UT Southwestern in the News — January 2011

Dallas Morning News – Doctors act as ‘heart whisperers’ to detect heart disease (Jan. 31, 2011)
Heart attacks are the No. 1 cause of death and a major cause of disability in America. For nearly half of the casualties, the first symptom is the last. That’s how cardiovascular disease has earned the nickname “silent killer” – you never know when it will strike.  Read More

USA TODAY – Unusual case at Iowa puts focus on muscle disorder (Jan. 28, 2011)
Rhabdomyolysis isn't a word that rolls off the tongue, but the hospitalization of 13 Iowa football players and the strenuous workouts that likely triggered their condition have shed a spotlight on its damaging effects. Iowa President Sally Mason and Board of Regents President David Miles said Thursday in a joint statement that the incident is a "cause for grave concern." An investigation analyzing the events leading to the hospitalizations will be completed in 90 days, Miles said. Dr. Richard J. Auchus, an endocrinologist and expert on steroid metabolism at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL – Caffeine 'jazzes' engineered cells (Jan. 27, 2011)
U.S. researchers say caffeine could help step up production of cells engineered to produce viruses in gene therapy. Brian Ellis, Patrick Ryan Potts and Matthew Porteus of UT Southwestern say caffeine could help step up production of lentiviral vectors for use in gene therapy. The study, published in Human Gene Therapy suggests caffeine could be used to help generate three to eight times more virus. Read More

DALLAS MORNING NEWS – UT Southwestern researchers on verge of possible diabetes breakthrough (Jan. 27, 2011)
Researchers at UT Southwestern reported findings Wednesday that may suggest new ways to treat Type 1 diabetes, a disease that affects more than a million Americans. The results, if confirmed, may show that insulin could one day not be the only successful treatment for the illness. In a paper to be published in February’s edition of the journal Diabetes, the researchers describe an experiment on specially bred mice that by all rights should have developed the debilitating symptoms of diabetes — but did not. Dr. Roger Unger, who has been researching diabetes at UT Southwestern for five decades, cautiously suggested the results may point in the direction of a better treatment than is now available. Read More

 WFAA-TV (Ch. 8) – FDA issues warning: Breast implants may cause cancer (Jan. 26, 2011)

An alarming warning for every woman who has breast enhancement surgery or is considering having the procedure. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a possible risk of cancer associated with saline or silicone implants. The FDA, working with plastic surgeons, wants to create a registry to better track any possible link between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma or ALCL. Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, a local plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern, says ALCL is rare. The problem, he said, is not the implant itself, but the scar capsule. That is where the lymphoma is forming, but researchers believe it is treatable. "The reassuring thing about this whole process is if you go into surgery and remove this capsule, the problem seems to go away," Dr. Kenkel said. Watch Video

DALLAS MORNING NEWS – 5 eating rules to help you lose weight (Jan. 25, 2011)
Eating well is a major part of getting in shape, we asked registered dietitian Bernadette Latson for her 2011 tips. She’s director of the coordinated program in dietetics at UT Southwestern. Included are: Eat breakfast. Studies have shown breakfast helps keep calorie consumption down the rest of the day. Make it a good mix of protein, carbs and fat, she says. Try peanut butter on a bagel, or cereal with milk, nuts and fruit. Aim for a 10 percent loss of your body weight if you’re significantly overweight. “It makes a huge difference,” Latson says. It can, for example, significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. “We live in an environment that’s difficult to navigate being lean in. Every occasion is an eating occasion … losing weight is about breaking habits, and that’s really tough.”  Read More

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL Drugged: High on Ecstasy (Jan. 17, 2011)
Over the past 30 years ecstasy has become one of the world's most notorious drugs. No other illegal substance has had the same effect on fashion, music and how we party. This film follows two recreational ecstasy users over one night and, using computer graphics, journeys inside the body and the brain to explore how the drug creates its highs and its lows. With Dr. Stacey Hail, assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern and with access to cutting edge research at the University of Chicago we find out how ecstasy creates empathy in the user and how this could one day lead to the drug being used as a life saving prescription medicine for use in therapy. Watch Video

 KERA Think: Exercise, Environment and Health (Jan. 19, 2011)
How does exercise affect the heart and what role do environmental factors play in cardiovascular health? We'll spend this hour with Dr. Ben Levine, director of the UT Southwestern Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and Dr. Tony Babb, associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and director of the cardiopulmonary laboratory at the Institute. Listen

