Posts Tagged ‘university of florida’

Help for Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the southeastern United States. The UF&Shands news release below describes a practical new resource for patients and caregivers affected by Parkinson’s disease:

University of Florida neurologist Michael Okun, M.D., has answered more than 20,000 questions from patients with Parkinson’s disease, typically not about cures or the latest treatments, but about something much simpler – how to live well with the disease. Now Okun has written a book that he hopes will help patients everywhere.

The more I talk to Parkinson’ patients, the more I realized a couple of things,” said Okun, co-director of UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. “Almost nothing is available to patients about basic lifestyle things in any language but English. Even in the most educated patients, who have access to everything, there are still lots of very simple things they aren’t doing. There are lots of things you can do to improve your quality of life.”

To address this need, Okun has authored a book titled “Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life.” Published recently, the book is now available on Amazon and Smashwords in more than 20 languages. The e-book retails for $3.99. His goal is to reach every patient and family dealing with the disease.

Globally, about 4 to 6 million people have Parkinson’s disease, and 50,000 to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. As people continue to live longer, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the population also will increase, Okun said.

“It is really important for people to recognize this is a problem,” he said. “If you plan on living a long life, pushing up into the eighth or ninth decade, your chances of facing a disease like this are very high. You cannot escape it.”

But unlike having a disease such as Alzheimer’s, patients can live for decades with Parkinson’s — so understanding how to live well with the disease is crucial.

Some of the topics Okun covers in the book are how to prepare for hospital stays and when to take medications, as well as everyday issues such as sleeping and exercise. Chapters are also devoted to secondary problems such as depression and addiction-like symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.

“Really, these should not be secrets,” Okun said. “If you know these things, you can live a much better life with your disease.”br>
To Okun, what is perhaps most important is making the information available in languages besides English. The book was made available on both Amazon and Smashwords specifically to increase the number of possible translations. Currently, copies can be found in 20 languages, including English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic among others.

“There isn’t any joking with Dr. Okun about the ’10 Secrets to a Happier Life’ in Parkinson’s disease,” said Muhammad Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, in a written statement. “This book is a critical resource for Parkinson’s disease patients and families from around the world who speak different languages but suffer from very similar and often disabling symptoms.”

Share

Myth Bustin’

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

An interesting investigation conducted recently by a University of Florida physician and his colleagues found that, contrary to popular belief, patients at teaching hospitals don’t fare worse when trainee doctors come on board. For details, see the following news release from UF&Shands Newsnet:

A University of Florida physician and colleagues have “mythbusted” a notion long held in medical circles: patients at teaching hospitals fare worse in July when new medical graduates start their residency training and older residents take on more responsibilities. A large national study revealed no such “July phenomenon” or “July effect” — at least not in the field of neurosurgery.

The findings were published recently in the journal Neurosurgery.

“If anything goes wrong in July, then everyone’s quick to say ‘Do you see? It’s because of the July effect’ — but we saw no evidence for that,’ said senior author Dr. Brian Hoh, the William Merz associate professor of neurological surgery at the UF College of Medicine. “This study will raise thoughts and ideas about how we can improve training for residents and improve safety for patients.”

The July phenomenon is infamous both among physicians and patients. Conventional wisdom has it that if you are going to be a patient at a teaching hospital, try not to go in July.

The graduate medical year starts on July 1, at which time recent medical school graduates start bearing responsibility for patients for the first time, and previous interns and residents move up a level, taking on new and unfamiliar tasks.

Previous studies of the July phenomenon in fields such as general surgery, obstetrics, gynecology and internal medicine have yielded inconsistent results, some finding an effect and others finding none. Hoh, a member of UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, wanted to see what happens in neurosurgery, where doctors train for many years to gain proficiency in complex and delicate brain surgeries. One earlier study of pediatric neurosurgery found no effect, whereas another study found a small effect.

