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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

All stakeholders in the scientific research enterprise -- researchers, institutions, publishers, funders, scientific societies, and federal agencies - should improve their practices and policies to respond to threats to the integrity of research WASHINGTON - All stakeholders in the scientific research enterprise -- researchers, institutions, publishers, funders, scientific societies, and federal agencies - should improve their practices and policies to respond to threats to the integrity of research, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Actions are needed to ensure the availability of data necessary for reproducing research, clarify authorship standards, protect whistleblowers, and make sure that negative as well as positive research findings are reported, among other steps. The report stresses the important role played by institutions and environments - not only individual researchers -- in supporting scientific integrity. And it recommends the establishment of an independent, nonprofit Research Integrity Advisory Board to support ongoing efforts to strengthen research integrity. The board should work with all stakeholders in the research enterprise to share expertise and approaches for minimizing and addressing research misconduct and detrimental practices. "The research enterprise is not broken, but it faces significant challenges in creating the conditions needed to foster and sustain the highest standards of integrity," said Robert Nerem, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and Institute Professor and Parker H. Petit Professor Emeritus, Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology. "To meet these challenges, all parties in the research enterprise need to take deliberate steps to strengthen the self-correcting mechanisms that are part of research and to better align the realities of research with its values and ideals." A growing body of evidence indicates that substantial percentages of published results in some fields are not reproducible, the report says, noting that this is a complex phenomenon and much remains to be learned. While a certain level of irreproducibility due to unknown variables or errors is a normal part of research, data falsification and detrimental research practices -- such as inappropriate use of statistics or after-the-fact fitting of hypotheses to previously collected data -- apparently also play a role. In addition, new forms of detrimental research practices are appearing, such as predatory journals that do little or no editorial review or quality control of papers while charging authors substantial fees. And the number of retractions of journal articles has increased, with a significant percentage of those retractions due to research misconduct. The report cautions, however, that this increase does not necessarily indicate that the incidence of misconduct is increasing, as more-vigilant scrutiny by the community may be a contributing factor. The report endorses the definition of scientific misconduct proposed in the 1992 Academies report Responsible Science: "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reporting research." However, many practices that have until now been categorized as "questionable" research practices - for example, misleading use of statistics that falls short of falsification, and failure to retain research data -- should be recognized as "detrimental" research practices, the new report says. Detrimental research practices should be understood to include not only actions of individual researchers but also irresponsible or abusive actions by research institutions and journals. "The research process goes beyond the actions of individual researchers," said Nerem. "Research institutions, journals, scientific societies, and other parts of the research enterprise all can act in ways that either support or undermine integrity in research." Because research institutions play a central role in fostering research integrity, they should maintain the highest standards for research conduct, going beyond simple compliance with federal regulations and applying these standards to all research independent of the source of funding. Institutions' key responsibilities include creating and sustaining a research culture that fosters integrity and encourages adherence to best practices, as well as monitoring the integrity of their research environments. Senior leaders at each institution -- the president, other senior executives, and faculty leaders -- should guide and be actively engaged in these tasks. Furthermore, they must have the capacity to effectively investigate and address allegations of research misconduct and to address the conflict of interest that institutions may have in conducting these investigations -- for example, by incorporating external perspectives. In addition, research institutions and federal agencies should ensure that good faith whistleblowers - those who raise concerns about the integrity of research - are protected and their concerns addressed in a fair, thorough, and timely manner. Inadequate responses to such concerns have been a critical point of failure in many cases of misconduct where investigations were delayed or sidetracked. Currently, standards for transparency in many fields and disciplines do not adequately support reproducibility and the ability to build on previous work, the report says. Research sponsors and publishers should ensure that the information needed for a person knowledgeable about the field and its techniques to reproduce the reported results is made available at the time of publication or as soon as possible after that. Federal funding agencies and other research sponsors should also allocate sufficient funds to enable the long-term storage, archiving, and access of datasets and code necessary to replicate published findings. Researchers should routinely disclose all statistical tests carried out, including negative findings, the report says. Available evidence indicates that