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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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U of M pharmacist helps prevent heroin addictions and deaths in northern Minnesota

Photo Credit: Flickr,

Heroin addictions have been rapidly increasing over the past decade. This has been especially problematic in northern Minnesota, where the number of people admitted for treatment and the number of deaths associated with heroin and opioids are higher than in any other part of the state.

According to College of Pharmacy assistant professor, Laura Palombi, Pharm.D., drug abuse deaths now surpass traffic deaths in Minnesota.

Palombi is on the front lines in northern Minnesota, working directly with the community to address heroin and opioid abuse in ways that make sense for specific communities.

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Shining a light on the brain: optogenetics and epilepsy

An estimated 3 million Americans have epilepsy, but most of the fundamental questions about the condition have yet to be answered. In fact, up to 40 percent of epilepsy patients don’t achieve seizure control with traditional treatment using medication.

UMN expert Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D., has taken a targeted approach to studying epilepsy. She uses a technique called optogenetics, which uses light to alter brain activity, and could be used to stop seizures.

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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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UMN expert: Expanding access to health care coverage critical to reducing a state’s uninsurance rate

Photo: New York Times/

According to a recent New York Times article, the majority of people who remain uninsured after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in the United States live in the South and Southwest and they tend to be poor.

But why is this the case?

Health Talk spoke with Brett Fried, a senior research fellow at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), to learn more about why there are such glaring differences in uninsurance rates across the United States.

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Should low risk transplant patients seek care at high risk centers?

Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a complex treatment for several hematological disease groups, including many types of cancer.  In a new study published in AJMC, researchers found that low risk HCT patients have had similar survival outcomes irrespective of whether they underwent transplant at higher- or lower-risk centers, even when they adjusted for sociodemographics.

The research conducted by University of Minnesota health policy experts Drs. Schelomo Marmor in the Department of Surgery, with James W. Begun, Jean Abraham and Beth A. Virnig, in the Department of Health Policy and Management. The research group wanted to investigate if facilities that developed an expertise with high risk HCT patients influenced their ability to treat lower risk HCT patients.

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