helping preterm babies
Researchers at SLU are working on providing big help for some of their littlest patients. Dr. Joyce Marie Koenig has received a grant of more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Allergy and Immunology. She and her team will study the connection between an inflammation of the placenta called chorioamnionitis and immunity after birth. The research could help doctors answer important questions about why some babies are born too early. Chorioamnionitis is the cause of up to 70 percent of significantly preterm births. Babies born to mothers with the condition are at higher risk of infections and may be less responsive to vaccinations. Koenig is hoping to discover how and why this happens.

strike a nerve
Cut your finger while cooking, and it takes a matter of days to heal, but a slice to the spinal cord likely will result in permanent damage. Unlike the rest of the body, neurons in the brain and spinal cord don’t grow back after injury. Researchers at Wash. U. have determined some of the conditions that allow injured peripheral nerves to repair themselves, which also means they can see what’s failing to happen in the central nervous system. By better understanding how injured neurons behave, researchers may be able to create better treatments for spinal cord injury.

a blow against cancer
Kudos to Mercy Clinic for receiving the HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award! Created by a partnership of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of American Cancer Institutes, and the American Cancer Society, the award honors health care professionals who go above and beyond to support the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, which can help prevent six types of cancer. Nominees must have an HPV vaccine series completion rate of 60 percent or higher for their adolescent patient population. Thanks to Mercy’s efforts, fewer St. Louisans will face the prospect of HPV-related cancer in the future.

i’ll drink to that!
Cheers! A study from Wash. U. suggests people over 65 who are newly diagnosed with heart failure can continue to drink alcohol in moderate amounts without worsening their condition. While researchers don’t suggest nondrinkers start imbibing after heart failure, it also was shown that moderate drinkers had a survival benefit of one year over those who abstained. It can’t be definitively concluded that moderate alcohol consumption is actively protective, but ladies safely can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner (or any other serving of alcohol)—gentlemen, you get two.