UT Southwestern in the News — December 2010

December 2010

U.S. News & World Report – Research sheds light on 'starvation hormone' (Dec. 30, 2010)
Researchers report that they've gained insight into the workings of the "starvation hormone," which appears to play a role in how the body stores fat to protect against future hunger. The hormone, known as adiponectin, seems to be linked to both insulin sensitivity and the survival of cells. "Until now, there wasn't really an obvious connection between all these different phenomena," Dr. Philipp Scherer, a professor of internal medicine and cell biology at UT Southwestern. Dr. Scherer discovered the hormone more than 16 years ago. In the new study, which was released online Dec. 26 in advance of print publication in Nature Medicine, Dr. Scherer and colleagues examined how the hormone influences different processes in the body. Read More

United Press International – Suggested '10 charitable donation – blood (Dec. 31, 2010)
As people make year-end charitable donations, a U.S. pathologist recommends making a pledge to give the gift that keeps on giving – blood. Dr. Ravindra Sarode, a pathologist who heads the Transfusion Medicine and Coagulation Laboratory at UT Southwestern, urges people during this time of personal philanthropy to resolve to make a regular donation at the bank as well — the blood bank. "So now is the time for a New Year's resolution to donate blood at routine intervals, preferably twice a year," Sarode says. "To jog your memory, you might schedule your blood donations to coincide with your birthday and wedding anniversary or some other personal and perennial event to time your visits to the blood bank at five- or six-month intervals." Read More

United Press International – Champagne cork can put an eye out (Dec. 31, 2010)
Exploding champagne corks add a dramatic flair to a holiday party but they can also cause serious eye injuries, an ophthalmologist warns. Dr. Preston Blomquist, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern, says a champagne cork can cause ruptured globes, detached retinas and painful bruising. Read More

ABC News – Should sleepy surgeons disclose fatigue to patients? (Dec. 30, 2010)
Heading in for elective surgery can be a nerve-racking experience. People tend to worry about who's taking care of the kids, how much work they'll miss or how much pain and discomfort the operation will bring on. They don't generally stress over whether their surgeons have had enough sleep. But some doctors believe patients should think about how much sleep their surgeon get, and should be told if the surgeon may be sleep-deprived so they can decide whether to go through with the surgery that day or reschedule it. The medical community has taken some steps to address the problem of extreme fatigue among doctors. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently restricted first-year medical residents to a maximum of 16 hours of work a day, followed by at least eight hours off. But some physicians say this policy has been counterproductive for surgeons. Dr. David Euhus comments. Read More

United Press International – One hormone may help several ills (Dec. 30, 2010)
U.S. scientists say future treatment of a number of diseases — including heart disease and diabetes — may be linked to one hormone. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center say the hormone — adiponectin — has been traced to a number of biological processes. "Until now, there wasn't really an obvious connection between all these different phenomena," senior author Dr. Philipp Scherer says. "This paper shows that the common theme among all these different activities relies on adiponectin's interaction with a specific subset of lipids known as ceramides." Read More

Huffington Post – Gout Diet: Foods to avoid if you have joint pain (Dec. 28, 2010)
Gout is an extremely painful inflammation of the joints caused by a buildup of needle-sharp uric-acid crystals. The big toe is the most common target, but gout can attack the feet, ankles, knees, and hands as well. An attack or "flare" can last for days or months. Men and obese people are at greater risk. If you're prone to gout, the foods you eat — and don't eat — play a key role in keeping your joints pain-free. Here are eight foods to avoid: … Cut back on seafood and meat during a flare-up, says Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern. Read More

Dallas Morning News – New diabetes study offers promise to Type 1 patients (Dec. 22, 2010)
Researchers at UT Southwestern are studying a new treatment for type 1 diabetes that they hope will be a major step forward in the management of the disease, which affects the daily lives and lifelong health of millions of people. Physicians leading the study said Tuesday that they have been able to control levels of blood glucose in animals using metreleptin, a synthetic version of the human hormone leptin. If the same result can be achieved in humans, it could have an enormous impact on how Type 1 diabetes is controlled. Roger Unger, chairman of diabetes research, comments. Read More

New York Times – Can we feel good about our necks? (Dec. 22, 2010)
Necks don’t lie. Sagging there betrays age like the rings on a tree, and now-common Botox and fillers in the face make neck imperfections stand out in stark relief. In her 2006 best-seller, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Nora Ephron, by then 65 and a resolved turtleneck wearer, raged against the injustice of having no remedy for her slackening throat skin, short of surgery. These days, less-invasive options exist to improve the appearance of one’s neck, provided it isn’t a full-blown turkey wattle. Injecting Botox into the neck muscle can make them less conspicuous in a patient with great skin tone, said Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern. Read More