Seeking a clearer view, Hoh and colleagues at UF and Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed more than 850,000 teaching hospital admission and patient-outcome records from a database called the National Inpatient Sample. They assessed the rates of patient deaths and surgical complications in July compared with all other months, from 1998 to 2008.

The researchers evaluated four brain conditions that were representative of diseases commonly treated at teaching hospitals: nontraumatic hemorrhage, central nervous system trauma, central nervous system tumor and hydrocephalus.

After taking variations in patient demographics and hospital characteristics into account, the researchers found that the risk of death or complications at teaching hospitals was the same in July as in other months. The results reflected those at nonteaching hospitals used for comparison.

“If you’ve got new physicians on the job and you’ve got physicians that have just been promoted to a new level, it’s sort of the perfect storm for medical errors — it makes intuitive sense, but for a variety of peculiar reasons it’s just not the case,” said Dr. Hunt Batjer, the Lois C.A. and Darwin E. Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and chair of the Residency Review Committee for neurological surgery of the
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the body that certifies post-medical school training for the entire U.S. Batjer was not involved in the study.

The authors say multiple layers of supervision seem to more than compensate for the inexperience of young physicians, providing a safety net for patients.

“Maybe in July, that oversight is heightened because supervising physicians pay more attention to what new residents and interns are doing,” said Hoh, who practices at Shands at UF medical center.

Still, the researchers point out, there might have been near misses in which errors or complications were averted, but there was no way to identify from the database whether such occurrences increased in July compared with other months.

“In some ways, I hope people continue to talk about the July effect or the August effect,” Batjer said. “It will force us to remain vigilant.”

Share

“Nanorobots” to the Rescue

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have developed a "nanorobot" that can be programmed to target different diseases. Following is a fascinating UF news release on the topic:

University of Florida researchers have moved a step closer to treating diseases on a cellular level by creating a tiny particle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins.

In laboratory tests, these newly created “nanorobots” all but eradicated hepatitis C virus infection. The programmable nature of the particle makes it potentially useful against diseases such as cancer and other viral infections.

The research effort, led by Y. Charles Cao, a UF associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Chen Liu, a professor of pathology and endowed chair in gastrointestinal and liver research in the UF College of Medicine, was described online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a novel technology that may have broad application because it can target essentially any gene we want,” Liu said. “This opens the door to new fields so we can test many other things. We’re excited about it.”

During the past five decades, nanoparticles — particles so small that tens of thousands of them can fit on the head of a pin — have emerged as a viable foundation for new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Nanoparticle-based technologies are already in use in medical settings, such as in genetic testing and for pinpointing genetic markers of disease. And several related therapies are at varying stages of clinical trial.

The Holy Grail of nanotherapy is an agent so exquisitely selective that it enters only diseased cells, targets only the specified disease process within those cells and leaves healthy cells unharmed.

To demonstrate how this can work, Cao and colleagues, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research and the UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund, created and tested a particle that targets hepatitis C virus in the liver and prevents the virus from making copies of itself.

Hepatitis C infection causes liver inflammation, which can eventually lead to scarring and cirrhosis. The disease is transmitted via contact with infected blood, most commonly through injection drug use, needlestick injuries in medical settings, and birth to an infected mother. More than 3 million people in the United States are infected and about 17,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients can go many years without symptoms, which can include nausea, fatigue and abdominal discomfort.

Current hepatitis C treatments involve the use of drugs that attack the replication machinery of the virus. But the therapies are only partially effective, on average helping less than 50 percent of patients, according to studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and other journals. Side effects vary widely from one medication to another, and can include flu-like symptoms, anemia and anxiety.

Cao and colleagues, including graduate student Soon Hye Yang and postdoctoral associates Zhongliang Wang, Hongyan Liu and Tie Wang, wanted to improve on the concept of interfering with the viral genetic material in a way that boosted therapy effectiveness and reduced side effects.

