Study Hall

Kidneys Between Kin

Identical Twin Transplant Recipients Fare Equally Well Without Immunosuppressants

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have that survival rates were about the same regardless of whether patients were on immunosuppressants or not one year after surgery. The researchers propose guidelines for genetic testing and continued management of identical twin transplants. The resulting paper was published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Mesh vs. Hysterectomy

Sometimes Both Options Are Equally Good

According to new data from a nationwide consortium involving researchers at Magee-Womens Research Institute and patients at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, women had comparable clinical outcomes three years after pelvic organ prolapse surgery—regardless of whether the surgeon used mesh to suspend the uterus or removed the uterus entirely. The results of this randomized, blinded clinical trial have been published in JAMA

Youth Violence

More Support = Less Trouble

Among teen boys in urban neighborhoods with low resources, the presence of adult social support is linked to significantly fewer occurrences of sexual violence, youth violence and bullying, as well as increases in positive behaviors, including school engagement and future aspirations, according to a new study from researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.   The study, published in JAMA Network Open, suggests that prevention efforts that focus on adult support can mitigate patterns of co-occurring violent behavior.  

Breast Cancer

Data-driven Computational Strategies Could Help Personalize Therapies

Cancers arise through the accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations that lead to widespread gene expression changes. Transcription factors (TFs) are instrumental in driving these gene expression programs, and the aberrant activity of TFs — induced downstream of activated oncogenic signaling or in concert with epigenetic modifiers — often underlies the altered developmental state of cancer cells and acquisition of cancer-related cellular phenotypes. University of Pittsburgh researcher Hatice Osmanbeyoglu and colleagues used data-driven computational strategies they believe may help to infer patient-specific transcriptional regulatory programs and identify and therapeutically target the TFs that lead to cancer phenotypes. Ultimately, they say in Nature Communications, such strategies could be used to personalize therapy and improve patient outcomes.

Cell Biology

Please Don’t (Actually, It’s OK to Do) Squeeze the Nucleus

Our cells sometimes have to squeeze through pretty tight spaces. And when they do, the nuclei inside must go along for the ride. University of Pittsburgh scientists believe their observations (click for a stellar animation) indicate that the distinct lamin layers are part of a necessary cellular system: When functioning correctly, it allows nuclei to relieve pressure when compressed by biologic functions — such as moving within a very thin blood vessel or squeezing through a narrow opening — to avoid damage to the nucleus itself. 


Rhythms in Gene Expression Offer Clues

Rhythms in gene expression in the brain are highly disrupted in people with schizophrenia, according to a new University of Pittsburgh-led study.  The findings, published today by researchers from Pitt’s School of Medicine in the journal Nature Communications, also suggest that researchers studying schizophrenia-linked genes in the brain could have missed important clues that would help understand the disease.  “Our study shows for the first time that there are significant disruptions in the daily timing of when some genes are turned on or off, which has implications for how we understand the disease at a molecular level,” said senior author Colleen McClung, professor of psychiatry at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

Youth Suicide

Working to Predict What Leads to Attempts

Teen and young adult suicides are on the rise; they’re the highest they’ve been since the government began collecting data in 1960. To reverse this grim trend, researchers are trying to understand how to predict such attempts. In JAMA Psychiatry, Pitt psychiatrist Nadine Melthem posits that fluctuations in depression are the best predictor for whether a young person will attempt suicide. “What’s important here is that these are symptoms clinicians are already assessing, or should be assessing,” she says. Looking at the big picture over time rather than individual episodes of depression may then be the key.