Gene editing reverses Huntington's in mouse model

This is a concrete example, not yet clinical, of what can be done with CRISPR/Cas9 gene Read more

Urine tests for prostate cancer could reduce biopsies

Urine RNA tests could reduce the number of biopsies by giving a preview of a cancer's aggressiveness. Featuring Martin Sanda and Carlos Read more

Mitochondrial blindness -- Newman's Emory story

Neuro-ophthalmologist Nancy Newman’s 2017 Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award were unexpectedly timely. Her talk on Tuesday was a tour of her career and mitochondrial disorders affecting vision, culminating in a description of gene therapy clinical trials for the treatment of Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. The sponsor of those studies, Gensight Biologics, recently presented preliminary data on a previous study of their gene therapy at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April. Two larger trials Read more

Michael J. Fox Foundation supports Emory research

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research just announced plans to fund Emory pharmacology researcher Zixu Mao in his work to validate therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Zixu Mao, PhD

Zixu Mao, PhD

The two-year, $250,000 grant will fund research in Mao’s lab in the departments of neurology and pharmacology. He and his team hope to verify whether a particular protein – MEF2D – may be a good drug target in models of PD. If it is, his efforts will provide the basis for further research to identify ways to manipulate the activity of this protein as a way to treat PD.

Mao says this type of study is very important Maglie Calcio to allow the transition from findings made by basic research to more clinically relevant discoveries and is generally difficult to get funded by other major funding sources.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. Learn more about Mao’s research.

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Emory, Georgia Tech tackle abdominal aortic aneurysms

Robert Taylor, MD

Robert Taylor, MD

Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are a major cause of illness and death in the U.S., with the incidence increasing dramatically over the age of 55. These aneurysms are a widening and bulging of the large artery that runs through the body from the heart into the abdomen. They often go undetected until they suddenly rupture, often resulting in death within minutes.

A team of physicians and engineers from Emory and Georgia Tech is studying the biology and biomechanics of vascular inflammation and disturbed blood flow in AAAs to understand how they develop and could be prevented or detected earlier.

Cardiologist and biomedical engineer Robert Taylor is leading the Biomedical Engineering Partnership, funded by $6 million from the NIH.

Taylor points out that predicting the likelihood of aneurysm rupture is extremely difficult and patients often don’t notice them until they already are leaking or ruptured. Even small aneurysms often expand rapidly and rupture. He and his team will try to pin down specific risk factors for AAAs, which they think differ from traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

Posted on by Holly Korschun in Heart 2 Comments

Many roads to memory T cells

When our bodies encounter a bacteria or a virus, the immune system sends some cells out to fight the invader and keeps others in reserve, in order to respond faster and stronger the next time around. Vaccination depends on this phenomenon, called immunological memory.

Several recent papers — from Emory and elsewhere – provide insight into this process, and highlight this area of research as especially active lately.

Researchers led by Rafi Ahmed and Chris Larsen at Emory found that rapamycin, a drug usually given to transplant patients to block rejection, actually stimulates the formation of memory T cells. Rapamycin appears to nudge immune cells when they have to make a decision whether to hunker down to become a memory cell.

The immunosuppressant drug rapamycin was discovered in soil from Easter Island

The immunosuppressant drug rapamycin was discovered in soil from Easter Island

Similarly, the anti-diabetes drug metformin, which affects fatty acid metabolism, can also stimulate the formation of memory T cells, according to research that was published in the same issue of Nature.

In addition, Wnt signaling, which plays critical roles in embryonic development and cancer, influences memory T cell formation as well, according to a July paper in Nature Medicine.

To summarize — pushing on several different “buttons” produces the same thing: more memory T cells. How are the wires behind the buttons connected? Work by Ahmed and others may eventually help enhance vaccine efficacy or fight cancer with the immune system.

Rapamycin, the focus of the Ahmed/Larsen paper, was also recently found to slow aging in mice. However, with previous anti-aging research findings, translating results into the human realm has been a considerable challenge.

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Immunology Leave a comment

U.S. News ranks Emory University Hospital

America's Best HospitalsToday, U.S. News and World Report issued the 2009-10 America’s Best Hospitals.

Emory University Hospital ranked among the nation’s best hospitals in 11 specialties. Overall, Emory is one of only 170 hospitals, out of more than 5,400 medical centers in the country to be named in even one of the magazine’s top 50 specialty rankings.

Emory is recognized in this year’s comprehensive report for excellence in:

Specialty and Rank
Ophthalmology – 9
Psychiatry – 10
Geriatrics – 13
Heart and Heart Surgery – 13
Neurology and Neurosurgery – 14
Ear, Nose and Throat – 22
Kidney Disease – 25
Diabetes/Endocrinology – 31
Gynecology – 44
Urology – 44
Cancer – 46

U.S. News says it looks at, “how well these institutions do in complex and demanding situations—replacing an 85-year-old’s heart valve, diagnosing and treating a spinal tumor, and dealing with inflammatory bowel disease, to name three examples. High-stakes medicine calls for more than the usual brand of doctoring.”

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Small, single incision for surgery helps young patients

Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric physician Dr. Mark Wulkan is among the first surgeons in Georgia to perform single-site incision surgery on pediatric patients for routine surgeries.

Dr. Mark Wulkan

Dr. Mark Wulkan

Dr. Wulkan is using this method for multiple procedures, including appendectomy, removal of the spleen, and stomach surgery.

“Single-site surgery takes minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic surgery) to the next level,” said Dr. Wulkan, is an associate professor of surgery and pediatrics in the Emory University School of Medicine and who performs surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. “Children leave the operating room with virtually no scars.”

