skin cancer awareness | Saint Louis University is helping children learn about skin cancer detection and prevention. In collaboration with Washington University in St. Louis, Sun Protection Outreach Teaching by Students (SPOTS) launched a new PSA about how skin cancer impacts everyone, regardless of age and skin color. Melanoma is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in girls and women between 15 and 29, and while those with a darker skin tone are less likely to develop it, they have a higher morbidity and mortality rate. “The five-year melanoma survival rate among Black patients is 70% compared to 95% in white patients,” explains Dr. Sofia Chaudhry. “There is, unfortunately, a significant health disparity that needs to be better addressed.”
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine are working to minimize the effects of potential future coronavirus pandemics. Supported by an $8 million grant from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the team is working to design a vaccine that reduces illness and death from any coronavirus, including those that cannot yet affect humans. “Some coronaviruses that circulate in animals are just a few mutations away from having pandemic potential,” says co-principal investigator Dr. Michael S. Diamond, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine and a professor of molecular microbiology and pathology and immunology. “This is a significant concern. We know some of them already can infect human cells, they just lack the ability to be efficiently transmitted between people.”
aging better with technology
Congratulations to Devita Stallings, Ph.D., R.N. to BSN program coordinator and associate professor of nursing at Saint Louis University. She was named a winner for the National Institute on Aging Healthy Aging Start-Up Challenge and Bootcamp. Out of 20 finalists, she was awarded one of five $60,000 cash prizes. While participating in the boot camp, participants received valuable resources and worked with mentors and NIA staff to develop their innovations, foster diversity in aging research and eliminate health disparities. Stallings is working on developing a prototype hypertension self-management app. The NIA funds will assist with launching the website, furthering app development and securing additional grant funding.
jumping genes & cancer
Transposable elements, or jumping genes, are short sections of DNA that, over the course of evolution, have been incorporated into the human genome. Research has discovered that they are related to the development of cancer; however, a new study from Washington University School of Medicine suggests that jumping genes may be used to target immunotherapies to tumors that don’t typically respond to treatment. Researchers found that transposable elements can function like switches, forcing genes to be turned on. While this can drive cancer growth it also creates unusual pieces of proteins unique to the tumor. These antigens are present on the surface of the cell, making them ideal for targeting with immunotherapy.