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August 13,
2001

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RESEARCH ROUNDUP

Study questions pediatric tests

A study appearing in a recent issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, questions the reliability of locally measured echocardiographic data and calls for more standardized testing.

Physicians at Children's Hospital at Strong analyzed echocardiographic recordings obtained from 735 children at 10 clinical sites throughout the United States. The study's lead author, Steven Lipshultz, professor of pediatrics, says measurements differed so much that a central echocardiograph facility is needed to provide consistent and reliable data for research studies, and repeat measurements for individual children are recommended to provide clinically meaningful results.

As a result, the National Institutes of Health supports central remeasurement of thousands of echocardiograms, from more than 400 locations around the world, by experts at Strong. Measurements made at Strong have proven to be more reliable than locally made measurements. For additional information, visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/News/ques.html.

Chronic pain: forget about it

Research findings at the Medical Center suggest that chronic pain, including phantom pain experienced by many amputees and people with spinal cord injuries, is learned much like memories are formed.

Jay Yang, professor of anesthesiology and pharmacology and physiology, and his collaborators John Kulli, clinical professor of anesthesiology, and Raymond Zollo, senior instructor in anesthesiology, are looking at physical similarities between the way a memory is formed and the way pain becomes persistent and chronic.

"There's good pain and there's bad pain," says Yang. "Good pain, though we don't usually think of it as 'good,' is the usual kind we all experience. We cut ourselves and it hurts, or we touch a hot burner and we pull away because we feel pain. That helps us survive and protects us. Bad pain is pathological pain that persists long after your wound has healed. It serves no purpose."

Researchers are investigating gene therapy as a new way to control neuropathic pain. Yang and Christopher Wu, a former University faculty member now at Johns Hopkins University, have published a review of the status of gene therapy as a future treatment for chronic pain in the June and July issues of Anesthesiology. For additional information, visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/News/teaching.html.

Laser offers diagnostic alternative

Dermatology researchers at the Medical Center and Lucid, Inc., a Rochester-based company, have begun a novel collaboration aimed at helping Lucid move its new laser microscope into the marketplace.

Lucid's VivaScope device is a laser confocal microscope that lets physicians peer below the surface layers of skin to diagnose problems such as cancer without performing surgical biopsy and allows researchers to undertake studies of skin lesions that were impossible previously.

"If we can identify the early cellular changes that may signal cancer, we can begin treatment very early and give patients the best possible chances for a good outcome," says Alice Pentland, chair of the Department of Dermatology and medical director of the Center for Future Health.

Lucid and the Medical Center hope to expand their research to include diagnosis and treatment of breast and gynecological cancers. For additional information, visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/News/luc.html.



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