scientific publications are biased against presenting negative results and that the publication of negative results is on the decline. But routine reporting of negative findings will help avoid unproductive duplication of research and make research spending more productive. Dissemination of negative results also has prompted a questioning of established paradigms, leading ultimately to groundbreaking new discoveries. Research sponsors, research institutions, and journals should support and encourage this level of transparency. Scientific societies and journals should develop clear disciplinary authorship standards based on the principle that those who have made a significant intellectual contribution are authors. Those who engage in these activities should be designated as authors, and all authors should approve the final manuscript. Universal condemnation by all disciplines of gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, and ghost authorship would also contribute to changing the culture of research environments where these practices are still accepted. To bring a unified focus to addressing challenges in fostering research integrity across all disciplines and sectors, the report urges the establishment of a nonprofit, independent Research Integrity Advisory Board. The RIAB could facilitate the exchange of information on approaches to assessing and creating environments of the highest integrity and to handling allegations of misconduct and investigations. It could provide advice, support, encouragement, and where helpful advocacy on what needs to be done by research institutions, journal and book publishers, and other stakeholders in the research enterprise. The RIAB would have no direct role in investigations, regulation, or accreditation; instead it will serve as a neutral resource that helps the research enterprise respond to challenges. In addition, the report recommends that government agencies and private foundations fund research to quantify conditions in the research environment that may be linked to research misconduct and detrimental research practices, and to develop responses to these conditions. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Society for Neuroscience, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://national-academies. . A roster follows. Sara Frueh, Media Officer Joshua Blatt, Media Assistant Office of News and Public Information 202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu national-academies.org/newsroom Follow us on Twitter at @theNASEM Copies of Fostering Integrity in Research are available from the National Academies Press on the Internet at http://www. or by calling 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above). Robert M. Nerem1,2 (chair) Institute Professor and Parker H. Petit Professor Emeritus Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Ann M. Arvin2 Lucile Packard Professor of Pediatrics, Vice Provost and Dean of Research, and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Stanford University Stanford, Calif. C.K. (Tina) Gunsalus Director National Center for Professional and Research Ethics University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Deborah G. Johnson Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor Emeritus of Applied Ethics Department of Science, Technology, and Society School of Engineering and Applied Science University of Virginia Charlottesville Michael A. Keller Ida M. Green University Librarian, and Director of Academic Information Resources University Libraries and Academic Information Resources Stanford University Stanford, Calif. W. Carl Lineberger3 E.U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Fellow JILA University of Colorado Boulder Victoria Stodden Associate Professor of Statistics Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Sara E. Wilson Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Academic Director Bioengineering Graduate Program University of Kansas Lawrence Paul R. Wolpe Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, and Director Center for Ethics Emory University Atlanta 1 Member, National Academy of Engineering 2 Member, National Academy of Medicine 3 Member, National Academy of Sciences


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

DALLAS - May 23, 2017 - Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) often respond to standard chemotherapy, only to develop drug resistance later, and with fatal consequences. But what if doctors could identify those at greatest risk of relapse and provide a therapy to overcome or avoid it? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center believe they have an answer: a 35-gene signature that identifies tumor cells most likely to develop resistance to treatment. The study, published today in Cell Reports, points to a new pharmacologic approach to target chemo-resistant lung cancer and even prevent development of such resistance in the first place. "Cancer relapse after chemotherapy poses a major obstacle to treating lung cancer, and resistance to chemotherapy is a big cause of that treatment failure," said study co-author Dr. John Minna, a Professor and Director of in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern. "These findings provide new insights into why resistance develops and how to overcome it." Dr. Minna, with additional appointments in Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, also holds the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research and the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology. Investigators studied mouse and cellular models of NSCLC, a type of lung cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States. "Previous studies have shown that up to 70 percent of those cancers develop resistance to standard therapy, such as the platinum-taxane two-drug combo that is often given," said study senior author Dr. Elisabeth D. Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and in the Hamon Center. Both she and Dr. Minna are also members of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Using long-term on/off drug cycles, lead author and former postdoctoral researcher Dr. Maithili Dalvi developed a series of cellular models of progressive tumor resistance to standard chemotherapy that ranged from very sensitive to highly insensitive. Next, the researchers identified genes commonly altered during the development of resistance across multiple cell line and mouse models and identified a 35-gene signature that indicated a higher genetic likelihood of chemotherapy resistance. "It's like a fingerprint for resistance," Dr. Martinez said, adding that it was predictive in both cells and mouse models. Next they compared this resistance biomarker using genetic profiles from human tumors in their National Cancer Institute (NCI) lung cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) database at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The database contained information on patient outcomes and those who had been treated with the two-drug chemotherapy. The genetic fingerprint for resistance correlated with cancer relapse in NSCLC patients in the database, she said. Researchers discovered that as cancer cells developed greater resistance to chemotherapy, they progressively made higher amounts of enzymes called JumonjiC lysine demethylases. Dr. Martinez said these enzymes facilitate resistance by changing the expression of - or turning on and off - genes. "Cancer cells use these enzymes to change, or reprogram, gene expression in order to survive the toxic stress of the chemotherapy. By changing the expression of genes, the tumor cells can adapt and survive the toxins," she said. Investigators then tested two potential drugs, both JumonjiC inhibitors. One of them, JIB-04, was found by UT Southwestern researchers in the Martinez lab during a small-molecule screen conducted at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' Chemical Genomics Center in Bethesda, Maryland. "I believe this is the first report of NSCLC tumors taking advantage of multiple JumonjiC enzymes to reprogram gene expression in order to survive chemotoxic stress. In addition, and this is the most fascinating part: Dr. Dalvi found that greater chemotherapy resistance defines a new susceptibility to the JumonjiC inhibitors," she said. "The cancer cells develop a new Achilles' heel that we can hit." Because the chemo-resistant cancer cells are dependent on JumonjiC enzymes for survival, inhibiting those enzymes returns cancer cells to mortality and vulnerability to cell death, she explained. "We think these JumonjiC inhibitors have the potential to be used either to treat tumors once they become resistant to standard therapies, or to prevent resistance altogether," she said. "In our experiments these inhibitors appear to be much more potent in killing cancer cells than normal cells." Later, researchers tested whether the Jumonji inhibitors JIB-04 or GSK-J4 prevented chemotherapy resistance. This strategy succeeded in cell cultures and partially prevented resistance in animal models, Dr. Martinez said. Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in this work were Dr. Luc Girard, Assistant Professor, Dr. Lei Wang, senior research associate, and Dr. Juan Bayo, postdoctoral researcher, all with the Hamon Center and of Pharmacology; Dr. Rahul Kollipara, a computational biologist in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development; Hyunsil Park, a research associate, and Dr. Brenda Timmons, a research scientist, both of the Hamon Center; Paul Yenerall, graduate student; Dr. Yang Xie, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences and of Bioinformatics; Dr. Adi F. Gazdar, Professor in the Hamon Center, the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Pathology and holder of the W. Ray Wallace Distinguished Chair in Molecular Oncology Research; and Dr. Ralf Kittler, Assistant Professor in the McDermott Center, Pharmacology, and the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as a CPRIT Scholar and a John L. Roach Scholar in Biomedical Research. Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University College of Medicine also contributed. The study received support from the NCI, the Department of Defense, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Friends of the Cancer Center, The Welch Foundation, and an LLS Robert Arceci Scholar Award. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year. This news release is available on our website at http://www. . To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at http://www.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

DALLAS - May 22, 2017 - A new DNA vaccine when delivered to the skin prompts an immune response that produces antibodies to protect against toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease - without triggering severe brain swelling that earlier antibody treatments caused in some patients. Two studies from the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute demonstrate in animals how a vaccine containing DNA of the toxic beta-amyloid protein elicits a different immune response that may be safe for humans. The vaccine, which will likely be tested further by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is on a shortlist of promising antibody treatments that may eventually help settle a high-stakes debate of whether amyloid is a vital target for preventing or curing Alzheimer's. "If you look at the hard reality, the odds are against us because so many therapies have failed through the years. But this has potential," said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, co-author of the studies and Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Rosenberg notes that earlier research established that antibodies significantly reduce amyloid buildup in the brain, but he needed to find a safe way to introduce these into the body. A vaccine developed elsewhere showed promise in the early 2000s, but when tested in humans it caused brain swelling in some patients. Dr. Rosenberg's idea was to start with DNA coding for amyloid and inject it into the skin rather than the muscle. The injected skin cells