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Calling communities to engage in National Cancer Moonshot Initiative

Defeating cancer – a lofty goal, but no more bold than the idea of putting a man on the moon. When President Obama set forth the charge and launched the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the scientific community was rallied toward accelerating progress in therapies, diagnosis tools, and prevention tactics.

The NCI is now inviting the public to join the venture, launching a web portal for anyone to come and contribute ideas, concepts, or pathways of study. Many researchers are excited about this partnership with the public and the opportunity for mutual learning and collaboration.

We spoke with Christopher Pennell, Ph.D., associate director for Education and Community Engagement at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, about this new step in the Moonshot Initiative.

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expert-perspectives

Expert perspective: Using aspirin regularly may lower cancer risk

Long-term aspirin use may reduce risk for overall cancer, according to a new study in JAMA Oncology.

Researchers set out to take a closer look at aspirin use for cancer prevention and better understand the benefits of aspirin for cancer screening. They found an association between aspirin use and lower cancer risk – primarily because the benefits as it related to incidence of gastrointestinal cancer were particularly notable.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: Research collaboration discovers copolymer able to stabilize dystrophic skeletal muscle

New research from a University of Minnesota research collaboration identifies a copolymer well suited to stabilizing muscle cell membranes in a model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Poloxamer 188 (P188) is a block copolymer membrane stabilizer. In a new paper published in Molecular Therapy-Methods & Clinical Development, researchers showed this stabilizer works well to protect the dystrophic skeletal muscles.

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expert-perspectives

Drop the vitamin C: The truth about colds

Photo: CC, Traci Lawson, https://flic.kr/p/61s3hu

Dripping noses and choruses of coughs can be heard in hallways and homes as fall settles in, a season often considered ripe for colds.

The truth is colds hit year round. In fact, adults probably come down with two or three infections per year. Children, especially those hitting the classroom or settling in at day care, often see up to six colds a year.

“It’s considered one of the most common infectious diseases in humans,” said Mark Schleiss, M.D., co-director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research at the University of Minnesota. “Colds are generally caused by a virus called rhinovirus, and there are about 100 unique types of rhinoviruses. You can build immunity to them, but there are a lot of different strains so it’s hard to beat it completely.”

Schleiss is a practicing pediatrician and sees plenty of colds, so we checked in for the inside scoop on how to treat – and avoid – the common cold.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Snapshot: lower nicotine levels in cigarettes could mean lower dependence

Tomasz Sienicki/CC 3.0/http://bit.ly/1YR7Qu9

Reducing the nicotine levels in cigarettes could lower cigarette use, according to new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study was conducted by University of Pittsburgh researcher Eric Donny, Ph.D., and Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D., of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, along with 8 other sites including the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: Filtered sunlight a safe, effective jaundice treatment in developing countries

Photo courtesy Thrasher Research Foundation USA

New research could provide a safe, low-tech method for treating newborn jaundice. The project offers an effective and inexpensive solution for developing countries, where more than 150,000 babies each year suffer brain damage or death due to this serious health condition.

The study, published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by Tina Slusher, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Two other UMN researchers, Ann Brearley, Ph.D., and Troy Lund, M.D., Ph.D., helped with the study. In addition, researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, and Island Maternity Hospital, Massey Street Children’s Hospital and Hearing International Nigeria in Lagos all contributed to the project.

“There are so many areas in the world where jaundice is a big concern, but access to consistent electricity or advanced medical treatments aren’t always possible,” said Slusher. “The method we’ve outlined harnesses a natural resource in sunlight, but safely, giving parents and care providers an incredibly accessible, useful tool to treat this dangerous and common illness.”

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