Health and Science news briefs


Staff Reports



As kids’ weight climbs, power of healthy fat supplements drops. Study highlights need to consider weight-based dosing recommendations, researchers say.

COLUMBUS – Body weight plays a significant role in how much benefit children may get from consuming “good” fats, new research suggests.

The researchers compared fatty acid uptake after kids took a supplement to both overall body weight and body-mass index. The more a child weighed, the smaller the measurement was of two key omega-3 fatty acids in their bloodstream. And the higher the BMI category, the lower the levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

The study provides important information to parents trying to ensure their kids get an appropriate amount of omega-3 fatty acids and also highlights the need for weight-appropriate dosing of supplements and medications, say researchers from The Ohio State University. Their study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

Most of the science behind omega-3 benefits has concentrated on adults, infants and small children. But a growing body of research is looking at their role in the health of older children. In particular, omega-3 consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in children 8 to 15 years old.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in foods including salmon, walnuts and soybeans. Parents looking to feed their children more of these foods should be mindful that as they gain weight they’ll need more of them to make a difference, said lead author Lisa Christian, an associate professor of psychiatry in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

“While this study just looked at fatty acid supplements, it’s important to recognize that weight differences could factor into how children and adults respond to many types of medications,” Christian said.

“Weight, rather than age, may be more meaningful when determining recommended doses. The difference in size between a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old can be quite significant,” she said.

The data comes from a trial conducted by Mary Fristad, professor of psychiatry, psychology and nutrition, and Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral health. Their work looked at fatty-acid supplementation in 64 children with mood disorders. The 7- to 14-year-old children took either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who took the supplement received 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of four capsules daily.

“We have a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for physical and mental health. This paper gives us more information about an important question about taking omega-3 supplements — how much is a good amount,” Fristad said of the new study.

Given fluctuations in BMI percentile measures as children grow, it would seem to make the most sense to base dosing on weight alone, Christian said.

The study also points to a need to consider weight-related differences in all studies of omega-3 intake in adults and children, the researchers wrote in their study.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study were Amanda Mitchell, Martha Belury and Barbara Gracious. Andrea Young of Johns Hopkins University also contributed.

Written by Misti Crane

Meijer Pharmacy Offers Tips on Minimizing Seasonal Allergies. The key is treating symptoms before they escalate.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The return of warmer weather brings blooming flowers, fresh grass, and sunshine, which means itchy eyes, sneezing and wheezing for seasonal allergy sufferers. As respiratory problems for an estimated 50 million people worsen, Meijer pharmacy experts are sharing tips to ease reactions to allergens and help everyone breathe a little easier.

“Whether it’s pollen from flowers and trees or environmental factors like mold and dust affecting allergy sufferers, the important thing is to minimize or treat the symptoms before they begin to escalate,” said Karen Mankowski, Vice President of Pharmacy Operations for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. “Too often we wait until the symptoms hit to start thinking about seasonal allergies.”

Mankowski said it’s vital to make sure any allergies are diagnosed by a medical professional to better understand the cause before treating symptoms. Symptoms often include sneezing, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, itchy throat, or a combination. Once diagnosed, there are several options to consider to reduce the effects. Meijer pharmacists share information about these options:

  • Antihistamines: Can be taken by mouth or as a nasal spray, relieving sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They also reduce runny nose and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory medicines can reduce all symptoms when taken regularly, and can help block allergic reactions. They are widely considered to be the most effective medication for allergic rhinitis. Combining an antihistamine with a corticosteroid appears to be more effective than either of the nasal sprays alone.
  • Decongestants: Intended for short-term use, oral and nasal decongestants help decrease swelling of the nasal passages, relieving nasal stuffiness.
  • Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists: Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists, such as the prescription drug montelukast (Singulair®), block the action of leukotrienes – the chemical messengers involved in allergic reactions – when taken daily.
  • Cromolyn Sodium: Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. The drug causes few side effects, but must be taken regularly four times a day.
  • Natural remedies include neti pots, saline spray, honey, herbs (spirulina, eyebright and goldenseal), steam showers, spicy foods, tea and eucalyptus oil.

Mankowski said before any over-the-counter antihistamines or allergy relief products are taken, patients need to ensure the allergies aren’t something more severe. Some people also struggle with asthma that’s either hereditary or caused by environmental factors. Even a cold can be mistaken for allergies as they have similar symptoms and duration.

Since respiratory problems are initially caused by pollen and dust in the air, one preventive measure is dusting, vacuuming and circulating clean air as much as possible. Other tips to consider include removing carpeting, not sleeping with pets and performing a deep wash of clothes, living surfaces and toys to remove dust mites that have remained stagnant all winter long.

