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November 15, 2017 : JAMA

Researchers are reporting that a type of stem cell therapy called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) did not improve walking ability in people with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries of the legs, causing pain and weakness when walking. In a clinical trial (the PROPEL Randomized Clinical Trial) of 210 people with PAD, the researchers tested the effects of GM-CSF either alone or in combination with exercise to treat walking impairment.  Neither treatment improved walking.  Exercise alone, however, lead to significant improvements. "Although this trial showed no added benefit of stem cell mobilization by GM-CSF in individuals with PAD, it yet again confirmed the benefits of exercise on walking capacity that have been observed in previous studies," said Dr. Diane Reid, a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) project officer for the study and a medical officer in the NHLBI Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch. "Prompt reporting of negative clinical trial results, as done here, provides valuable information to guide the future directions of research on potential new therapeutics."  The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was partly funded by NHLBI.

Doctors Lounge: Supervised Exercise Ups 6-Minute Walking Distance in PAD

Healio: PROPEL: Cell therapy does not boost walking performance in PAD

MedPage Today: AHA: Cell Therapy Disappoints in PAD Patients

EurekAlert! (Northwestern Univ. press release): Stem cells fail to alleviate peripheral artery disease

November 10, 2017 : American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Researchers are reporting new evidence that sleep apnea—a common disorder that can cause people to snore frequently during sleep—may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  A team of scientists studied 208 men and women aged 55 to 90, most of whom had sleep apnea but did not have any type of diagnosed dementia. After two years, the scientists found that those who suffered from more severe sleep apnea had certain chemical markers in their spinal fluid indicating increased levels of beta amyloid, a type of brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s. In addition, brain imaging scans in some of the more severe apnea patients confirmed an increase in amyloid plaque. The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, was partly funded by NHLBI.

UPI: Sleep apnea may increase risk for Alzheimer's disease  

Business Standard: This sleep disorder puts you at high Alzheimer’s risk

Medical News Today: Obstructive sleep apnea linked to higher Alzheimer's risk

The Times of India: This sleep disorder can lead to Alzheimer’s disease Sleep Apnea May Boost Alzheimer's Risk

October 31, 2017 : Obesity

New computer modeling studies suggest that reducing crime levels in high-risk urban communities can boost exercise levels and significantly cut obesity in African-American women, who have the highest levels of obesity of any racial group in the United States. An estimated 57 percent of African-American women are obese, which is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions. The study, published in the journal Obesity, suggests that policies to reduce neighborhood crime could have a positive effect on obesity rates, which are at epidemic levels in this country. It was partly funded by NHLBI.

October 30, 2017 : Nature Genetics

Researchers examined variants in protein-coding regions of the genome in 47,532 East Asian individuals to identify 12 novel loci associated with blood lipid levels—risk factors for cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, age-related macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes. The large-scale study has the potential to pinpoint the causes of various cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, thereby promoting translation of the findings of genetic studies into new therapies. The study, published in Nature Genetics, was partly funded by NHLBI.

October 26, 2017 : Science

Researchers have identified two key proteins that are needed for the deadliest malaria parasite to infect red blood cells and exit the cells after it multiplies. The finding could provide the basis of new targets for drug development against the Plasmodium falciparum, which is the species of parasite that causes the most malaria deaths worldwide, the researchers say.  Their study, which appears in Science, is partly funded by NHLBI.

Phys.Org: A new weapon against malaria: Scientists have discovered a new target to block the parasite responsible

SWI (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation): Swiss scientists find 'Achilles heel' of malaria parasite

Laboratory Equipment: Swiss Team Says They’ve Found Malaria’s Molecular ‘Achilles Heel’

EurekAlert (press release): NIH study identifies new targets for anti-malaria drugs

NIH press release: NIH study identifies new targets for anti-malaria drugs

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (press release): Key malaria parasite findings could lead to new treatments

October 25, 2017 : Nature

Researchers are reporting progress in transforming damaged heart cells into healthy heart muscle cells, a finding that could help revolutionize the treatment of heart disease. In the study, scientists used a variety of techniques to identify the molecular changes needed to transform heart fibroblasts (scar tissue cells) into cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells). The cell programming techniques could benefit not only heart disease patients, but people with cancer, diabetes, neurological diseases, and other conditions, the researchers say. Their study, published in Nature, is partly funded by NHLBI.

Medical Xpress: How to turn damaged heart tissue back into healthy heart muscle—new details emerge

Bioscience Technology: How to Turn Damaged Heart Tissue Back into Healthy Heart Muscle: New Details Emerge

UNC School of Medicine (press release): How to Turn Damaged Heart Tissue Back into Healthy Heart Muscle: New Details Emerge

October 23, 2017 : Circulation

Black Americans have a shorter life expectancy than whites due in part to higher rates of heart disease and stroke, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).  While heart disease is the leading cause of death for all Americans, heart disease develops earlier and deaths from heart disease are higher in blacks, due in part to risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.  Citing health data from several NHLBI-funded studies—including  MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis)—the statement highlights the need for educating black children and young adults about the importance of healthy lifestyles. It appears in the AHA journal Circulation.

Reuters: Heart health disparities take toll on African-Americans
U.S. News & World Report: Heart Disease, Stroke Cutting Black Lives Short
Medical Xpress: African Americans live shorter lives due to heart disease and stroke
WebMD: Heart Disease, Stroke Cutting Black Lives Short
Healio: AHA: Heart disease, stroke shorten life expectancy of black Americans

October 17, 2017 : American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Researchers are reporting that community programs and policies with comprehensive programs to prevent child obesity are more effective than those that target fewer exercise and nutrition behaviors. The study included 130 U.S. communities and health data collected on more than 5,000 children between 2013 and 2015. Results showed that programs and policies that promoted a greater number of exercise and nutrition behaviors were associated with lower measures of child obesity, including BMI (a measure of body fat) and waist circumference.  The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, was partly funded by NHLBI.


October 16, 2017 : Nature Biotechnology

Researchers have developed a new, highly sensitive, super-bright, long-lasting optical imaging approach that overcomes the limitations of previous molecular imaging tools. Specifically, they designed safe, biodegradable semiconducting polymer nanoparticles for visualizing tumors, monitoring disease progression, and other imaging applications in living organisms. They demonstrated the usefulness of the approach for imaging tumors and real-time monitoring of drug-induced liver toxicity in living mice. The study, published in Nature Biotechnology, was partly funded by NHLBI. Polymer nanoparticles make good afterglow agents

October 11, 2017 : Nature

Researchers have completed a genetic atlas—a collection of genetic studies—documenting the segments of human DNA that influence gene expression—a key way in which a person’s genes give rise to traits such as hair color or disease risk.  The availability of this atlas serves as a critical research tool for the scientific community for exploring how genetic differences can be translated into biological differences, like healthy and diseased states, across different tissues and cell types. It could lead to a better understanding of heart disease and many other conditions. Study highlights include an overview of genetic variant-gene expression relationships, a study of rare variants, and an examination of X chromosome inactivation patterns.  The studies, which appear in Nature, are partly funded by NHLBI.

NIH News Release: NIH completes atlas of human DNA differences that influence gene expression

GenomeWeb: Studies Elucidate Impact of Genetic Variants on Gene Expression in Human Tissues

The Scientist: Massive Transcription Catalog Outlines the Influence of Human Genetic Variation

Science Daily: Scientists help show links between genes, body tissues

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