Dallas Business Journal – UT Southwestern launches diabetes study (Dec. 22, 2010)
Research being conducted at UT Southwestern shows great promise in helping type 1 diabetics improve blood glucose control, Dallas city officials and researchers said Tuesday at a news conference. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and his wife, Laura, joined researchers from UT Southwestern at City Hall to discuss the major diabetes study that’s getting under way. “This illustrates the important medical discoveries that are happening right here in this community,” Leppert said. Dr. Roger Unger, diabetes researcher and professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, said, “… our fingers are crossed. We’ve seen amazing results (in mice) and we hope we’ll see similar results in humans.” Read More

Dallas Morning News – Kids with HIV living longer with antiretroviral drugs (Dec. 20, 2010)
Being born HIV-positive used to be a death sentence. In the 1980s and early '90s, some babies would die before their first birthdays, while most succumbed before age 10. Dr. Tess Barton, medical director of the AIDS-related medical clinic at Children’s Medical Center, comments. Read More

Science – Breast cancer risk, development found in ‘junk’ DNA (Dec. 16, 2010)
A new genetic biomarker that indicates an increased risk for developing breast cancer can be found in an individual’s “junk” (non-coding) DNA, according to a new study featuring work from researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech and their colleagues. The team found that longer DNA sequences of a repetitive microsatellite were much more likely to be present in breast cancer patients than healthy volunteers. The particular repeated DNA sequence in the control region of the estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERR-γ) gene — AAAG — contains between five and 21 copies and the team found that patients who have more than 13 copies of this repeat have a cancer susceptibility rate that is three times higher than those who do not. Michael Skinner, M.D., professor of pediatric surgery at UT Southwestern and collaborator on the project, comments. Read More

United Press International – Avoiding Mother Nature's hand winter wrath (Dec. 16, 2010)
Redness, blisters, cracking or itching on hands may lead to dyshidrotic eczema or hand eczema but a U.S. dermatologist says the conditions are preventable. Dr. Kent Aftergut, a dermatologist at UT Southwestern, says once hands suffer too much damage, the only recourse is medical care. However, taking some preventive action against chapped hands and lips is always the preferred approach, Aftergut says. "Hands get worse in winter for two main reasons," Aftergut says. "The air is dryer and the humidity is down, so skin dries out. Winter also coincides with flu season, so many people wash their hands more frequently. Soaps and hand sanitizers are very drying, especially with repeated use." Read More

Dallas Business Journal – UT Southwestern, Israeli center partner (Dec. 15, 2010)
UT Southwestern and Rabin Medical Center in Israel have signed a joint partnership that will allow both facilities to expand their global research bases, laying the groundwork for possible public-private business partnerships in D-FW. “An important thing for the business community is that it could leverage some of the funding we have from the government to increase the number of biotechnical companies,” said Dr. Fiemu Nwariaku, associate dean for global health and associate professor of surgery at Dallas-based UT Southwestern. Read More

Dallas Morning News – UT Southwestern prescribing geriatrics for all its students (Dec. 15, 2010)
A young man in a lab coat knocks on the door of room 221. He enters and shakes Agness Robertson's hand. Robertson tells him of her decades of marriage, flipping through photos and handing him newspaper clippings of her career as a society columnist. Second-year medical student Patrick Snyder pulls out a stethoscope and listens to her heartbeat. "I am so glad
UT Southwestern is doing this. Some doctors are just boing-boing-boing," she says, mimicking a check-marking motion, "and then they're gone." Read More

U.S. News & World Report – Gene research sheds light on lung cancer survival time (Dec. 15, 2010)
Genes that predict length of survival and help guide treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer have been identified. The U.S. investigators took samples of lung tumors and nearby healthy lung tissue from 30 patients and examined the samples for the presence of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) associated with 48 known genes for molecules called nuclear hormone receptors. They then compared the active genes with patient outcomes and found that the expression of genes for certain nuclear hormone receptors helped predict patient survival. Patients with two specific nuclear hormone receptors in their tumor tissue lived the longest. "Patient responses to cancer treatment vary widely and often depend on subtle biological differences among tumors," said study co-lead author Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology at UT Southwestern. Watch Video

United Press International – Help for carotid artery disease catch-22 (Dec. 14, 2010)
Researchers at UT Southwestern say patients with untreated carotid artery disease — clot-causing material on the walls of the arteries of the neck — are more likely to suffer strokes. However, sometimes the surgery correcting the condition can also cause a stroke. Dr. Ethan Halm comments. Read More