“Being educated about allergies is the best way to manage through the season,” Mankowski said. “If you feel your allergies flaring up, see your Meijer pharmacist today about how you can beat them before the symptoms get out of hand.”

About Meijer: Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates more than 230 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. A privately-owned and family-operated company since 1934, Meijer pioneered the “one-stop shopping” concept and has evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive apparel departments, pet departments, garden centers, toys and electronics. For additional information on Meijer, please visit www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.

Autism Month – Study Finds Solution For Weight Gain in Children with Autism

Autism Awareness Month is here (April) a nationwide movement dedicated to promoting awareness and acceptance for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Tens of thousands of people face an autism diagnosis each year. Not only do behavior, communication, sensory and social difficulties exist for those affected, but there are links between children with autism and obesity.

In fact, 30 percent of teens and 60 percent of preschoolers with autism are more likely to be obese, due to the side effects of medication taken to treat the disorder. “Those drugs have been shown to cause intense craving for food and, ultimately, weight gain,” said Michael Aman, PhD, director of research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center.

A recent study shows hope for a cure. The drug metformin used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes is proving effective in helping to control weight gain in children with autism spectrum disorder. In just two months, the patients lost weight, appeared more fit and their appetites were much more manageable.

Many patients are prescribed medications at a very early age to help control their irritability and agitation – meaning they likely face decades of dealing with weight gain and other side effects that come with the medications. “If we can use an existing drug that’s been proven safe and effective for decades to help control those issues, that would make a big difference for a lot of families,” said Aman.

Harms of nighttime light exposure passed to offspring. Hamster study finds evidence of immune, endocrine problems.

COLUMBUS – Animals can pass the damaging effects of nighttime light exposure to their offspring, a new study has found, adding to a growing body of evidence that there’s a health cost to our increasingly illuminated nights.

Hamster pups are born with weakened immune systems and impaired endocrine activity when their parents don’t receive a natural mix of daylight and darkness prior to mating, found researchers at The Ohio State University.

“This suggests that circadian disruptions can have long-ranging effects in offspring and that’s concerning,” said lead author Yasmine Cisse, a graduate student in neuroscience at Ohio State. The study appears in Scientific Reports.

Previous human and animal studies have linked a variety of health problems, including cancer and diabetes, to dim-light exposure during naturally dark hours. And that science has prompted concerns about the prevalent use of computers, tablets, televisions and phones late into the evening hours.

“Now, we’re seeing for the first time in these hamsters that it’s possible this damage isn’t just being done to the affected individuals, but to their offspring as well,” said senior study author Randy Nelson, professor and chair of neuroscience at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

Going into the study, the research team knew from prior studies that endocrine disruption caused by stressors in adult mice can lead to physiological and behavioral changes in their offspring. And they knew from their previous work that animals exposed to light at night experience wide-ranging changes in their own endocrine and immune systems.

This research aimed to determine whether parents were passing along possible modifications in genetic messaging, known as epigenetic changes.

Researchers exposed adult hamsters of both sexes to either a standard light day/dark night cycle or to dim light at night for nine weeks. Then the hamsters were mated in four groups (mothers or fathers with dim-light exposure, both parents with exposure to light at night and both parents with standard light exposure.)

After mating, the entire group lived under standard light conditions.

The hamsters’ offspring were then reared in standard light day/dark night conditions. The researchers ran a series of tests on the offspring to determine if their parents’ light exposure prior to mating made any difference.

Cisse and her colleagues found evidence that the dim light exposure had various repercussions for offspring, and that fathers and mothers independently appeared to pass along genetic instructions that impaired immune response and decreased endocrine activity. In addition, some of the effects were seen only in female offspring or only in male offspring.

In hamsters with parents that were exposed to light at night, researchers saw a decreased immune response when exposed to a foreign substance, changes in genetic activity in the spleen and potential damages to the endocrine system.

Nelson said it’s especially important to note that the negative changes seen in the pups were traced to both parents.

“These weren’t problems that developed in utero. They came from the sperm and the egg,” he said. “It’s much more common to see epigenetic effects from the mothers, but we saw changes passed on from the fathers as well.”

It is well-understood that well-being in animals and people depends on healthy sleep/wake cycles. To isolate the effects of dim light at night from effects of sleep duration, the Ohio State researchers work with naturally nocturnal Siberian hamsters.

Nelson and Cisse said this new study, taken with previous work on light exposure at night, should prompt more thought about how to keep our nights dark.

“I think people are beginning to accept that light pollution is serious pollution and it has health consequences that are pretty pronounced – an increase in cancers, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and anxiety disorders,” Nelson said.

