liver disease in infants | Researchers at Saint Louis University School of Medicine have identified a biomarker for severe liver disease in infants. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a condition that is life-threatening in some infants but very mild in others. The study suggests that circulating Z polymer levels indicate those who are likely to develop severe liver disease. The biomarker may help predict which children will require life-saving intervention. This discovery follows the first possible treatment for adults with AATD and could lead to further developments. “Enrollment of children into trials can be focused on this high-risk group, sparing many participants from needless trials and speeding the effective treatments to proof of efficacy and approval,” says Dr. Jeffery Teckman, lead author and professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and
molecular biology.

alzheimer’s and down syndrome
Almost all adults with Down syndrome develop evidence of Alzheimer’s disease by late middle age. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine has found that the dementia both begins earlier and progresses more quickly in people with Down syndrome. “Currently, no Alzheimer’s therapies are available for people with Down syndrome,” says co-senior author Dr. Beau Ances, the Daniel J. Brennan Professor of Neurology. Down syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21, which carries a copy of the amyloid precursor protein gene. This means individuals with the condition produce more amyloid deposits—the first step in Alzheimer’s.

supporting women’s health
Logan University recently became the first university to house a women’s health clinic on its campus. It also received a $50,000 donation from Foot Levelers, a leading provider of hand-crafted custom orthotics. The funds will be used to support the services of the new clinic and foster the next generation of female chiropractic professionals through the Women’s Endowed Scholarship. “Women’s health is at the forefront of health care, and we are beyond excited to be a leader in this area,” says Dr. Emily Kliethermes, director of the Foot Levelers Women’s Health Clinic. “I am honored to help women in our area live their best lives and help their bodies work at optimal levels by offering chiropractic care, along with nutritional and lifestyle modifications.”

treating hiv
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have received a $6.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a gene therapy for HIV. While HIV can be controlled with medication, patients must continue to take it throughout their lifetime because there is currently no way to eliminate the virus from the body. The team will investigate a way to modify the immune system’s B cells so they produce broadly neutralizing antibodies. “The idea of modifying B cells to ensure that they manufacture specific antibodies that are broadly effective at targeting HIV is an exciting strategy, “ says Dr. David T. Curiel, the Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology. We have brought together a great team with expertise in HIV, gene therapy and animal models of infection to work toward this goal.”