Dr. Joshua J. Jacobs
A team of engineers and physicians have made a surprising discovery that offers a target for designing new materials for hip implants that are less susceptible to the joint’s normal wear and tear.
Researchers from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and the University of Duisburg-Essen Germany found that graphitic carbon is a key element in a lubricating layer that forms on metal-on-metal hip implants. The lubricant is more similar to the lubrication of a combustion engine than that of a natural joint.
The study will be published Dec. 23 by the journal Science.
Prosthetic materials for hips, which include metals, polymers and ceramics, have a lifetime typically exceeding 10 years. However, beyond 10 years the failure rate generally increases, particularly in young, active individuals. Physicians would love to see that lifespan increased to 30 to 50 years. Ideally, artificial hips should last the patient’s lifetime.
Our findings will help push the field forward by providing a target to improve the performance of hip replacements,” said co-author and principal investigator Dr. Joshua J. Jacobs, the William A. Hark, M.D./Susanne G. Swift Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and professor and chair of the department of orthopedic surgery at Rush. “That’s very exciting to me.”
Read the entire news release.
A 40-year search for a gene that causes some one-celled sea creatures to flash at night and is also found in others that produce deadly red tides, has been successfully culminated by a group of scientists led by Thomas E. DeCoursey, PhD, professor of biophysics and physiology at Rush University Medical Center.
The gene, discovered in a tiny marine organism called a dinoflagellate (Karlodinium veneficum), controls voltage-gated proton channels, which, in addition to triggering luminescence in certain single-cell sea creatures, activate many important biological mechanisms in other species, including humans.
(Credit: National Science Foundation)
Results of the study by DeCoursey, Susan M. E. Smith and co-researchers were published in the October 17, 2011 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The existence of a voltage-gated proton channel in bioluminescent dinoflagellates was proposed in 1972 by J. Woodland Hastings, a co-author on the current study, and his colleague Margaret Fogel. They hypothesized that proton channels helped trigger the flash by activating luciferase, an enzyme that helps produce luminescence. But until now, the genetic code responsible for the proton channels in dinoflagellates had not been identified, although it had been decrypted in humans, mice, algae and sea squirts.
For more information, read the entire news release.
Dr. Howard Kaufman
Very few treatment options exist for patients with advanced melanoma, which is the most lethal type of skin cancer. But the results of a large clinical trial involving Rush provide promise.
The findings of the study show that combining a vaccine with the immune-boosting drug Interleukin-2 has a higher response rate and increases survival rates more than the use of Interleukin-2 alone. This marks the first vaccine study for advanced melanoma, and one of the first for all types of cancers, to show clinical benefit in a phase III trial.
If we can use the body’s own defense system to attack tumor cells, we provide a mechanism for ridding the body of cancer without destroying healthy tissue,” said Dr. Howard Kaufman, director for the Rush University Cancer Center and a co-investigator in the study.
The next step is to improve the vaccine’s efficacy. Researchers hope to improve on the study’s results by combining the vaccine with agents other than Interleukin-2.
Read the news release.
A Food and Drug Administration panel of advisors is recommending approval of the first imaging test to help screen for Alzheimer’s disease. The news is especially exciting for Rush University researchers who participated in the study of the new imaging dye.
The imaging test involves an injection of Amyvid, a chemical dye that makes brain plaque visible on PET scans. The plaque, β-amyloid, builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and currently is identified during autopsy of the brain to confirm a diagnosis of the disease. The ability to identify and quantify β-amyloid while a patient is alive could increase the accuracy of a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease and possibly lead to earlier diagnosis.
A study published in the January 18 issue of JAMA found that the dye accurately identified β-amyloid. 35 patients were injected with the imaging dye and underwent a PET scan. To determine if the scans were accurately showing Alzheimer plaque, after the patients died the brains were autopsied. The brain pieces were sent to the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center Laboratory, where they were analyzed in the traditional way, by a pathologist looking under a microscope and counting plaque. The scans agreed with the postmortem results in 96 percent of the cases.
The next step is to determine how much plaque in the brain indicates the patient has Alzheimer’s.
Learn more about the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
Studies have shown numerous benefits of minimally invasive coiling procedures for brain aneurysms compared to craniotomy, a surgical procedure that requires opening up the skull. However, minimally invasive procedures can be very challenging on complex cases that involve wide-neck aneurysms or blood vessels deep in the brain.
Dr. Demetrius Lopes, an endovascular neurosurgeon at Rush, was the first in the U.S. to use a new device that is allowing surgeons to treat these more complex cases without open surgery. The device is called the Neuroform EZ Stent System, and it enables neurosurgeons to better navigate the twists and turns of the blood vessels in the brain.