Traditional laparoscopic surgical incisions are made in different locations on the abdominal wall, resulting in several small scars. The single-site method, however, is considered scarless because only one incision is made in the belly button and is typically difficult to see. Pediatric patients who undergo single-site procedures enjoy all the benefits of laparoscopic surgery, such as rapid recovery and less pain than that associated with traditional open surgery.

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Expert studies collective decision-making

Gregory Berns

Gregory Berns

Greg Berns, MD, PhD, is the Emory psychiatrist who heads the Center for Neuropolicy. The Center focuses on how the brain influences decision-making in politics, policy and business. The center involves School of Medicine, Emory College and Goizueta Business School researchers.

Berns says, “We all live in groups. Sometimes groups make good decisions, but groups often behave worse than any of its members would. We’re approaching the problem of collective decision-making from a new perspective by studying how the human brain functions in groups.”

Center members advise decision-makers of all kinds by conducting experiments focused on biologically based pressures that influence collective decision-making. Through their discoveries, researchers will better understand how culture, intelligence and environment influence the way decisions are made and how basic human tendencies drive judgment in certain situations.

As Berns points out, people also need to understand how religious and political ideologies become transformed in the brain and can subvert basic self-survival value judgments, a phenomenon that occurs in war and terrorism.

“Collective decision-making is political, but politics are biological,” says Berns. “The human brain evolved to function in social groups. By discovering how our brains are wired to behave in groups, we can find solutions to problems of global impact.”Berns is the author of Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment and Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently.

Learn more in the Center media kit, Emory Health magazine or listen to a podcast.

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Emory and Georgia Tech

Over the past twenty years, the research partnership between Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed into one of the leading bioengineering and biomedical research and educational programs in the nation. In recent years this partnership has resulted in the development of several pieces of diagnostic and medical-assistant technology, with medical experts on the Emory side working with engineers on the Georgia Tech side.

An example of this collaboration is the El-E robot, designed to perform simple tasks such as opening drawers and retrieving objects. Clinicians at Emory’s School of Medicine and engineers at Georgia Tech created the 5½-foot-tall machine, which glides across the floor on wheels and takes direction from a laser pointer that users can control in a variety of ways, depending on their preferences and capabilities. El-E is no mere toy, however: The machine could help patients with significant motor impairments, such as sufferers of ALS, maintain their independence and help relieve physical and financial burdens faced by caregivers.

 

Another result of the Emory-Georgia Tech collaboration is DETECT, a portable device capable of detecting the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, in any environment. DETECT has a helmet device that includes an LCD display in a visor, along with a computer and noise-reduction headphones. DETECT gives the patient a battery of words and pictures to assess cognitive abilities—reaction time and memory capabilities. The low-cost test takes approximately 10 minutes. The device was co-developed by emergency medicine physician David Wright, and Michelle LaPlaca, a scientist in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: CNN correspondent & Emory doctor

Millions of TV viewers know Dr. Sanjay Gupta as CNN’s chief medical correspondent. But did you know that off the air, Dr. Gupta is a practicing trauma neurosurgeon at nearby Grady Memorial Hospital? Gupta, like most of the doctors at the hospital, is an Emory physician. CNN medical producer Danielle Dellorto put together this video showing what his life as a surgeon is like.


 

 

Gupta works with Emory doctors on CNN as well. Two of the four members on Gupta’s CNNHealth.com medical advisory team are Emory doctors.

You can see correspondent Gupta on “Paging Dr. Gupta” on CNN 6-10 a.m., Monday-Friday or read the Paging Dr. Gupta Blog.

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As China grows, so does Emory

Peking University

Peking University in Beijing, China

The meteoritic rise of China in the world has seen a corresponding rise in the number of partnerships between Emory and Chinese universities and researchers.

In February 2009, Emory, Georgia Tech, and Peking University announced a joint biomedical engineering PhD program. Representatives from the schools have been laying the groundwork for this program during the past five years.  In the Fall of 2009, members of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University traveled to Beijing to finalize the program details with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Peking University (PKU). Faculty collaborations have been funded by seed grants and, as a result, several new research projects are already underway.

Public health units at Emory are also reaching out to China. In February 2009, it was announced that Emory University has received a $14 million, five-year grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce the burden of tobacco use in China. The Emory Global Health Institute, in collaboration with the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium (TTAC) of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, will establish the Emory Global Health Institute — China Tobacco Partnership.

China is likewise reaching out to Emory. According to the international business news site Global Atlanta, delegates from China’s Shandong province recently came to Atlanta to meet with health care professionals, public health officials, educational institutions and legislators.The group visited the the Emory Spine Center, where they met with acupuncturists using traditional Chinese techniques alongside new therapies.

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Emory and Grady

Grady Memorial Hospital

Grady Memorial Hospital

Every day Atlanta’s lead stories call attention to it: “Shot teen taken to Grady,” “Burn victim ambulanced to Grady,” “Accident victim stable at Grady”– Atlantans, Georgians, and even out of state residents taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in their hour of direst need. What many don’t know however, is that Grady, Atlanta’s public hospital, doesn’t only treat emergencies; Grady is recognized for programs for breast cancer, stroke, sickle cell anemia and more.

Something else many don’t know: “Grady doctors” are Emory or Morehouse doctors. All doctors at Grady are faculty or residents from Emory University School of Medicine or Morehouse School of Medicine. Emory physicians provide close to 85 percent of all physician patient care delivered at Grady. For Emory, this connection goes back to before the Civil War.

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