LabBook August 17, 2012

The Gordon Center for Integrative Science

Welcome to LabBook, our weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the world wide web. Each Friday, 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.

THIS WEEK ON THE BLOG

A trip to the ER is no fun for anybody, especially kids. But it’s hard for a doctor to do her job when a child is kicking and screaming his way through a procedure. Doctors can use sedation or physical restraint to keep a child still long enough to stitch up a cut or place an IV, but that diverts resources who could be treating someone else. In the pediatric ER at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, Lisa McQueen, MD, and child life specialist Chelsea Cress are experimenting with using iPads to distract kids during procedures, and make the experience a little less stressful for everybody.

Parasites sneak their way into our bodies by hitching a ride on food or dirty hands. Rima McCleod, MD, an expert on the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, and her colleagues figured out a way to use this same kind of sneak attack against it. They developed a new targeted therapy that combines short strands of “antisense” nucleic acid-like material with a small peptide that can transport those strands through cell membranes and into parasites. When tested in newly infected mice, this technique reduced the number of viable parasites by more than 90 percent.

Did you do anything interesting this summer? Maybe you went to the beach or did some work around the house, but it probably wasn’t as cool as the hands-on research some undergraduate students got to do as part of the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology Research Experiences for Undergraduates. Eleven undergraduate students from around the country worked alongside renowned researchers this summer in labs at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University. This week they presented the results of their summer projects on genome analysis, biological computation and neuropsychiatry at two separate sessions in the Gordon Center for Integrative Science.

RESEARCH IN THE NEWS

People suffering from Crohn’s disease face a lifelong battle against its painful and often socially isolating digestive symptoms. There is no known cure for Crohn’s, but as David Rubin, MD, writes in this article for CNN, there has been an explosion of scientific discoveries related to its causes, which give hope for better treatments to not only manage symptoms, but control the disease and give patients a better quality of life.

Previous studies on MRSA reported that infections were decreasing in both hospital patients and community members. However a new study led by Michael David, MD, PhD, and Robert Daum, MD, found that MRSA infections in hospital patients roughly doubled between 2003 and 2008. “This means that MRSA infections are very common, and that many of them — and an increasing number in 2003 to 2008 — were serious enough to require hospitalization,” David said in an article for Fox News.

Finally, children who survive cancer have been through enough already, yet they also face tough medical questions as they grow up and transition out of pediatric care. They may not be the only ones with questions about how to provide the best follow up care as they become adults. In this article from the Oncology Report, Eugene Suh, MD, talks about his survey of 2,000 general internists, in which 72 percent of those who had seen pediatric cancer survivors in the past five years said they never received any information about their patients’ cancer care. “Internists are really good at gathering information, but I don’t think they necessarily know that this information is out there to help guide them in taking care of these cancer survivors,” he said.

About Matt Wood (514 Articles)

Matt Wood is a senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine and nonfiction editor for Another Chicago Magazine.

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