One of the tricky issues in studying in long COVID is: how widely do researchers cast their net? Initial reports acknowledged that people who were hospitalized and in intensive care may take a while to get back on their feet. But the number of people who had SARS-CoV-2 infections and were NOT hospitalized, yet experienced lingering symptoms, may be greater.
A recent report from the United Kingdom, published in PLOS Medicine, studied more than Read more
Efforts to produce a vaccine against HIV/AIDS have been sustained for more than a decade by a single, modest success: the RV144 clinical trial in Thailand, whose results were reported in 2009.
Now Emory, Harvard and Case Western Reserve scientists have identified a gene activity signature that may explain why the vaccine regimen in the RV144 study was protective in some individuals, while other HIV vaccine studies were not successful.
The researchers think that this signature, Read more
What a cancer patient wants to know after surgery can be expressed succinctly: “Did you get everything?” Having a confident answer to that question can be difficult, because when they originate or metastasize, tumors are microscopic.
Considerable advances have been made in “targeted therapy” for cancer, but the wealth of information available on the molecular characteristics of cancer cells hasn’t given doctors good tools for detecting cancer during surgery – yet.
Even the much-heralded advent of robotic surgery has not led to clear benefits for prostate cancer patients in the area of long-term cancer control, a recent New York Times article reports.
At Emory and Georgia Tech’s joint department for biomedical engineering, Shuming Nie and his colleagues are developing tools that could help surgeons define tumor margins in human patients.
The palliative care program at Emory University is working to improve quality of life and wellness by addressing the physical, psychological, ethical, spiritual and social needs of patients with serious, life-threatening or progressive chronic illnesses, and provides support to their families and caregivers.
Tammie E. Quest, MD
Often mistakenly confused with hospice care, palliative care is appropriately provided to patients in any stage of serious illness – whereas hospice care is primarily used for those approaching the end stage of life, says Tammie Quest, MD, interim director of the Emory Center for Palliative Care.
A typical palliative care “team” consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, mental health professionals, therapists and pharmacists, assisting patients through a wide array of illnesses, including stroke, heart and lung disease, cancer and HIV.
The palliative care teams work closely with primary physicians to control pain, relieve symptoms of illnesses – such as nausea, fatigue and depression. Teams help provide counseling in making difficult medical decisions and provide emotional and spiritual support, coordinate home care referrals and assist with identifying future care needs.
Vivian Pinn, MD, associate director for research on womenâ€™s health, and director of the Office of Research on Womenâ€™s Health at NIH, opened the meeting with Emoryâ€™s conference chair, Nanette Wenger, MD, professor of medicine (cardiology), Emory School of Medicine, and chief of cardiology at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Nanette K. Wenger, MD
In a career that spans more than 50 years, Wengerâ€™s dedication to reducing womenâ€™s disability and death from cardiovascular disease has made her one of the countryâ€™s most-respected experts on coronary heart disease in women. In 2009, Wenger received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology.
Although Wenger has earned dozens of awards in her celebrated career, she says her greatest professional achievement has been to help change a major paradigm in cardiology: the assumption that heart disease affects only men. A half a century ago heart disease was thought of as a “man’s disease.”
At Emory’s fifth annual predictive health symposium â€œHuman Health: Molecules to Mankind,â€ Emory GYN/OB Sarah L. Berga, MD, discussed the state of childbirth in the United States and how maternal stress affects pregnant women and their fetuses.
Berga is McCord professor and chair of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Emory School of Medicine. Sadly, BergaÂ has seen maternal mortality rise steadily since the 1980s when she entered her medical residency. Georgia, she says, has the worse maternal mortality in the country. And the United States fares worse than many countries when it comes to maternal mortality.
Despite the unfortunate rise in maternal mortality of late, the good news is physicians have now started to pay more attention to the effect of stressâ€”both the physical and emotional kindâ€”on women and their fetuses. Recent research shows stress has the same negative effect on the body as do organic diseases, such as thyroid disease. In fact, too much stress reduces thyroxine levels by about 50 percent, says Berga. But because thereâ€™s no clinical recognition of this, tests are needed to determine if thyroxine levels are indeed insufficient.
For adult organ transplant recipients, juggling a lifetime regimen of immunosuppressant drugs is difficult enough, but for children it presents an even greater challenge.Â These drugs, which also can have toxic side effects, must strike a delicate balance between preventing organ rejection and protecting from infections.
But childrenâ€™s immune systems are still â€œlearningâ€ what distinguishes them from the world around them, and children are constantly developing and changing, both physically and emotionally. This puts them at greater risk for complications either through inappropriate medication or failure to take these drugs properly.