“We should be concerned about the increasing exposures to light at night from our tablets and phones and TVs.”

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation. Kathryn Russart, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State, also contributed to the study.

— Written by Misti Crane

New Research Investigates Strawberries to Fight Oral Cancer in Heavy Smokers

Can cigarette smoke and the saliva of heavy smokers influence the metabolism of cancer-inhibiting chemicals found in strawberries and expression of genes associated with oral cancer risk?

A new pilot study conducted at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) hypothesized that they can, and initial data reveals some intriguing differences in the oral microenvironment of smokers versus non-smokers.

Researchers will report their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C, Tuesday, April 4.

Study Design and Results

For this study, a multidisciplinary team made up of experts in functional foods, oncology, and public health conducted an early phase clinical trial to establish the differences in salivary enzyme activities on the phytochemical components of strawberries between smokers and non-smokers. Researchers also analyzed the expression of a select group of genes associated smoking and increased risk of oral cancer.

Strawberries were administered using a novel confection designed to enhance delivery in the oral cavity to phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, the family of purple and red pigments found in fruits and vegetables.

Previous laboratory studies suggest that dietary administration of whole strawberries has substantial potential as a strategy for oral and esophageal cancer prevention.

“When people eat strawberries, they chew and swallow the fruit quickly. We wanted to develop a method of increasing exposure in the mouth to the beneficial phytochemicals that have linked with oral cancer prevention, and look for potential differences in that way the salivary enzymes in smokers versus non-smokers metabolize them.” explains study first author Jennifer Ahn-Jarvis, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in The Ohio State Colleges of Dentistry.

To do this, Ahn-Jarvis and team designed a pilot clinical trial to analyzed the effects of an Ohio State-developed strawberry confection – a small candy with the nutritional equivalent of 2 ½ cups of whole strawberries – in a group of heavy smokers compared with an equal group of never-smokers.

Study participants were asked to consume the strawberry confection or a placebo four times a day for one week and follow a diet absent of other red and purple fruits and vegetables.

The team then collected saliva and tissue samples from inside the mouth to measure levels and activities of salivary enzymes that metabolize strawberry phytochemicals and the expression of a select panel of 44 genes associated with cigarette smoke and oral cancer risk, respectively.

Researchers observed significant differences between smokers and non-smokers in salivary enzyme activity and strawberry metabolites in the mouth following administration of the strawberry confection. They also validated seven genes (ALOX12B, CD207, HTR3A, KRT10, LOR, PNLIPRP3, TRNP1) independently associated with smokers versus non-smokers. The combination effect of smoking/strawberry exposure on oral cancer risk and its relation to gene expression remains unclear, and is currently under investigation.

“This initial data confirmed that something is very different about the oral environment of smokers which may ultimate influence not only cancer risk but also the potential effectiveness of food-based cancer prevention strategies,” adds Ahn-Jarvis. “Successful development and use of our novel confection delivery system paves the way for its use in a larger study, which will allow us to more precisely evaluate the effects of smoking and strawberries on molecular endpoints related to oral cancer development.”

Additional analysis of study data is underway to determine if there is a correlation between oral exposure time to anthocyanins and reduced oral cancer risk among smokers. Studies are also ongoing to identify strawberry modulated genes in the oral cavity of smokers which may influence the development of oral cancer.

This study was supported in part by the OSUCCC and Pelotonia. Study collaborators include: Thomas J. Knobloch, PhD, Steve Oghumu, PhD, Ken M. Riedl, PhD, Guy Brock, PhD, Steven K. Clinton, MD, PhD, Yael Vodovotz, PhD, Steven J. Schwartz, PhD, Christopher M. Weghorst, PhD.

About the OSUCCC – James

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only a few centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs sponsored by the NCI. As the cancer program’s 308-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. At 21 floors and with more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. Learn more at cancer.osu.edu.

The Final Four Things You Need To Know To Prevent Knee Issues

After nearly a month of duking it out on the court, the strain athletes put on their bodies could lead to an unwanted knee injury. But in the same way that star players can hurt their meniscus, you can too.

Below are ways you can unintentionally score this common knee injury in your everyday life:

  • College Athlete: Quickly twisting, turning and changing directions on the basketball court; Squatting and jumping to shoot a basketball from half-court; Lifting heavy weights before the game or in practice

  • Average Person: Quickly twisting, turning and changing directions to chase your kids through the sports venue; Squatting and jumping in excitement to cheer on your favorite college basketball team; Lifting a large flat-screen TV and moving furniture to host a tournament watch party

So here’s the game plan for treatment. A new study by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that both star athletes and the average person can have surgery to successfully fix a torn meniscus – even heavier patients.