ASSOCIATED PRESS – Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes another medical leave (Jan. 18, 2011)
Steve Jobs, the CEO who transformed Apple Inc. from niche computer maker into the most-envied consumer-electronics brand today, is taking a medical leave of absence for the second time in two years. In the last decade, Jobs, 55, has survived a rare but curable form of pancreatic cancer and undergone a liver transplant. The news that he will again step back from his day-to-day role raises serious questions about the CEO's health. Dr. Roderich Schwarz, director of surgical oncology at UT Southwestern, said it is possible cancer has invaded Jobs' new liver. Dr. Schwarz, who has not treated Jobs, said it's possible the CEO is also having problems linked to his initial surgery targeting the pancreas, which controls key digestive enzymes. Read More

KXAS-TV (NBC 5) – Fort Worth dad waiting for nation's third-ever face transplant (Jan. 17, 2011)
A 25-year-old father who sustained severe burns when his head touched a high voltage wire is waiting for word on a face transplant. Dallas Wiens was selected for the surgery in October, and it could come at any time. He will have the third face transplant ever done in the U.S. Wiens shot to the front of the transplant list because of rigorous tests revealing his strong mental resolve, doctors say. "That's the real story here, is how a person can get through just about anything," said Dr. Jeffrey Janis, associate professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern. Watch Video

KXAS-TV (NBC 5) – Possible cures found by using fat cells (Jan. 17, 2011)
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago, Judi Lecoq had difficulty walking for years. Eventually the 50-year-old Texas native was forced to shut down her catering business and use a cane. As her disease progressed, and with it her desperation, Mrs. Lecoq decided to take a chance on a controversial treatment and checked herself into the Stem Cell Institute in Panama. Director of research at UT Southwestern, Dr. Spencer Brown has expressed some reservations about the fast-moving field of stem cell treatments. "We've heard the benefits but we don't know what the risks are. It’s not yet known how long or how well the treatments work… the push is to get that data, learn what happens, what do these stem cells do, are they safe?” Watch Video

DALLAS MORNING NEWS – Macular degeneration grows with an aging America (Jan. 18, 2011)
AMD is a disease that causes significant vision loss in 1.75 million Americans. More than 10 million suffer from various forms of this potentially sight-stealing disease, more than glaucoma and cataracts combined, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. By 2020, as the population ages, that number is expected to double. To check for it, “We dilate your eyes, use a lens and look for yellow spots or pigmentation changes or bleeding,” says Dr. Yuguang He, associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern and a specialist in age-related macular degeneration. “It’s not like it takes a blood test or X-ray to diagnose. We just look at it.” The sooner it’s found, the better, he says. “There is a window in which we can do treatments.” Read More

NEW YORK TIMES – F.D.A. plans new limits on painkillers
The government announced Thursday that it would sharply restrict some of the nation’s most popular prescription painkillers, saying they cause many patients to poison themselves with overdoses of the drug acetaminophen. The decision by the Food and Drug Administration fell short of the ban on pills like Percocet and Vicodin recommended by an advisory panel in 2009. But Dr. William M. Lee, a professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, said he hoped the F.D.A. would eventually ban the combined pain medicines like Percocet and Vicodin because patients in chronic pain end up taking more and more of the pills as they gain tolerance of the opioid component, not realizing that the resulting higher doses of acetaminophen are dangerous. Read More

DALLAS MORNING NEWS – State lawmakers move to ban synthetic marijuana (Jan. 13, 2011)
Texas lawmakers announced Wednesday they hope to ban the production, sale and possession of six forms of synthetic marijuana in legislation they said would be the most comprehensive in the nation. Plano Republicans Sen. Florence Shapiro and Rep. Jerry Madden introduced legislation to ban six currently unregulated sub-classes of the compounds that make up most of the products currently sold across the state. Dr. Collin Kane, a pediatric cardiologist at UT Southwestern, said he has treated three teenagers for heart attacks caused by synthetic marijuana, often referred to by the dominant brand K2. “Until a few months ago, I'd never heard of K2," said Dr. Kane, assistant professor of pediatrics. "When a few teenagers came to our emergency room and were admitted with heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and it was only after a lot questions that they admitted they had taken something like K2." Read More

TIME – Heart group: Require students to get CPR training (Jan. 11, 2011)
The American Heart Association wants states to require high school students to learn how to give CPR and use an automated external defibrillator before they graduate. That would "create a generation that could be trained, ready and willing to act," said Mary Fran Hazinski, a professor at Vanderbilt University who is one of the authors of an advisory released Monday in which the heart group calls for state legislatures to require students to get CPR and AED training before graduating from high school. In recent years, CPR guidelines have been revised to put more emphasis on chest compressions. Untrained bystanders or those unwilling to do mouth-to-mouth are encouraged to do hands-only CPR until paramedics arrive or a defibrillator is used to restore a normal heart beat. The easier approach should help people remember their training, said Dr. Ahamed Idris of UT Southwestern. "I think we've simplified it enough that people will be less worried that they'll make a mistake and it'll stick with them for a much longer time," he said. Read More

