University of Rochester
Journal Citations

Research Roundup

Statins Have Unexpected Effect on Pool of Powerful Brain Cells

A Rochester study is shedding new light on an important medical debate: What role do the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins play in brain health, particularly regarding dementia? Published in the journal Glia, the study by team leader Steven Goldman, professor of neurology, and first author Fraser Sim, assistant professor of neurology, indicates that statins have a profound effect on the brain’s glial cells, an important pool of cells similar to stem cells that the brain can call upon to repair damage caused by infection, bleeding, or injury. The team found that statins spur glial cells to shed their flexibility and become one particular type of cell, which limits the brain’s cellular flexibility to react to damage.

Research: Ranges Rise Rapidly

Mountains may experience a “growth spurt” that can double their height in as little as 2 to 4 million years—several times faster than the prevailing tectonic theory suggests. That’s according to new research by Carmala Garzione, associate professor of geology, and her collaborators who studied sedimentary basins in the Andes Mountains. The work, published in the journal Science, shows that the Andes rose slowly for tens of millions of years, and then suddenly lifted much faster between 10 and 6 million years ago. Previously, geologists estimated that the Andes grew gradually over 40 million years.

Researchers Find Better Way to Identify Melanoma

As skin cancer rates climb dramatically among young women, Rochester researchers may have discovered a new mechanism to distinguish melanoma from some benign moles that look like melanoma but are not cancerous. In a study published in the journal Modern Pathology, first author Jennifer Pryor, a third-year resident in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, reported that a Rochester team had found a new protein produced excessively in malignant melanoma. The finding offers a potential target for diagnosis and for treatment.

Birth Weight Prediction May Lead to Safer Deliveries

Physicians at the Medical Center have identified a method that appears to predict reliably the birth weight of babies born to obese women, a key factor in counseling patients and planning for safe delivery of their infants. Loralei Thornburg, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology who reported the findings in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, used a method called gestation-adjusted projection to predict birth weight accurately in more than 9 out of 10 cases. The method relies on a mathematical formula coupled with ultrasound images taken between the 34th and 36th weeks of pregnancy rather than at the end of pregnancy, when it’s more difficult to get images of the baby.

Salmonella: Trickier than Imagined

Medical Center researchers say a molecular trick may explain part of the Salmonella bacteria’s fierceness: A protein appears to allow the bacteria to maintain a low profile in the body, giving it time to gain a foothold in an organism before the immune system is roused to fight the invader. The protein is one of several in Salmonella that affect cells in the wall of the intestines and stomach that link together tightly to protect the colon. Led by Jun Sun, assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology, and published in the online journal PloS One, the study indicates that while Salmonella loosens the normally tight junctions and makes the body vulnerable to infection, the protein discovered by Rochester researchers maintains the junctions, allowing Salmonella to avoid detection by the immune system and survive in the host for some time.