WVU Medicine Cabinet News Stories

WVU researchers study weight management as a way to prevent breast cancer recurrence

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Being overweight or obese and inactive are risk factors for breast cancer and for recurrence of the disease. For patients with hard-to-treat triple-negative breast cancer, it’s especially important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that lacks the three receptors known to cause most breast cancers: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Because of this triple-negative tumors do not respond to receptor-targeted treatments. They do, however, respond to chemotherapy. This type of cancer can be aggressive and is more likely to recur than other types of breast cancer. West Virginia University researchers will begin a study this fall aimed at helping prevent the chance of cancer recurrence in triple-negative breast cancer survivors dealing with weight issues. “Effect of a 12-week multidisciplinary weight loss program (‘Fit for the Fight’) on BMI, functional capacity, quality of life and markers of inflammation in overweight and obese women with triple-negative breast cancer,” is a collaborative study of the WVU Department of Physical Therapy, the Department of Exercise Physiology and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. “I named the program in this study ‘Fit for the Fight’ because it will teach women how they can control their weight through diet and exercise and fight cancer that way,” principal researcher Anne Swisher, P.T., Ph.D., said.  “My hope is that what they learn becomes a lifelong habit.” Swisher modeled her program after the weight management program established by the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA). That program has been employed at the WVU Exercise Physiology Human Performance Lab for several years and has been successful in helping people make exercise part of their lifestyle. The study participants recruited to the Fit for the Fight program will meet with exercise physiologists at the Human Performance Lab. “Our staff will provide individualized instruction on physical activity and will guide participants each step of the way through their exercise program to make them comfortable in the exercise setting,” Diana Gilleland, lab manager, said.   Participants will be asked to exercise three times a week at the lab and twice at home. They’ll also meet with a Cancer Center dietician Mary Anne Yanosik for nutritional counseling and will receive behavioral counseling to help them achieve the goal of losing 10 percent of their body weight. “I believe patients will be receptive to Fit for the Fight because it is a structured program that offers them professional support along with advice on how to live healthier lifestyles,” Sobha Kurian, M.D., a breast cancer physician at the Cancer Center, said. “Two large, population-based studies of breast cancer survivors have shown that moderate physical activities following breast cancer diagnosis decreases the risk of cancer recurrence by about 50 percent.  I advise my patients to do 30 to 40 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking, at least five times a week.” The study participants will also have their blood drawn at the beginning and end of the program. “We will be analyzing their blood both times to look for changes in inflammatory markers as a result of weight loss and increased physical activity,” Cancer Center scientist Linda Vona-Davis, Ph.D., co-investigator, said. “We hope that these interventions will give us some clues about the specific effects of diet and exercise on inflammation in breast cancer survivors.” Swisher plans to do a one-year follow-up study to see how well participants have adhered to Fit for the Fight. “I’d also like to expand the program to hospitals, fitness centers and physical therapy clinics statewide, and, ultimately, teach dieticians and exercise professionals how to run it in their communities.” “There’s a lot of cancer research on survivorship,” Swisher added. “I am very interested in this area and want to make survivorship the best it can be for those diagnosed with this disease.” Swisher’s research is supported by a $25,000 Collaborative Programmatic Development Grant from the WVU Breast Cancer Research Program and a $5,000 grant from the Oncology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms July 12 and 13 in Glenville

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Gilmer County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Gilmer County Health Department in Glenville from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.  The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Gilmer County Health Department at 304-462-7351.   Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women.  Many of those screened are uninsured or underinsured and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.  The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia.  Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler’s late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos.   [...]

