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Thomas Mariani Authors Study on Infant Nose, Lung Cells

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cells from an infant’s nose are remarkably similar to those found in the lungs, a discovery that could lead to much more precise diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other infant lung diseases, according to new URMC research.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, provides a potential avenue for diagnosis that has challenged physicians for years, as infants with respiratory disease are usually so fragile that attempting to obtain lung samples is unsafe. Nasal cells, however, can be captured through a simple swab of the nostril, and their similarity to lung cells on an RNA level would allow physicians to get an accurate representation of how the lung is responding during disease states, without the need for more invasive tests.

“An infant with RSV could potentially have their nasal cells tested to determine if they are among the small group that will develop a severe response that might require hospitalization,” said Thomas Mariani, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics and the study’s lead author. “Additionally, we could potentially use this method to examine other at-risk infants, such as those born prematurely who face a greater risk for lung disease throughout life — and identify which of those children should be treated more aggressively.”

The research also carries tremendous promise for future studies. While scientists have made significant progress over the past several decades to better understand adult lung diseases — such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung fibrosis — discovery has not been nearly as robust for infant diseases, due to the risks involved in securing lung tissue.

But the relative ease of obtaining nasal cells could accelerate understanding of how infant lungs respond to RSV and other diseases. While this study examined 53 healthy infants as a means of establishing a benchmark for normal cell structure, researchers at URMC have already begun studying the nasal tissue of diseased infants. Early results are promising.

“We’re actively working on studies in infants with lung diseases, and we’re showing quite clearly that we can identify differences between those with mild disease and those with more severe outcomes,” Mariani said.

The research is conducted by URMC’s Respiratory Pathogens Research Center, which coordinates its work with the national Respiratory Pathogens Research Center established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Center, under the direction of David Topham, Ph.D., focuses on research that will lead to a better understanding of the interactions between respiratory pathogens, the immune system, and other genetic and environmental factors.

ChinYi Chu, M.S., Xing Qiu, Ph.D., Lu Wang, M.S., Soumyaroop Bhattacharya, M.S., M.Ed., Gerry Lofthus, Ph.D., Anthony Corbett, M.S., Jeanne Holden-Wiltse, M.S., Alex Grier, M.S., Brenda Tesini, M.D., Steve Gill, Ph.D., Ann Falsey, M.D., Mary Caserta, M.D., and Ed Walsh, M.D., from the University of Rochester, contributed to these studies.

Read More: Thomas Mariani Authors Study on Infant Nose, Lung Cells

Lisa A. DeLouise Receives Patent for Microfluidic Device

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lisa A. DeLouise, Ph.D., M.P.D., associate professor of Dermatology, Biomedical Engineering, Material Chemistry and Electrical and Computer Engineering and a member of the Environmental Health and Science Center, has received a patent for her microfluidic device and a method of manufacturing the device.

Research in the DeLouise Lab – funded by NYSTAR, NSF, DCFAR, CTSI and URVentures – has led to the development of a single cell screening technology platform based on microbubble well array. Single cell screening technologies can facilitate the discovery of rare cells.

DeLouise’s current work, in collaboration with James J. Kobie, Ph.D., assistant professor of Infectious Diseases, seeks to sort antigen-specific antibody-secreting B cells for the development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and the detection of cancer stem cells that harbor genetic mutations that confer their tumor-initiating and drug-resistant properties.

Claire McCarthy Wins Travel Award

Monday, June 13, 2016

Congratulations to Claire McCarthy, the newest recipient of the Medical Faculty Council UR-SMD Trainee/Student Travel Award for Spring 2016.

Congratulations to all of our Retreat awards winners

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Toxicology program would like to congratulate the following on their 2016 Retreat awards:

  • Elissa Wong won the William F. and Margaret W. Neuman Award for exemplary scholarship and citizenship in the Toxicology Training Program
  • Amanda Croasdell won the (student) Robert F. Infurna Award for publishing the best research paper in toxicology (this award was started in 1998)
  • Lisbeth Boule won the (postdoc) Robert F. Infurna Award for publishing the best research paper in toxicology (this award was started in 1998)
  • Carolyn Klocke won the (student) Weiss Toxicology Scholar Award
  • Luisa Caetano-Davies won the (Postdoc) Weiss Toxicology Scholar Award

Jennifer Judge Wins the University of Rochester’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jennifer Judge at the 3MT competition

Jennifer Judge presenting at the 3MT competition

Jennifer Judge, a Toxicology graduate student in the Sime Lab, has won the Judge's Vote and People's Choice Award at the the University of Rochester’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. The vent was held today in the Class of ’62 auditorium, as 8 finalists delivered their research in only three minutes.

