updates to the nation’s dietary policies…

This DGAC controversy does not surprise me. Indeed, it’s no stretch at all to argue that the DGAC is best known—in recent years, at least—for its controversial recommendations. In 2015, I blasted the DGAC report for proposing new food taxes, pushing for restrictions on food marketing, and suggesting local food bans. In a separate column that same year, I spoke with a university researcher whose analyses, published in the esteemed, peer-reviewed Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests, as I explained, “that the DGAC’s work—and the research used to support that work—is so off base as to be scientifically useless.” …


The Way Free Clinic to share in $100,000 grants for aging adults (Clay Today, 9/9/2020)

Community Foundation’s grants will support programs, services for vulnerable elders

… Mayo Clinic received a $20,000 grant to increase awareness and knowledge of pre-screening, diagnosis, and treatment services for Alzheimer’s and related dementias within the African-American community. Based on best practice research, Mayo plans to train members of the clergy within the AME church, and in partnership with AARP, will conduct educational workshops so clergy can sustainably continue workshops going forward.


How drugmakers can keep their pledge and still deliver an October vaccine surprise (Reuters, 9/9/2020)

As questions mount over whether the United States will authorize a coronavirus vaccine ahead of November elections, experts say there is a slim chance that enough evidence will be available to prove one is safe and effective in that time frame…

Pfizer’s trial calls for four interim analyses by the DSMB, the first after just 32 recorded infections. “We may have enough data to be able to share the first analysis by October,” said Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts.

Moderna’s first interim analysis will come after 53 trial subjects become infected, the company told investors last month.

Basing a decision on 53 cases, is “an absolutely insufficient number,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester who has served on FDA vaccine advisory panels. “You would know very little about safety.”

To halt the trials due to positive results, vaccines would likely have to exceed the 50% efficacy threshold…


Let’s Talk About Severe Obesity (Health Central, 9/9/2020)

About 25% of people with obesity fall into the “severe” classification. Here’s what that means and how treatment can help.

… The prevalence of severe obesity has increased fivefold over the past five decades, outpacing obesity in general, which has nearly tripled in the same time frame, according to new research out of the Mayo Clinic. It’s believed that about 10% of Americans now fall into the category of having severe obesity…


Study shows tennis players live longer (Australasian Leasure Management, 9/9/2020)

A new study has shown the benefits of sports participation for longevity, with those who regularly play tennis gaining, on average, an extra 9.7 years to their lives.

The research from the US-based Mayo Clinic, shows the specific sports that have the most significant impact on participant’s lifespan, with tennis players benefiting from increased aerobic capacity, better metabolic function, higher bone density and lower blood pressure.


Can Certain Supplements Actually Help With Anxiety? (Livestrong.com, 9/8/2020)

Anxiety is skyrocketing right now, especially among women.

A quarter of all women report severe anxiety with physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat, compared to only 11 percent of men, and more than half also report sleep issues, according to a LeanIn.org survey.

What’s more, women have a higher risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome, a May 2020 study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity found.

Given all this, the idea of popping an over-the-counter supplement to ease your jitters may sound very appealing. But you still need to be careful.

“Herbal supplements aren’t monitored by the FDA the same way medications are,” says Brent Bauer, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program. “Natural doesn’t always mean safe.”

NOTE: Dr. Bauer comments throughout on the various supplements covered in the article.


Readers Predict Biggest Medical Breakthroughs by 2045 (Medscape 9/11/2020)

… Use of telemedicine has fallen off from its initial highs recently after skyrocketing growth during the pandemic’s initial stage. But many experts believe it has tremendous growth potential.

An architect of Mayo Clinic’s model of healthcare at home launched this summer, John Halamka, MD, said that before the pandemic, “maybe some organizations were at 5% virtual, went to 95% virtual, and are now at 25% virtual, but they’re going to stay at 25% virtual. So you went from 5% to 25% in 6 months. The cultural expectation will keep that going forward.”

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Fri, Sep 4 3:38pm · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- 9/4/2020

researcher in white coat and gloves examining something, blurry room-sized biostorage in the background

A wide range of topics were covered by news media over the last week, citing Mayo Clinic Research or including Mayo researchers’ perspectives. Below are excerpts from some of these articles, as well as links to the full stories online. Read on for news about gluten-free cosmetics, daylight savings time, advances in understanding in Alzheimer’s and heart disease, behind the scenes of your nostrils, and much more

… “The gene KDM6A was found to have protective effects on the brain. Thus, the more doses of the gene — i.e., XX vs. XY — the better resilience,” Michelle M. Mielke, PhD, director of the Specialized Center of Research Excellence on Sex Differences at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, told Healthline. She wasn’t involved in the study.

“A next step in this research will be to identify other genes on the X or Y chromosomes that are beneficial or detrimental to the brain,” Mielke added. This will help experts develop a “better understanding of some of the pathways that can protect the brain and therefore be potential drug targets.”

NOTE: Dr. Mielke continues her insights in the article. Read it online.


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine called for the abolishment of seasonal time changes last week

… “Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle,” M. Adeel Rishi, lead author on the AASM report and a Mayo Clinic sleep specialist, says in an accompanying statement. “Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body’s natural rhythm.


Sexual harassment is not a new or rare phenomenon in the workplace, but since the #MeToo movement began in late 2017, more victims have come forward to report allegations of harassment at work, including at health care institutions.

As a leading health care institution, Mayo Clinic has committed to a culture of fairness, equity and safety. To demonstrate its commitment and transparency, Mayo Clinic reviewed all sexual harassment complaints and investigations from September 2017 to September 2019 and published the results in an article, “Addressing Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era: An Institutional Approach,” in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a monthly peer-reviewed journal.


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are two fatal neurodegenerative diseases marked by different clinical signs. But they are believed to be caused by a common underlying mechanism: a mutation in the C9orf72 gene that leads to the toxic accumulation of the TDP-43 protein.

Now, scientists at Mayo Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania are providing additional insight into the problem by shedding light on the role of another protein called poly(GR) in TDP-43 aggregation.


The pandemic shifted strategic focus and investments for Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic as the system sought to treat patients safely and using resources responsibly during the early days.

Operations are now returning to a more normal cadence and the health system is resuming focus on digital transformation, including its strategic partnership with Google and the roll-out of a new artificial intelligence factory. In a Sept. 1 episode of the Becker’s Healthcare podcast, CIO Cris Ross discussed how the pandemic affected the health system’s goals and the essential IT investments Mayo plans to make in the next year.

NOTE: A link to the podcast and transcribed interview are available online.


Clinical Trials Show Higher Spatial Resolution, Less Noise, Fewer Artifacts, And Color Capabilities in Patients’ Images

… “Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. have evaluated Siemens Healthineers’ photon-counting detector system’s performance in phantoms, cadavers, animals, and humans. Images of more than 300 patients produced with this technology consistently demonstrated that the theoretical benefits of this type of detector technology yield a number of important clinical benefits,” said Cynthia McCollough, professor of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Clinic.