After following 400 patients for more than two years, researchers found that there was no difference in success rates of meniscal repair for people with a BMI lower than 25 when compared to those with a BMI higher than 25.

“This tells us that surgeons should not consider weight as a factor when deciding if a patient is a good candidate for meniscal repair surgery,” said Dr. David Flanigan, lead author of the study and orthopedic surgeon at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “If a meniscus is repairable and surgery is appropriate for that patient, you can do the surgery and they would have the same success as someone who is not as heavy.”

Rock exposed in World War I trenches offers new fossil find. Sea lily ancestors spent youth hitchhiking around ancient oceans, discovery suggests.

An unusual fossil find is giving scientists new ideas about how some of the earliest animals on Earth came to dominate the world’s oceans.

An international research team found 425-million-year-old fossilized remnants of juvenile crinoids, a distant ancestor of today’s sea lilies, encased in iron oxide and limestone in the Austrian Alps.

Researchers collected the rock from a formation on the border between Italy and Austria known as the Cardiola Formation, which was exposed in trenches dug during World War I.

Crinoids were abundant long ago, when they carpeted the sea floor. Most stalked crinoid fossils depict spindly, plantlike animals anchored to sea floor rocks, explained William Ausich, professor of earth sciences at The Ohio State University and co-author of the study in the open-access journal Geologica Acta.

Fossils of juvenile crinoids are rare, he said.

Rarer still is that these newly uncovered crinoids weren’t attached to rocks when they died. Whatever they were attached to during their young lives didn’t survive fossilization.

“The fossils indicate that they were either attached to objects floating in the water at the time, or attached to another bottom dweller that lacked preservable hard parts,” said Ausich said.

They might have clung to free-floating algae beds or swimming cephalopods, either of which could have carried them far away from where they formed as larvae.

Modern sea lilies reproduce by ejecting sperm and eggs into the water. Larvae grow into free-floating juvenile animals and eventually attach to the ocean bottom, where they grow to adulthood within 18 months.

At least, that’s what sea lilies do today. This fossil find suggests that their distant ancestors sometimes settled on objects that carried them far from home before they reached reproductive age.

“We now have important information about the behavior of these ancient organisms, and a clue as to why they had such a wide geographic distribution,” Ausich said.

With long, stem-like bodies topped with feathery fronds, crinoids resembled flowers, though the center of the “flower” was a mouth, and the “petals” were arms that captured plankton for food. At the other end of the creature was star-shaped organ called a holdfast, which gripped the seafloor.

While some of today’s sea lilies are able to detach their holdfasts from the seafloor and walk short distances on their arms, they don’t do it often. If their crinoid ancestors spent their entire adult lives similarly anchored to one spot, they couldn’t have spread worldwide without help.

Fossilized holdfasts are all that remain of the young crinoids uncovered in the Alps, and that’s not unusual, Ausich said.

“The hard part about studying the fossils that I study is that they need to be buried alive in order to be completely preserved,” he explained. “Crinoids and other echinoderms have a skeleton comprised of innumerable individual calcite plates held together by various connective soft tissues. These tissues begin to decompose within a day of an organism’s death.

“So, having only parts [of crinoids] rather than whole organisms is actually the norm—as frustrating as that may be.”

The sediment that eventually covered these young crinoids must have been rich in iron, because the holdfasts were preserved as minerals of iron oxide—and that detail is unusual, he added.

Today, the fossil holdfasts look like rusty star-shaped rings. The stars measure only 1 to 4 millimeters across, meaning they came from very young, post-larval juveniles.

The tiny fossils might have been hard to isolate from the surrounding rock, but researchers were able to take advantage of the presence of iron oxide to dissolve the limestone and pull the fossils from the resulting slurry with a magnet.

Researchers had actually collected rock samples from the Cardiola Formation long ago, Ausich said. The area contains abundant fossils, including ancient corals and trilobites. But only recently did anyone discover that these particular rock samples also contained the crinoid holdfasts.

Researchers are interested in crinoids not just because they’re part of Earth’s history, but because the various crinoid species were able to survive millions of years of climate changes to become the sea lilies we know today.

Co-authors on the study are from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and University of Cagliari, both in Italy, and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. This work was funded in part by the University of Modena, the United Nations International Geoscience Programmeand the National Science Foundation.

Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI) Projects Share Promising Progress

COLUMBUS – Researchers involved in the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI) continue to get results in their quest to reduce and prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their impacts on Ohio. This includes details on how algae move in the water near water treatment plant intakes, working with communities to develop practices that reduce phosphorus runoff, and building customized solutions to algal problems for municipal water reservoirs.

