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WVU researchers develop online prognostic tool for lung cancer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Determining the best way to treat lung cancer – the leading cancer killer for both men and women – is an ongoing challenge to cancer doctors. But researchers at the West Virginia University Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center have developed an online tool to help doctors develop a treatment plan for their patients. Current treatment is based on tumor staging, which determines the extent of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. While staging is a strong predictor of survival, doctors can not rely on it to predict patient outcomes using various methods of treatment. Patients diagnosed with early disease can respond differently to the same treatment and up to 50 percent of those who undergo surgery – the major treatment option – relapse within five years. Cancer Center researchers led by Lan Guo, Ph.D., have created an online prognostic tool called personalizedrx.org aimed at helping lung cancer doctors accurately estimate patient outcomes and determine the best course of treatment on a patient-by-patient basis. Their work, “Combining Clinical, Pathological, and Demographic Factors Refines Prognosis of Lung Cancer: A Population-Based Study,” has been published in the Feb. 25 edition of “PLoS ONE,” an international, peer-reviewed, online publication of the U.S. Public Library of Science. “Personalized Rx is a comprehensive prognostic model that investigates the impact of clinical, pathological and demographic factors on lung cancer survival based on clinical data on thousands of lung cancer patients from the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) database,” Dr. Guo said. “Those factors include tumor stage, tumor grade, age, race, gender and histology, all of which are strongly associated with lung cancer survival.” The SEER Program database is a key source for  cancer statistics in the United States. To use personalizedrx.org a doctor simply plugs in the clinical, pathological and demographic factors for a specific patient, which allows the model to draw from its data to calculate an estimated survival rate for that patient and an estimated survival rate based on specific treatment options. The model also estimates the patient’s risk for tumor recurrence. “This model takes into account factors that are critically important in the clinical decision-making process,” Scot Remick, M.D., director of the Cancer Center and co-author of the research, said.  “It is to be used strictly as a supplemental tool by doctors to help them individualize lung cancer treatment.” Funding for the research was supported by a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant provided under the Recovery Act and a $1 million dollar grant funded by the U.S. National Library of Science. Joseph Putila, graduate student in the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, also co-authored the research.  To view the research online see http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017493.   [...]

WVU researcher receives international award for work in nanotechnology

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When a prestigious international foundation that specializes in recognizing landmark innovations for trauma and musculoskeletal procedures meets in Berlin this summer, a West Virginia University professor’s nanoscale research aimed at preventing infections in people suffering with open or compound fractures will be in the spotlight. Bingyun Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the WVU Department of Orthopaedics, will receive the AO Foundation’s Berton Rahn Research Prize on July 23 in Berlin. The foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Switzerland and led by an international group of surgeons who specialize in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It offers affiliated surgeons and operating room personnel global networking opportunities and knowledge services. Dr. Li is receiving the award in recognition of his successful research on innovative ways to treat open fracture-associated infections. His research group piloted the concept of stimulating appropriate immune responses using a unique cytokine, a protein released by cells, to prevent infection and then using nanotechnology to deliver infection-fighting medication to fracture sites. An open fracture is a broken bone that penetrates the skin, often requiring an operation to clean the area of the fracture. The injury is specifically difficult because of the risk of infection and healing when a fracture is open to the skin. “Infection is one of the most common and potentially problematic complications faced by literally millions of patients annually,” Li said. “Current antibiotic therapy strategies are facing challenges. The objective of our study was to explore local delivery of medication with nanocoatings to restore and enhance immunity for infection prevention.” Li’s approach made use of multilayer nanocoatings for delivery of medication. “The work was innovative because it explored, for the first time, local applications of a natural cytokine at the implant/tissue interface for infection prevention. The cytokine (i.e. interleukin 12) plays a central role in cell-mediated immune response and bridges innate and adaptive immunities, and local application of such a cytokine could have significant applications in the field of orthopaedics and other biomedical fields,” Li said. Nanoscience is the science of the extremely tiny, not as small as atoms or molecules, but much smaller than anything that can be seen with the naked eye. At these “nanoscales,” materials possess very different properties giving them very unique abilities. Nanoscale science and engineering is the attempt to learn about and use those special properties in the creation of novel products for a range of different industries. Li’s work uses coatings on the nanoscale to more effectively deliver medications and, in this case, prevent infections. He will receive the award at a meeting that will be attended by world renowned surgeons, clinicians and researchers from all over the world. He has also been asked to make a presentation about his research. WVU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Curt M. Peterson said the international recognition brings prestige to Li’s work and WVU. “The University is delighted that Li’s research is being honored in this fashion,” Peterson said. “His work has the potential to help prevent a great deal of suffering by future patients – a worthy accomplishment that is being appropriately recognized by an international audience.” Li became an assistant professor of orthopaedics at WVU in 2005.  He is director of the Biomaterials, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the WVU School of Medicine and a participant in WVNano – West Virginia’s focal point for discovery and innovation in nanoscale science, engineering and education.  He is a guest researcher at the federal National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facilities in Morgantown. In addition to being on the graduate faculty at the WVU School of Pharmacy, Li is an adjunct assistant professor of chemical engineering in the WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.   [...]