The particle they created can be tailored to match the genetic material of the desired target of attack, and to sneak into cells unnoticed by the body’s innate defense mechanisms.

Recognition of genetic material from potentially harmful sources is the basis of important treatments for a number of diseases, including cancer, that are linked to the production of detrimental proteins. It also has potential for use in detecting and destroying viruses used as bioweapons.

The new virus-destroyer, called a nanozyme, has a backbone of tiny gold particles and a surface with two main biological components. The first biological portion is a type of protein called an enzyme that can destroy the genetic recipe-carrier, called mRNA, for making the disease-related protein in question. The other component is a large molecule called a DNA oligonucleotide that recognizes the genetic material of the target to be destroyed and instructs its neighbor, the enzyme, to carry out the deed. By itself, the enzyme does not selectively attack hepatitis C, but the combo does the trick.

“They completely change their properties,” Cao said.

In laboratory tests, the treatment led to almost a 100 percent decrease in hepatitis C virus levels. In addition, it did not trigger the body’s defense mechanism, and that reduced the chance of side effects. Still, additional testing is needed to determine the safety of the approach.

Future therapies could potentially be in pill form.

“We can effectively stop hepatitis C infection if this technology can be further developed for clinical use,” said Liu, who is a member of The UF Shands Cancer Center.

The UF nanoparticle design takes inspiration from the Nobel prize-winning discovery of a process in the body in which one part of a two-component complex destroys the genetic instructions for manufacturing protein, and the other part serves to hold off the body’s immune system attacks. This complex controls many naturally occurring processes in the body, so drugs that imitate it have the potential to hijack the production of proteins needed for normal function. The UF-developed therapy tricks the body into accepting it as part of the normal processes, but does not interfere with those processes.

“They’ve developed a nanoparticle that mimics a complex biological machine — that’s quite a powerful thing,” said nanoparticle expert Dr. C. Shad Thaxton, an assistant professor of urology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and co-founder of the biotechnology company AuraSense LLC, who was not involved in the UF study. “The promise of nanotechnology is extraordinary. It will have a real and significant impact on how we practice medicine.”

Share

Research to Help Seniors Stay Healthy

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

For the latest good news on staying healthy while growing older, enjoy this recent news release from the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging:

The University of Florida Institute on Aging has been awarded a major grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging that is expected to total $5.2 million over five years. The award, in renewed support of the UF Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, will fund studies to better understand the biological and behavioral processes that lead to physical disability in older adults, and to develop and test disability prevention and rehabilitation therapies.

The new award comes on the heels of $3.9 million in NIH funding that established Florida’s first Pepper Center at UF in 2007.

“We are honored by this strong, continued support as we use scientific tools to tackle the issue of aging,” said principal investigator Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the UF Institute on Aging and chairman of the department of aging and geriatric research in the UF College of Medicine. “Each grant and each resulting research finding brings us one step closer to providing older adults with the means to maintain their health, independence and dignity as they age.”

UF is one of just 15 institutions in the nation to receive the award, which is named for the late Claude D. Pepper, a U.S. senator-turned-representative from Florida. Pepper advocated for the rights of the elderly and championed laws aimed at improving the health and well-being of older Americans.

“The UF Pepper Center has long been interested in maintaining and improving function of older adults in the community,” said Basil Eldadah, M.D., Ph.D., acting chief of the geriatrics branch of the National Institute on Aging. “It has made several significant contributions to our understanding of aging processes, particularly in the areas of prevention and rehabilitation of disability in older people.”

Aging takes its toll in varied ways, affecting many different organs. It can show up as acute effects such as hip fracture or stroke, or as chronic health conditions such as heart disease, osteoarthritis or mental decline. But although aging reveals itself in so many ways, mounting research points to one main process — muscle loss — as having a hand in all those changes.

The work of the UF Pepper Center focuses on understanding age-related muscle loss from different perspectives, and the potential role of skeletal muscle as a key target for therapies to counteract age-related damage to the body. The center’s researchers work in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including molecular biology, gerontology, epidemiology and behavioral sciences.