Updates from a number of HABRI projects are available in the Winter 2017 issue of Ohio Sea Grant’s Twine Line magazine, available at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/products/twineline, and on the HABRI website at go.osu.edu/habri.

“These harmful algal bloom projects go a long way toward understanding bloom movement and toxicity, potential impacts on human health and improving the ways in which we treat drinking water. They are also addressing state agency priorities,” said Dr. Christopher Winslow, Ohio Sea Grant director.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman at the University of Toledo has been studying how algae, including the cyanobacteria that cause HABs, move through the water column over the course of a day. Details on where in the water algae are likely to be located can help water treatment plants better prepare for and reduce the amount of algae they’re taking into the system, potentially saving money on water treatment costs.

At The Ohio State University, Dr. Margaret Kalcic is leading a multi-university team of modeling experts to evaluate how changes in agriculture and other land management practices – timing and amount of fertilizer application, growing cover crops, and restoring wetlands, for example – are likely to affect water quality. The researchers are also using the models to see which of these changes are likely to lead to the 40% reduction in phosphorus runoff targeted by a number of policy initiatives.

And at the University of Akron, Drs. Teresa Cutright and Donald Ott are creating tailored solutions to water treatment goals for a number of Ohio reservoirs, helping them balance algae removal with avoiding toxin release from dead algal cells to better manage drinking water for their customers.

Information about HABRI projects, as well as partner organizations and background on the initiative is available on the Ohio Sea Grant website at go.osu.edu/habri. HABRI is overseen by The Ohio State University and the University of Toledo, with Ohio Sea Grant providing proposal coordination and ongoing project management.

Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.

In honor of Lynch Syndrome Awareness Day today (March 22).

A recent study published in JAMA Oncology from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center shows there’s a hidden genetic factor to many colorectal cancer diagnoses that most patients don’t even realize they have – it’s called Lynch syndrome.

Those with Lynch syndrome carry an eighty-five percent risk of contracting colon cancer as well as a higher than average risk for endometrial, stomach, pancreas, stomach or other cancers during their lifetime.

While it’s not a rare condition, Lynch syndrome is an extremely under diagnosed one, but researchers estimate hundreds of lives could be saved through early detection.

“One of the keys to beating many types of cancer is catching it early, and the best way to do that is to know a patient’s risk so we can monitor them closely and treat them at the first sign of trouble,” said Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, principal investigator of Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative and licensed genetic counselor at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Energy partnership to support Ohio State’s sustainability and academic mission. Unprecedented program to improve energy efficiency, invest in teaching and research.

COLUMBUS — At the April 7 Board of Trustees meeting, The Ohio State University will consider a public-private partnership to become an international leader in sustainability and provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research.

The Comprehensive Energy Management Project promises to modernize the university’s 485-building Columbus campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization.

The total value of $1.165 billion includes a $1.015 billion upfront payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process. This would be the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission.

ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure (ENGIE-Axium) are world leaders in energy services and sustainability. The two companies formed a new consortium to combine their expertise for this project and provided the strongest proposal. Detailed reviews and scoring of the finalists were conducted by groups composed of students, faculty and staff from the university.

“This partnership would position us as an international leader in energy and sustainability and further strengthen Ohio State as a national flagship public research university,” said President Michael V. Drake.

Initially, the proceeds of the upfront payment would be invested in Ohio State’s endowment, dedicated to priorities being finalized in the university’s strategic plan. These areas of investment include the following:

· Student financial aid to support access, affordability and excellence

· Compensation enhancements for faculty and staff to support competitiveness with academic peers; a portion of this will be tied to improvements in teaching effectiveness

· Classrooms, research labs and performance and arts spaces across disciplines (in combination with other sources of funding)

· A fund to enhance sustainability efforts

· Other strategic initiatives

The proposal includes a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization. The center would create a hub where faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts work together on the next generation of smart energy systems, renewable energy and green mobility solutions.

“In total these enhancements would position Ohio State to take immediate and substantial steps forward in faculty excellence, quality of our physical space and as a hub of research on energy and sustainability,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Bruce A. McPheron.

“Within 10 years, conservation measures would improve our energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing our carbon footprint.”

ENGIE-Axium would provide additional and significant capital funding to accomplish this energy efficiency goal.

Representative groups from the university community evaluated either the academic collaboration, technical or human resources components of the final bids. A fourth group of senior staff evaluated the financial components separately. The groups worked in parallel. Each concluded independently that ENGIE-Axium was the strongest bidder.

ENGIE-Axium would offer employment to all eligible Ohio State utility workers. Those who prefer instead to remain employees of the university would be offered alternative positions at Ohio State at their current compensation levels.

