Kevin Punsky (@kevinpunsky)
Activity by Kevin Punsky
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — By examining more than 3,600 postmortem brains, researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campuses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota, have found that the progression of dysfunctional tau protein drives the cognitive decline and memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid, the other toxic protein that characterizes Alzheimer’s, builds up as dementia progresses, but is not the primary culprit, they say.
The findings, published in Brain, offer new and valuable information in the long and ongoing debate about the relative contribution of amyloid and tau to the development and progression of cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer’s, says the study’s lead author, Melissa Murray, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A research team led by investigators from Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, and the University of Oslo, Norway, have identified a molecule that pushes normal pancreatic cells to transform their shape, laying the groundwork for development of pancreatic cancer — one of the most difficult tumors to treat.
Their findings, reported in Nature Communications, suggest that inhibiting the gene, protein kinase D1 (PKD1), and its protein could halt progression and spread of this form of pancreatic cancer, and possibly even reverse the transformation.
“As soon as pancreatic cancer develops, it begins to spread, and PKD1 is key to both processes. Given this finding, we are busy developing a PKD1 inhibitor that we can test further,” says the study’s co-lead investigator, Peter Storz, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at Mayo Clinic.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cancer researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, have identified a molecule they say is important to survival of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) — a lethal tumor with no effective therapies. The molecule also seems to play a role in a wide range of cancers.
In an online issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, they identify Stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1) as an oncogenic enzyme that when inhibited and paired with another targeted drug effectively shuts down ATC cell growth and induces cell death.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Precision medicine is getting a jump-start from a new national initiative announced in President Obama's State of the Union message. One Georgia family has already experienced its benefits: genomic testing called whole exome sequencing helped Mayo Clinic neurologist Zbigniew Wszolek, M.D., solve a medical mystery that had left a boy with painful, jerking spasms that at times prevented him from walking or talking. Dr. Wszolek describes the case in a newly published article in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
As a toddler, Dustin Bennett could not keep his balance, and as he grew older, the rigid, jerking spasms mysteriously appeared and disappeared. Over time, he also developed learning disabilities.
Dustin’s adoptive mother, Linda Bennett, took him to several doctors to find the cause of his movement problems, but years of tests, medications and hospital stays came up empty for the Pearson, Georgia, family.
“I wasn’t willing to give up, because I felt there had to be an answer somewhere,” Linda says.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, has received a $5.75 million gift from the Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to advance the study of Lewy body dementia, a deadly disease that causes a progressive decline in mental and physical abilities. The new Mayo program is one of a few in the world dedicated to finding answers and treatments for the disease.
The gift establishes the Mayo Clinic Dorothy and Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Lewy Body Dementia Program and builds on the foundation’s previous support of Mayo research to advance awareness and understanding of Lewy body dementia. It also helps support the brain bank on Mayo’s Florida campus, which includes about 1,000 donated organs of deceased patients confirmed to have had Lewy body dementia.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A study of more than 2,000 patients by researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, has dispelled the myth that cancer biopsies cause cancer to spread. In the Jan. 9 online issue of Gut, they show that patients who received a biopsy had a better outcome and longer survival than patients who did not have a biopsy.
The researchers studied pancreatic cancer, but the findings likely apply to other cancers because diagnostic technique used in this study — fine needle aspiration — is commonly used across tumor types, says the study’s senior investigator and gastroenterologist Michael Wallace, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine.
Fine needle aspiration is a minimally invasive technique that uses a thin and hollow needle to extract a few cells from a tumor mass. A long-held belief by a number of patients and even some physicians has been that a biopsy can cause some cancer cells to spread.
While there have been a few case reports that suggest this can happen — but very rarely — there is no need for patients to be concerned about biopsies, says Dr. Wallace.
“This study shows that physicians and patients should feel reassured that a biopsy is very safe,” he says. “We do millions of biopsies of cancer a year in the U.S., but one or two case studies have led to this common myth that biopsies spread cancer.” [...]
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic has named John Presutti, D.O., as chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross (Georgia), effective March 2, 2015. Dr. Presutti succeeds Kenneth Calamia, M.D., who will retire from Mayo Clinic at the end of 2015.
“Dr. Presutti is a wonderfully gifted and proven physician leader,” says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida. “He brings energy and passion to his work and is committed to building upon Dr. Calamia’s successful leadership and involvement in the Waycross community.”
Dr. Presutti has been with Mayo Clinic since 1997. He currently is chair of the Division of Regional Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida. He also serves as medical director for Contracting and Payer Relations and is a member of the executive operations teams in Florida and Waycross. As a family practice physician, Dr. Presutti has dedicated his career to the health and well-being of his patients and the training and education of other family medicine physicians. [...]
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Three researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida have received $1.2 million from the newly funded Florida Health Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Research Program to study various aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. The program was created earlier this year to improve the health of Floridians by researching prevention and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.