The ARRA-funded project will not only help determine which medications children should take, but also will give them the support to care for their transplanted organs.Â The Emory scientists are studying new biological monitoring technologies that can identify unique ways to determine exactly how much medication a child really needs. These studies are being combined with a novel transition care clinic specializing in helping children cope with their illness and assuming responsibility for their care.
â€œThis award indicates exceptional insight by the NIAID into the critical link between a childâ€™s physical well-being and their emotional maturity,â€ says Kirk. â€œIt will accelerate progress in this vital area of research for a very deserving subset of chronically ill children.â€
Drunk drivers have been known to walk away from auto wrecksâ€”but thatâ€™s unusual. In fact, the norm is this: those who drink before an accident of any kind, particularly a motor vehicle accident, have a much higher chance of being injured or dying than if they hadnâ€™t been drinking at all.
So, Jana MacLeod, MD, and her colleagues trained surgical interns to conductÂ brief interventions on patients with alcohol-related injuries. MacLeod is an associate professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. She says brief interventions offer patients a way to talk about their alcohol use with their physician, and then make behavioral changes if they so choose.
MacLeod talks about the benefits of these interventions in an Emory Sound Science podcast.
â€œRecent studies have shown brief alcohol interventions with trauma patients who have a history of alcohol misuse successfully prevented future episodes of drunk driving,â€ says MacLeod. Whatâ€™s more, itâ€™s been shown a five-minute intervention reduces hazardous drinking patterns up to three years after injury and decreases recidivism.
Emory University Hospital is one of about 20 hospitals nationwide, and the only site in Georgia, to study this new technology – with 75 patients receiving new valves at Emory since the clinical trial started in October 2007. Researchers hope to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in late 2011.
The life threatening heart condition affects tens of thousands of Americans each year when the aortic valve tightens or narrows, preventing blood from flowing through normally.
Peter Block, MD
Peter Block, MD, professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and colleagues are performing percutaneous aortic valve replacement as part of a Phase II clinical trial, comparing this procedure with traditional, open-heart surgery or medical therapy in high-risk patients with aortic stenosis.
The procedure provides a new way for doctors to treat patients who are too ill or frail to endure the traditional surgical approach.
During the procedure, doctors create a small incision in the groin or chest wall and then feed the new valve, mounted on a wire mesh on a catheter, and place it where the new valve is needed.
Although African Americans make up a significant share of HIV cases in the U.S., they are underrepresented in HIV clinical trials. New research shows that promotion of HIV clinical trials and participation by African Americans can be increased by coalitions that link community organizations to clinical-research institutions.
â€œCommunity organizations already have built trusting relationships in their communities,â€ saysÂ Paula Frew, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Emory School of Medicine. â€œIf HIV/AIDS prevention and HIV clinical research become part of the agendas of these organizations, they can become ideal allies for increasing participation by community members who are at risk for disease.â€
Pathologist Keqiang Ye has made a series of discoveries recently, arising from his investigations of substances that can mimic the growth factor BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
BDNF is a protein produced by the brain that pushes neurons to withstand stress and make new connections. Some neuroscientists have described BDNF as “Miracle Gro for brain cells.”
â€œBDNF has been studied extensively for its ability to protect neurons vulnerable to degeneration in several diseases, such as ALS, Parkinsonâ€™s and Alzheimerâ€™s disease,â€ Ye says. â€œThe trouble with BDNF is one of delivery. Itâ€™s a protein, so it canâ€™t cross the blood-brain barrier and degrades quickly.â€
Working with Ye, postdoctoral fellow Sung-Wuk Jang identified a compound called 7,8-dihydroxyflavone that can duplicate BDNFâ€™s effects on neurons and can protect them against damage in animal models of seizure, stroke and Parkinsonâ€™s disease. The compoundâ€™s selective effects suggest that it could be the founder of a new class of brain-protecting drugs. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This conclusion comes from a 10-year history of coronary bypass patients at Emory recently published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
Puskas also recently presented long-term follow-up data from the first randomized U.S. trial to compare off-pump with conventional on-pump surgery.
The results from the landmark SMART (Surgical Management of Arterial Revascularization) study, which started in 2000, show that participants who had the off-pump procedure lost less blood, had less damage to their hearts during surgery and recovered more quickly than those who underwent on-pump surgery.
Beating-heart patients in the study also were able to breathe on their own sooner after surgery, spent less time in intensive care and left the hospital one day sooner, on average, than conventional coronary bypass patients.