make the amyloid protein, and the body responds by producing new antibodies that inhibit the buildup of amyloid, which some scientists blame for destroying neurons. Although the DNA vaccine has not yet been tested in humans, it produces a different kind of immune response in the tested animals that significantly lessens the chance of an adverse response in the brain, according to the studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Alzheimer's Research & Therapy. The research is notable because it shows a DNA vaccine can be effective and safe in two large mammals. Most other vaccines only produced an immune response in mice but not large mammals. "We believe this kind of immune response has a high probability of being safe in humans and also being effective to make high levels of antibody," said Dr. Rosenberg, Professor of Physiology, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by progressive deterioration of the brain as neurons are destroyed. More than 5 million Americans have the fatal disease, with the number expected to nearly triple by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No known cure exists, though an array of antibody and other treatments are being researched to target amyloid plaques. One strategy involves preforming the antibodies in the laboratory and inserting them into the body - a technique that is still being tested for clinical benefits. Dr. Rosenberg said there would be distinct advantages to allowing the body to produce its own antibodies through active immunization, if it can be done safely. Among them, the vaccine would be more accessible and less expensive. It also produces a wider variety of antibody types than the preformed antibodies, he said. "All the vaccines we received as kids and adults have been active vaccinations; we made the antibodies in the body," Dr. Rosenberg said. "It's safer, more effective, and it's sustained longer." Dr. Rosenberg's research is the latest contribution to decades of study across the globe focusing on clearing amyloid plaques in hopes of curing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer's. A lack of results over the years has prompted some scientists to question whether they are properly targeting the disease. A British study from 2008 showed that removing amyloid after it accumulates in the brain does not improve brain cognition. The findings highlight a couple of lingering questions that have crucial implications for the future of Alzheimer's research: Is amyloid merely a symptom, not the cause of the disease? And if there is causation, can earlier treatments make a difference? Dr. Rosenberg acknowledges that preventing amyloid buildup by itself may not be an adequate treatment for Alzheimer's, but it could be a major part of the solution. He and other researchers at UT Southwestern are also studying the potential benefits of preventing and removing tangles of toxic tau proteins from the brain, another hallmark of the disease. "Some in the scientific community believe the reason amyloid therapies have failed so far is because too little of the therapy was given, and too late," Dr. Rosenberg said. "The jury is still out." Dr. Rosenberg's latest studies show the potential of a DNA vaccine to prevent the buildup of amyloid in otherwise healthy people. The vaccine was administered to healthy animals, inducing an anti-inflammatory immune response of up to 40 times more anti-amyloid antibodies than an earlier vaccine Dr. Rosenberg tested a decade ago. Dr. Rosenberg expects the FDA will want further tests of the vaccine in its own labs before planning a potential clinical trial on people. If proven effective, the vaccine could be given to people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's but have not yet started forming amyloid plaques. Dr. Rosenberg keeps his expectations in check, noting the billions of dollars and multitude of studies that have so far yielded little advancement in treating Alzheimer's disease. "Finding answers to this disease will knock you down fast," said Dr. Rosenberg, who has worked at UT Southwestern for 44 years and holds the Abe (Brunky), Morris and William Zale Distinguished Chair in Neurology. "I've made a commitment to this place and to this research. I'm trying, and I'll keep going." Study collaborators include co-author Dr. Doris Lambracht-Washington, Instructor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Min Fu, Senior Research Associate. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio and Animal Resource Center in Dallas helped in the studies. The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Zale Foundation, the McCune Foundation, the Rudman Foundation, the Alliance of Women for Alzheimer's Research and Education, Presbyterian Village North Foundation; and Freiberger, Losinger, and Denker Family Funds. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year. This news release is available on our website at http://www. To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at http://www.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

DALLAS - May 23, 2017 - The number of motor vehicle fatalities involving children under age 15 varies widely by state, but occurrences are more common in the South, and are most often associated with improperly or unused restraints and crashes on rural roads, a new review of child-related auto fatalities shows. The study, conducted jointly by researchers at Harvard and UT Southwestern Medical Center, is the first to look at state-level trends in child fatalities involving motor vehicle crashes, and to account for differences in geography and state laws and regulations. Overall, about 16 percent of children involved in fatal wrecks died - 2,885 children total over the four-year review period from 2010 to 2014. The South proved deadliest: 1,550 children died in fatal wrecks; a mortality rate of 1.34 per 100,000 children per year. Safest was the Northeast, with 189 child fatalities and a mortality rate of 0.38 per 100,000 children per year. The Midwest had 585 child fatalities, a mortality rate of .89 per 100,000 children per