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research-and-clinical-trials

UMN finding helps scientists better understand DNA binding protein’s role in vaccination success

T-cells are essential to keeping our bodies safe from infection and disease. They roam the body looking for infection, and upon discovering it, work to clean it up. Anything that can improve how effective T-cells are, or how we understand them to work is a step toward advancing human health.

In the same vein, a recent finding led by University of Minnesota researchers in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California unveils a new understanding of T-cell operation.

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news-and-notes

Minnesota invests in regenerative medicine

Last year, the 2014 Minnesota legislative session brought a big win for regenerative medicine, as legislators passed a bill allotting nearly $50 million over 10 years for regenerative medicine research, clinical translation and commercialization efforts.

Some of that research funding has now been awarded to Bruce Walcheck, Ph.D., professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, whose proposal was one of six funded out of 90 applications. Bruce is the principal investigator on a new $500,000 grant for research on engineering human pluripotent stem cells to generate enhanced natural killer cells for cancer therapy. The ultimate goal: treating cancer using the patient’s immune system.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: A more precise diagnosis for oral cancer

Identifying whether oral cancer has reached the mandible (jawbone) can create uncertainties early on or with small tumors for patients and health care providers.

“Right now, we identify oral cancer’s invasion into the jaw through clinical examination or CT scans but current technology often falls short, especially with early invasions. The problem is there are often uncertainties in knowing how far the cancer has spread,” said Samir Khariwala, M.D., surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota. “For this reason, planning surgery is difficult and there is risk of taking out too much bone or not enough because we don’t know the degree of invasion ahead of time.”

There is, however, a technique available which will allow you to avoid the uncertainty of surgery, the amount of recovery time and the need for additional reconstructive surgery altogether.

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u-of-m-voices

Preventing Colon Cancer in African Americans with Earlier Screening

In observance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, HealthTalk is featuring a University of Minnesota researcher working to reduce the harm caused by colon cancer in the African American community.

Colon cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death for men and women in the United States, but African Americans bear the greatest burden. This is why one University of Minnesota researcher is calling for lowering the age at which African Americans have a routine colonoscopy.

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expert-perspectives

Cervical cancer screening: Is a Pap smear or HPV test better?

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, approximately 12,900 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. To detect those cases, physicians use a Pap smear as the primary cervical cancer screening method.. However, a recent study published in the journal of Gynecologic Oncology, advocates for routine Human Papillomavirus (HPV) screening instead.

The study, authored by an expert panel from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), found that testing for HPV is more beneficial for cervical cancer screening than a Pap smear alone. The authors claim that routine Pap testing, performed every three years, isn’t as beneficial and accurate as routine HPV testing.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: A better understanding of t-cell leukemia virus

The particles of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), a human retrovirus closely related to HIV, are known to be non-infectious. They don’t cause much damage alone. But when those particles invade other cells, the virus becomes highly infectious, and can cause leukemia. About 5 percent of people with HTLV-1 will develop adult t-cell leukemia.

University of Minnesota researchers recently captured 3-D images of HTLV-1 through advanced electron imaging, a technology that enabled them to study the virus particles in more detail than ever before. Their finding, recently published in The Journal of Virology, could provide insight into why some particles are more infectious than others.

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