WVU pharmacy grad selected for prestigious residency program

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When it’s time for the transition between classroom work and real-world work, there is a certain level of excitement and, in some cases, a certain level of fear. Not for Charleston native Mark Crist — he’s excited to take on life’s next adventure. Crist graduated from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy with a Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) in May. Having a career that allows him to help others has always been his goal. But now, being able to do that has taken on a new meaning. During his first year of studies at the WVU School of Pharmacy, Crist was in a diving accident that left him without the use of his legs. Having the strong will that he does, he was determined to work hard during rehabilitation, and it was at this time that he discovered how he could go on to help others through his chosen profession. “There wasn’t ever a time during the rehabilitation process that I thought about throwing in the towel,” he said. “I realized as I was going through rehab that pharmacists are not really being utilized in areas such as infectious diseases, critical care, psychiatry and rehabilitation. I knew then that I wanted to work with spinal cord injury patients.” His aspiration to help others is becoming a reality as he is pursuing a residency at The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC). Crist selected this location to continue his studies to become a clinical pharmacist in a large-scale Spinal Cord Injured/Traumatic Brain Injured (SCI/TBI) hospital for several reasons. But what was most important was the education it would provide to him in this specialty area through the nationally recognized Dodd Hall — the main location of the center’s rehabilitation hospital, which is consistently ranked in the rehabilitation hospitals section on the “U.S. News and World Report” Best Hospitals list. The residency at OSUMC is highly competitive, and only five pharmacy graduates nationwide are accepted each year.  While this residency focuses on many aspects of patient care, Crist plans on completing rotations in as many fields that would be applicable to the spinal cord/traumatic brain injury population as he can. “My main goal is to 'give back' to my patient population,” Crist said. “I think direct patient care is the best way for me to do that, and I feel like I saw firsthand the direct impact that good pharmaceutical care can have on a patient. I would have loved to have had a pharmacist in a chair when I was newly injured for no other reason than to see that life does go on after spinal cord injury.” Photo caption: Mark Crist is presented his Pharm.D. degree by (left) Dr. Christopher C. Colenda, West Virginia University’s chancellor for health sciences, and (right) Dr. Patricia Chase, dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy.   [...]

HSTA program receives Benedum grant

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) at West Virginia University has received a $125,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to evaluate the student influence on healthy living in their families and community.  The goal is to improve health literacy related to obesity and its complications in the highly motivated, college bound HSTA students. “The kids will be doing projects all over the state focusing on obesity and prevention of all the repercussions of obesity. They are going to be doing all kinds of intervention, and they have developed a lifestyle characteristics survey,” Ann Chester, Ph.D., HSTA program director and assistant vice president for social justice at the WVU Health Sciences Center, said. HSTA was established in 1994 as a ninth through 12th grade math and science program for minority, underrepresented and rural students in West Virginia. During the school year, students throughout the state work on community-based projects led by their public school math and science teachers. Every summer, WVU faculty lead the students through laboratory and clinical experiences. The goal of the program is to encourage these students to attend college and consider health and science careers. “The grant is wonderful for HSTA because it’ll bring the leadership from all across the state together to one location to brainstorm and create a strategic plan to really capture the power of the HSTA infrastructure for community-based, participatory research,” Dr. Chester said. “Given their interest, energy and focus, if anybody can help change the health statistics of West Virginia, these kids can by focusing on prevention.” HSTA rising 11th graders will be on the WVU Health Sciences campus July 10-22 participating in the annual Biomedical Summer Institute. Together with WVU faculty and staff, HSTA students and teachers will be working on various community-based participatory research projects focusing on metabolic syndrome and related diseases. After the inquiry experiences and research projects of the Biomedical Institute, students will take their new knowledge back to their families and communities through lifestyle interventions designed to improve health literacy and biomedical science education.   [...]

Text to support Rosenbaum Family House

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There’s no place like home, but to adult patients and their families traveling to West Virginia University Hospitals for medical care, Rosenbaum Family House comes close, offering a soft pillow, comfy bed, hot meals and a warm welcome. Giving to support this much-needed service is now as easy as a few taps of the thumb, thanks to the Family House’s Text2Give initiative. [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms in Belle, Miami and Sissonville

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Kanawha County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be parked beside Riverside High School in Belle from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. On Tuesday, July 19, it will be located at the Cabin Creek Administration Building in Miami from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Bus will also be at Sissonville Health Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 29.   [...]

