Week of July 19 - 23, 2010

Genetic testing mix-up reignites debate over degree of federal regulation needed
The Washington Post
...Dozens of companies offer tests that claim to tell people everything from what foods they should eat to live longer and what cosmetics they should use to whether they are at risk for cancer, Alzheimer's and other ailments. Many think that genetic testing is key for the future of "personalized medicine," which tailors cures to people's genes. But few tests have undergone stringent scientific validation. ..."What one hears frequently is that simply knowledge of one's various risks is a 'road map to better health.' That is profoundly inaccurate and premature," said James Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "We have little, if any, evidence that the provision of such information actually results in better health."

Study: Why IVF Is Linked with Cancer Risk
...University of North Carolina epidemiologist Andrew Olshan agrees that unknown factors relating to underlying infertility may well be contributing to many health conditions in children, but that it is very difficult to tease these factors out in a large enough study. Olshan says the Swedish study is a good one, but it is unlikely to be a game changer in the world of pediatric cancers.

Mission Hospital doctor publishes ADHD study in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
The Citizen-Times (Asheville)
A study published by Dr. Adrian Sandler has been generating quite a stir in the medical community. The study published in the June 14 edition of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can do just as well on half their medication. ...“I've been getting a lot of calls and e-mails,” said Sandler, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and the medical director of the Olson Huff Center for Child Development at Mission Children's Hospital, who conducted the research with James Bodfish, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and study coordinator Corrine Glesne.

UNC researcher discusses new pancreatic cancer study
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
For 40 years, the odds of survival haven't improved for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Only 25 percent of patients live beyond the first year. Surgery is the only chance for a cure, but the risk of complications is high. ...Since some patients, such as Matteson, survive well beyond the median two years, UNC researchers wondered if certain tumors were biologically different. Cancer surgeon Dr. Jen Jen Yeh was senior author of a multi-state study that identified a six-gene signature associated with late stage tumors.

2 UNC Medical students win research fellowships
The Chapel Hill News
Two students in UNC's School of Medicine have been named 2010-2011 Medical Research Fellows by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The students are Kerry Colby, a native of Wilmington, and Jordan Kemere, who grew up in Richardson, Texas. The HHMI Medical Research Fellowships program allows medical, dental, and veterinary students to pursue biomedical research at a laboratory anywhere in the United States except the NIH campus in Bethesda. Each student submits a research plan to work in a specific lab with a mentor they have identified. Since 1989, about 1,200 students have participated.
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Adventure through nowhere
The Daily Record (Hickory)
Charles LePrevost is accustomed to being in the middle of nowhere. He's on a cross-country bicycle ride, and the northern route his group is taking puts them in some out-of-the-way places. The Cycle 20Ten Tour left Aberdeen, Md., on June 14. The 15-member group dipped the rear wheels of their bikes in the Atlantic Ocean before departing. ...The group is raising money for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. That's where LePrevost is a rising senior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
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TEACCH, UNC autism program, restructured
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
An internationally known autism program at UNC-Chapel Hill has been restructured, the latest move in a series of changes. TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children) has been moved from the university's medical school dean's office to a new home within the Area Health Education Centers.
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Dementia not one size fits all
The News Tribune (LaSalle, Ill.)
Teepa Snow remembers the difficulty of providing day care for her family members who had late stages of dementia. Whether it was one family member spitting chewing tobacco on the floor or them forgetting who she was, the experiences she learned at a young age helped. ...Snow has more than 28 years of experience in geriatrics. She is an occupation therapist working as a dementia care and education specialist. She has clinical appointments with Duke University’s School of Nursing and UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, and is nationally recognized for her expertise in geriatrics, dementia care and individual care.

UNC study helps parents face children's obesity

The Chapel Hill News
Some simple interventions used by pediatricians were enough to change a parent's perspective about a child's being overweight or obese, and change the parent's behaviors at home to reduce those risks. According to a study performed in North Carolina Children's Hospital, researchers confirmed previous reports that parents of overweight or obese children do not recognize their child's weight problem. But this time, by arming pediatricians with a "toolkit," an easily used chart and a series of questions and suggestions, the researchers addressed several problems.

Consumer gene test results misleading: U.S. probe
Reuters (Wire Service)
People who send off their saliva to genetic testing companies to find out their risk for prostate cancer or diabetes are likely to get different results, depending on the company they choose, government investigators told lawmakers on Thursday. ...But Dr. James Evans of the University of North Carolina, who advised the GAO, told the panel they are of little use to consumers. "No one knows how to interpret these data. That is quite clear," he said.
Gene-Test Services Mislead Public, U.S. Government Report Says
Bloomberg News
Four gene-testing companies are misleading U.S. consumers by providing unclear or conflicting information on the risk of disease, according to a government investigator who sampled the services on the Internet. ...While genetic knowledge is rapidly evolving, the ability to accurately predict disease risk from most gene tests is still in its infancy, said James Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Genetics test sellers come under fire
The Union-Tribune (San Diego, Calif.)
A federal investigation of San Diego-based Pathway Genomics and three other sellers of genetic tests to consumers revealed they offer conflicting advice on disease risk, make exaggerated claims in their marketing material and provide questionable information to customers that, in some cases, appears to violate laws. ... The tests, which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, have little medical value and could lead to serious harm if misinterpreted, said Dr. James Evans  , a University of North Carolina geneticist and editor in chief of the medical journal Genetics in Medicine. “What does this tell you about the risk of disease? Absolutely nothing,” he said. “No one knows how to interpret this data.”

N.C. growth brings more tick-borne illnesses
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Tick diseases are on the rise in North Carolina, in part because suburban development continues to encroach into tick habitats, according to a public health educator at UNC-Chapel Hill. Marcia Herman-Giddens, an adjunct professor of maternal and child health at the Gillings School of Global and Public Health at UNC-CH, said cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever grew from 78 to 515 statewide between 2000 and 2008.
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As GSK’s Avandia sales slide, competitors work to fill gap
The Triangle Business Journal
...Dr. John Buse, professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and former president of the American Diabetes Association, says studies have shown that Actos can increase fluid retention, contributing to heart failure. But he says Actos has not been tied with fatal heart failure as has Avandia. And he says studies show Actos actually could have heart benefit, such as lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.

Birth, rebirth at UNC Hospitals
The Chapel Hill Herald
Sheri Foster was born at UNC Hospitals in 1957, but it was the liver transplant that Dennis, her husband of 30 years, received there in May 2010 that solidified Chapel Hill as a special place in her heart. "I was born when my Dad was doing his psychiatric residency, and we say Dennis was reborn with the liver transplant," said Sheri, 52, of Morehead City. "That both of these life-giving events happened here makes Chapel Hill a very special place in our lives."

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