Researchers find way to help young men with rare disease live longer

Young patients with a rare genetic disorder have new hope for a longer life thanks to innovative researchers who discovered that a drug – typically used to treat heart failure – can serve a second purpose for a population who may need it the most.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disorder that predominantly affects males. Because their bodies lack a protein that keeps muscle cells intact, skeletal and heart muscles rapidly degenerate and weaken. Most patients develop heart or respiratory failure and live only until their 20s or 30s.

Recognizing that the heart is a muscle, too, and susceptible to the same degeneration as other parts of the body, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center examined a sensitive measurement of heart function, known as strain, which becomes abnormal long before symptoms or other signs of heart disease appear.

The results of their study, recently published in Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, show that early treatment with eplerenone, a drug used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure, can improve heart function in young boys with DMD and stabilize heart function in older boys with the disease.

“Recognizing that cardiopulmonary failure remains the leading cause of death in this disease, this tells us we should strongly consider early use of this medication in boys with DMD in order to gain the greatest cardiac benefit,” said Dr. Subha Raman, a cardiologist and professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and lead author on the study.

11 Additional Ohio State Cancer Research Projects Underway With Pelotonia Funding

COLUMBUS – Eleven breakthrough cancer research ideas have received funding from Pelotonia, the annual cycling movement that has raised more than $130 million for cancer research efforts at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

The 2017 Pelotonia Idea Grants Program projects range from understanding the protective effects of female hormones against melanoma and helping breast cancer patients navigate treatment choices to identifying new genes linked to prostate cancer and understanding the role of specific genetic mutations in an aggressive form of leukemia.

In the past seven years, more than 100 OSUCCC – James research teams have received Pelotonia Idea Grants, which provide funding support for two years. Awardees are selected through a peer-review process conducted by both internal and external scientists not competing for grants in the current funding year. A total of $1.08 million will be awarded for this latest round of Pelotonia Idea Grants, with $10 million in funding awarded since the program’s inception. This represents the work of investigators across eight colleges plus Nationwide Children’s Hospital as well as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“Pelotonia has provided a tremendous opportunity for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC) to accelerate our research efforts. With the dollars generated through Pelotonia, we have funded more than 100 innovative new idea grants, three statewide cancer research initiatives (colon, lung and endometrial cancer), launched early-stage drug development efforts through our embedded biotech enterprise (the Drug Development Institute), brought digital pathology to Columbus and provided more than 400 scholarships to students with an interest in cancer,” says Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. “Thanks to our community’s effort, we are able to continue funding some of the boldest new ideas put forth by top scientific minds, including those from the next generation of oncology researchers.”

Pelotonia 17 will take place Aug. 4 – 6. For more information or to register, visit pelotonia.org.

“It is an honor for our community of riders and donors to be able to invest in brilliant ideas that advance cancer research and ultimately save lives for those affected by a disease that has touched so many of us personally,” adds Doug Ulman, president and CEO of Pelotonia. “We are excited to continue working with our growing Pelotonia movement toward our shared goal of ending cancer.”

Summaries of winter Pelotonia Idea grant projects follow here:

Understanding Potential Protective Effect of Female Hormones in Melanoma

Investigator: Craig Burd, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences (Molecular Genetics), OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Research Program

Research shows that men are more susceptible to melanoma than women and more frequently die of the disease. While sex-specific incidence and mortality rates are well established, molecular mechanisms to explain these observations are not fully understood. Melanoma often arises from moles that harbor cancer-promoting mutations (oncogenes) such as BRAF and NRAS. Although the majority of moles with these properties do not transform into cancer, some do and this progression to cancer is thought to be linked to a secondary genetic hit that occurs due to ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. Growing scientific data also suggests that the hormone estrogen has a protective effect against melanoma in women. In this study, researchers will assess the role of a certain form of the estrogen receptor in melanoma onset and progression to help identify estrogen-dependent gene targets that protect against melanoma.

Genomic Drivers of Race Disparity in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Investigator: Ramesh Ganju, PhD, College of Medicine (Pathology), OSUCCC – James Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Research Program

Among all the breast cancer subtypes, triple-negative breast cancer has a high rate of mortality due to a lack of clinically established biomarkers and effective targeted therapy. Population-based studies also point to clear evidence of racial disparities, including younger age, higher incidence rates and aggressiveness of triple-negative breast cancer at diagnosis and poor survival among black women compared with white women. A more robust understanding on the molecular mechanisms behind this phenomenon is needed to develop more effective treatments. This study will further investigate whether a specific gene (S100A7) – which has been shown to increase inflammation – also has a role in growth and metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer. The overall objective of the study is to understand specific molecular crosstalk between numerous genetic pathways and inflammatory markers, and how that interaction influences cancer development and spread.