Research links carbon nanotubes to lung cancer risk

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two recent studies — both taking different scientific paths — have each linked a popular new manmade material with the development of cancerous cells. The research projects were conducted by scientists at West Virginia University and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Carbon nanotubes, first created about 20 years ago, are tiny, fibrous materials 50,000 times thinner than a human hair with walls a single molecule thick. They are strong and long-lasting. Their physical and chemical properties have excited researchers and engineers, who are working around the world to discover new applications in supercapacitors, batteries, the automotive and aerospace industries, electronics, pharmaceutics, bio-engineering, medical devices and biomedicine. However, the rush to exploit this new material has created a concern among scientists that widespread manufacturing and distribution of nanotubes may expose both workers and consumers to unknown risks. Both new studies, published in online journals, note the similarity of the nanotube structure to the naturally-occurring structure of asbestos fibers that have been implicated in health consequences for a large number of manufacturing and construction workers. Lan Guo, Ph.D., of WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, along with several other WVU and NIOSH researchers, found a relationship between introduction of carbon nanotubes into the lungs of lab mice and the production of gene biomarkers which are known to change dramatically when lung cancer develops. The genes showed changes similar to those in human patients with lung cancer Yon Rojanasakul, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Pharmacy, and his colleagues exposed human lung cells to carbon nanotubes in a laboratory. The cells developed malignant transformations similar to the early signs of lung cancer. They then injected these cells into lab mice, which developed tumors.  “Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) are similar in structure to asbestos, a known human carcinogen that causes lung cancer and mesothelioma,” Dr. Guo said. “In previous studies, our collaborators at NIOSH demonstrated that MWCNT exposure rapidly produces significant pulmonary inflammation, damage and fibrosis. Several studies have pointed to fibrosis as a precursor to lung cancer.” Guo’s team analyzed a set of 63 lung cancer biomarker genes, most of which are known to change dramatically when lung cancer develops. Of the 63 genes analyzed, 14 changed dramatically at either seven days or 56 days following exposure and four of the 14 stayed abnormal during both time intervals. “I want to be cautious about these findings,” Guo said. “So far there has been no direct evidence to declare that exposures to multi-walled carbon nanotubes induce or cause cancer. However, our study of lung disease development in an animal model indicates there are harmful effects to some genes known to be associated with lung cancer progression in humans.” She added that these results could be used for the medical surveillance of people who work in occupations in which they are exposed to multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Dr. Rojanasakul’s research focused on a related material, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT). He and his research team, which also included NIOSH and Cancer Center researchers, first introduced the nanotubes into human lung epithelial cells which had been grown in laboratory cultures. Over 12 to 24 weeks of observation, the cells displayed many of the same changes observed in cancer cells. “Carcinogenesis is a multistep process requiring long-term exposure to the carcinogens,” Rojanasakul said.  “We have developed a chronic exposure model in which human lung cells were continuously exposed to a low dose of SWCNT in culture over a prolonged time period.” The transformed human cells were then injected into mice, which developed easily visible tumors at the injection sites. Control mice, which were injected with human lung cells that had not been exposed to carbon nanotubes, did not develop tumors. The Guo study was published online May 23 in the journal “Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.” Co-authors are Maricica Pacurari, Ph.D., Ying-Wooi Wan and Dajie Luo of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; and Yong Qian, Ph.D., Dale Porter, Ph.D., Michael Wolfarth, Min Ding, Ph.D., and Vincent Castranova, Ph.D., of NIOSH. To view the study online go to http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2011.05.012. The Rojanasakul study was posted online in early June in “NANO Letters,” a publication of the American Chemical Society. Co-authors are Liying Wang, Ph.D., and Vincent Castranova, Ph.D., of NIOSH; Yongju Lu, Sudjit Luanpitpong, and Varisa Pongrakhananon, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Pharmacy; and William Tse, M.D., of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. To view the study online go to http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/nl2011214.   [...]

WVU School of Public Health plan moves forward

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Health Sciences will create five academic departments to lead the pre-accreditation phase of development for its new School of Public Health. [...]

WVU Healthcare’s Penny Wars collects more than a million pennies to benefit cancer patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Healthcare’s fourth annual Penny Wars to benefit patients at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC) raised $11,868.70 – or 1,186,870 pennies – exceeding its goal to collect 1 million pennies – or $10,000 – in eight weeks. During the campaign, coin collection containers were set up at area businesses and around WVU, including the WVU Health Sciences Center cafeteria, WVUH Friends Gift Shop, Black Bear Burritos, Boston Beanery, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cool Ridge, Texas Roadhouse and the WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore. The WVU Health Sciences Center collected the most pennies followed by the WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Buffalo Wild Wings. “There are so many worthy causes to support these days, yet folks in our community always manage to dig a little deeper into their pockets to help cancer patients by donating to Penny Wars,” Jame Abraham, M.D., chief of Hematology/Oncology at WVU and the Bonnie Wells Wilson Distinguished Professor and Eminent Scholar in Breast Cancer Research, said. “Their kindness and generosity will mean so much to patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.” The Clarion Hotel Morgan joined the campaign this year by hosting a Kentucky Derby Party on May 7. Guests watched the horse race, while enjoying dinner, mint juleps, raffle prizes and a hat contest. The party raised $6,500 for Penny Wars. Proceeds from Penny Wars benefit the MBRCC Comfort Fund that was established to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance for patients being treated at the Cancer Center until they can be linked with appropriate community, state or national resources. Penny Wars has raised more than $49,000 since it began four years ago.   [...]