“Publications by our research team have shown improved spatial resolution, decreased radiation or iodine contrast dose requirements, and decreased levels of image noise and artifacts,” McCollough said. “Additionally, the ability to simultaneously acquire multiple 150-micron-resolution datasets, each representing a different energy spectrum, is anticipated to lead to new clinical applications.”


The natural antioxidant epicatechin significantly improves heart structure and function in young people with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) over nearly six months of treatment, a small Phase 2 study has shown. …

Epicatechin is an antioxidant compound found in wine, dark chocolate, and green tea. The Mayo Clinic and Epirium Bio are developing epicatechin as a potential treatment for FA. 


Personalized medicine approach helped reduce adverse events by 34 percent

An international, first-of-its-kind cardiology trial used personalized genetic testing to reduce by 34 per cent the number of serious adverse events following balloon angioplasty, a treatment for the most common form of heart disease. 

For patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), the choice of antiplatelet therapy can be critical to post treatment success, and to minimize the chance of heart attack or stroke.   

The TAILOR-PCI trial, co-led by principal investigators Michael Farkouh, M.D., cardiologist and Multinational Clinical Trials Chair at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and director of the Heart and Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research, University of Toronto, and Naveen Pereira, M.D., professor of medicine and cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, studied the effectiveness of genetic-guided therapy in patients that have had PCIs when compared to conventional therapy.  …


HELP Study results, evaluating levosimendan in patients with Pulmonary Hypertension and Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (PH-HFpEF), will be presented during a Late-Breaking Clinical Trial session during the HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting

… The HELP Study (Hemodynamic Evaluation of Levosimendan in PH-HFpEF) was a multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial designed to evaluate levosimendan in 36 patients with pulmonary hypertension and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (PH-HFpEF). Endpoints in the trial evaluated various invasive hemodynamic and clinical measures including a 6-minute walk test.

Detailed results of the HELP Study will be presented as a late-breaking oral abstract by Dr. Barry Borlaug, Chair for Research, Division of Circulatory Failure, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a member of the HELP Study Steering Committee.


At the virtual Women in Ophthalmology Summer Symposium, Andrea Tooley, MD, offered new fellows wellness, collaboration and professional development advice to ease the transition from residency.

Tooley, who is an assistant professor of oculoplastic and orbital surgery at Mayo Clinic, where she completed her residency, reflected on her own experience in her 2-year fellowship journey in New York City.


Pets bring much joy to the lives they touch. So it should come as no surprise that the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, which was conducted by the American Pet Products Association, found that about 85 million families in the United States own a pet. …

This is not the only health benefit pets may provide. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic, which looked at 1,800 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who had healthy hearts, found that almost half owned a dog. Having a dog was likely to spur heart-healthy behaviors, like exercising with the pet, eating well and having ideal blood sugar levels.


Beauty launches are most prominent in the skin care, color cosmetics and hair care categories.

… Despite the plethora of gluten-free products, according to the Mayo Clinic, gluten can’t be absorbed through the skin due to the very large size of gluten proteins. The health risk is accidental ingestion. 


The American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) is honoring Andrea J. Boon, MD, with the AANEM Scientific Award for PMR. The award recognizes mid-career members for serving as a first author, second author, or senior author on a published paper in a national or international peer-reviewed, indexed journal within the past 2 years.

Dr. Boon was awarded for her work as the senior author on a November 2018 article in Dovepress Journal of Pain Research titled, “Sensitivity of high-resolution ultrasonography in clinically diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome patients with hand pain and normal nerve conduction studies.” 

Dr. Boon saw a way for this study to have a practical effect on her everyday work.


A handful of drugs are approved in the United States to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. …

Trials take years, partly because of the need for long-term follow-up but also because it’s hard to recruit enough people who meet the criteria.

Locating them and screening them can take a long time, Smith said.

That’s why USF, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease in Miami Beach and Brain Matters Research in Stuart are Florida sites for TRC-PAD, Trial-Ready Cohort for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.

TRC-PAD is pulling together cognitively healthy volunteers who are willing to take part in clinical trials aimed at reducing risk of dementia, Smith said. They need to be at risk of memory loss for various reasons. …


… “In the present study, a family history of TGA was rare and not associated with TGA recurrence. The small number of familial cases could be because family history of TGA is not routinely investigated by clinicians or known by patients. A role for genetic factors in TGA is supported by our findings that family history of migraine was an independent risk factor for TGA recurrence. However, more long-term follow-up studies are needed to address this issue,” Ken A. Morris, MD, PhD, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and colleagues wrote.


As the volume of costly new biologic oncology drugs expands, health systems increasingly are turning to automated dose rounding protocols to reduce the use of single-use vials and trim millions from their overly burdened drug budgets. …

And at Mayo Clinic, nearly $5 million was saved in the first half of 2019 alone by rounding doses of 15 biologic oncology medications. Additional savings of nearly $2.3 million were generated by dose rounding some three dozen oncolytic agents. Between biologics and oncolytics, a total of 9,814 vials were saved systemwide.


New Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) rule requires release of privacy information

… A united coalition of doctors, health care providers, and local and national medical organizations are asking Gov.Jared  Polis and the head of DORA to reject this change, and advocate for the availability of a confidential, accessible and accountable peer assistance program for Colorado’s physicians.

Signing away confidentiality and sharing mental health histories or treatment plans with the state can cost doctors not only their reputations but also their ability to safely practice medicine. Indeed, a study done for the Mayo Clinic found that “nearly 40% of physicians reported they would be reluctant to seek formal medical care for treatment of a mental health condition because of concerns about repercussions to their medical licensure.” This is another reason why confidentiality for physicians is critical. They need access to a trusted, reliable, confidential and ultimately, a peer-to-peer program when faced with a health concern.


Expanded partnership to explore deeper relationship between personalized precision nutrition and chronic disease

… The research team at the Mayo Clinic will leverage Viome’s transcriptomics technology and artificial intelligence expertise along with Mayo Clinic’s medical expertise to enable a better understanding of how nutrition affects obesity, insomnia and heart disease, and explore the effectiveness of Viome’s personalized precision nutrition as a strategy to help in treatment, and possibly even prevention, of these diseases.


A look at how voice-first technology could alter homecare

… According to CBI Insights, the voice-first market is expected to reach $49 billion worldwide. In recent years, multiple health-related voice assistants have been introduced, including by the Mayo Clinic and Boston Children’s Hospital. By 2019, it was becoming easier to ask about specific drugs online, medical transcription offerings multiplied, and organizations started to introduce voice-enabled hospital rooms, physician charting and wellness tracking
for consumers.

NOTE: The article discusses a couple of Mayo’s contributions in this arena.


Even though some of them may be hard to believe, it is 100% the truth, with the necessary research to back it up.

  1. You may think your nostrils work at the same time when it comes to breathing in and out, but that is not the case.

Research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal found that nostrils take turns to breath. Every few hours, another nostril takes over and so it goes on ad Infinium.