The 33 – Up in smoke: Study sheds light on cigarette smoke (Dec. 9, 2010)
According to the Centers for Disease Control an estimated 443,000 Americans die every year from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Professor Adi Gazdar reviewed the surgeon general's study before it was made public — the professor of pathology at UT Southwestern called the study groundbreaking. "It documents in great detail how both direct smoking and secondhand smoke causes damage not just to the lungs and heart but to every part of the body," Professor Gazdar said. The damage begins with just one cigarette — researchers found that inhaling cigarette smoke causes immediate changes to the lining of blood vessels. Watch Video

KDFW-TV (FOX 4) – Experts warn against new hormone diet (Dec. 9, 2010)
There’s a diet craze is getting lots of attention this holiday season. Women and men say they're dropping weight by tricking their bodies into thinking they are pregnant. It's not approved by the FDA and Fox 4's Lari Barager tells us, dietitians have some words of warning. HCG is all the rage in the diet world right now. HCG is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women. Registered dietitian Lona Sandon of UT Southwestern comments. Watch Video

Dallas Morning News – UT Southwestern celebrates anniversary of first Nobel wins (Dec. 10, 2010)
It's a rare day when you find five Nobel laureates under the same roof – unless you're in Stockholm. But that was the case here recently when Southwestern Medical Foundation celebrated the 25th anniversary of UT Southwestern's first two Nobel Prize winners. On Dec. 10, 1985, Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Joseph Goldstein, who trained and have spent their entire careers at UT Southwestern, won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their work on cholesterol metabolism. They were joined in 1988 by Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, who won the Nobel in chemistry for his work on protein and photosynthesis; and in 1994 by Dr. Alfred Gilman, who won the Nobel in physiology or medicine for his discovery of "G" proteins. All four were at the celebration and were joined by a fifth Nobel winner, guest speaker Dr. Richard Axel of Columbia University, who won the award in 2004 alongside UT Southwestern graduate Dr. Linda Buck. Read More

ABC News - New blood test may predict some heart risk (Dec. 9, 2010)
Even if people do not have symptoms of heart disease, a new blood test might offer early detection for those at risk. So says a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. UT Southwestern researchers found that a high-sensitivity blood test could point to a protein which indicates heart disease and increased risk of dying, in otherwise healthy individuals. Research showed that people with detectable levels of the protein known as cardiac troponin T were almost seven times more likely to die within six years from heart disease. Dr. James de Lemos comments. Watch Video

MSNBC – New blood test could help you spot heart disease (Dec. 7, 2010)
A new study is providing insights into the 2009 swine flu epidemic, and why more serious complications arose in healthy middle-aged people than expected. The researchers say the culprit may be antibodies to seasonal flu found in the seriously ill patients, which might have caused an immune system overreaction in the lungs. “Nobody really had a good explanation for why middle-aged people seemed to have more severe disease than would have been expected,” says Richard Scheuermann, an immunologist at UT Southwestern. “This explanation is the first one that I’ve seen that actually makes sense.” Read More

Reuters – Roche test predicts heart trouble years ahead (Dec. 7, 2010)
A new blood test may be able to tell whether a seemingly healthy person is at risk of dying from heart disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday. An older, less sensitive version of the test detects a certain protein in only a small percentage of people, but a study of the newer test made by Roche found it in about 25 percent of 3,500 blood samples. And people who had detectable levels of the protein, released by damaged heart muscle, were nearly seven times more likely to die of heart disease within six years. “This test is among the most powerful predictors of death in the general population we've seen so far," said Dr. James de Lemos of
UT Southwestern, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read More

Business Week – New test links blood protein to heart disease, diabetes risk (Dec. 7, 2010)
The presence of a certain biomarker in the blood is associated with structural heart disease and increased risk of death from all causes, a new study suggests. It goes by the name of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) — a heart-specific protein that serves as a biomarker for diagnosing heart attack. In addition, elevated cTnT levels are associated with a number of chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, and chronic kidney disease, according to background information in the study. Read More

U.S. News & World Report – New blood test may predict some heart risk (Dec. 9, 2010)
A new blood test might reveal hidden heart damage in some people that puts them at increased risk of heart failure or death, researchers report in the Dec. 8 Journal of the American Medical Association. Although factors such as obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure hike a person’s risk of heart disease, many people have a heart attack without these problems. In Texas, researchers evaluated blood obtained from nearly 3,500 people without coronary heart disease, age 30 to 65, between 2000 and 2002. The scientists measured the subjects’ initial troponin T levels with the new test. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers linked high levels of the biomarker with an abnormal buildup of tissue in the largest chamber of the heart, a sign that the heart is struggling to pump blood. Combining cardiac troponin T measurements with BNP as a cardiac test “definitely would make sense,” says cardiologist James de Lemos of
UT Southwestern, the paper’s co-author. Read More

