Health Briefs

Health Briefs

World-Class Symposium Honors Lynch

The School of Medicine and CHI Health are hosting The Dr. Henry T. Lynch Symposium on Advances in Hereditary Cancer to honor Henry Lynch, M.D., director of Creighton’s Hereditary Cancer Center, and his lifetime of research. This program will take place at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center Sept. 17 and 18, the weekend of Creighton’s Homecoming.

Lynch’s extensive groundbreaking research proved that some cancers have a genetic link, which led to improved treatment and prevention options.

We Need More Vitamin D

Researchers at Creighton University and the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), have shown that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Institute of Medicine (IOM) miscalculated — and greatly underestimated — the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D. The miscalculation is by a factor of 10. The IOM recommends 600 IU per day through age 70, and 800 IU per day for those older.

Investigators in Canada noted the calculation error and the Creighton and UC San Diego scientists confirmed the error by using a data set from a different population.

Renowned Creighton vitamin D researcher Robert Heaney, BS’47, MD’51, wrote in the March edition of Nutrients: “We call for the NAS-IOM and all public health authorities concerned with transmitting accurate nutritional information to the public to designate, as the RDA, a value of approximately 7,000 IU/day from all sources.

Why the Bone Loss?

The Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center (ORC) is collaborating with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) on the Heartland Osteoporosis Prevention Study (HOPS). The researchers will evaluate the best way to prevent bone loss in women immediately after menopause, a time of rapid bone loss for women with the average being 15 percent.

The researchers will randomly assign the women into three different types of treatment over the course of one year: the first taking optimal calcium and vitamin D, the second taking a bone-building medication called Residronate and optimal calcium and vitamin D and the third doing bone-building exercises at one of the local YMCAs along with optimal calcium and vitamin D.

Women who are within five years post-menopause and have early bone loss are needed to participate in the study. For more information, call 402.559.6584 or email

Genome Replication May Hold Clues to Cancer Evolution

New research may have implications for the study of cancer cells. Along with a team of researchers from around the country, Creighton University microbiologist Anna Selmecki, Ph.D., used populations of yeast to determine that polyploidy — having more than two copies of an organism’s genome in one cell — can aid in the cells’ ability to adapt to their environments.

Selmecki said many tumor cells undergo a genome doubling and become tetraploid (having four copies of the genome). From there, many mutations can manifest, often with irregularities that develop quickly, including aneuploidy (an abnormal chromosome number).

Understanding how genome-doubling events impact the spread of growth-promoting mutations through a population of cells could help in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Diabetes Studies Focus on Weight Loss and Heart Health

The Creighton Diabetes Center is involved in many clinical research studies focusing on new agents which have not yet become generally available. Its work has focused on GLP-1 agonists, agents that mimic a natural hormone released in response to eating food. This hormone stimulates the release of insulin and informs people they are no longer hungry. Therefore, these agents lower blood sugar and are effective in triggering weight loss.

Another class of agents, the SGLT2 agents, lower blood sugar by increasing loss of sugar into the urine after eating and promote weight loss. The Creighton Diabetes Center is also embarking on a major study of PKSK9 inhibitors, which are the newest hope for lowering cholesterol and preventing heart attacks. This new investigational drug is added to statins and has produced very low levels of cholesterol and has reduced the risk of heart attacks.

Diabetics interested in being study participants are asked to call 402.280.4319.

Increasing the Absorption Rate of Anticancer Drugs

The FDA estimates that 40 percent of drug compounds are not absorbed. Harsh Chauhan, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacy sciences, is conducting a study to increase absorption of drug compounds in the area of bioavailability and stability enhancement of poorly soluble anticancer drugs and phytochemicals.

His recently published research showed enhanced in vitro bioavailability of the anti-cancer drug Curcumin. Focused on developing novel oral delivery systems for chemotherapeutic drugs, Chauhan’s lab is working to make them accessible to cancer patients at home.

Environmental Factors Impact Neurological Infectors

Collaborating researchers from Creighton University, Colorado State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have made a significant microbiological breakthrough with implications for both human and animal health. Illnesses such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose, as well as scrapie and mad cow disease in agricultural livestock, are caused by prions, an infectious protein. These microscopic agents, which bind to soil where they survive and remain highly infectious, enter the environment through an infected host’s blood, saliva, waste or decomposition.

The research shows repeated cycles of wetting and drying can significantly reduce prion infectivity through as little as a 10-phase cycle of rain followed by sunshine. This is the first study showing natural environmental processes having an impact on prions’ infectious activity.