Women in Oncology, a first-of-its kind effort from Healio, will inform, inspire, engage and empower female professionals with guidance from those who have exceled in their professional careers, mentored younger doctors, and led full and rewarding personal lives.

Healio’s Women in Oncology will advance the work of women in the field of oncology and provide essential insights for overcoming their unique challenges.

Our Peer Perspective Board, under the leadership of Consulting Medical Editor, Shikha Jain, MD, FACP, will guide us along this journey …

NOTE: 22 women are listed as comprising the Peer Perspective Board, which includes:

Carrie A. Thompson, MD, MS, is the residency program director and associate chair of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science’s Department of Medicine, where she also is an associate professor. She is a consultant within the division of hematology.”

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Fri, Aug 28 9:50am · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- COVID, COVID, COVID

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding convalescent plasma in the last week. A few articles are listed here, an internet search will give you dozens more.

In addition to convalescent plasma, our researchers are working on tests, vaccines, social and population health issues relating to COVID-19. Recent news articles highlighting Mayo Clinic Research and researchers are excerpted and linked below.

Convalescent plasma news

COVID-19 plasma therapy, backed by Mayo research, will reach more patients, by Glenn Howatt, Star Tribune, 8/24/2020

More COVID-19 patients are expected to receive convalescent plasma therapy since the Trump administration issued an emergency authorization Sunday, backed by research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“This makes it simpler for hospitals to get access to convalescent plasma,” said Dr. R. Scott Wright, a coordinator of Mayo’s national plasma program.

The treatment involves a transfusion of blood plasma from someone who has recovered from the new coronavirus into a newly infected patient with the hope that the antibodies in the plasma will prevent complications and speed recovery.


Mayo Clinic doctors detail research into plasma treatment for COVID, video interview with Cynthia McFadden on Today.com (NBC), 8/24/2020


Convalescent plasma treatment for covid-19 has been oversold by the US, by Jessica Hamzelou, NewScientist, 8/25/2020

Blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 will be used as a treatment for the infection in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an emergency use authorisation for the treatment on 23 August, but the evidence that it works is lacking. …

Several studies are under way to test convalescent plasma for covid-19. The largest has been run by the Mayo Clinic in the US – about 71,000 people have received treatment across 2780 hospitals over the past five months as part of a programme that enables access to experimental therapies.


COVID-19 Therapy Controversy, by Roland Pease, BBC, 8/27/2020

This week Science in Action examines the evidence around the Trump Administration’s emergency use authorisation of convalescent plasma therapy for the treatment of Covid-19. Donald Trump described its US-wide roll-out as ‘historic’ but the majority of scientists and doctors disagree, questioning the scientific basis for the government’s decision. Roland Pease talks to Mayo Clinic’s Michael Joyner, the leader of the convalescent plasma therapy study on which the action was based. …


On other COVID-19 related research, expertise

Mayo Clinic study shows stable humidity could slow spread of COVID-19, Lincoln News Now, 8/24/2020

With many schools reopening across the country, districts are deciding not to run their heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, systems out of fear of spreading the novel coronavirus, instead choosing to run large fans throughout their schools.

A study from the Mayo Clinic has shown, however, that’s not the best idea for classrooms to fight infectious diseases. 

The study proved keeping the relative humidity in classrooms between 40% and 60% could reduce the infectious capacity of respiratory diseases to survive on surfaces, or spread between classmates as aerosols.


NYT: Doctors Enter College Football’s Politics, but Maybe Just for Show

… And a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic who advised the Big 12 and Conference U.S.A. to soldier on with football said in a podcast that any conference that did not play because of myocarditis concerns was relying on “wimpy, wobbly, weak” evidence.

… That schism may help explain why Dr. Michael Ackerman, a cardiovascular genomics research professor at the Mayo Clinic, ended up on a Zoom call earlier this month with Big 12 presidents, athletic directors and their medical advisory group, and then a day later on a similar call for Conference U.S.A.


One College’s Pop-Up COVID Test: Stop and ‘Smell the Roses’ (Or the Coffee), by Ann Bauer, Kaiser Health News, 8/24/2020

If all goes according to plan, Penn State University students who opt for an on-campus experience this fall will start in-person classes on Aug. 24 under the banner of a “Mask Up or Pack Up” campaign.

By returning to campus, students are agreeing to wear masks, adhere to social distancing practices and submit to random testing for COVID-19.

But “Mask Up or Pack Up” also offers a less traditional, more proactive approach to virus containment: the smell test.

… Several other studies have linked the loss of smell to the virus. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported in June that patients with COVID-19 were 27 times more likely to lose their sense of smell than people without the virus, while less than three times as likely to report fever and/or chills. Another analysis of medical records by Mayo researchers suggested that routine screening for those changes “could contribute to improved case detection in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”


AHA News: Researchers Explore How COVID-19 Affects Heart Health in Black Women, via U.S. News & World Report, 8/25/2020

Nearly six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, two things have become clear: The virus profoundly impacts people with heart disease and disproportionately impacts Black people. But the many manifestations of these disparities remain unclear, particularly for one group regularly left out of medical research.

… Black women may also be more exposed to contagion, said Dr. LaPrincess Brewer, assistant professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s department of cardiovascular medicine in Rochester, Minn. “They are more likely to hold service sector jobs that increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19. They are more likely to serve as heads of household.”


Mayo Clinic study finds uptick in chest pain searches online amid COVID-19, even as ED visits for heart problems drops, by Tina Reed, Fierce Healthcare, 8/26/2020

One of the big concerns reported in emergency departments across the country in the weeks and months after the COVID-19 pandemic began was around just how much their volumes dropped.

The big question: Just what happened to all the heart attacks? 

Mayo Clinic researchers may lend more evidence that patients were trying to avoid a trip to the emergency room. In a study published this week in JMIR Cardio, the researchers found a correlation between online searches for chest pain symptoms and reports of fewer people going to the emergency department with acute heart problems.


What should we tell kids before sending them back to school? A Mayo Clinic pediatrician weighs in, by Sean Baker, Med City Beat, 8/25/2020

When children return to the classroom this fall (in districts that are offering in-person instruction), they will be going back to an environment much different than the one they left in March, when the pandemic began to take hold of every aspect of American life. Masks will cover their smiles. Social distancing will prevent them from sitting in tight circles. Remembering to wash their hands will become as important as memorizing Shakespeare.

That is because if schools are to remain open, they will need students to adjust to a new set of expectations, ones that require them to rethink their own individual behaviors as well as how they interact with one another.

For parents, this means having conversations with your children — about what they can expect, how they can stay safe, and what they should do when their bodies do not feel right. To help navigate these discussions, we spoke with Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. Below are some recommendations she offered on how you can prepare kids for a school year that will be anything but normal.


Why is COVID-19 killing more men? A new study provides clues. by Abby Haglage, Yahoo Life, 8/27/2020

A new study in the journal Nature published Wednesday suggests that differences in gender may account for why men are more likely to contract COVID-19 and are 2.4 times more likely to die from it, and is calling on the scientific community to continue study of the data.

