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Research Snapshot: Researchers identify mechanisms that determine the aggressiveness of bone cancer

Photo Credit: Flickr, Cathy Stanley-Erickson

A new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has found bone tumors have preprogrammed genes, meaning the genes of the cancer remain unchanged even after a tumor is found in the body.

Bone cancers are similar in canines and humans, so researchers are hoping to use this information to learn more about this type of cancer that predominantly affects dogs and children.

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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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For HIV treatment, the earlier the better

Photo: Inquiry blog

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Inquiry.

New Doctors treating people with HIV have faced a tough decision. Should patients begin drug therapy before AIDS symptoms appear, and put up with the inconvenience and potential side effects? Or is it better to wait until their CD4+ T cell count – a key barometer of the immune system’s health –drops below a certain level, even though that means a greater risk of transmitting the virus to a partner?

This summer an answer finally emerged. The international START (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) study, the first large, randomized and controlled clinical trial of the issue, showed the benefits of early treatment so clearly that the trial was halted prematurely so the volunteers receiving deferred treatment could begin therapy.

“Early treatment was effective everywhere in the world,” says James Neaton, a University of Minnesota biostatistics professor and principal investigator for INSIGHT (International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials), which designed and conducted the trial. “We had more than a thousand people enrolled from sub-Saharan Africa, and a total of 4,685 people from 35 countries.”

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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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UMN doctor awarded collaborative grant to study newborn hearing screening and CMV screening in Minnesota

Photo: Flickr user David Clow, CC,

A new grant will enable the collaboration between the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Medical Center. The research will allow further evaluation of newborn infants failing hearing screenings for cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Typically asymptomatic, CMV is the most common congenital infection among children and is responsible for 30 percent of childhood hearing loss cases.

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Research snapshot: Effects of beta-blocker withdrawal in acute decompensated heart failure

Responsible for approximately 1 million hospitalizations each year, acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF), poses a challenge for health care professionals. To combat high mortality rates, patients with heart failure are often treated with beta-blockers, medications that can prevent further weakening of the heart.

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology-Heart Failure from the University of Minnesota Medical School found the discontinuation of beta-blockers in ADHF patients was associated with a significant increase in mortality and rehospitalization.

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