Therapy to Restore Breathing, Swallowing in HPV+ Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Investigator: Loni Arrese, PhD, College of Medicine (Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery), Cancer Control Research Program

Head and neck cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the world, largely due to the increasing incidence of HPV (human papillomavirus). Head and neck cancer patients with HPV+ tumors are often treated with organ-sparing therapies, including chemoradiation that results in a high level of cancer control. The treatment can produce debilitating side effects, however, including the inability to eat or swallow. Patients who have inefficient swallowing as well as airway safety impairment are susceptible to aspiration pneumonia and often become malnourished, leading to high death rates in this population. This project will evaluate the use of expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) — a therapy currently used in some degenerative muscular diseases to improve swallowing function – in patients with HPV+ head and neck cancer treated with chemoradiation. Researchers will measure the clinical impact of traditional swallow intervention studies versus traditional swallowing interventions plus EMST on swallowing and respiratory function.

Personalized Combination Drug Therapy for Melanoma

Investigator: Fuhai Li, PhD, College of Medicine (Biomedical Informatics)

Despite recent advances in targeted and immune-based therapies, the majority of melanoma patients eventually become unresponsive to treatment. New combination drug therapies to curb drug resistance could improve response rates of existing therapies. However, more efficient methods of predicting which current drugs can be repurposed for combination therapy and personalized medicine applications are needed. In this project, researchers will seek to validate a computational drug-repurposing approach called Medical Doctor Miner (MD-Miner) that was developed at the OSUCCC – James. The tool integrates personal genomics profiles of individual patients with multiple scales of drug data for thousands of FDA approved drugs and active compounds simultaneously to predict potentially effective drug combinations tailored to individual patient samples.

Decision Making and Communication Among Breast Cancer Patients Choosing Preventive Mastectomies

Investigator: Clara Lee, MD, College of Medicine (Plastic Surgery), OSUCCC – James Cancer Control Research Program

More and more women with breast cancer have been undergoing contralateral preventive mastectomies in the past 10 years. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends this surgical procedure for patients with a BRCA gene mutation or strong family history to reduce risk of cancer, however, it is primarily performed in patients without a mutation or family history (sporadic breast cancer cases), who do not need the procedure for medical reasons. This study will evaluate treatment decisions in early-stage breast cancer patients to assess how communication with their providers affects their decision-making. It will also examine their knowledge, preferences, and expectations about future well-being. Information from this study is expected to help clinicians develop tools to aid patients in making an informed decision about their care.

Examining Skin Cancer as a Predictor of the Development of New Internal Primary Cancer

Investigator: Tatiana Oberyszyn, PhD, College of Medicine (Pathology), OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Research Program

Ultraviolet light (UV)-induced keratinocyte carcinomas (non-melanoma skin cancers) are the most common form of cancer in humans, with more than 3.5 million new cases diagnosed in the United States annually. Worldwide epidemiological studies have reported a connection between a history of UV-induced non-melanoma skin cancers and an increased risk of developing a secondary, non-skin primary cancer. A subset of patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) has a 25 percent higher risk of dying from that secondary cancer, though the reason remains unclear. In this study, researchers will study the link between SCC and colon cancer development in a preclinical model to determine the effects of the developing colon tumors on UVB-induced skin cancer development. Researchers will also seek to understand whether the presence of UV-induced skin cancer influences colon tumor development. The study is expected to provide important insights into the relationship between skin tumors and second primary cancers.

“Research Autopsy” to Understand Unique Molecular, Genetic Characteristics of Advanced Cancers

Investigator: Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD, College of Medicine (Internal Medicine), OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Research Program

Scientists have discovered that not all cancer cells in a patient’s body are alike — calling this phenomenon “tumor heterogeneity.” Tumor heterogeneity can cause some cancer cells to become resistant to treatment and explain why some cancers recur after treatment. Using rapid research autopsy, the study team will obtain samples of cancer cells from different organs of patients who have died of their cancer. The team will study their genomes to determine how certain cancer cells acquire resistance and use this knowledge to advance the discovery of new cancer drugs. The study will also evaluate liquid biopsy – a method of measuring circulating tumor DNA through urine or plasma. This precious donation from patients will facilitate research to help accelerate new cancer drug development and help guide individualized therapy for patients by contributing to the oncology community’s understanding of the molecular and genetic variation that exists in cancer.

