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Dartmouth Medicine Summer 2009

Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:

In the Summer 2009 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:

"Just the facts, ma'am": A trio of Dartmouth researchers has been developing and studying a way to present patients with simple, understandable data about drugs-much like the nutrition information panel on packaged foods. Their latest study showed that their "drug facts box" concept greatly improves patients' understanding of the relative benefits and risks of two different drugs. Both Congress and the FDA are seriously considering mandating the concept. See page 5.

Some painful facts about opioids: The director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Pain Management Center cochaired a national panel of pain experts that developed new guidelines for prescribing opioids. The work was prompted by a 347% increase in the use of therapeutic opioids between 1997 and 2006, and an 83% increase in opioid-related deaths among patients aged 15 to 64 between 1999 and 2005. See page 10.

Ironing out a problem for CF patients: When bacterial biofilms colonize the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, it's bad news. Knowing that iron can foster the formation of biofilms, researchers at Dartmouth wondered if suppressing iron might help. They tested two iron chelators-chemicals that bind to iron and prevent it from being used-in combination with a standard antibiotic. In cultures of human airway cells, the combination treatment reduced the biomass of bacterial biofilms by 90%. See page 6.

A "green" yardstick for hospitals: The manager of waste and recycling at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center developed a tool that allows a hospital to calculate its ecological footprint-and made Dartmouth-Hitchcock the first medical center in the country to figure out its eco-impact. See page 16.

Two ways to tackle tumors?: Dartmouth researchers used a pair of proteins to keep tumor cells from falling prey to a tendency of their chromosomes to mis-segregate during mitosis. The finding might lead to treatments that would suppress mis-segregation and make tumors more responsive to chemotherapy . . . or that would increase mis-segregation to a point that tumor growth would be hindered. See page 8.

Seize the finding: An epilepsy specialist at Dartmouth was hoping that suppressing all post-seizure electrical activity in the brain would lessen the effects of a condition called status epilepticus. But when he tested the concept in rats, he was surprised to find that it increased cell damage. Even though it wasn't the finding he expected, it may lead to a new understanding of epilepsy's effects on the brain. See page 7.

Getting back at plaque: By administering a protein molecule to mice with plaque-filled arteries, a Dartmouth researcher was able to reduce the cholesterol in the plaque deposits by 49%. The finding may eventually lead to a new treatment for atherosclerosis, which kills more Americans than cancer. See page 4.

Patterns in abuse: A resident in orthopaedics decided to help fellow orthopaedists figure out when childhood injuries might be the result of abuse rather than an accident. He analyzed a huge national database and found that injuries occurring on weekdays, in winter, in children under two years old, and in children covered by Medicaid were more likely to involve abuse. See page 7.

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

Editor

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College