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Potential Modulator Dr. Teresa DiLorenzo was awarded a $1.4 million grant over four years by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study how the severity of Type I diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin to control blood sugar, may be reduced by retraining the immune system to ignore rather than destroy insulin-producing pancreas cells.  By harnessing the power of steady-state dendritic cells, a subset of immune cells that can prevent the immune system from destroying healthy tissue such as the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, Dr. DiLorenzo will explore how targeted modulation of the body’s own immune system may be the best medicine for this complex autoimmune disease.  This work will provide insights that could possibly guide the future development of therapies for Type I diabetes that modulate the immune system. Type I diabetes, which is often referred to as juvenile diabetes since most individuals are diagnosed during childhood through their early 20s, represents a growing public health problem and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality.  Dr. DiLorenzo is professor of microbiology & immunology and of medicine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Linguistic Comparison — In looking at the differences in language skills between young children with autism spectrum disorders(ASD) who were monolingual (speaking only English) or who were bilingual (speaking both English and Spanish), Einstein researchers led by Dr. Maria Valicenti-McDermott found that the only difference in language skills was that bilingual children were more likely to vocalize and use gestures than were monolinguals. No differences were found between the two groups (40 bilingual and 40 monolingual) in terms of cognitive functioning, developmental level or autistic characteristics. Dr. Valicenti-McDermott and colleagues conclude that bilingualism does not seem to confer an extra vulnerability in those children with ASD who speak two languages. Their findings – from the first study to include bilingual English/Spanish-speaking children - were reported in the Journal of Child Neurology. Dr. Valicenti-McDermott is assistant professor of pediatrics and a staff member at Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Exploring Ethics — The journal Health Affairs recently published a paper, "Given Financial Constraints, It Would Be Unethical to Divert Antiretroviral Drugs from Treatment to Prevention," by Drs. Ruth Macklin and Ethan Cowan, in which they make the point that recent advances in HIV prevention have set up an ethical dilemma concerning whether limited resources and supplies of lifesaving antiretroviral medications should be divided between treatment and prevention. After exploring several ethical principles used in formulating public health policy, the duo concludes that it would be unethical to allow patients with treatable AIDS to have their conditions worsen and possibly die, even with supportive care, so that medications for treatment can be diverted for prevention. Dr. Macklin also was among those to give a featured presentation during a special briefing hosted by the journal on July 10, in Washington, DC. She is professor of epidemiology & population health and the Dr. Shoshanah Trachtenberg Frackman Faculty Scholar in Biomedical Ethics. Dr. Cowan is assistant professor of emergency medicine and of epidemiology & population health.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Purine Prohibition — In a paper recently published in Chemistry & Biology, Dr. Vern Schramm and MSTP student Keith Hazleton describe a novel approach that may prove effective in treating malaria, the disease caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum that causes 800,000 deaths per year.  Their research team used acyclic immucilin phosphonates (AIPs) to inhibit hypoxanthine-guanine-xanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGXPRT). This enzyme is essential to the parasite for making purines, a group of organic compounds with many critical functions that include serving as one of the building blocks of DNA.  The use of AIPs blocked HGXPRT’s function, resulting in the death of P. falciparum parasites that were in infected red blood cells, which are a primary target in human malarial infection. The duo’s findings validate HGXPRT’s viability as a potentially effective drug target for treating malaria.  Dr. Schramm is the professor and chair of biochemistry, and the Ruth Merns Chair in Biochemistry.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Good Night, Sleep Right — In a new publication in the journal Pediatrics, Dr.  Karen Bonuck discusses her finding that children with disrupted sleep patterns through five years of age were more likely to have special education needs (SEN) at eight years old.  Dr. Bonuck found that a prior history of sleep disordered breathing (SDB), coupled with behavioral sleep problems, were risk factors for SEN.  This extends her previous work, also published in Pediatrics earlier in 2012, which found children with SDB - which includes snoring, apnea, and open-mouth breathing - were more likely to have behavioral difficulties.  These reports contribute to the growing knowledge of the serious effects that sleep disorders can have on cognitive and emotional functions in children.  Dr. Bonuck is professor of family and social medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Stay Connected — The September 2012 issue of ICTR Connections is now available for viewing via the Einstein-Montefiore Institute for Clinical & Translational Research website.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Heavy Reality  In research published in the journal, Cancer, Dr. Joseph Sparano, found that just being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Dr. Sparano noted that the link between obesity and cancer remains regardless of treatment and that reducing weight may reduce risk of recurrence.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Growth Charting  The National Cancer Institute has awarded $1.7 million over five years to Dr. Steven Libutti and colleagues to support their investigation of tissue-specific cancer development. Dysfunctional tumor suppressor genes are known to cause cancer in some tissues but not others. Dr. Libutti’s team will intentionally disrupt the tumor suppressor gene Men1 in several tissue types and observe whether or not tumors result. By comparing the components of cells that develop tumors with the components of cells that don’t, they may discover unknown contributors to tumor growth, which may help identify potential targets for future intervention. Dr Libutti is associate director for clinical services at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, vice chair of the department of surgery, and professor in the departments of surgery and genetics.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Antibody Therapeutics  Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that protect against toxins, or protective mAbs, have proven to be useful agents for treating infectious diseases caused by toxins in one’s system. Paradoxically, most of the antibodies that are generated to fight toxins are non-protective in nature. In seeking greater understanding of this role about which very little is known, researchers led by graduate student Siu-Kei Chow and his mentor Dr. Arturo Casadevall have shown that, compared to protective mAb treatment alone, a combination of protective and non-protective mAbs against anthrax toxin protective antigen (PA) leads to synergistic protection in mice challenged with anthrax toxin. The enhanced defense is driven by the formation of PA complexes that contain both types of antibodies, which results from the ability of each arm of the mAbs to bind to different targets. Through the demonstration of the protective potential of these mAbs, researchers may have promising new possibilities for antibody-based therapeutic study. The findings appear in the April 17 issue of Cell Host & Microbe. Dr. Casadevall is professor and chair of and microbiology & Immunology, as well as professor of medicine (infectious diseases). He also holds the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology and is director of the Center for Immunological Sciences.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

HIV-Susceptible Mice  In a May 2013 issue of PLoS ONE, Dr. Harris Goldstein and graduate student Kieran Seay report their development of a genetically engineered mouse that can be used to study HIV. Since a critical step in testing new drugs is to demonstrate effectiveness in mice; the researchers first had to overcome a critical obstacle: Mice cannot be infected by the virus. HIV infects by binding to and entering molecules via the proteins CD4 and CCR5, which are present on the cell surface of human immune cells. The virus then utilizes an internal protein, cyclin T1, to make copies of itself. The researchers were able to genetically engineer a mouse with the human copy of these critical genes, rendering the new mouse model susceptible to HIV infection. This “humanized” mouse model therefore provides a new way to conduct essential preclinical testing of HIV therapies to accelerate discovery of novel treatments. Dr. Goldstein is professor of pediatrics and of microbiology & immunology. He also is the Charles Michael Chair in Autoimmune Diseases and director of Einstein’s Center for AIDS Research.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
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