… Dr. Gregory Poland, an immunologist and director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, says the research is too limited so far to make any conclusions, saying instead to “consider these hints.” However, he says it does align with what’s already known about gender and disease. “It’s consistent with what we know about virtually every vaccine that has been studied. Women respond better to vaccines,” Poland tells Yahoo Life. “Women do better with infectious diseases, whether it’s cold or influenza.” …


Experts see progress on a COVID-19 vaccine, but worry about who gets it first and how it gets to them, by Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub, USA Today, 8/26/2020

A coronavirus vaccine or even several could be ready in a few months, so experts are beginning to worry about howto get it into people’s arms.

“Vaccines don’t save lives. Vaccinations save lives,” said Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

… This may not be one-and-done either, said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group.

Just as the common cold and flu mutate a little each year, coronavirus could do the same. Funding new vaccine development that can fill the void in case of viral mutation/recombination will be critical, said Poland, editor-in-chief of the journal Vaccine. …


More research on virus sought, by Li Yan, China Daily, 8/25/2020

Experts call for increased international unity to learn about long-term maladies

As the long-term effects of COVID-19 begin to surface, experts are calling for more research and global collaboration as well as a better mechanism to monitor recovered patients and greater public education initiatives to reduce unnecessary fear or speculation.

According to the journal Science, the list of lingering maladies from COVID-19 is longer and more varied than most doctors could have imagined. They include fatigue, shortness of breath, muddled thoughts, a persistent loss of sense of smell and damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain.

The Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit medical research center based in the United States, said most people who have COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, but some, even those who had mild versions of the disease, continue to experience symptoms.

Gregory Poland, a COVID-19 expert at the clinic, said the virus is “wicked” and “has a number of mysteries involved compared to the usual respiratory virus.” This includes the emerging idea of COVID-19″long-haulers,” a term used to describe people who develop long-term and ongoing complications.

Read more from Dr. Poland and others in the rest of the article online.

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Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 mini site includes news, research findings, information on clinical trials and more.

Wed, Aug 26 6:00am · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- 8/26/2020

An elderly man in a hospital bed, enjoying a visit from a small pet therapy dog

Although it hasn’t even been a week, many news outlets have featured Mayo Clinic Research and our research experts in articles across a broad range of topics. In order not to overload – it really is shaping up to be an interesting week – we’ll save COVID-related news for another day.

Read on to hear about Mayo research intersections with therapy dogs, honey for colds, pigs, social media and back-to-school, stem cells, standing desks and a whole lot more.

Therapy Dogs Give Relief to Fibromyalgia Patients, by Pat Anson

It’s well-known that having a pet or support animal can provide significant psychological benefits to people suffering from stress, anxiety or loneliness. A new study at the Mayo Clinic suggests that pet therapy can also help people with fibromyalgia. …

The research findings, recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, are striking. People who interacted with a therapy dog had a statistically significant increase in levels of salivary oxytocin – a hormone released by the pituitary gland that is known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.”


Adding a bit of this to your tea may be better for the common cold than drugs, by Olivia Kelley

When you are feeling down with a bad cough or a cold, you may brew up a cup of warm tea with honey to help you feel better. New research published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine suggests that this home remedy may actually be more effective at treating cold symptoms than antibiotics and over the counter medicines.


High blood pressure during pregnancy means even worse hot flashes throughout menopause, by Drew Simms

Females with a history of hypertension conditions during pregnancy are more likely to experience annoying menopausal signs such as hot flashes and night sweats, according to a study published Wednesday, Aug. 19, in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

“We already know that women with high blood pressure during pregnancy or those who experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Our research discovered that women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were much more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats during menopause,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., the study’s lead author. Dr. Faubion is the Penny and Bill George Director for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health.


Pigs grow new liver in lymph nodes, study shows, by University of Pittsburgh

Hepatocytes—the chief functional cells of the liver—are natural regenerators, and the lymph nodes serve as a nurturing place where they can multiply. In a new study published online and appearing in a coming issue of the journal Liver Transplantation, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that large animals with ailing livers can grow a new organ in their lymph nodes from their own hepatocytes. A human clinical trial is next. …

These findings bolster the results of another recent study, in which Lagasse and colleagues at Mayo Clinic showed that healthy liver tissue grown in the lymph nodes of pigs with a genetic liver defect spontaneously migrated to the animals’ livers, where they replaced diseased cells and cured the animals’ liver disease.


Seeking a better test for Alzheimer’s, by Greg Miller

By the time a person starts exhibiting the memory problems and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, a catastrophic cascade of cellular events has been playing out inside their brain for years or even decades. Misfolded proteins and fragments of protein have been ever so slowly clumping together, forming microscopic plaques and tangles that interfere with the function of neurons. Eventually, these brain cells die and this neurodegeneration takes its toll on memory and cognition. …

“About a third of the people who were enrolled in these clinical trials for ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ actually turned out not to have Alzheimer’s disease,” says Clifford Jack, a brain imaging researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “That’s a really huge problem.”


Stem Cell Marketing: Hundreds Of Businesses Pitch Unproven Stem Cell Products To Treat Different Conditions, by Mifliha Noor

Ambitious claims are not out of place in the realm of stem cell marketing, in which hundreds of U.S. businesses aggressively pitch unproven stem cell products to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from autism to Parkinson’s disease to macular degeneration. It is a gray area of regenerative medicine that rheumatologists and orthopedic providers are typically familiar with, as the promise of stem cell injections to relieve joint pain or bypass invasive surgeries often resonates among patients with osteoarthritis. …

In addition, according to Shane A. Shapiro, MD, medical directors for the Regenerative Medicine Therapeutics Program at the Mayo Clinic, the science of cell-based, or cell-derived, therapies for musculoskeletal disorders has made promising progress over the last decade.

“We have given this subset of treatments the moniker ‘orthobiologics’ to help separate these types of treatments from pure mesenchymal stem cell treatments, which are still in various phases of research, and quite far from ready to market or FDA approval,” Shapiro told Healio Rheumatology. “Additionally, we need to draw the distinction between orthobiologics and ‘biologic’ agents used as treatments in inflammatory arthritic diseases, which modulate the immune system and have been approved for use in several arthritis and systemic inflammatory diseases.”


Parents and guardians: As online school begins, beware of media consumption, by Jack Graham

It’s August, which means many students across our nation are starting a new school year — virtually.

Because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), school systems and private schools throughout the country have had to adopt new modes of learning. While some have chosen to open and provide options for onsite or online learning, others have delayed opening, choosing online learning to kick off the year. And while technology certainly has its merits, it is not without its pitfalls. 

As parents and guardians, we have a responsibility to help our children navigate media well, especially now that they will be spending a significant amount of time online.

So, how can we wisely guide the children that have been entrusted to us?