“The UF Institute on Aging has demonstrated its commitment to easing the burden of age-related illnesses, and has taken a lead role in finding research-based ways to help older adults maintain the best possible quality of life,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. “The Pepper award is a recognition of the world-class, patient-centered research being carried out at UF.”

Since 2007, the center’s researchers have conducted several basic science and clinical studies and published more than 450 scientific papers in noted journals such as Nature, The Journals of Gerontology and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers have discovered that higher levels of physical activity are associated with longevity, better mood and improved strength among older adults; that low levels of an enzyme found in white blood cells are linked to better survival in frail older adults, and that a cancer drug can extend the lives of older mice, among other findings. Pepper-funded preliminary studies have formed the basis of 36 pending grant proposals totaling $38 million, for larger studies.

In addition to conducting basic, clinical and translational studies of age-related changes in the body, another central part of the center’s mission is to train the next generation of researchers and help them develop skills in both aging research and leadership. Junior faculty selected for the Pepper scholars career development program hail from various disciplines, including medicine, dentistry and public health, as well as from affiliated institutions such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This invaluable research training complements national efforts to increase the number of physicians and other clinical professionals who are specially trained in the area of geriatrics,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good. “These physicians and scientists will develop tomorrow’s medical tools and therapies that their clinical colleagues will use to care for patients in community practices and health care organizations.”

Share

Can Financial Incentives Boost Fitness?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The University of Florida Academic Health Center, which conducts patient care activities under the banner "UF&Shands," is the most comprehensive program of its kind in the southeastern United States. The following news release describes an important upcoming UF&Shands venture:


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joining a gym to log in hours on the elliptical or hiring a nutritionist for guidance are good ideas to shed pounds but typically too pricey for people with low incomes, as are many programs geared toward boosting wellness.

To address that issue, University of Florida researchers have received a $9.9 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission to test whether increasing access to wellness services could improve the health of patients already facing physical and mental health conditions.

Study subjects who take part in the Texas Wellness Incentives and Navigation project will receive a small stipend to pay for items such as gym memberships, tools to quit smoking or even a simple bathroom scale. They also will work closely with a navigator who will help them set goals and identify health risks, said Elizabeth Shenkman, director of the UF Institute for Child Health Policy and the grant’s primary investigator.

“We know that patients with co-morbid physical and mental health conditions are at particularly high risk for a shortened lifespan, a sedentary lifestyle and alcohol use. They also are at risk for high health expenditures because they are hospitalized or use the emergency room often,” said Shenkman, who also serves as chairwoman of the UF College of Medicine department of health outcomes and policy. “Some of these folks have conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease combined with depression or other mental health problems. The improved healthy lifestyle can help people better manage their physical health conditions and also have a positive effect on their mental health.”

For each year of the three-year study, participants will receive a $1,150 debit card to use on various wellness services and products, based on the plan each makes with his or her personal navigator.

Using a counseling technique called motivational interviewing, navigators will coach participants and help them determine what services they need and what steps they need to take to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Participants will meet with their navigators once a month.

“The utilization of motivational interviewing has been shown to be effective in improving patient engagement in and commitment to the treatment process in numerous clinical contexts, including in health care settings,” said Carson Ham, a UF psychologist and expert on motivational interviewing.

The researchers are developing an electronic form that will not only help assess patients’ risks and needs but also will be coded to provide links to resources in the specific areas where patients live.

“Many of these patients have transportation issues that affect their access to services, too,” Shenkman said.

The study is one of 10 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently funded to assess how helpful financial incentives are in promoting wellness. After the studies are complete, the most effective projects will be used as models for the rest of the country.

Keeping in mind the ability to serve as a model, UF researchers are working in concert with three health plans in Houston that handle Medicaid. The navigators are working with patients through the three health plans as part of the grant.

