St. Louis laboratories play a vital role in medical research. Here are the latest findings

St. Louis laboratories play a vital role in medical research. Here are the latest findings

St. Louis is a hub for innovation and research. Here are local universities and laboratories’ latest discoveries and breakthroughs.

Memory Loss

1. Washington University researchers found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and circadian rhythm that may explain sleep disturbances in patients.

2. Wash. U. researchers also uncovered a connection between Alzheimer’s disease and receiving too little deep sleep. Seniors who receive less slow-wave sleep may have increased levels of the toxic brain protein tau, which can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

3. Spinal fluid containing an Alzheimer’s protein can potentially be used to determine what stage of the disease patients are in and lead to improved treatment, per research at Washington University.

4. In a study, Saint Louis University researcher Jeffrey Scherrer found a 42 percent decreased risk of adult patients developing dementia when they previously received a Tdap booster vaccination.


1. In a Wash. U. study with mice, increasing the FOX01 gene decreased cartilage damage, and decreasing the gene increased symptoms of osteoarthritis.

2. Washington University’s Farshid Guilak created living joint replacements while researching arthritic joint treatment.

3. New technology from Wash. U. researchers uses cartilage cells engineered to release an anti-inflammatory drug as a response to various stressors.

Brain Cancer

1. A recent Washington University study found that glioblastoma patients may respond best to receiving chemotherapy in the morning.

2. Detailed molecular and genetic schematics of glioblastoma tumors were mapped out by Washington University in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Library, Case Western University, and the National Institutes of Health.

3. In a study involving mice, Washington University researchers found that the Zika virus can activate immune cells to remove a deadly form of brain cancer and give a boost to an immunotherapy drug.

Breast Cancer

1. In partnership with, Washington University researchers developed software to look at breast density to identify women who might need additional screening beyond typical mammograms.

2. Wash. U. researchers also conducted a small clinical trial that found breast cancer patients with working estrogen receptors are more likely to benefit from hormone therapy.

Other Cancers

1. Whole-genome sequencing has been found to be as accurate as the typical genetic tests used to test various blood cancers and determine the type of treatment needed, according to a Washington University study.

2. A two-drug treatment for the bone cancer osteosarcoma could be an effective, less toxic alternative to the chemotherapy drug methotrexate, according to a Wash. U. study.

3. In a mouse study, Washington University researchers found a link between fatty liver disease and liver cancer in an RNA binding protein that regulates the lipid levels in the liver and blood.

4. As noted on p. 112, Wash. U. researchers also pinned down crucial features of protein fragments that may allow better vaccines and immunotherapies to combat cancer.

5. in a Washington University study involving mice, an antibody targeting the TREM2 protein spurred tumor-destroying immune cells.

Other Research

1. In a mouse study, Wash. U. researchers found that a new PET imaging agent called Galuminox that could be used to detect inflammation and study diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and COVID-19.

2. Wash. U. researchers found a link between a rare single gene mutation and at least some cases of cerebral palsy.

3. According to a Wash. U. study, certain drugs, such as efavirenz, may be able to set off a natural alarm in HIV cells by activating a dormant protein to self-destruct the infected cells.

4. Washington University researchers found that the SVEP1 gene is linked to clogged arteries and an increased likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

5. Two antibodies, called 1G05 and 2E01, protect mice from lethal influenza B virus infections, according to research done by Washington University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

6. The packaging of cytokines provides insight into inflammation in asthma, COPD, and COVID-19, according to Wash. U. research. 7. Wash. U. researchers found that mutations in the gene NEMP1 may explain infertility and early menopause in humans.

8. Washington University researchers discovered that losing weight after undergoing gastric bypass surgery can lead to the remission of diabetes through increased metabolism.

9. According to Wash. U. researchers, taking the drug buprenorphine can decrease the risk of overdose for opioid users, even if they are also taking benzodiazepines for anxiety or other conditions.

10. High-fat ketogenic diets might be beneficial in preventing or reversing heart failure linked to a metabolic process, according to SLU researchers.

11. A new imaging agent that can assist in discerning kidney health, called RadioCF, was developed by Washington University.

12. Wash. U. researchers also found that basophil blood cells can be triggered by environmental allergens to alert itch signals to nerve cells, which might be why antihistamines don’t always work for severe itch in eczema patients.


1. Washington University collaborated with The New England Journal of Medicine and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research to conduct a clinical trial in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which found that a designed therapeutic food for malnourished children worked to repair microbiomes in the gut.

2. A Wash. U. study discovered a toxin from E. coli alters intestinal cells

for its own benefit, a fact that may explain issues with malnutrition and stunted growth.

3. According to Washington University researchers, a Chiari 1 brain malformation may stem from variants in two chromodomain genes related to brain development, CHD3 and CHD8, and is more likely in children with large heads.

Institutes & Collaborations

1. Saint Louis University has formed an Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation and the Advanced HEAlth Data (AHEAD) Research Institute.

2. Wash. U. scientists, Agilent Technologies, and Merck are expanding research in metabolomics, which can help better understand, for instance, byproducts when the body breaks down a particular drug.



Heart Health: To help improve accuracy in treating arrhythmias and other minimally invasive cardiovascular-related surgeries, Washington University inventors and entrepreneurs Drs. Jennifer and Jon Silva developed a 3-D hologram to show a patient’s heart during operations. At Mercy Hospital, Dr. Anthony Tae-Young Sonn (see p. 81) oversees the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement program, which involves replacing a heart valve without having to undergo open-heart surgery. And in November, St. Luke’s Hospital became the region’s first medical facility to implant the Watchman FLX Device, used to close the left atrial appendage for some atrial fibrillation patients without using blood thinners and to help decrease the risk of a stroke.

Joint Approach: SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton now offers Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA® Knee System, a surgical knee replacement system involving robotic assistance that allows for more precision and flexibility during surgery.

Cold Capping: At Mercy’s Clayton-Clarkson infusion center, the Paxman scalp-cooling system aims to help prevent hair loss in chemotherapy patients by decreasing blood flow and chemo delivery to the scalp’s hair follicles.

Stroke Rehabilitation: Research at Washington University led to the creation of the IpsiHand Upper Extremity Rehabilitation System, which helps stroke patients redevelop control of their arms and hands.

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