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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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Drop the vitamin C: The truth about colds

Photo: CC, Traci Lawson,

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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Snapshot: lower nicotine levels in cigarettes could mean lower dependence

Tomasz Sienicki/CC 3.0/

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 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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Research snapshot: Potential therapeutic target for cardiomyopathy identified

New research out of the University of Minnesota Medical School shows a new potential therapeutic target for viruses causing cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle.

The paper was published in the July 2015 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Research led by Joseph Metzger, Ph.D., looked at potential causes for cardiomyopathy, specifically related to enterovirus infection.

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Making preventative sexual health care a priority

Preventative health isn’t just for hearts and knees. Experts in sexual health wrote in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) this week that sexual health challenges are best met by shifting focus away from diseases and toward the promotion of wellness and health.

Authors of the JAMA Viewpoint, Sexual Health in America: Improving Patient Care and Public Health, include former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., Edward W. Hook III, M.D., and Eli Coleman, Ph.D., director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota.

The piece lays out the case for making sexual health a public health priority: sexual health significantly impacts the overall health, happiness and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

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