Author Archives: Sherri L. Kirk

$11.8 Million Contract Funds Microbiome Work in Type 1 Diabetes

Captured by Baylor College of Medicine

An $11.8 million, three-year contract with the and the University of South Florida in Tampa will enable the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to help determine if and how the communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other single-celled organisms that inhabit the body (the microbiome) affect the risk of, or are associated with, development of type 1 diabetes—a disease that usually starts in childhood or young adulthood.

“The goal of this research is to look for microbial association and a potential viral trigger for the initiation of this disease in people who are genetically susceptible to it,” said Dr. Joseph Petrosino, director of the CMMR and an assistant professor of molecular virology & microbiology, molecular and cellular biology at BCM. Dr. Richard E. Lloyd, professor of molecular virology & microbiology at BCM is a co-principal investigator on the project, and Dr. Rob Knight, associate professor of molecular biophysics at University of Colorado in Boulder, is a lead co-investigator.

Others working with Petrosino at Baylor include Dr. Aleksandar Milosavljevic, associate professor of molecular and human genetics, who will provide analysis of the data, and Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center, where the sequencing will take place.

The contract is part of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young project funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. The international project involves clinical centers at the University of Colorado in Denver; the Medical College of Georgia (involving Florida and Georgia); Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle, Washington; the University of Turku in Finland, the Diabetes Research Institute based in Munich, Germany; and Lund University in Malmo, Sweden. The data coordinating center is at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Dr. Jeffrey Krischer is director of the data coordinating center and the study co-chair of the TEDDY project.

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20 to Know in Health Care: Clay Marsh

Captured  by Business First of Columbus

Why did you get into this profession?

I am fascinated by the complexity of our bodies and the foundational opportunity to improve people’s lives – quality and quantity. Moreover, I am fascinated by understanding the critical issues that determine human health and balance, which is the foundation for P4 (predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory) medicine. To realize P4 medicine, we need to create tools to promote health, create the environment or ecosystem that makes change easy and create the design to deliver a superior user experience. These principles of designing the tools, the world and the user experience is the secret to making health care transition from the doctor’s office and hospital to all parts of our life.

Is it as fulfilling as you thought it would be?

It is even more fulfilling that I originally planned. The ability to help people achieve beyond their expectations is tangible. I now appreciate the personal relationships, the ability to impact people’s lives and the extraordinarily important simple gifts of love, health, independence, family and purpose.

What’s the most exciting thing happening today in your industry?

Many exciting things are happening, including an expanded understanding of the genetic basis of human health and disease through research efforts, the rapid lowering of the cost of genetic sequencing, new precision drugs for a number of diseases based on genetic targets, including cancer, heart disease and neurological disease, are few examples of precision medicine. While these advances are exciting, they largely are dealing with sickness. Tomorrow, we want to move medicine from clinical disease to health and understand how we predict the risk of developing these problems, prevent these problems from occurring, personalize the approach and have true participation from our communities which is the basis of P4 Medicine.

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Becoming Your Own Doctor In The Brave New World Of Personalized Medicine

Captured by Forbes

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about personalized medicine. There’s a bold idea going around that people should take control of their own healthcare and manage the flood of new data stemming from a whole bunch of new technologies, including, but hardly limited to, personal genomes, biomarkers, wireless sensors, and iPhone ECGs.

It is unclear how much any of this is ready for prime time in actual medical practice. Although the science and technology advance every day, and there is no question that these will one day play an important role in medical care, there are still very few actual instances where personalized medicine has been shown to benefit patients, and no reason to think that widespread application in the general population would result in significant benefits.

But let’s assume for the moment that the technology does work and can benefit people. Does that mean most people would benefit if they took a more active role in obtaining this information (for example, by ordering a personal genome from, and then interpreting and acting upon the information?

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Ohio State’s P4 Medicine Update, Jan. 16, 2013

Captured by Sherri Kirk

Researchers Identify an Early Predictor for Glaucoma

Captured by American Academy of Ophthalmologists

A new study finds that certain changes in blood vessels in the eye’s retina can be an early warning that a person is at increased risk forglaucoma, an eye disease that slowly robs people of their peripheral vision. Using diagnostic photos and other data from the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study, the researchers showed that patients who had abnormally narrow retinal arteries when the study began were also those who were most likely to have glaucoma at its 10-year end point. If confirmed by future research, this finding could give ophthalmologists a new way to identify and treat those who are most vulnerable to vision loss from glaucoma. The study was recently published online byOphthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Open-angle glaucoma (OAG), the most common form of the disease, affects nearly three million people in the U.S[i] and 60 million worldwide.[ii]  Vision loss occurs when glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the part of the eye that transmits images from the retina to the brain. Unfortunately, because glaucoma does not have symptoms, many people don’t know they have the disease until a good portion of their sight has been lost. Early detection is critical to treating glaucoma in time to preserve vision.

The findings of the new study, led by Paul Mitchell, M.D., PhD, of the Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, supports the concept that abnormal narrowing of retinal blood vessels is an important factor in the earliest stages of OAG. Tracking nearly 2,500 participants, the study found that the OAG risk at the 10-year mark was about four times higher in patients whose retinal arteries had been narrowest when the study began, compared with those who had had the widest arteries.

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New MRI Analysis Useful in Predicting Stroke Complications Caused by Clot-Busters

Captured by Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a new way of looking at standard MRI scans that more accurately measures damage to the blood-brain barrier in stroke victims, a process they hope will lead to safer, more individualized treatment of blood clots in the brain and better outcomes.

The blood-brain barrier is a unique shielding of blood vessels that limits the passage of molecules from the blood stream into the brain. Without it, the brain is open to infection, inflammation and hemorrhage. Ischemic stroke patients are at risk of bleeding into the brain when there is damage to the barrier. By more accurately identifying areas of damage, the researchers, in a report published in the journal PLOS ONE, say they hope to use their new tool to predict and reduce the risk of complications from clot-dissolving drugs used to treat this kind of stroke.

“A better characterization of blood-brain barrier damage opens the door to new approaches to treating stroke patients,” says study leader Richard Leigh, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology and radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We want to help patients, but we need to make sure our treatments don’t make things worse.”

In an ischemic stroke, a blood clot is stuck in a vessel, cutting off blood flow to a portion of the brain, which will begin to die the longer the clot remains. When patients come to the hospital within three-to-four hours of suffering an ischemic stroke, doctors quickly move to give them the intravenous clot-busting drug tPA, hoping that it will dissolve the clot without causing additional damage.

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Meditation Combined with Art Therapy Can Change Your Brain and Lower Anxiety

Captured by Thomas Jefferson University

Cancer and stress go hand-in-hand, and high stress levels can lead to poorer health outcomes in cancer patients. The Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine combined creative art therapy with a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for women with breast cancer and showed changes in brain activity associated with lower stress and anxiety after the eight-week program. Their new study appears in the December issue of the journalStress and Health.

Daniel Monti, MD, director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and lead author on the study, and colleagues have previously published on the success of Mindfulness-based Art Therapy (MBAT) at helping cancer patients lower stress levels and improve quality of life.

“Our goal was to observe possible mechanisms for the observed psychosocial effects of MBAT by evaluating the cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes associated with an MBAT intervention in comparison with a control of equal time and attention,” says Monti. “This type of expressive art and meditation program has never before been studied for physiological impact and the correlation of that impact to improvements in stress and anxiety.”

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