Voice of America – Sensitive blood test detects heart disease in asymptomatic people (Dec. 7, 2010)
A highly sensitive version of a blood test used in hospital emergency rooms to confirm whether someone is having a heart attack can also detect heart disease in seemingly healthy people. Researchers say the test could become part of a routine health check-up. The protein cardiac troponin T is elevated in about one percent of people who show no symptoms of heart disease. But in a study of a newer, highly sensitive version of the cTnT test, researchers led by James de Lemos of UT Southwestern found they could detect the protein in about 25 percent of seemingly healthy individuals. "And it really correlates very strongly with unrecognized structural heart disease, meaning thickening or weakening of the heart muscle and with death over a long term follow up, suggesting that  it might offer some real power for predicting heart disease in the office rather than in the emergency room," said de Lemos. Read More

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Texas has mounted a strong offense against cancer (Dec. 7, 2010)
In our nation's war on cancer, Texas is making a truly remarkable contribution. In 2007, by an overwhelming vote, Texans approved a state constitutional amendment establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and dedicating up to $3 billion over 10 years to invest in groundbreaking, in-state cancer research and evidence-based prevention programs and services. The goal is to increase prevention efforts in Tarrant County and throughout the state and hasten cancer treatments from the laboratory to the patient — ultimately to find cures but, until then, to treat cancer more effectively. Read More

Discover – Study: Why swine flu struck middle-aged, sparing the young & old (Dec. 7, 2010)
A new study is providing insights into the 2009 swine flu epidemic, and why more serious complications arose in healthy middle-aged people than expected. The researchers say the culprit may be antibodies to seasonal flu found in the seriously ill patients, which might have caused an immune system overreaction in the lungs. “Nobody really had a good explanation for why middle-aged people seemed to have more severe disease than would have been expected,” says Richard Scheuermann, an immunologist at UT Southwestern. “This explanation is the first one that I’ve seen that actually makes sense.” Normally, severe flu illness happens in the very young (who haven’t been previously exposed to the flu and don’t have protective immunity) and the elderly (who have weakened immune systems). Instead of affecting these groups, the 2009 pandemic H1N1 “swine flu” primarily caused severe reactions in middle-aged adults. Read More

Medical News Today – Culprits found in life-threatening clotting disorder (Dec. 6, 2010)
Thanks to findings by UT Southwestern researchers, individuals with a potentially life-threatening condition predisposing them to blood clots, or thrombosis, might someday receive therapy to prevent the condition. The findings, available online at The Journal of Clinical Investigation, offer new clues into the mechanisms underlying antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). Dr. Philip Shaul, professor of pediatrics and senior co-author of the study, comments. Read More

Nature – Exposure to seasonal flu weakened armour against H1N1 (Dec. 5, 2010)
One of the puzzles of last year's H1N1 'swine flu' pandemic — which caused thousands of deaths worldwide — was that seemingly healthy middle-aged adults were hit hardest. A study has now shown that previous infection with other, seasonal, influenza strains primed patients' immune systems to harm their bodies rather than to mobilize against the new threat. The study, published in Nature Medicine, began with a hunch that antibodies from past encounters with pathogens might have determined the severity of H1N1 cases. Vanderbilt University researchers explored past exposure to pathogens. They found that pre-existing antibodies in infected middle-aged people recognized the 2009 H1N1 virus, but attacked organ tissue rather than defending against the invader. Richard Scheuermann comments. Read More

U.S. News & World Report – Dieting may plant seeds of weight regain (Dec. 2, 2010)
If you're ever struggling to make dinner-table conversation with a young child, one question will save you every time: "So tell me, what was the favorite part of your day?" My family has turned this question into a family dinner ritual. The Dairy Council of California jumped onto the family-dinner bandwagon by claiming that family dinners could create lifetime benefits including better grades, lower intakes of sugary soft drinks and a possible 40-percent reduction in the chance that a child will bully someone else. A 40-percent reduction related to bullying was huge. Did certain conversation topics make a difference? Was there an average time parents spent talking to kids? I tracked down the lead researcher for the study. Dr. Rashmi Shetgiri, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – 2 new devices offer painless way to zap fat (Dec. 1, 2010)
Love handles, beware. Two new fat-blasting devices being used by doctors in North Texas promise to zap that extra blubber from waists, hips and thighs. Zerona does it by shrinking fat cells, Zeltiq by freezing them. For Lisa Belzer of Hurst, Zerona did the trick, shrinking her dress size from a 10 to an 8. Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, vice chairman of plastic surgery and director of the Clinical Center for Cosmetic Laser Treatment at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

United Press International – Ways to help prevent H1N1 in infants (Dec. 1, 2010)
There are things parents can do to help protect their babies from H1N1 influenza, which may be a threat again this flu season, a U.S. researcher says. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More