Dartmouth Medicine Spring 2008
Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:
In the Spring 2008 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:
Hunting down gray tornadoes: When P. aeruginosa bacteria colonize the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, they look like tiny gray tornadoes sweeping through human airway cells. Dartmouth researchers recently published, in two separate journals, studies that shed light on this process; both papers were selected by the respective journals' editors as containing especially prominent findings. See page 3.
Data about drugs: Given the reams of fine print in ads and package inserts for prescription medications, how could anyone claim there's not enough data available about drugs? A trio of Dartmouth researchers not only makes that claim-that the tiny type doesn't include data about how well the drug actually works-but they're doing something about it. They've developed a "drug facts box," modeled on the nutrition facts panel on packaged foods, and are working with the FDA on implementing it. See page 4.
Promising chemopreventatives: Dartmouth's Michael Sporn, who coined the term "chemoprevention," has several compounds in clinical trials, and early results have been promising. That's gratifying to Sporn, for he's had a hard time getting drug companies interested in the agents, because their broad range of action doesn't fit the monofunctional profile that drug companies like, to limit their liability. See page 5.
A bone of contention: Dartmouth clinician-researcher Brooke Herndon studied the impact of lowering the threshold for the treatment of osteoporosis. Though she agrees the disease is a major health concern, she's worried about adding 6.8 million more women to the ranks of those eligible for drug therapy (at a cost of $46 billion). But that would be the effect of proposed new disease definition guidelines. See page 7.
Good SPORT: The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT)-a seven-year, $21-million, Dartmouth-led comparison of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for back pain-has found that for patients with spinal stenosis, surgery both decreases their pain and improves their physical function more than physical therapy, pain medications, or other nonsurgical options. See page 6. Village improvement society: A second-year Dartmouth medical student has been working for the past three years with an organization he founded to improve the health of villagers in rural Ecuador. See page 16.
Battling brutality: When he was six years old, Yinong Young-Xu witnessed bystanders laughing and cheering as political dissidents in his native China were carted off for execution. "I believe brutality is a disease, just like cancer," he said in a recent commentary on public radio's This I Believe series. He's committing more than talk to battling the kind of brutality he saw as a child-today he is a researcher at the Dartmouth-affiliated VA National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. See page 10.
Making the case for "slow medicine": Borrowing a page from the "slow food" movement, a member of the Dartmouth faculty is promoting the concept of "slow medicine" for aging family members-focusing on improving their day-to-day quality of life rather than managing acute crises. His book on the subject got a glowing New York Times review that was on the Times's list of most-e-mailed health articles for a week. An essay in this issue of Dartmouth Medicine is excerpted from the book's introduction. See page 62.
To pursue any of these stories, contact the Dartmouth Medical School/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Media Relations Office at 603-653-1913 or Jason.Aldous@Hitchcock.org.
Dana Cook Grossman