Oct. 4 - 8, 2010

Hundreds of Genes May Influence Your Height
HealthDay News
Height is determined not by a single "short" or "tall" gene but by many genes working in concert, says an international team of scientists that has identified hundreds of height-influencing genes. "While we haven't explained all of the heritability of height with this study, we have confidence that these genes play a role in height and now can begin to learn about the pathways in which these genes play a role," study co-author Dr. Karen L. Mohlke, an associate professor of genetics in the University of North Carolina's school of medicine, explained in a news release.

UNC researchers get $3M in grants
The Triangle Business Journal
UNC scientists have received more than $3 million in grants to study genes that contribute to cancer, breast cancer stem cells and post-traumatic stress disorder. Ben Major, an assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, has been awarded $1.5 million to identify the genes that contribute to specific cellular and disease processes, such as cancer. The grant was one of 33 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Awards, among the NIH’s most prestigious grants.
Researcher wins NIH innovator prize
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Ben Major, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at UNC Chapel Hill, has been awarded one of 33 National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Awards, one of the NIH's most prestigious grants. The $1.5 million grant will fund his work to address a significant medical science challenge: identifying the full complement of genes that functionally contribute to specific cellular and disease processes such as cancer.

No surgical sponge left behind
The Los Angeles Times
...Now, however, a way to keep track of sponges -- square, cotton sheets that are typically 4-by-4 inches or 12-by-12 inches --  is under development. Researchers reported Tuesday that they can flag sponges with radio frequency tags or bar codes. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Christopher C. Rupp, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reviewed 2,961 cases in which sponges with radio frequency tags were used and found the technology helped to recover 21 missing sponges.

Sensors in Surgical Sponges May Mean Fewer Left Behind
HealthDay News
Placing radio-frequency tags inside surgical sponges could help reduce the number left behind in patients after operations, according to U.S. researchers. The tags -- which use the same technology as clothing store tags and pet microchips -- could be used along with manual counting and X-ray detection to improve patient safety, said the surgeons at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Chapel Hill Researcher Fights Demotion After Security Breach
The Chronicle of Higher Education
A prominent cancer researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is fighting the university's decision to demote her and cut her pay in half after a security breach in a medical study she directs was discovered.
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UNC pharmacologists awarded funding from the Department of Defense
The Chapel Hill Herald
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have received more than $1.6 million in research awards from the Department of Defense to fund two separate studies, one on post-traumatic stress syndrome and the other on breast cancer stem cells.

Liquidia begins testing flu vaccine
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Liquidia Technologies has started early clinical testing of its first vaccine developed using nanotechnology. The Durham company, which has raised $25 million in financing this year, is testing a seasonal flu vaccine aimed at adults over age 65. Liquidia is also developing cancer treatments and other products based on the nanotechnology research of founder Joseph DeSimone, a chemist at N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Gene therapy gives clue to treatment
United Press International
A first clinical trial to replace a genetic defect in patients with muscular dystrophy has yielded an unexpected and encouraging result, U.S. researchers say. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine researchers have made a discovery about a muscle protein called dystrophin, an essential protein that is deficient in those suffering the disease, a university release said.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Surgeons Get Help Counting Sponges (Blog)
National Public Radio
Surgery is tough enough even when everything goes perfectly. But if the surgeon leaves something inside you, well, that's just plain bad. ...At a separate presentation at the same surgery meeting, a group from the University of North Carolina showed how radio tags helped medical personnel find stray sponges.

Fire Safety/Operation Save A Life
Ernest Grant from the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center talks about fire safety and Operation Save a Life.

Unexpected Finding from Gene Trial Provides DMD Clues

Study co-author R. Jude Samulski, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, also put a positive spin on the findings in a phone interview with MedPage Today. "The Duchenne community is always looking for, what does this mean for my kid? That take-home message should be very loud and clear: we have a better understanding of the disease," he said.

UNC researchers get glimpse into muscle disorder
About 10 years ago, researchers at UNC began looking at a way to replace a genetic defect in patients with the disease. It involves the protein dystrophin, which helps stabilize muscle cells. “If the dystrophin is missing, then the muscle cells become very fragile, very unstable. It gets damaged all the time,” said Xiao Xiao, a UNC professor in gene therapy.

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