“We want the project to take place in a context where it could be implemented in other settings,” Shenkman said.

To measure the success of the study, researchers will examine several key outcomes, such as whether it reduces visits to the emergency room. They also will monitor participant’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels and total health care expenditures. If health benefits and cost savings are achieved, hiring health navigators and providing small stipends for wellness up front could save money down the road by keeping patients out of hospitals, Shenkman said.

“We are very excited about this partnership with the health plans, to really test a novel program and see what works best,” Shenkman said. “This is a phenomenal opportunity.”

Share

Progress for Parkinson’s Patients

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

For promising news regarding the ongoing battle against Parkinson’s disease, read the following press release from the University of Florida Health Science Center:

Researchers from the University of Florida and 14 additional medical centers reported results recently in the online version of The Lancet Neurology journal indicating that deep brain stimulation — also known as DBS — is effective at improving motor symptoms and quality of life in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease.

The study, sponsored by St. Jude Medical Inc., tested the safety and effectiveness of a constant current DBS device developed by St. Jude Medical to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The device aimed to reduce tremors, improve the slowness of movement, decrease the motor disability of the disease and reduce involuntary movements called dyskinesia, which are a common side effect of Parkinson’s drugs.

After treatment, analysis of 136 patient diaries revealed longer periods of effective symptom control — known as “on time” — without involuntary movements. “On time” for patients who received stimulation increased by an average of 4.27 hours compared with an increase of 1.77 hours in the group without stimulation. Patients also noted overall improvements in the quality of their daily activities, mobility, emotional state, social support and physical comfort.

“I think it is safe to say since dopamine treatment emerged in the 1960s, DBS has been the single biggest symptomatic breakthrough for Parkinson patients who have experienced the fluctuations associated with levodopa therapy,” said Michael S. Okun, M.D., first author of the study, administrative director of the UF College of Medicine’s Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, and the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation. “This study validates the use of mild electrical currents delivered to specific brain structures in order to improve Parkinson’s disease in select patients with advanced symptoms, and additionally, it explored a new stimulation paradigm. Future improvements in devices and the delivery systems for DBS will hopefully provide exciting new opportunities for Parkinson’s sufferers.”

Only patients who have had Parkinson’s disease for five years or more were included in the study.They were randomly assigned to a control group that delayed the onset of stimulation for three months, or a group whose stimulation began shortly after surgery. All patients were followed for 12 months.

The deep brain stimulation procedure involves surgeons implanting small electrodes into an area of the patient’s brain that controls movement. The electrodes are connected to a device precisely programmed to use mild electrical current to modulate problematic brain signals that result in movement problems.

Today’s voltage-controlled DBS devices deliver pulses of current that vary slightly with surrounding tissue changes. The DBS devices tested in this study are intended to provide more accurate delivery and control of the electrical pulses.

“We are committed to driving research that will provide solutions for physicians and their patients whose needs are currently unmet,” said Rohan Hoare, president of St. Jude Medical Neuromodulation Division. “These results are significant as they offer evidence that stimulation with the Libra constant current system enabled patients to have better motor control and an improvement in their quality of life when compared to the control group.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of DBS for Parkinson’s disease in 2002. At least 500,000 people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s with about 50,000 new cases reported annually, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. These numbers are expected to increase as the average age of the population rises.

“The study answered some very important questions concerning cognition and mood with lead implantation (alone) versus implantation with stimulation. It also refutes the hypothesis that DBS increases depressive symptoms,” said Gordon H. Baltuch, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurosurgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a study author. “The group’s results also showed a decrease in the infection rate to 4 percent from previously published 10 percent. It shows that American neurosurgeons and neurologists with their industry partners are improving the safety of this procedure and working in a collaborative fashion.”

Comparable with other large DBS studies, the most common serious adverse event revealed was infection, which occurred in five patients. Likewise, some participants also reported an increase in the occurrence of slurred speech, known as dysarthria.

