Stress May Delay Pregnancy
A recent study supports the theory that stress in a woman's life can affect her ability to get pregnant.
Courtney Lynch, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Pediatrics, and director of Reproductive Epidemiology, worked on the team at the National Institutes of Health that designed and implemented the first study of its kind, demonstrating an association between a reduced chance of becoming pregnant and a high level of alpha-amylase, a biomarker of stress. The study involved women with no prior history of fertility problems.
The findings appear online in Fertility and Sterility, an international journal for infertility and human reproductive disorders.
Results showed that the 25 percent of women in the study who had the highest levels of the biomarker alpha-amylase also had an approximately 12-percent decrease in the chance of becoming pregnant during each menstrual cycle, as compared with women in the same study who had the lowest levels of alpha-amylase.
"This represents a significantly lower chance of conception considering that, even under the best circumstances, couples attempting to become pregnant have only about a 20-25 percent chance of conception in any given menstrual cycle," says Lynch.
This study was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the University of Oxford, England; and The Ohio State University Medical Center.
Surgeon Performs Ohio State's First NOTES Procedure
A surgical team at Ohio State became one of the first in the nation to remove a patient's gallbladder transvaginally. The advanced surgery technique decreases pain, reduces the risk of infection or a subsequent hernia, and leaves no scar.
The procedure was performed on a 42-year-old woman, part of a pilot study leading up to the first human multicenter trial in the world comparing laparoscopic and transvaginal natural orifice surgery.
Vimal Narula, MD, clinical assistant professor of Surgery, who performed the surgery at Ohio State, says the successful procedure shows the potential of natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES).
"Because the incision used to extract the gallbladder is located inside the body where there are no nerve endings, there is no sensation of pain," says Narula. "The only discomfort may come from a small incision at the navel where a small endoscopic camera is inserted to provide visibility to the surgeon while using the laparoscopic instruments."
Other advantages of the surgery are that it reduces the risk of a hernia later, and patients have no visible scarring. Most patients can go home the same day or the following morning.
Dietary Supplement May Block Cancer Cells
Ohio State and Chinese researchers led by Xianghong Zou, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology, have discovered how indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a substance that is produced when eating broccoli and brussels sprouts, can block the proliferation of cancer cells.
The study discovered a connection between I3C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is essential for cell division and proliferation and present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases. The research showed that I3C causes the destruction of that molecule and thereby blocks the growth of breast cancer cells.
The study was published online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
Other researchers involved in this study were: Yongsheng Wu, Xiaoling Feng, Yucui Jin, William Hankey, Carolyn Paisie and Ramesh Ganju of Ohio State's Department of Pathology; and researchers from Capital Normal University, Beijing.
Alzheimer's Drug May Treat Children With Autism
Researchers at Ohio State's Nisonger Center are using memantine, a drug normally prescribed for patients with Alzheimer's, to determine if it will improve the communication skills of children with autism.
This study was developed to test whether over-excitation of glutamate may be a factor common to both Alzheimer's disease and autism. Researchers theorize that if children with autism experience over-activity of glutamate, then one of the medicines used to treat Alzheimer's may help in autism, too.
"We know that the drug is effective in people with Alzheimer's disease," says Michael Aman, PhD, director of research at the Nisonger Center. "Memantine serves to enhance cognitive function, or at least to hold the line."
Nanofibers Facilitate Brain Cancer Research
Mariano Viapiano, PhD, assistant professor of Neurological Surgery, is collaborating with John Lannutti, PhD, professor of Materials Science and Engineering in Ohio State's College of Engineering, and others to develop biologically compatible nanofibers that mimic the neural topography used by migratory tumor cells.
These molecule-sized structures mimic white matter in the brain. By combining nanotechnology with a medically approved polymer, researchers are able to study the invasive behavior of tumor cells. The nanofibers are used to produce a more natural, three-dimensional environment for studying cancer cells outside the brain, and for testing potential drugs to treat the deadly disease. "We want to analyze cells behaving in a manner more representative of the way they behave in patients," says Viapiano.
Studies Examine 'Triple Negative' Breast Cancer
Researchers at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) are launching two clinical trials for patients with "triple negative" breast cancers, so named because they are negative for the three markers used to determine treatment: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2-neu. The trials will combine chemotherapy with agents including poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors and gamma secretase inhibitors.
"For patients with triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy was, until very recently, the only option," says Charles Shapiro, MD, director of Breast Medical Oncology at the OSUCCC – James. "Our goal is to find an effective therapy for this difficult-to-treat disease."
Breast cancer treatments that target hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer are not effective with the triple negative form of the disease. Consequently, a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis provides a poor prognosis, with young women and African-American women more likely to develop the disease.
Clearing Heart Blockages Through the Wrist
Quinn Capers IV, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Ohio State's Ross Heart Hospital, and fellow specialists are some of the first in the United States to offer carefully selected low-risk patients coronary artery stenting through the wrist rather than the thigh, a new clinical initiative that minimizes the risk of complications and allows patients to go home the same day.
"The prospect of fixing a potentially deadly heart blockage through the wrist, and sending the patient home the same day, has the potential to establish a new paradigm in the treatment of heart disease," says Capers. "Shorter recovery times and fewer bleeding complications will result in greater comfort and safety for our patients, and while we don't yet have specific data, we believe it will also significantly reduce costs."
Proteins May be an Early Sign of Cancer
A new Ohio State study describes a novel cancer-specific protein that is present in a broad range of cancer types and at all stages of tumor development, from premalignant cells to metastatic tumor cells.
In addition, a vaccine designed to target these cancer-cell proteins, called Piwil2-like (PL2L) proteins, might prevent still-benign tumors from progressing to cancer and prevent recurrence of malignant tumors following surgery.
If verified, the antigen could serve as a marker for the early detection and treatment of primary and metastatic tumors and provide a target for the development of anticancer therapies.
"This finding is important because we may have identified a common tumor-specific antigen that may also play a role in tumor development generally," says principal investigator Jian-Xin Gao, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of Pathology.
The study was published by the Public Library of Science online in the journal PLoS ONE.
Other researchers involved in this study were: Yin Ye, Li Chen, Rulong Shen, Gang He, Qingtao Yan, Zhenyu Tong and Charles Shapiro, MD, of Ohio State's Department of Pathology and Comprehensive Cancer Center; and researchers from Zhengzhou University and Soochow University, China; the University of Nevada School of Medicine; Dalhousie University, Canada; Yale University; and University of California, Davis.
This section was compiled by Luke Russell and Kevin O'Neill.