In the News — August 2011

For most people, antidepressants don’t stop all symptoms of disease
– Antidepressants may not improve all symptoms of depression. Researchers, including Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a UT Southwestern professor of psychiatry, analyzed data from a U.S. National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored study of depression treatment, which involved more than 4,000 people with major depression around the country and is the largest study on depression treatment to date. Dr. Trivedi, one of the authors of the paper, was interviewed for the popular NBC morning show. The discovery was reported in almost 40 media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and United Press International.

How the 'Club Drug' Ketamine lifts depression quickly
– A new study sheds light on why the anesthetic and “club drug” ketamine can relieve depression rapidly – in hours, instead of weeks or months. The findings may help provide new targets for developing antidepressants and increase researchers' understanding of the devastating disorder. The researchers were led by Dr. Lisa Monteggia, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern. “We've identified a novel pathway never before linked to any behavior, let alone an antidepressant response – that could be a novel drug target,” said Dr. Monteggia. The story was reported by more than 70 media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, United Press International, Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune.

Internationally Acclaimed Immunologist Shares $1 Million Shaw Prize
– Dr. Bruce Beutler, an internationally recognized leader in immunology recruited to be the director of a new Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern, is one of three winners to share the $1 million 2011 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for their work on innate immunity. The prize was announced in Hong Kong on June 7, and an award ceremony will be held Sept. 28. “This award recognizes work my colleagues and I carried out at UT Southwestern beginning in the early 1990s,” said Dr. Beutler. The Shaw Prize was awarded for the "discovery of the molecular mechanism of innate immunity, the first line of defense against pathogens," the announcement read. News of the award was carried on more than 225 outlets, including Reuters, the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, Texas television affiliates in Waco, Tyler, Denison, Lufkin, Bryan/College Station, Beaumont, Lubbock, Midland, Temple and Wichita Falls, as well as more than 125 stations in 39 other states.

Texas two-step: the Lone Star state lures two top scientists
– Texas had also corralled a pair of leading scientists to lead research efforts at two of the state’s premier institutions. Dr. Ronald DePinho, a long-time cancer geneticist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, was named the next president of the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The same day, UT Southwestern announced that Sean Morrison, currently director of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s Center for Stem Cell Biology, will lead a new effort to develop treatments for pediatric diseases. Coverage included Science, Science Insider, the Detroit News and The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Mystery Diagnosis
– Too young to be sick: case of Harry Crowther – Sharron and John Crowther were married nine years before having their third son, Harry. At age 1, he began showing symptoms like spots on his skin and abnormal bone growth. After seeing several doctors, the Crowthers headed to the U.S. to meet Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, Chief, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases for UT Southwestern. Harry’s bone density was checked, his body fat was looked at and more tests were run. Finally the family had concrete answers. It was Atypical Progeria Syndrome – a genetic disorder that presents with premature aging. A healthy child cells are constantly renewed to replace dying cells. But this genetic mutation interrupts the process and leads to accelerated aging.

Common drug helps babies with sickle cell disease
– A sickle cell disease drug used by older children is safe and effective to use for babies with the blood disorder and should become the new standard of care, U.S. researchers said. “We found a decrease in chest syndrome and hospitalization among trial participants who received hydroxyurea,” Dr. Zora Rogers of UT Southwestern, who worked on the study, said. “We used to offer hydroxyurea as secondary prevention, but with these findings, it could become the primary preventive measure.” The story was covered by 75 media outlets, including KXAS-Channel 5 (NBC), the Miami Herald, CNBC, Chicago Tribune, BBC News and Reuters.