year. The West had 561 child fatalities, a mortality rate of 0.76 per 100,000 children per year. The 2,885 child fatalities represented a mortality rate of 0.94 per 100,000 children per year. "Broadly what we found is that state laws and regulations, as well as consistent enforcement, were crucial factors in preventing childhood motor vehicles fatalities - evidenced by the wide variation in child fatalities by state," said Dr. Faisal Qureshi, Associate Professor of Surgery at UT Southwestern and a pediatric surgeon at Children's Health. "Our analysis also demonstrated that revising weak regulations and improving enforcement could have a substantial impact on saving lives. Improving proper use of restraints showed the most potential to prevent these deaths." Notably, analysis showed that a 10 percent increase in proper use of restraints such as seat belts and car seats would lower deaths by more than 230 children annually or more than 1,100 over five years - equal to nearly 40 percent of the deaths observed from 2010-2014. Researchers reviewed child fatalities for those 15 and under involved in 18,116 fatal crashes from 2010-2014 using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. More than 18,000 children were involved in fatality accidents during the four-year period, and about 16 percent of those (2,885 children) died. The research appears in the Journal of Pediatrics. States with the most child fatalities (over 100) were Texas (346); California (200); Florida (144); North Carolina (132); Georgia (130); and Alabama (125). States with the highest percentages of child deaths were Nebraska (30 percent); Iowa (27 percent); South Dakota and Wyoming (24 percent); Indiana and Alabama (23 percent); Mississippi and Idaho (22 percent); Virginia and Minnesota (21 percent); and New York, Kansas, North Dakota, and West Virginia (20 percent). States with the highest child mortality rates per 100,000 per year were Mississippi (3.23); Wyoming (3.06); Alabama (2.71); Montana (2.23); West Virginia (2.16); Oklahoma (2.02). States with the fewest deaths were Rhode Island (3); Alaska (4); Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont (5); Maine (7); and Hawaii (9). States with the lowest percentages of child deaths were New Hampshire (8 percent); New Jersey and Alaska (11 percent); Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio (12 percent). States with the lowest child mortality rate per 100,000 per year were Massachusetts (0.25); New York (0.29); New Jersey (0.32); Washington and Rhode Island (0.33); Connecticut (0.34); New Hampshire (0.48); and Alaska (0.50). UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.


PHOENIX & BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Boston Children’s Hospital and PetSmart Charities today announced that the Hospital received a $360,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, to support Pawprints, the Hospital’s 14-year-old animal assisted therapy program. The Pawprints program, now supported by PetSmart Charities, provides a welcome diversion from patients’ normal hospital routines, giving them and their families a sense of security and normalcy, a diminished sense of isolation, and an increased level of positive communication. With the help of this generous grant, the Hospital expects to double the number of dogs participating in the program from 17 to 34 to serve thousands of patients at three satellite locations in Peabody, Waltham and the Martha Eliot Health Center by 2019. The Hospital’s animal assisted therapy program was launched with the first Boston Children’s therapy dog, Stella, a mild-mannered yellow Labrador retriever, by her inaugural visit in 2003. Since then, there have been more than 12,000 patient visits by dozens of therapy dogs over the past 14 years. "We're so grateful for this generous support from PetSmart Charities," says Carola Cadley, vice president of Corporate Development & Special Events at Boston Children's Hospital Trust. "The emotional boost our Pawprints dog/handler teams give to our patients and their families is significant, and we're excited to now be able to extend these services to even more patients and families around our main hospital campus, while also introducing therapy dog visits to our satellite facilities!" Today, Pawprints pet/handler teams are selected through a careful screening process, including an interpersonal interview with the handler, an offsite behavioral evaluation, Occupational Health volunteer clearances, canine medical clearances and an on-site behavioral evaluation. In order to participate, each dog is required to be at least 2 years old, registered with a therapy dog organization, in good physical health, and current on all vaccinations, and to have a calm, consistent and obedient temperament to provide unconditional love to bedridden patients. It is patients like Julie Milunsky, now 21, who has been treated for most of her life at Boston Children’s for a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), who benefit from this program. Most recently, she was in the hospital for her uncontrollable shoulder dislocation. After an extensive surgical procedure, she was put into a half-body cast, minimizing her range of motion and her independence. Waiting for her after the procedure was a therapy dog from the Pawprints program to greet her in her hospital room. “It was so powerful for me because it took me out of my head, out of my anxiety and got me in the moment to realize that everything was going to be okay,” said Milunsky. “I got to focus on the dog for that moment, which ended up decreasing my pain and anxiety, both wins in my book. The Pawprints program also showed me that there are ways to interact with my own dogs at home despite my casts.” PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, recently expanded its mission to include finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. This new mission allows the organization to support animal welfare programs in more ways than ever before, and even reach other nonprofits, like Boston Children’s Hospital, that help connect