DALLAS MORNING NEWS – Kay Bailey Hutchison Op-Ed: Giving Texas a scientific advantage (Jan. 7, 2011)
Texas is uniquely blessed with a thriving network of research institutions and an inventive spirit that propels us forward in scientific advancements and technology breakthroughs. We attract world-class talent, and we are able to realize the full potential of their work because of our state's leading institutions' commitment to work collaboratively. Ten remarkable individuals in Texas are Nobel Laureates. Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Joe Goldstein of UT Southwestern won the Nobel for their work on cholesterol metabolism 25 years ago. Thursday at TAMEST's annual conference, the Academy's O'Donnell Awards were presented to honor the next generation of pioneering innovators. Dr. Kim Orth, associate professor in molecular biology at UT Southwestern, received the science award for discovering ways invading bacteria debilitate cells' ability to fight disease. This understanding can improve treatment of infectious and immune-related diseases. Dr. J.C. Chiao, an electrical engineering professor at UT Arlington and adjunct associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, received the engineering award for developing sensors to test treatments for illnesses that can lead to cancer. Read More

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT – Health Buzz: Is There a Depression Gene? (Jan. 4, 2011)
Why do some of us develop depression while others don't? The answer may lie in our genes, suggests new research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. People with variations of a gene that transports serotonin – a brain chemical that influences mood, sexual desire, and appetite — may be at greater risk of becoming depressed — particularly after being exposed to stressful events, like childhood abuse or a medical illness, according to an analysis by researchers. There's certainly evidence that vigorous exercise has an effect on mood. Madhukar Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, and others have shown that burning off 350 calories three times a week in sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. Brain-imaging studies indicate that exercise stimulates the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged during depression. Read More

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL – How to start eating healthier (Jan. 4, 2011)
It is much easier to follow through on the New Year's resolution to eat healthier if you create the right environment, U.S. dietitians say. Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern, says the best way to kick off a better post-holiday diet is by clearing the kitchen of all fattening or unhealthy foods. "That includes leftover holiday cookies or candy, party food and other tempting treats," Sandon says in a statement. "Fill your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and nuts, and you'll be far more likely to eat healthier snacks and meals." Read More

WFAA-TV (Ch. 8) – Experimental blood test could revolutionize cancer treatment (Jan. 3, 2011)
There is a lot of buzz today about a blood test so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell. Four major cancer centers will start using the experimental test this year. Medical reporter Janet St. James is here with more details. Is this a test that you will be able to get in your doctor's office? Perhaps one day far in the future but for now, this test is exciting because of its potential for people diagnosed with cancer. Expensive imaging exams are among the ways doctors make sure cancer treatments shrink tumors. A simple blood draw might one day do the same thing, without the huge expense of time and money. Developers call it a liquid biopsy. It’s a simple test that can provide information that otherwise we've had to use the cancer tissue for. Dr. James Willson and others at UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center will be monitoring the clinical trials closely.  Watch Video

KTVT-TV (CBS 11) – Texas center part of single cell cancer test trials (Jan. 3, 2011)
In a statement from Johnson and Johnson Company collaborating with researchers in Boston, executives say this new technology has the potential to facilitate an easy to administer noninvasive blood test that will allow us to count tumor cells and characterize the biology of the cells. Dr. James Willson is the director of the Simmons Cancer Center at UT Southwestern and president of the American Cancer Society's Dallas board of directors. Watch Video

KDFW-TV (FOX) CH 4, Dallas/Fort Worth | DMA: 5 – Blood Test to Spot Cancer Gets Big Boost from J&J (Jan. 3, 2011)
There's a lot of excitement around a new blood test created by some Boston scientists. This new blood test is being called a liquid biopsy that could become routine screening for detecting, analyzing and identifying cancer sooner and in more patients, too. Fox 4's Shaun Rabb joins us in the newsroom with the latest. It's news that has cancer patients and doctors talking. Watch Video

NEWSWEEK – Can you build a better brain? (Jan. 3, 2011)
This would be a whole lot easier — this quest for ways to improve our brain — if scientists understood the mechanisms of intelligence even half as well as they do the mechanisms of, say, muscular strength. If we had the neuronal version of how lifting weights increases strength (chemical and electrical signals increase the number of filament bundles inside muscle cells), we’d be good to go. But what neuroscientists don’t know about the mechanisms of cognition could fill volumes. Dr. James Bibb of UT Southwestern comments. Read More