UTSW Researchers Hope to Predict Dementia

UT Southwestern researchers say the identification of a molecular Alzheimer’s trigger can be used to predict which type of dementia will develop in patients. The knowledge can be used to diagnose and possibly treat the degenerative neurological disorder. A new study has identified how the tau protein’s shape gives information about which type of dementia will develop, and was created with the help of a larger network of researchers who hope to improve treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. An earlier study from the same lab found a molecular clue to how Alzheimer’s disease forms. “Our expanded understanding of the tau protein structure… Full Story

UT Southwestern’s Response to Nurses’ Deaths From Fentanyl Abuse

Over a 16-month span, two nurses were found dead in bathrooms at Clements Hospital after overdosing on fentanyl, a painkiller meant for patients, according to the Dallas Morning News. In a wide ranging investigation, DMN looked into the frequency of stolen drugs from the hospitals, finding 200 employee thefts across Texas. UT Southwestern declined to say what measures they took to prevent further abuse after the two deaths, though they reported no interruptions of patient care, according to the story. The report details UT Southwestern employees who allegedly stole and abused drugs, including nurse Patricia Norman, who was taken to… Full Story

FDA Approval for Drug that Targets Mutation in Multiple Cancers

The FDA approved a treatment that targets a specific fused gene that is common in several types cancer cells, shifting the treatment from focusing on a certain type of cancer or organ to fighting a common mutation in a wide range of tumors. Dr. Theodore Laetsch of UT Southwestern and Children’s Health is leading the work with this new form of precision medicine. The drug, called Larotrectinib, was found to be effective in 93 percent of patients tested at UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center. The mutation occurs when a TRK gene attaches to another gene, where the gene turns on and… Full Story

A New Formula For Reducing Drug Prices

Much of the increases in healthcare costs can be attributed to the rise in price of pharmaceuticals, and one reason pharmaceutical expenses are so high is because clinical trials are long, costly, and difficult to run. SMU and UTSW researcher Vishal Ahuja and his colleague from the University of Chicago John R. Birge hope to use statistics to change the way trials are performed, saving time, money, and improving outcomes for patients. Pharmaceutical companies have to run clinical trials to test new medicines, but they can take years with hundreds of patients, who are difficult to recruit and retain. According… Full Story

North Texas Healthcare Innovation: Fighting Fungus, Sharing Data, Virtual Reality, and Radio Therapy

The North Texas healthcare market is constantly changing and innovating, bringing original ideas, techniques, and technology to patients in the region. We decided to check in with a startup, a nonprofit, a provider and an academic institution who are on the leading edge of healthcare innovation, and they told us about the latest procedures, techniques, software, and technology making a difference for patients. Fighting Fungal Infections At Healthcare accelerator Health Wildcatters, startup MycoDART is hoping to save lives with a test that can better diagnose fungal infections. When patients are in the hospitals and their immune system is suppressed, they… Full Story

Researchers Identify Enzyme that Helps Lung Cancer Grow

Researchers at UT Southwestern have found an enzyme that removes lactate from lung cancer cells, promoting the cancer’s growth. Led by Dr. Kathryn O’Donnell, the research was published in the journal Cell Reports. The enzyme is called transmembrane serine protease 11B (TMPRSS11B), and scientists were able to suppress the enzyme through gene editing and RNA interference to reduce tumor growth in mice. “In this study, we found that the enzyme strongly promoted the growth of certain types of lung cancer cells. We uncovered a new mechanism that expands our understanding of how cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to provide energy for rapid… Full Story

A New Vaccine Could Bring Us One Step Closer to Treating Alzheimers

Scientists at UT Southwestern have created a vaccine that reduces the number of toxic proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment avoids side effects caused by similar treatments, and the research may lead to a clinical trial. Nearly 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with that number expected to double by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no effective treatment for the disease, though treatments such as this are moving research closer. The new technique employs a DNA vaccine, where DNA is genetically engineered to produce a response to disease, which is applied… Full Story

Watch: Two UT Southwestern Scientists Discuss Their Award-Winning Research

Two UT Southwestern Scientists have been identified as up and comers by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at UT Southwestern, and Dr. Julie Pfeiffer, Professor of Microbiology at UT Southwestern will both receive the 2019 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award. The award honors early career researchers for their work in science, medicine, engineering, and technology innovation, and includes a $25,000 prize and an invitation to speak at their conference in January, where they will receive the award… Full Story

We May Have Lost Amazon, But Biotech Could Be Dallas’ Next Big Move

While no doubt a disappointment, Amazon’s decision to locate its second headquarters in New York and Virginia doesn’t diminish the economic vitality of North Texas. In fact, Dallas’ strong showing in the company’s high-profile national search bolsters our reputation as an attractive region for business. Now, as we take stock of the Amazon decision and explore new ways to grow the local economy, let’s consider the potential of an untapped community asset: biotechnology. Dallas is well-known for its oil industry, corporate headquarters, and technology startups. But did you know that the science behind some of the best-selling prescription drugs of all… Full Story

UT System Employees Have a New Medical Plan Via Southwestern Health Resources

Employees and retirees of the University of Texas System in North Texas will now have access to a new medical plan through Southwestern Health Resources, the accountable care organization formed by UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources. More than 4,000 people have enrolled in the medical benefit option, named UT CONNECT, since it opened September. This is the first time the UT system has offered a program based on the ACO model of care, where providers collaborate and have payments tied to quality of care rather than fee for service. The UT system in the area, which include UT Arlington, UT… Full Story