A Standing Desk Changed My Life—It Can Save Yours Too, by Simon Hill

DOES YOUR BACK ache? Ever get shooting pains in your arms? For me, the answer to those questions, and any others involving nagging back pain, is yes.

I’ve seen doctors, tried exercises from physiotherapists, paid for massages, and guzzled painkillers to dull the persistent aches in my lower spine. I’ve had more than my fair share of pinched nerves. Now and then, I throw my back out badly enough to make walking in anything other than a shuffle a lofty ambition.

For a long time, I figured it was simply an occupational hazard, as my career requires me to spend long hours every day hunched over a computer. Then, I bought something that has all but vanquished my pain: an adjustable standing desk.

NOTE: Mayo investigators have conducted a range of research related to using standing desks and treadmill desks. Read more on PubMed.


Animal therapy aids humans, canines, via Veterinary Practice News

Like patients, therapy dogs also enjoy human-animal support interactions, according to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic and Purina

The “Better Together” study looked at the emotional-physiological state of individuals with fibromyalgia before and after a session with a therapy dog, as well as the state of the animal.


Plakous Therapeutics extends research through agreement with Mayo Clinic, news release via BioSpace

… The multi-year agreement will focus on understanding the results of a natural history study of the factors associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a rare disease affecting premature babies. Plakous has received Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Disease designations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of NEC in premature babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy. 


Continuing importance of stem cell research: Expanding medical knowledge, by Megan Hackbarth

Imagine a world where all forms of dementia, brain disorders and neurological diseases are cured with the patients’ own cells. This could be the same world where the shortage of organ donors has been replaced with the ability of people to grow their own replacement organs free of transplant rejection. This is a world where stem cell research has been allowed to unlock the secrets of cells and move forward the knowledge of medicine in profound ways. …


Med City start-up lands $500,000 Air Force contract, by Jeff Kiger

A Rochester medical device start-up that sells a specialty eye dropper landed an estimated $500,000 contract with the U.S. Air Force.

Nanodropper, co-founded by a Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine student, designed and makes a specialized eye drop bottle adapter that reduces medicine waste by delivering a more precise drop for patients and doctors.

Allisa Song, a third-year medical student, is CEO and co-founder of the company. Song founded the company in 2017 while at the University of Washington with Elias Baker, Jennifer Steger and Mackenzie Andrews. They later moved the young business to Rochester.

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Related resources:

Fri, Aug 21 3:25pm · Mayo Clinic Research in the news -- 8/21/2020

A wide range of Mayo Clinic expertise was highlighted in the past week, with local, national and international media outlets quoting researchers and referring to Mayo Clinic research findings. Following are a selection of these news articles, with a brief excerpt and link to the full story on the appropriate websites. For ease of review, these are divided into two sections, COVID-19 and other topics in health and health care delivery research.

COVID-19 related news

NatureEvidence lags behind excitement over blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment, by Heidi Ledford

US President Donald Trump has called on COVID-19 survivors to donate their blood plasma as a treatment for the disease, saying that “it’s had tremendous response so far”. Meanwhile, rumours have been swirling that US drug regulators are grappling with whether to give the plasma to more people by authorizing it as an emergency therapy. But researchers and clinicians around the world are concerned that a push to distribute blood plasma could undermine the clinical trials needed to determine whether it actually works against COVID-19.

Although some US hospitals already offer the treatment in special cases, an emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would make it easier to obtain and administer convalescent plasma — the yellow liquid that remains after cells are removed from blood. …

Although there have been few data on whether convalescent plasma definitely improves outcomes for people with other diseases, it was logical to test the treatment against COVID-19 when the outbreak began. But researchers have struggled to nail down its effectiveness in the middle of the pandemic, says Michael Joyner, an anaesthesiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  


USA TodayOpinion: Continued silence by Big Ten makes football cancellation look worse by minute, by Chad Leistikow

On Tuesday, the Southeastern Conference outlined protocols for having fans in attendance for college football games this fall. Face coverings over the nose and mouth required when entering/exiting/moving around the stadium and when social-distancing isn’t feasible.

On Tuesday, North Carolina coach Mack Brown offered a positive outlook for Atlantic Coast Conference football, saying that coronavirus test results were coming back within 24 hours.

On Tuesday, the Big Ten Conference … remained quiet. …

What medical data was used to make the fall decision? The Pac-12 has been forthcoming; the Big Ten has not, as other leagues planning to play cite medical advice for pushing forward. The Big 12 leaned on Mayo Clinic cardiologist Michael Ackerman, who said it would be “a scientific foul” to conclude that COVID-19 leads to myocarditis in 18- to 24-year-old athletes.


Christian Science Monitor, Herd community: There’s more to cows than we thought, say scientists, by Eva Botkin-Kowacki

It’s lunchtime at Unity Farm Sanctuary, and all the residents are munching away. In the “Forever Friends” pen, Audrey and Pal gently jostle heads to share the trough. When Pal nudges Audrey’s face out of her way, she stops and licks his ear and his neck as if to say, ‘That’s OK. I still love you,’ before placing her head back in the haystack.

That may seem strange – especially when social distancing is the behavior du jour – but Audrey and Pal are cattle. And the licking is a way of showing affection and bonding among bovine. …

The cows are also offering solace to sanctuary co-founder and facilities manager John Halamka during the pandemic. Dr. Halamka is the president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, a digital health care initiative, and he says that after a long day of virtual meetings, spending time with the animals is calming.  “In the time of COVID there’s a lot of conflict. There’s worry about resources, there’s worry about societal stability, there’s lots of tension,” he says. “There’s no question that in a time of uncertainty, coming together human-to-human, or human-to-animal, is therapeutic to everyone.”  


New York TimesWhy Pooled Testing for the Coronavirus Isn’t Working in America, by Katherine J. Wu

Earlier this summer, Trump administration officials hailed a new strategy for catching coronavirus infections: pooled testing.

The decades-old approach combines samples from multiple people to save time and precious testing supplies. Federal health officials like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Adm. Brett Giroir said pooling would allow for constant surveillance of large sectors of the community, and said they hoped it would be up and running nationwide by the time students returned to school.

But now, when the nation desperately needs more coronavirus tests to get a handle on the virus’s spread, this efficient approach has become worthless in many places, in part because there are simply too many cases to catch.

Pooled testing only works when the vast majority of batches test negative. If the proportion of positives is too high, more pools come up positive — requiring each individual sample to then be retested, wasting precious chemicals. …

“There’s been a lot of concerns about all the challenges,” said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the clinical parasitology laboratory at Mayo Clinic, which processes tens of thousands of coronavirus tests each week, but has yet to roll out pooling. Experts disagree, for instance, on the cutoff at which pooling stops being useful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus test, which is used by most public health laboratories in the United States, stipulates that pooling shouldn’t be used when positivity rates exceed 10 percent. But at Mayo Clinic, “we’d have to start to question it once prevalence goes above 2 percent, definitely above 5 percent,” Dr. Pritt said.


