Welcome to LabBook, our new weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the world wide web. Each Friday (or, occasionally, Monday -ed), LabBook will recap the week on the blog, link to news stories about our faculty and studies, and briefly summarize a handful of recent publications by our researchers.
LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG
Researchers who run clinical trials needed a hero, and University of Chicago Medicine radiologists heeded the call. The Human Imaging Research Office, or HIRO, is a unique system for collecting and sharing medical images from CT, MRI, and X-ray scans for use in research studies. Matt Wood profiled the effort and why it will help clinicians collect more uniform data while testing tomorrow’s treatments.
Humans aren’t descended from sharks, but our ancestors may have looked a lot like one. That was one implication of a new Nature paper examining the braincase of a curious ancient fish called Acanthodes bronni, which offered a rare window into the mysterious common ancestor of sharks and bony fish — the broad family that includes human beings. Authors Michael Coates and John Finarelli discussed how a tackle box full of latex molds gave them the information to identify that ancient species’ shark-like features.
The link between disease and the microbiome — the ecosystem of bacteria that lives inside and on the surface of our bodies — has received a lot of media attention over the last year. But few studies have found as direct a link between the microbiome and disease as the Nature paper published this week by Eugene Chang and colleagues, which introduced a third link in the chain: the often less-than-healthy Western diet. Read how some of the saturated fats found in dietary staples such as ice cream can disrupt the bacterial population of the gut and increase the risk for inflammatory bowel disease.
RESEARCH IN THE NEWS
D. Allan Drummond has had a pretty good 2012 so far. Earlier this year, he was named in the 2012 class of Sloan Research Fellows, receiving funds to continue his work looking at how and why cells intentionally introduce errors into proteins. Last week, Drummond was named to a second esteemed group, as one of 22 scientists selected to be Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
The work of our Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence has only just begun, but the topic of improving patient-doctor relationships is evergreen. On Tuesday, Matthew Sorrentino, the associate director of the Bucksbaum Institute, discussed the topic on Chicago Public Radio’s 848 program.
Can high blood pressure be treated with radio waves? A new procedure called renal denervation is being tested through a clinical trial led by University of Chicago Medicine’s George Bakris, and the study was profiled last week in the New York Times. Even if successful, Bakris cautioned that renal denervation would not completely replace anti-hypertension drugs, but another researcher still described the procedure as “potentially the most exciting advance in hypertension in literally decades.”