Bob Nellis (@bobnellis)
Activity by Bob Nellis
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic has named a veteran cell biology researcher to head its new Center for Biomedical Discovery. Mark McNiven, Ph.D., brings over 30 years of scientific experience to the position and a decade as leader of Mayo’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The appointment was announced this week by Gregory Gores, M.D., executive dean for Research.
“We’re very glad to have someone of Dr. McNiven’s leadership and experience as the director launching this important new center,” says Dr. Gores. “Discovery science is a significant part of our research effort at Mayo Clinic, as it is the starting point in seeking help for our patients when current knowledge isn’t enough.”
The Center for Biomedical Discovery was established to grow Mayo’s expertise and build on its foundation of basic research discoveries, which extends back over 100 years. Discoveries in the laboratory form the basis for tomorrow’s clinical care, and Mayo’s scientists have long been teaming with physicians to explore the needs of patients. This Mayo-wide strategic research center will help advance and coordinate those efforts, prioritizing and seeking support to grow the science. The new director will:
ROCHESTER, Minn. — If a research survey of African American professional women is any indication, attitudes may be changing towards participation in medical research. Mayo Clinic and The Links, Incorporated researchers teamed up to survey members of the international women’s organization, and found that a majority of African American women surveyed are willing to or have taken part in medical research. The results appear in the Journal of Women’s Health.
“Our findings are highly encouraging,” says Sharonne Hayes, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist, co-author of the study, and director of Mayo’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “The more African Americans, both women and men, who participate in medical research, the better informed their physicians will be in treating a wide range of conditions. Instead of extrapolating findings from other populations, we’ll have more confidence in diagnostic and treatment recommendations.
The authors point to the long-standing distrust of scientists and research studies by many in the African American community, a reaction to unethical experiments in the last century. They say that, for decades, many African Americans did not take part in clinical studies, limiting the data on how diseases among Blacks could be better diagnosed and treated.
The study team examined 381 self-administered surveys taken during a 2012 conference of The Links, Incorporated, an organization comprised of college-educated women, the majority involved in a profession. The median age was 59. Just more than half said they felt medical research in America was ethical. [...]
Potentially disfiguring facial tumor caused by chromosomal chimera
ROCHESTER, Minn. — This is the story of two perfectly harmless genes. By themselves, PAX3 and MAML3 don’t cause any problems. However, when they combine during an abnormal but recurring chromosomal mismatch, they can be dangerous. The result is a chimera — a gene that is half of each — and that causes biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma. The tumor usually begins in the nose and may infiltrate the rest of the face, requiring disfiguring surgery to save the individual. Because Mayo Clinic pathology researchers have now described the molecular makeup of the rare tumor, several existing cancer drugs may be targeted against it. The findings appear in the current issue of Nature Genetics.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — A Mayo Clinic researcher says individuals need to build disaster readiness and resiliency in order to better recover from the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Those who prepare well for disasters are more likely to have a sense of spiritual and emotional well-being and be satisfied with their life. Those findings appear in the journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.
Health scientist and geologist Monica Gowan, Ph.D., says how well people are prepared for adversity through the presence of meaning and purpose in their lives can play a positive role in how well they manage the uncertainties of disaster risk and recover from devastating experiences to regain health and quality of life.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Researchers at Mayo Clinic have demonstrated in a mouse model that their recently developed synthetic peptide carrier is a potential delivery vehicle for brain cancer chemotherapy drugs and other neurological medications. The findings appear in PLOS ONE.
“Not only have we shown that we can transport eight different molecules, we think this method will be less disruptive or invasive because it mimics a normal physiological process,” says Mayo Clinic neuroscientist Gobinda Sarkar, Ph.D., the corresponding author of the study. The researchers are able to transport the drugs without modifying any of the molecules involved. They say this development will aid in evaluation of potential new drugs for brain cancer.
The blood-brain barrier is meant to protect the brain from numerous undesirable chemicals circulating in the body, but it also obstructs access for treatment of brain tumors and other conditions. Too often the only recourse is invasive, which often limits a drug’s effectiveness or causes irreversible damage to an already damaged brain. Nearly all of the drugs that could potentially help are too large to normally pass through the barrier. Additionally, other methods may damage the vascular system.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — May 14, 2014 — In a proof of principle clinical trial, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that virotherapy — destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues — can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma. The findings appear in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Journalists: The video package and extra b-roll are available in the downloads. The video package script, including intro and anchor tags, is available here.
Two patients in the study received a single intravenous dose of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS) that is selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells. Both patients responded, showing reduction of both bone marrow cancer and myeloma protein. One patient, a 49-year-old woman, experienced complete remission of myeloma and has been clear of the disease for over six months.
“This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminated cancer,” says Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic hematologist, first author of the paper and co-developer of the therapy. “These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease.”
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow, which also causes skeletal or soft tissue tumors. This cancer usually responds to immune system-stimulating drugs, but eventually overcomes them and is rarely cured.
ROCHESTER, Minn. — April 24, 2014 — Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered a novel tumor suppressive role for p53, a cancer-critical gene that is mutated in more than half of all cancers found in humans. The researchers found that loss of p53 function caused overproduction of the kinase Aurora A, an enzyme involved in the process of cell division. That overproduction leads to mitotic spindle malformation and aberrant separation of duplicated chromosomes over daughter cells, a phenomenon that predicts tumor metastasis and poor patient outcomes. The findings appear in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
Normal human cells have 46 chromosomes. It has long been recognized that developing cancer cells reshuffle their chromosomes and, more recently, that chromosome-number abnormalities help transform normal cells into cancerous cells that metastasize and resist treatment. [...]
Presentations at Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
ROCHESTER, Minn. — April 23, 2014 — Mayo Clinic ophthalmology researchers have found a likely indicator of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Following up on a genome-wide association study, Keith Baratz, M.D., and others discovered no single genomic variant that caused Fuchs, but found that a repeated noncoding trinucleotide sequence correlated with the condition in patients 68 percent of the time.
The findings will be presented on the afternoon of May 4 at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual conference in Orlando, Fla. (Poster 1003-A0392) [...]