CBS NewsIt’s safe to go to the ER during the pandemic – “just be smart about it,” doctor says, by Nicole Brown

Anyone with a medical emergency should seek treatment, even though coronavirus cases remain high in parts of the country, emergency care physician Dr. Ron Elfenbein said on CBSN Monday. Emergency departments, in general, “do a very good job” of sanitizing and keeping the risk of exposure to a minimum, he said. 

“If you have something that you consider to be an emergency, definitely go seek care for it,” said Elfenbein, who practices in Maryland. “The emergency rooms, by and large, are safe and secure.” …

In April, as the outbreak in the New York City area hit its peak, U.S. emergency room visits fell around 40%, according to the CDC. Another study by researchers at Yale University and the Mayo Clinic showed that in the first four months of 2020, visits to emergency departments in five states — Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina — fell between 42% and 64%.


The GuardianFlu and Covid: winter could bring ‘double-barrel’ outbreak to US, experts say, by Jessica Glenza

Public health experts, researchers and manufacturers warn the coming flu season could bring a “double-barrel” respiratory disease outbreak in the United States, just as fall and winter are expected to exacerbate the spread of Covid-19.

At the same time, researchers said the strategies currently used to prevent Covid-19 transmission – namely, hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing – could also help lessen flu outbreaks, if Americans are willing to practice them. …

When community spread of Covid-19 began in the United States in March, widespread shutdowns shaved “four to six weeks” off the flu season in 2020, said Dr Richard Kennedy, co-director of the Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research lab. That was “probably as a direct result of the social distancing and the mask-wearing and the shutdown,” said Kennedy. A similar phenomenon is taking place in the southern hemisphere, where winter flu season is now tapering off. Countries such as Chile have seen historically low influenza transmission.


Arizona ABC 15Scientists say MMR vaccine could protect against COVID-19, by Jessica Peres

Researchers around the world are trying to learn as much as possible about COVID-19, while reaching for a vaccine, cure or other treatment. Some recent studies are looking at vaccines we already have in our arsenal.

“It has been known for years that some vaccines can offer protection against diseases that they’re not targeting against. Probably the best example is the BCG vaccine, which is used to try to prevent tuberculosis. It can prevent people from acquiring malaria,” said Andrew Badley, the Chair of the Mayo Clinic COVID Research Task Force.


Bemidji PioneerMayo survey: Why are people so weird about masks? by Paul John Scott

As one of the most personal interventions ever imposed in the name of public health, mandatory masking defies our expectations about people and rules.

Among the law-breaking marauders who marred nonviolent protests this summer with looting and destruction, adherence to local masking orders was widespread. …

“I think a lot of people think that it should be a personal choice and you can’t make me,” said Pamela Sinicrope of the Mayo Clinic Behavioral Health Research Program. “Other people have to figure how to get a mask, what kind of mask to get, how to wear it. And then there’s this thing with masks that you’re wearing a mask to protect other people, not yourself. That’s kind of a complicated idea.”


WYTV, Geneva College selected for Mayo Clinic COVID-19 research study, by WYTV Staff

Geneva College is one of two campus communities nationwide selected for a Mayo Clinic research study screening for COVID-19 antibodies. …

The research study is to shed statistical light on how COVID-19 impacts college and university communities. This serological test will also screen for Influenza A and B, RSV and season coronaviruses other than COVID-19.


News beyond COVID-19

CBS BaltimoreHigh Blood Pressure In Pregnancy Linked With ‘More Bothersome’ Hot Flashes During Menopause, Study Finds, by Jacqueline Howard

High blood pressure or hypertension during pregnancy appears to be associated with having “more bothersome” menopausal symptoms — such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances and psychological symptoms — later in life, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Menopause on Wednesday, also suggests that women with a history of hypertension during pregnancy who use hormone therapy are more likely to report more bothersome symptoms than women with no such history.

Overall, high blood pressure during pregnancy and severe menopausal symptoms are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women, said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health and medical director for the North American Menopause Society. Yet just because they are linked does not mean one actually causes the other.


Neurology TodayBlood Tests for Tau in Alzheimer’s Disease Appear Promising in Several New Trials, by Thomas R. Collins

A series of new studies point to the promise of phosphorylated tau in the blood for detecting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) reliably and early, researchers said at the virtual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The findings, taken collectively, have sparked excitement in the field about the possibility of a cheaper, less invasive way to test for the disease, which so far has been detectable in patients who are still alive only in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with a spinal tap or with costly PET imaging. …

“These results are really exciting and, I think, a turning point for the field with regards to the development of a blood based-biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Michelle Mielke, PhD, professor of epidemiology and neurology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, who was not involved with the studies.  


BBCHow do you fix healthcare’s medical waste problem? by Hope Ngo

Coronavirus has made medical waste more visible than ever, but the environmental footprint of healthcare goes much further – and reducing it could save lives. …

There is certainly a way to go. In 2018, a survey conducted across four Mayo Clinic locations across the United States found that single-use plastics made up at least 20% of medical waste generated in US hospitals; 57% of those surveyed didn’t know which items in operating theatres could be recycled, 39% said they either sometimes or never recycled, and that 48% had “a lack of knowledge” about recycling.


Radiology BusinessRadiologists make significantly more mistakes on the night shift than their daytime counterparts, by Marty Stempniak

Radiologists working late hours overnight make “significantly” more errors than their daytime-shift counterparts, according to a new analysis published Tuesday.

Mistakes actually increased during the back-half of the night shift at a rate of roughly 3.7% of cases compared to 2.5% during the earlier portion, Mayo Clinic imaging experts reported in Radiology. Previous studies have noted these trends among residents, but this new analysis targeted board-certified docs and warrants attention from practice leaders, experts advised.

“The error rate was higher despite lower work intensity during night assignments and despite having work schedules exceeding Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education guidelines to promote rest,” Anika Patel, with the Department of Radiology at Mayo’s Phoenix location, and colleagues wrote Aug. 18.


HealioProgression uncommon among untreated children with intermittent exotropia, by Kate Burba

Stereoacuity deterioration or progression to constant exotropia was uncommon among children with intermittent exotropia who did not undergo surgical treatment, according to a study from the journal, Ophthalmology.

Brian G. Mohney, MD, department of ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues wrote that intermittent exotropia (IXT), “which occurs in nearly 1% of children in the United States and up to 4% of children in Asia, generally manifests more frequently with distance viewing, illness or fatigue. Although common, there are minimal data regarding the natural history of this disorder.”


STATHow do you separate scientifically sound stem cell therapies from scams? by Natalya Ortolano

For patients who’ve run out of other options, experimental, unproven therapies like stem cell treatments offer new hope. But how do you sort the scientifically legitimate from the dangerous? …

The Mayo Clinic Regenerative Medicine Consult Service helps patients and providers learn about available regenerative therapies and stem cell clinical trials relevant to their condition. Patients can make an in-person appointment, or, more often, call…Shane Shapiro, the medical director of the regenerative medicine therapeutics program at Mayo Clinic stressed to STAT that the goal of the clinic is not to help the patient find a stem cell therapy, but the best therapy for their condition. And many do end up with options, the same study of the visitors found. “More often than not, when we have an informed discussion with the patient, we’re able to show them there are still treatments that are available to them … and sometimes [the] treatments that patients may be hunting for may not be the best option for them,” Shapiro said.