“Technology is on the move, and we expect to see continued improvements to DBS approaches, equipment and materials,” said Okun, who is also affiliated with UF’s McKnight Brain Institute. “DBS has set the bar high for the development of new therapies for advanced Parkinson’s disease patients. DBS will be the standard of care gene therapy and other cell-based therapies that are now being conceived will be measured against, and this will hopefully translate into significant improvements in what we can offer our patients.”

In addition to UF and Penn, research was conducted at centers affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Lahey Clinic, Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Oakwood Hospital and Health Systems, Texas Health Presbyterian, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Miami, the University of Rochester and the University of Virginia Health Systems.

Share

The Immune System

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Cancer patients, as well as many others with suppressed immune systems, often have extra trouble fighting off life-threatening infections. Now there is new hope for improving the immune response of these patients, thanks to recent research findings described in this University of Florida news release:

University of Florida researchers have identified two key steps required to activate the body’s innate immune system, its first line of defense against infection.

The discoveries offer insight into why some trauma patients survive their initial injuries but die from seemingly less serious causes soon afterward.

“We’re able to bring them through the trauma with an 80 percent or higher success rate, and then after a few weeks in the hospital they succumb to secondary infections, like pneumonia and urinary tract infections,” said Matthew Delano, M.D., Ph.D., a UF surgical resident.

Researchers, including Delano and Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., a professor and vice chairman of research in UF’s department of surgery, say understanding the chemical signals that help direct immunity may lead to improved therapies for patients with suppressed immune systems, such as those with critical injuries, HIV and cancer, who need extra help fighting infections.

In an article published in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the scientists describe how B cells, a specific type of white blood cell, release a chemical called CXCL10 to trigger inflammation and the deployment of cells designed to fight any pathogens or foreign matter.

Previously, B cells were thought to be involved only in the body’s adaptive immune response, which recognizes invaders, proliferates and responds more effectively to subsequent encounters. The innate immune response is more generic and wasn’t thought to convey any long-lasting immunity to specific threats.

“What we showed, which is actually quite revolutionary, is that B cells modulate the early innate immune response,” Moldawer said.

A review of the paper appeared in the August issue of Nature Reviews Immunology.

In a separate study published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, researchers identified a protein called stromal cell-derived factor 1, known as SDF-1, that directs the release of neutrophils, another type of white blood cell, from the bone marrow to the site of infection. Neutrophils will attack any pathogen and are one of the body’s first weapons used to fight infection.

Bone marrow usually makes SDF-1, but stops production when an infection begins. Tissues at the infection site start making the protein instead, and neutrophils migrate to the areas with the highest concentrations of SDF-1. Once there, they battle the invading pathogens.

“If we block this increase (in SDF-1 in the infected area), then we don’t see a mobilization,” Moldawer said. “The neutrophils are not recruited to the site of infection and the infection can’t be controlled.”

Moldawer said SDF-1 also speeds neutrophils’ development from stem cells and increases their “bacteria-killing properties.”

The identification of SDF-1 and of CXCL10 in activating the body’s innate immune response could pave the way for medicines that stimulate innate immunity in immune-suppressed patients.

Scientists from the University of California,-Los Angeles, Yale University, Duke University Medical Center, Osaka University, Merck Research Laboratories and the University of Virginia also helped with the studies.

“The next step is to ask whether giving SDF-1 can improve outcomes in patients that have reduced numbers of inflammatory cells due to chemotherapy, malnutrition, etc.,” Moldawer said.

The researchers will ask the same question about CXCL10.

Richard Hotchkiss, M.D., a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, applauded the researchers’ efforts to find new approaches to fighting infection and preventing and battling sepsis. Sepsis is a serious complication of infection in which the immune system becomes overactive and disrupts normal blood flow. The condition can lead to organ failure. Hotchkiss was not involved in the research.

