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expert-perspectives

UMN experts: New cases of diabetes may be down but more work is needed

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found new cases of diabetes dropped by roughly one-fifth from 2008-2014, from 1.7 million to 1.4 million. And while the investigators are unsure whether prevention efforts are working or if the disease peaked in the U.S., the findings were good news after decades of seeing numbers skyrocket.

According to a recent New York Times article, “there is growing evidence that eating habits, after decades of deterioration, have finally begun to improve. The amount of soda Americans drink has declined by about a quarter since the late 1990s, and the average number of daily calories children and adults consume also has fallen. Physical activity has started to rise, and once-surging rates of obesity, a major driver of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, have flattened.”

Health Talk spoke with Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health and Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., professor of medicine in the University of Minnesota Medical School to help understand the numbers.

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education

It takes a village: volunteers teach future healthcare professionals how to connect with patients

It’s a common occurrence: Patients leave the doctor’s office more confused than when they arrived. Healthcare practitioners are good at their jobs, but often lack the communication skills needed to work with patients and explain their decisions.

That’s why the University of Minnesota has partnered with the community to teach pharmacy, medical and nursing students how to connect with their patients through affective communication.

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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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research-and-clinical-trials

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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expert-perspectives

Drop the vitamin C: The truth about colds

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

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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