TCTMDWhen a Pacemaker Lead Complicates Transcatheter Tricuspid Replacement: New Insights, by Yael L. Maxwell

For patients with transvenous pacemaker leads, transcatheter tricuspid valve replacement (TTVR) can be performed safely with a low risk for periprocedural complications, according to a new observational study. …

Lead author Jason H. Anderson, MD (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN), told TCTMD that they designed their study to give some guidance to operators, because until now “it’s basically been a case-by-case scenario where each case is just determined by the implanting physician and the team taking care of that patient.” Although longer follow-up is essential to understand whether patients with transvenous pacing leads who undergo TTVR are at risk for accelerated valve dysfunction, “there is no obvious reason for concern on the basis of the evidence in this preliminary experience,” the researchers write.


St. Mary’s UniversityPitel solves complex puzzles in genetic research at Mayo Clinic, by Deb Nahrgang

Working in genetic research at Mayo Clinic, Beth (Schubert) Pitel ’06 solves complex puzzles, which could ultimately improve patient care or even save lives. Pitel became part of a research team using genetic testing to understand why young children were suddenly dying about 15 years ago in an Amish community. The deaths had baffled medical examiners and brought heartbreak to the Amish community. Some of her most recent research was covered by CNN.


Estado de MinasTerapia celular: pesquisadores descobrem novas células para tratamento de diabetes, Jéssica Mayara

“Este produto celular é um tecido humano derivado de células-tronco, que contém células alfa produtoras de glucagon, um elemento chave na prevenção da hipoglicemia em pacientes com diabetes. Quando essas células, derivadas de células-tronco, são transplantadas para modelos animais, elas são capazes de protegê-los da hipoglicemia. Essas células têm também potencial agregado quando combinadas com células beta derivadas de células-tronco”, explica o pesquisador da Mayo Clinic e autor do estudo, Quinn Peterson.

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Fri, Aug 14 11:23am · Mayo Clinic Research in the news 8/14/2020

While much of the news around health care research is COVID-19 related, Mayo Clinic researchers are hard at work across the entire spectrum of health and health care delivery. Our multidisciplinary research teams are seeking ways to improve outcomes, lower costs and enhance the experience of patients, providers and caregivers. Read on for snippets of recent coverage by news media.

COVID-19 (a selection):

STAT: Large study suggests convalescent plasma can help treat Covid-19, but experts have doubts

8/13/2020

Infusing hospitalized Covid-19 patients with blood plasma from people who recovered from the disease appeared to show a benefit in a nationwide study, but the study’s lack of a placebo group left several experts struggling to interpret the data.

The study, which enrolled more than 35,000 patients, found that quickly administering so-called convalescent plasma had a marked effect on mortality for patients with severe cases of Covid-19. Those who received transfusions within three days of diagnosis had a seven-day death rate of 8.7%, while patients who got plasma after four or more days had a mortality rate of 11.9%. The difference met the standard for statistical significance.

But without a placebo group for comparison, it’s unclear just how valuable the treatment might be. The study, run by the Mayo Clinic and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, was meant to broaden access to convalescent plasma. It was part of what is known as an “expanded access program,” not designed to definitively test how well the treatment works but to get it to patients while collecting data.

Read more.


KTTC TV: Being up-to-date on immunizations may reduce risk of getting COVID-19, Mayo doctor says

8/11/2020

Immune training is not a new concept. For example, the BCG vaccine is used to prevent tuberculosis.

“It is known to prevent a variety of other diseases other than tuberculosis,” said Dr. Andrew Badley, Mayo Clinic COVID Research Taskforce Chair. “So it prevents you from acquiring malaria, possibly yellow fever, and other diseases.”

Even the influenza vaccine has been known to be beneficial beyond avoiding the seasonal bug.

“And so when we came into the COVID era, we asked the question ‘what is the effect of regularly scheduled vaccines on your chance of developing COVID disease?'” Badley said. “And what we discovered is there’s a large number of vaccines, measles vaccine, flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and a few others that if you take those vaccines, your risk of acquiring COVID is less than if you don’t take those vaccines.”

Badley said there are no clinical trials proving this yet, but there are studies being done.

Read more.


Biospace: Large Study Suggests Convalescent Antibodies May Help Treat COVID-19

8/14/2020

There two different types of antibodies being studied in COVID-19. … The other type is called convalescent antibodies, which are found in the blood plasma from people who recovered from COVID-19. The results from a three-month study in more than 35,000 patients were published yesterday on a preprint server, which means they have not yet been peer-reviewed. The study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic, Cooper University Health Care, Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at sites across the country.

Read more.


AP: America’s obesity epidemic threatens effectiveness of any COVID-19 vaccine

8/13/2020

… “Obesity is a serious global problem, and the suboptimal vaccine-induced immune responses observed in the obese population cannot be ignored,” pleaded researchers from the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in a 2015 study published in the journal Vaccine.

Read article.


Gallup: How One Infectious Disease Expert Leads During the Pandemic

8/11/2020

Mayo Clinic’s mission is to “inspire hope and contribute to health and wellbeing by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.”

James Lowenstein is the Division Director of Gastrointestinology and Infectious Disease at Mayo Clinic Laboratories — a commercial entity of Mayo Clinic.

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Lowenstein and his team of 26 Clinical Specialty Representatives and three Regional Directors of Sales have been focused on providing Mayo’s COVID-19 testing resources and “contributing to health and wellbeing by providing the best care to every patient.” Over 20 million people worldwide have now been diagnosed with COVID-19. Mayo Clinic Lab Vice President of Sales John Heywood shares with Gallup, “The mission of Mayo has never been more critical; our leadership team was poised and ready to meet this challenge.” As part of Heywood’s direct leadership team, Lowenstein discusses their reaction to that challenge, his own leadership approach and how his values have guided his decisions.

Lowenstein is interviewed by Gallup’s Jillian Anderson, who has partnered with Heywood and his team for several years on the design and delivery of their leadership development journey, focusing on building strengths-based, engagement-oriented and mission-centric leadership. Neither of them expected a devastating pandemic, but the work they did prepared Lowenstein’s team to move forward together, with speed and courage — and the indomitable mission of Mayo Clinic guiding the way.

Read interview.


Other health concerns:

Patient Engagement HIT: Medical Education About Health Disparities Needs Improvement

8/12/2020

Curricula reviewing health disparities and how to address them may leave much to be desired, with new data showing coursework about health disparities having little impact on medical students, according to a new report.

The study, published by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and the American College of Physicians, specifically found that the presence of health disparities curricula does not affect student perceptions about the overall quality of their medical education.

Read more.