“Using drugs which can up- or downregulate host immunity would be a nice accompanying approach to sepsis,” he said. “Rather than just focusing on antibiotics, we should be focusing on drugs which can improve patient immunity and their ability to fight off new, secondary infections.”

The University of Florida Health Science Center – the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast – is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville offering graduate education programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Patient care activities, under the banner UF&Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals; and affiliations with community-based health-care facilities stretching from Hialeah and Miami to the Florida Panhandle.

Share

News on Lung Cancer

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Eight years ago, he sat in his living room, tethered to oxygen, his lungs rapidly deteriorating from pulmonary fibrosis. If Tom Telford had not become Patient No. 199, he probably would have gone on this way, unable to breathe, until he died.

That year, 2002, Telford became the 199th patient to receive a lung transplant at Shands at the University of Florida. He can’t run a marathon and struggles walking up a flight of stairs, but Patient No. 199 is alive. But for many lung transplant recipients, a successful transplant does not always ensure years of survival.

“At five years post-transplant, only 50 percent of recipients survive,” said Telford, a semi-retired nuclear engineer who lives in Gainesville. “I was No. 199. I knew 195 to 205. I exercised with these people and got to know them. Now, many of those people are not alive. It is pretty depressing.”

To help change these statistics, the state of Florida has awarded a $1 million grant to UF to establish a lung transplant center and fund research projects focused on problems such as chronic rejection, the most common reason why patients die after a lung transplant. The center emerged in 2010 from the flagship lung transplant program.

“Of the solid organ transplants, the survival rate of lung transplants is unfortunately the lowest,” said Mark Brantly, M.D., division chief of pulmonary medicine in the UF College of Medicine and a director of research efforts for the new lung transplant center. “There are many challenges in transplanting lungs not the least of which is chronic rejection. We are looking to develop a multicollege research group that will help advance our knowledge about rejection and will develop new therapeutics to improve our patients’ lives.”

According to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, about half of lung transplant recipients are still alive after five years, and only about one-quarter of them make it to 10 years.

The funding has already been used to support five research projects involving researchers from the UF colleges of Medicine and Engineering. The projects include the following:

A study led by Thomas Beaver, M.D., will examine rehabilitation of donor lungs using what is known as perfusion technology. Only about one-quarter of potential donor lungs are able to be transplanted into patients, but studies have shown that attaching lungs to a machine that tricks the organs into thinking they are still inside the body and infusing them with medicine could rehabilitate them for transplant.

Maher Baz, M.D., director of the lung transplant center, will study whether an excess of cells known as T-helper cell 17 could play a role in triggering chronic rejection.

Frederick Kaye, M.D., and his team are studying tumors associated with lung transplants.

Studies led by Jay Patel, M.D., and CQ Xia, M.D., Ph.D., will examine whether lungs treated with an antioxidant protein prior to transplant could help stave off chronic rejection.

Chris Batich, Ph.D., and Gregory Schultz, Ph.D., are looking into the development of a device that could potentially remove antibodies associated with rejection from the blood of patients.

“This grant will allow us to put our three objectives into motion: education, clinical care and research in lung transplantation,” Baz said. “We are hoping this will allow us to advance lung transplant knowledge, which in turn will lead to more funding from varied sources that will advance knowledge further and ultimately help our patients.”

After his transplant in 2002, Telford set up a charitable trust to donate money to Baz’s research and UF’s transplant efforts. But after raising $62,000 during a tennis benefit in 2007, he teamed with John Ross, M.D., a professor emeritus of pediatrics in the College of Medicine, to take fundraising efforts a step further. The duo, along with other transplant recipients, lobbied state legislators for help. After three years, the help came through.

Aside from the research projects, the funds will also go toward the first steps toward developing an improved pediatric lung transplant program through Shands Transplant Center at Shands Children’s Hospital at UF.

“Shands is the best,” Telford said. “They have performed the most transplants, and it is the obvious place to develop this resource for the state of Florida."

Share