Health Flash: 2.8.23

lung cancer care | Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine launched an investigation into the quality of lung cancer care across the United States. While treatment for lung cancer is rapidly evolving, the study found that care varies widely. To help close the gap in quality of care, the team examined five surgical quality metrics that are associated with improved overall survival rates. “It is crucial to have a solid understanding of what constitutes a high-quality lung cancer surgery,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Varun Puri, a thoracic surgeon and professor of surgery. “Improving adherence to surgical quality measures is critical to optimize long-term outcomes among patients with early-stage lung cancer seeking treatment intended to cure their cancer.”

fighting hiv
Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D., professor of global health and behavioral science and health education at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, received a $1.76 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The funds will be used to create STAR (Stimulating Training and Access to HIV Research Experiences), an HIV-focused experiential research program for students and young researchers. Previously, Iwelunmor developed and implemented a crowdsourced framework for at-risk youth in Nigeria. “Our I-TEST study discovered that crowdsourcing methods could be used to help identify highly qualified trainees through open calls, build capacity for youth-led research using design-a-thons and sustain these benefits through participatory learning communities,” she says. Now, those findings will be applied in the U.S. through STAR, which is part of the NIAID Research Education Program.

better valve replacements
Interventional cardiologists at Mercy Hospital St. Louis were the first in the St. Louis region—and among the first in the country—to use the Resilia tissue aortic valve. The valve replacement is treated with a special integrity preservation technology that lowers tissue calcification, increases longevity and reduces the need for intervention. It allows for better access to the coronaries, which is often needed as many valve replacement patients also deal with coronary artery disease. “Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a great option for patients with aortic stenosis to avoid open heart surgery,” says Dr. Anthony Sonn, interventional cardiologist and Mercy Hospital St. Louis TAVR program director. “This new Resilia valve by Edwards is an exciting breakthrough as it is more durable and provides patients an improved quality of life.”

boosting cancer drugs
A genome is a cell’s complete set of DNA, and cells protect it because damage can result in cancer or cell death. A genome is most vulnerable when it is being duplicated before a cell divides. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have identified a way to use cancer cells’ constant duplication to boost cancer treatment. The study identified a previously unknown signaling pathway cells use to protect their DNA while it is being copied. “This entire pathway we found exists to protect the genome so the cell can survive in the face of replication stress,” explains senior author Zhongsheng You, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology and physiology. “By combining inhibitors of this pathway with chemotherapy drugs that target the DNA replication process, we potentially could make such drugs more effective.”

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