Rebecca’s research roundup

by Rebecca Harrington

Here's your roundup for the week of research-related happenings at the University of Minnesota, compiled by the Minnesota Daily science and technology reporter.


$16 million Medicare and Medicaid grant for improving intensive care units

Announced: Oct. 22

Timeframe: Three years

Partner institutions: Mayo Clinic, Phillips Research North America, U.S. Critical Illness and Injury Trials Group, Duke University, Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Albert Einstein Medical School, Montefiore Medical Center, Lawrence General Hospital

          The University Center for Design in Health received a $16 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to improve patient care with Mayo Clinic and more than 10 other institutions, according to a University press release. This grant will focus on intensive care units, training 1,440 doctors and nurses to use new health care technologies and methods.

CDH director Dr. Kathleen Harder said in the release said the center was looking forward to collaborating on the project. The University center focuses on bringing “process design, medical technology, architecture, landscape architecture, and clothing design together to create forward-thinking systems solutions to health-related problems,” according to their website.

The project will use cloud technology to monitor and improve patient care. Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, expressed his gratitude in the release.

“We're grateful that CMMI has recognized the commitment of our physicians, scientists and collaborators to drive patient-centered, high-value care,” he said. “We remain constant in our unfailing focus on meeting the needs of patients.”


U Extension to make multilingual healthy foods TV special

Announced: Oct. 22

Airs: November 4-11 on tptMN and online

Fast Fact: One in 10 people don’t get enough food in Minnesota (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

University Extension will work with ECHO to produce a TV program that teaches people how to eat healthier on a budget — in Spanish, Hmong, Somali and English, according to a University press release.

ECHO is a state organization that “bridges the gap for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota,” according to their website.

Extension’s “Simply Good Eating” program will work on the project, which Ryan Johnson, Extension supplemental nutrition assistance program education liaison, described in the release.

“The Simply Good Eating program provides up-to-date health and nutrition information and fun, hands-on activities to help people with limited incomes choose healthy foods and active lifestyles,” Johnson said.


U pancreatic cancer drug successful in mouse models

Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Published: Oct.17

Lead author: Dr. Ashok Saluja, Department of Surgery professor and vice chair of research

Collaborators: Dr. Selwyn Vickers, chairman of the Department of Surgery; Gunda Georg, director of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development; Dr. Bruce Blazar, director of the Center for Translational Medicine, Rohit Chugh, Veena Sangwan,Satish Patil, Vikas Dudeja, Rajinder Dawra, Sulagna Banerjee, Robert Schumacher

Saluja and ten other researchers at the University published research in Science Translational Medicine on a new drug they developed to target pancreatic cancer tumors, according to an Academic Health Center press release.

The study demonstrated the success of the drug in mouse models. Every year, more than 44,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The active ingredient in the drug, Minnelide comes from a vine from China, according to the study. This compound targets the protein HSP 70, which prevents pancreatic cancer tumor cells from dying. Research on this protein was featured in a previous Minnesota Daily article.

Saluja said in the press release that current pancreatic cancer treatments don’t address the real problem.

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is incredibly grim,” he said. “There is no good way to treat or cure this particular type of cancer, and the best options currently available offer just six weeks of added survival.”

Minnelide is lisenced to Minneamrita Therapeutics LLC, and tentative human trials of the drug will begin in 2013.

The full text of the paper is available online.