WVU Pharmacy students advocate for changes to the profession

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Eighty West Virginia University School of Pharmacy students will travel to the State Capitol on Monday, March 7, to advocate for their profession during Pharmacy Day at the Legislature. The goal for the student pharmacists is to discuss the revisions and updates to the Pharmacy Practice Act, which is in review this legislative session. A practice act defines how a certain profession can practice in the state and outlines all laws and regulations that must be followed for that profession. Each year the legislature asks different boards in the state to review their practice act to keep the laws current. “We are fortunate as students to be able to give our input on the way we will practice as future pharmacists,” second-year student pharmacist Kristin Showen said.  “It’s great to see so many WVU pharmacy students taking an interest in this important matter.” Changes to the Practice Act have been proposed by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy, with input from the WVU School of Pharmacy and University of Charleston, and will be introduced as House Bill 2513. There has not been an update to the Practice Act since pharmacy schools have changed from a bachelor’s degree to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree — approximately a decade ago. The advanced Pharm.D. degree provides more clinical knowledge and training, making the need to expand the scope of pharmacy practice as stated in the current West Virginia Code even more important. Students will meet with legislators and talk to them about the important changes that are proposed, including allowing trained and certified pharmacy students to provide immunizations. “Allowing student pharmacists to provide immunizations will give us the experience we need to provide this service to our community members after we graduate,” Showen said. “This will help increase the number of immunizing pharmacists in our communities, and it will also make it easier and more convenient for patients to get these immunizations.” The WVU student pharmacists will also provide health screenings during Pharmacy Day at the Legislature in the lobby of the State Capitol. Screenings will include blood glucose testing, blood pressure screenings and bone density screenings. “We hope that through educating our legislators about the types of healthcare services pharmacists offer to the members of our community, the proposed changes pass so pharmacists can provide the best healthcare to West Virginians who need it,” Showen added.   [...]

Bonnie’s Bus begins third year of operation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women, will visit Lewis County as the Bus begins its third consecutive year of operation. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.   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 a special grant from the Susan B. Komen for the Cure Foundation. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Tri-County Health Clinic at 304-924-6262.  Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. About half of those screened were medically underserved women from challenged socio-economic backgrounds 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.   [...]

Walk your way to better health

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s that time of year again – time to start organizing your team for the annual “Walk 100 Miles in 100 Days” campaign, which runs from March 21 through June 28. [...]

Take control of your health

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in West Virginia and the United States. In fact, it kills nearly 7,000 West Virginians each year; in the United States, that number is close to a half million. [...]

National Pancake Day to benefit WVU Children’s Hospital

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Eating pancakes has never been so rewarding.  IHOP will be working together with West Virginia University Children’s Hospital to raise money during National Pancake Day. [...]

First diaphragm pacemaker implanted at WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Patients who suffer upper spinal cord injuries are often left unable to breathe on their own and require the assistance of a ventilator, sometimes for the rest of their lives. But a revolutionary procedure being performed at WVU Healthcare is helping to get patients off ventilators and on the road to recovery. An upper spinal cord injury breaks the connection between the brain and the diaphragm – the brain can no longer tell the diaphragm to contract. But for some people who suffer this type of spinal cord injury, a diaphragmatic pacemaker can be put into place to help them breathe. Just as a pacemaker for the heart helps to control the heartbeat, a diaphragmatic pacemaker stimulates the diaphragm to contract, allowing the patient to breathe. The surgical team at West Virginia University’s Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center implanted a diaphragm pacemaker on Feb. 14 in a patient who sustained spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries in a car accident in late January. Jennifer Knight, M.D., assistant professor in the WVU Department of Surgery and member of the team caring for the patient, said the patient made more progress in the day after the pacemaker implantation than in the prior three weeks of hospitalization with a ventilator. Most patients who could be candidates for the diaphragm pacemaker come into the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center during the summer months when ATV accidents and diving accidents occur more frequently, Dr. Knight said. She anticipates that there are other patients in similar situations who are treated at other facilities in the state who could benefit from this procedure. “West Virginians who are candidates for diaphragm pacemaker implantation don’t have to go to Baltimore or Cleveland to have the procedure done,” Knight said. “We’re doing it right here in their own backyards.” In order to move to a nursing or rehabilitation facility, patients cannot be dependant on a ventilator for breathing. The use of the pacemaker allows patients who wouldn’t be able to come off the ventilator to take the next step in their treatment. In addition, the cost of using the pacemaker versus the cost of being hooked up to a ventilator is tremendously less expensive. Knight said the batteries for the pacemaker cost about $20 to replace every three weeks whereas it can cost upwards of $500,000 for a patient to remain on a ventilator for a year. “For the patients who will benefit from this, it is life changing. Your life is totally different when you’re not hooked to a machine,” Knight said. The device, NeuRx DPS is currently being used in less than 35 cities nationwide, according to its manufacturer, Synapse Biomedical. For more information on the device, see www.synapsebiomedical.com. For more information on the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center see http://wvuhealthcare.com/hospitals/jmm-trauma-center.   [...]

WVU students put on their dancing shoes for WVU Children’s Hospital

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University students will be putting their dancing feet to the test Feb. 26 and 27 at the Mountainlair during the 2011 Dance Marathon, benefiting the WVU Children’s Hospital. The event lasts 18 hours, most of which will be spent dancing to raise money. Volunteers will also provide the dancers with other forms of entertainment, including games and refreshments. Former patients of WVU Children’s Hospital will stop by and allow the dancers a chance to visit with people similar to the ones they are helping. “We really appreciate all the students who organize and participate in the Dance Marathon each year. Eighteen hours is a long time to dance, so these students are working really hard to help us out, and we are very grateful for their efforts,” Cheryl Jones, R.N., director of WVU Children’s Hospital, said. Last year the student-organized event raised more than $30,000 through contributions and support from the community and pledge sponsors. This will be the 13th year the WVU Children’s Hospital has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network to host the Dance Marathon. This year’s theme is “Dr. Seuss: One Kid, Two Kids, We Dance for All Kids.”  Any business or individual interested in underwriting the event should contact Lora Edgell, Children’s Miracle Network director, at 304-598-4346 ext. 2. For more information about the WVU Dance Marathon, including information on donating, see http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventDetails&eventID=761.   [...]

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