Cellular Membrane Trafficking as Targets for Multiple Myeloma

Investigator: Emanuele Cocucci, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, OSUCCC – James Leukemia Research Program

Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells, infection-fighting white blood cells that originate in the bone marrow. Even with aggressive treatment, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease, and identifying new targets for therapy is critical. In this basic science study, researchers will seek to further identify and target specific components that are dispensable in normal cells but become essential during the aberrant clonal cell expansion that characterizes plasma cell neoplasia. The hope is to develop a novel and effective therapeutic approach for multiple myeloma.

Potential New Cancer-Promoting Gene in Prostate Cancer

Investigator: Qianben Wang, PhD, College of Medicine (Cancer Biology and Genetics), OSUCCC – James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Research Program

The male hormone testosterone promotes the growth of prostate cancer through its binding to the androgen receptor in cancer cells. AR-V7 is a mutant variant of the androgen receptor that no longer requires testosterone binding to signal the growth and progression of prostate cancer. This specific mutation acts to accelerate prostate cancer growth and is a common and important step toward the lethal phase of human prostate cancer. However, therapeutic strategies targeting AR-V7 do not exist. This study will define the mechanisms underlying the cancer-promoting function of AR-V7 and will identify new therapeutic strategies for advanced prostate cancer.

Clinical Impact of Genetic Mutations in Leukemia

Investigators: Clara Bloomfield, MD, Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD, College of Medicine (Internal Medicine, Cancer Biology and Genetics), OSUCCC – James Leukemia Research Program, and Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Research Program

Core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia (CBF-AML) is a form of cancer that affects blood-forming tissue (bone marrow) defined by the presence of specific genetic mutations. The resulting presence of a merged genetic mutation, or fusion gene, is not capable of causing leukemia independently. Researchers believe a “second hit” is necessary for leukemia to develop. Almost 40 percent of CBF-AML patients will experience a relapse of their disease, so a better understanding of the molecular events that lead to cancer formation is critical. In this study, researchers will test clinical and outcome associations of two genetic mutations (CCND1 and CCND2) known to play a role in the development of CBF-AML. This will help scientists better understand the role of CCND1/CCND2-mediated leukemia to help develop more therapeutic targets.

Single-Molecule Studies of DNA Base Excision Repair

Investigator: Zucai Suo, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry and Biochemistry)

In this basic science study, researchers will seek to better understand the role of a specific DNA damage repair pathway — DNA base excision repair (BER) — in cancer development and progression. The team will conduct laboratory studies aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms behind the cellular functions of BER and the cascade of events that lead to cancer development. Knowledge gleaned from this study could help scientists develop new targets for cancer treatment.

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Staff Reports

As kids’ weight climbs, power of healthy fat supplements drops. Study highlights need to consider weight-based dosing recommendations, researchers say.

COLUMBUS – Body weight plays a significant role in how much benefit children may get from consuming “good” fats, new research suggests.

The researchers compared fatty acid uptake after kids took a supplement to both overall body weight and body-mass index. The more a child weighed, the smaller the measurement was of two key omega-3 fatty acids in their bloodstream. And the higher the BMI category, the lower the levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

The study provides important information to parents trying to ensure their kids get an appropriate amount of omega-3 fatty acids and also highlights the need for weight-appropriate dosing of supplements and medications, say researchers from The Ohio State University. Their study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

Most of the science behind omega-3 benefits has concentrated on adults, infants and small children. But a growing body of research is looking at their role in the health of older children. In particular, omega-3 consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in children 8 to 15 years old.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in foods including salmon, walnuts and soybeans. Parents looking to feed their children more of these foods should be mindful that as they gain weight they’ll need more of them to make a difference, said lead author Lisa Christian, an associate professor of psychiatry in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

“While this study just looked at fatty acid supplements, it’s important to recognize that weight differences could factor into how children and adults respond to many types of medications,” Christian said.

“Weight, rather than age, may be more meaningful when determining recommended doses. The difference in size between a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old can be quite significant,” she said.

The data comes from a trial conducted by Mary Fristad, professor of psychiatry, psychology and nutrition, and Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral health. Their work looked at fatty-acid supplementation in 64 children with mood disorders. The 7- to 14-year-old children took either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who took the supplement received 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of four capsules daily.

“We have a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for physical and mental health. This paper gives us more information about an important question about taking omega-3 supplements — how much is a good amount,” Fristad said of the new study.

Given fluctuations in BMI percentile measures as children grow, it would seem to make the most sense to base dosing on weight alone, Christian said.

The study also points to a need to consider weight-related differences in all studies of omega-3 intake in adults and children, the researchers wrote in their study.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study were Amanda Mitchell, Martha Belury and Barbara Gracious. Andrea Young of Johns Hopkins University also contributed.

Written by Misti Crane