The Herald-Zeitung: New Braunfels Fire Department marks life-saving milestone

The department began carrying O-positive blood to assist patients this month last year

8/11/2020

… Most of the research and experience regarding transfusing whole blood into a trauma victim came from the military. 

During the Vietnam War era, service members had blood transfusion utilizing whole blood. However, in the past couple of decades, various blood components were attempted, such as separating some of the red blood cells.

When service members began deploying for the U.S. led war campaigns Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, whole blood was shipped to them from the U.S. 

Additionally, service members get screened and checked for their blood type and tested for communal diseases ahead of time. Between OIF and OEF, more than 10,000 units of blood were transfused.

For those wanting to donate, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center has a program that helps replenish blood used in emergencies called Brothers in Arms.

The program is based on research done by the U.S. Army and the Mayo Clinic. The studies found that type O donations from men with lower levels of certain types of antibodies can be used for whole blood transfusions in patients of any blood type. (related study)

Blood from men in the Brothers in Arms initiative can be received by almost any patient, critical in emergencies when there is no time to test a patient’s blood type.

Read more.


General Surgery News: Three Nomograms Reviewed in Study (breast cancer)

8/14/2020

Several published nomograms can help predict which patients with clinically node-positive breast cancer will convert to pathologically node-negative disease after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. New research shows that three models perform well and could be used in surgical decision making regarding staging the axilla.

“When patients who undergo NAC [neoadjuvant chemotherapy] are node-negative, they undergo sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), and when they are clinically node-positive, they undergo axillary dissection. But if these clinically node-positive patients convert to node-negative, SLNB is acceptable,” said John Davis Jr., MD, a breast surgical oncology fellow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Read more.


AANEM: Dr. Rubin Receives Jun Kimura Outstanding Educator Award

8/12/2020

The American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) is honoring Devon I. Rubin, MD, with the Jun Kimura Outstanding Educator Award. This award honors AANEM members for their significant contributions related to NM and EDX education.

Read more about Dr. Rubin and the award.


Targeted Oncology: Enzastaurin and a Novel Biomarker Spark Optimism for All Risk Levels of DLBCL

8/9/2020

In an interview with Targeted Oncology, Grzegorz S. Nowakowski, MD, associate professor of Medicine and associate professor of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic, discussed the promise of the enzastaurin in the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma treatment landscape and the ongoing phase 3 ENGINE study (NCT03263026).

Read the interview.


Huron Daily Tribune: Black people get fewer heart valve replacements, but inequity gap is narrowing

8/11/2020

Dr. Mohamad Adnan Alkhouli, who was not involved in the research, said past studies had found racial differences in aortic valve replacement rates but didn’t look specifically at people with confirmed cases of severe stenosis.

“This study is very important because for the first time it documents a clear racial disparity among those who are already diagnosed. It gets to the bottom of the disparity so we can start to fix it,” said Alkhouli, a cardiologist and professor at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.

He called for heart and medical organizations “to get together and come up with a final plan for action,” and for future studies to address why the disparities exist.

Read story.


Knowable Magazine: Seeking a better test for Alzheimer’s

New blood assays and brain scans are among the biomarkers revolutionizing clinical trials and changing the way researchers think of the disease. They may soon change the way patients are treated as well.

8/7/2020

“About a third of the people who were enrolled in these clinical trials for ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ actually turned out not to have Alzheimer’s disease,” says Clifford Jack, a brain imaging researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “That’s a really huge problem.”

Read article.


Live Trading News: Finding Happiness in Hard Times

8/9/2020

The American Psychiatric Association says that more than 33% of Americans admit the coronavirus chaos is having an effect on their mental health. While this may not seem like the time for fun and laughter, experts say that putting a little Joy in your life can help matters during dark times. …

Find your funny bone. The Mayo Clinic reports that laughter activates and relieves your stress response, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and soothes tension. In the long term, laughter may also stimulate your immune system by quelling the negative thoughts that impair it. Identify a few things each day that warrant a giggle or even a full-throated laugh. Watch funny videos or TV shows, instead of the news. …

Read the article.


Nature Reviews Drug Discovery: Brain energy rescue: an emerging therapeutic concept for neurodegenerative disorders of ageing

July 2020

This Review discusses the status and prospects of therapeutic strategies for countering neurodegenerative disorders of ageing by improving, preserving or rescuing brain energetics. The approaches described include restoring oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis, increasing insulin sensitivity, correcting mitochondrial dysfunction, ketone-based interventions, acting via hormones that modulate cerebral energetics, RNA therapeutics and complementary multimodal lifestyle changes.

Submitted by Eugenia Trushina, Ph.D., a neurology researcher at Mayo Clinic, and study co-author.

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Fri, Aug 7 6:00am · Research News Roundup -- July 2020

research lab, multiple people, woman in foreground holding/examining test tubes. PPE including mask and face shield

It sometimes seems that summer has flown by without any significant achievements, and only incremental evidence building in the topic of the moment. COVID-19 has had a major dampening effect on social interaction, one doesn’t need to be a researcher to figure that out. However, biomedical and health care delivery research have not paused for more than a moment or two – and some scientists have found themselves inundated, where previously their work pace was predictable.

Mayo Clinic researchers are no exception, as they strive to find answers to questions raised by the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. They also continue to investigate health system problems, chronic conditions and diseases that have plagued people since long before the latest coronavirus came to town.

Below are excerpts and links to news articles relating some of the recent research findings coming from Mayo Clinic Research & Education. The second section includes Spanish translations of some of these and other recent research news.


Dear Mayo Clinic: My brother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma a few years ago and has had several recurrences. I was reading about something called chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapy (CAR-T cell therapy) and was wondering how it works and if he might be a candidate for it? Read answer.


The concept of herd immunity has sparked debate about whether it would control the spread of COVID-19. Herd immunity happens when a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease, meaning spread from person to person is unlikely.

So what is known about immunity and COVID-19? On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, a Mayo Clinic hematologist and researcher, discusses how the body works to fight off disease. Listen, share, subscribe online.


Bacteriophages, or phages, may play a significant role in treating complex bacterial infections in prosthetic joints, according to new Mayo Clinic research. The findings suggest phage therapy could provide a potential treatment for managing such infections, including those involving antibiotic-resistant microbes.

The research is published in the July issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID).


Answer: With all the talk about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing in the news, it’s not surprising that there’s confusion about tests and how they differ. Antibody testing determines whether you had COVID-19 in the past and now have antibodies against the virus. A test to diagnose COVID-19 determines if you currently have the disease. Here’s what you need to know about testing. Read the answer online.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic are studying the effects of a tissue-derived bioactive gel they developed to improve endovascular embolization – a minimally invasive procedure used to treat bleeding blood vessels and aneurysms.

The results of their latest preclinical study are published in the journal Advanced Materials.


Mayo Clinic medical personnel in scrubs, white jackets and protective face masks in a hospital corridor having a conversation. 2 in blue scrubs, 2 in white coats, other staff passing in background.

Noticias en español

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