people and pets. The new “Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Pets” grant category, open year-round for applications, supports programs that train pets to become service animals for military veterans or people with disabilities and for pet therapy programs at places such as hospitals, schools, and senior homes. “Boston Children’s Hospital has made tremendous strides to leverage the healing power of pets and provide unconditional love to its patients, families and staff through its long-standing Pawprints animal assisted therapy program,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., and president of PetSmart Charities. “With the help of this grant from PetSmart Charities, we are thrilled to help them expand the services and smiles that this program delivers in addition to the comfort for those who need it most.” For more information on PetSmart Charities, please visit PetSmartCharities.org. For more information on the Pawprints Animal Assisted Therapy Program, please visit ChildrensHospital.org. Boston Children’s Hospital, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center. Its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. Today, more than 2,630 scientists, including nine members of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 members of the National Academy of Medicine and 11 Howard Hughes Medical Investigators comprise Boston Children’s research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children’s is now a 415-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care. For more, visit our Vector and Thriving blogs and follow us on social media @BostonChildrens, @BCH_Innovation, Facebook and YouTube. PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization with a mission to find lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. In addition to finding homes for almost 500,000 shelter pets each year through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities provides funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission through four key areas of grant support: Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets; and Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the pin pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses 90 cents of every dollar donated and has become the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, donating about $300 million to date. PetSmart Charities, a 501(c)(3) organization, has received the Four Star Rating from Charity Navigator, an independent organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 14 years in a row -- placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org. Follow PetSmart Charities on Twitter: @PetSmartChariTs Find PetSmart Charities on Facebook: Facebook.com/PetSmartCharities See PetSmart Charities on YouTube: YouTube.com/PetSmartCharitiesInc


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

May 5, 2017 - UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified the cells that directly give rise to hair as well as the mechanism that causes hair to turn gray - findings that could one day help identify possible treatments for balding and hair graying. "Although this project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning why hair turns gray and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair," said Dr. Lu Le, Associate Professor of Dermatology with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. "With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems." The researchers found that a protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, in this case turns on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) that the researchers showed is essential for hair pigmentation. When they deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mouse models, the animal's hair turned white. When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald, according to the study. The findings are published online in Genes & Development. Dr. Le, who holds the Thomas L. Shields, M.D. Professorship in Dermatology, said he and his researchers serendipitously uncovered this explanation for balding and hair graying while studying a disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves. Scientists already knew that stem cells contained in a bulge area of hair follicles are involved in making hair and that SCF is important for pigmented cells, said Dr. Le, a member of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine. What they did not know in detail is what happens after those stem cells move down to the base, or bulb, of hair follicles and which cells in the hair follicles produce SCF - or that cells involved in hair shaft creation make the KROX20 protein, he said. If cells with functioning KROX20 and SCF are present, they move up from the bulb, interact with pigment-producing melanocyte cells, and grow into pigmented hairs. But without SCF, the hair in mouse models was gray, and then turned white with age, according to the study. Without KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew, the study said. UT Southwestern researchers will now try to find out if the KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, leading to the graying and hair thinning seen in older people - as well as in male pattern baldness, Dr. Le said. The research also could provide answers about why we age in general as hair graying and hair loss are among the first signs of aging. Other researchers include first author Dr. Chung-Ping Liao, Assistant Instructor; Dr. Sean Morrison, Professor and Director of the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and of Pediatrics, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children's Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics; and Reid Booker, a former UT Southwestern researcher. The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute, Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, National Institutes of Health, the Dermatology Foundation, the Children's Tumor Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.

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