The judges will picked a winner ($1,000 in travel funds), then the students voted for whom they thought should receive the People’s Choice award ($500 in travel funds!). Congrats to Jennifer for winning both!

$3.6M Grant Supports Pediatric Asthma Research at URMC

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Jill Halterman, M.D., professor of Pediatrics at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, has received a $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to research a preventive asthma intervention that could help patients better manage their condition while reducing acute emergency room visits.

The five-year study, which begins this month, will help connect pediatric asthma patients to primary care providers for follow-up after an emergency visit for asthma. The follow-ups would occur in the child’s school health office via telemedicine, ensuring easy access.

“Asthma is the most common reason for a pediatric emergency visit,” said Halterman. “But many of these patients don’t end up getting the preventive medication they need after being discharged, and they wind up back in the emergency department again a month later.”

Read More: $3.6M Grant Supports Pediatric Asthma Research at URMC

Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Bacterial Lung Infections Associated with COPD

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids – like those found in salmon – might be the key to helping the body combat lung infections, according to researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The omega-3 derivatives were effective at clearing a type of bacteria called Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), which often plagues people with inflammatory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD, which is most often caused by years of smoking, is characterized by inflammation and excessive mucus in the lungs that blocks airflow. Quitting can slow the progress of COPD, but it doesn’t halt the disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common treatment, however they suppress the immune system, which can put people with COPD at risk for secondary infections, most commonly NTHi bacterial infections.

“Our biggest concern with patients who have COPD is bacterial infections, which often put their lives at risk,” says Richard Phipps, Ph.D. professor of Environmental Medicine and director of the URSMD Lung Biology and Disease Program. “If we can figure out how to predict who is likely to get an infection, physicians could put them on a preventative medication.”

In his recent study, which was featured in the top ten percent of the March 15 issue of The Journal of Immunology, Phipps and lead author, Amanda Croasdell, a graduate student in the Toxicology program, tested the effectiveness of an inhalable omega-3 derivative to prevent NTHi lung infections in mice.

Read More: Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Bacterial Lung Infections Associated with COPD

Report Recommends More Treatment, Research, for Gulf War Vets

Monday, February 15, 2016

The cause of Gulf War illness is still a mystery but focusing on treatments and interventions might help the veterans of Operation Desert Storm as well as the troops of the future, according to an Institute of Medicine committee report led by University of Rochester Medical Center Professor Deborah Cory-Slechta.

In 1990 and ’91 nearly 700,000 U.S. troops deployed to the Persian Gulf region for a short, intense war. Few injuries or deaths occurred, but troops were exposed to chemical and biological weapons, vaccines, oil-fires, air pollution, bomb blasts, pesticides, extreme desert temperatures, and constant false alarms and fear of nerve-gas attacks.

After the war ended a high number of the veterans reported debilitating fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and cognitive problems. This became known as “Gulf War illness.” During the past 25 years, 10 different committees of the nation’s top medical experts have searched for evidence that would better define Gulf War illness and possible treatments. The latest committee, headed by Cory-Slechta, concluded that no single mechanism can explain the multitude of symptoms seen in Gulf War illness—and that it’s unlikely a cause will ever be identified.

Read More: Report Recommends More Treatment, Research, for Gulf War Vets

Lead poisoning still an issue in Rochester

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Michigan city of Flint became ground zero of the nation's latest public-health outrage when it was learned in recent months that its tap water contained unsafe levels of toxic lead.

Though the aqueous cause of its lead problem is unusual, Flint is otherwise far from unique. Many American cities, including Rochester, continue to struggle with lead poisoning, particularly of children.

In fact, despite years of successful anti-lead work locally, the proportion of children in Rochester found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood still was roughly double that of their counterparts in Flint in 2014, the most recent year for which comparable data are available.

We have had a huge amount of progress here. We’ve had a nearly 90 percent reduction in the number of kids with elevated blood lead levels in the past 15 years, said Katrina Smith Korfmacher, an associate professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has long been involved in local anti-lead efforts. But I would say it’s still a serious, or an ongoing, problem. The point is, it won’t ever go away entirely, because there is lead in the environment.

Read More: Lead poisoning still an issue in Rochester