$7 million to support research into how human genome works

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help lead national efforts to investigate how variations in the human genome sequence affect how the genome functions. Such information is critical for understanding human health and seeking new ways to treat diseases. […]

Who’s in cognitive control?

Are you able to start a task and stick with it, all the way through, ignoring the temptations of the internet or the sudden realization that you should probably do the laundry? Or maybe you should be doing something else right this moment? The faculty that allows people to make plans or goals, and carry […]

Fall-prevention program can help reduce harmful in-home falls by nearly 40%

For many aging Americans, the dream of maintaining an active, independent lifestyle while living at home comes crashing down with a fall. Falls are the leading cause of injury, accidental death and premature placement in a nursing home among older adults in the United States. Now, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in […]

Antibodies block specific viruses that cause arthritis, brain infections

Alphaviruses — mosquito-borne viruses that can trigger brain infections and arthritis — may have met their match. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified two antibodies that protect animals from disease caused by alphaviruses. The antibodies worked for every alphavirus tested, meaning they potentially could form the basis of treatments […]

Cannabis use disorder: another COVID risk factor

Should doctors take particular care to talk to patients about the potential dangers of COVID-19 if those patients have a problematic relationship with pot? New research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests perhaps they should. Diabetes, obesity and a history of smoking cigarettes are all considered risk factors for poorer COVID-19 outcomes. Warnings and […]

17-year study of children associates poverty with smaller, slower-growing subcortical regions

Children in poverty are more likely to have cognitive and behavioral difficulties than their better-off peers. Plenty of past research has looked into the physical effects of childhood poverty, or documented mental health disparities between socioeconomic classes. But Deanna Barch, chair and professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences at […]

$33 million to support study comparing anesthetic medications

More than 50,000 surgical patients undergo general anesthesia every day in the United States, but clinicians and scientists lack evidence indicating which types of anesthesia drugs result in the best outcomes for patients. A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Michigan will compare […]

New Alzheimer’s treatment targets identified

A research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified potential new treatment targets for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as existing drugs that have therapeutic potential against these targets. The potential targets are defective proteins that lead to the buildup of amyloid in the brain, contributing to the onset of problems […]

New snack foods nurture healthy gut microbiome

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified ingredients for snack food prototypes that have been formulated to deliberately change the gut microbiome in ways that can be linked to health. Translating results from animal models, the scientists have shown in two pilot human studies of overweight participants that snacks containing […]

What makes us sneeze?

Portrait of a young woman sneezing

A tickle in the nose can help trigger a sneeze, expelling irritants and disease-causing pathogens. But the cellular pathways that control the sneeze reflex go far beyond the sinuses and have been poorly understood. Now, a team led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified, in mice, specific cells […]

Study sheds light on treatment options for devastating childhood brain cancer

Medulloblastoma is a rare but devastating childhood brain cancer. This cancer can spread through the spinal fluid and be deposited elsewhere in the brain or spine. Radiation therapy to the whole brain and spine followed by an extra radiation dose to the back of the brain prevents this spread and has been the standard of […]

Compound may prevent risk of form of arrhythmia from common medications

Dozens of commonly used drugs, including antibiotics, anti-nausea and anticancer medications, have a potential side effect of lengthening the electrical event that triggers contraction, creating an irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia called acquired Long QT syndrome. While safe in their current dosages, some of these drugs may have a more therapeutic benefit at higher doses, […]

Alcohol problems severely undertreated

Some 16 million Americans are believed to have alcohol use disorder, and an estimated 93,000 people in the U.S. die from alcohol-related causes each year. Both of those numbers are expected to grow as a result of heavier drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, in a new study involving data from more than 200,000 people […]

WashU, Pitt awarded $10.7 million for Alzheimer’s disease research

Despite decades of research and investment, the genetic underpinnings of Alzheimer’s disease are still largely unknown, stymieing efforts at drug development and early diagnosis. To change that, a new grant will support the first comprehensive study to use whole genome sequencing to address critical gaps in knowledge about the disease. The $10.7 million, five-year project […]

Treatment not always needed to prevent vision loss in patients with elevated eye pressure

More than 20 years after the launch of a landmark clinical trial, follow-up examinations and analyses found that not all patients with elevated eye pressure need pressure-lowering treatment to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. When the study was launched, it was universally accepted that all patients with elevated eye pressure should be given medication to […]

Gordon receives Kober Medal

Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, has been awarded the George M. Kober Medal from the Association of American Physicians in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of gut microbiome research. Gordon, director of the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is considered to […]

For malnourished children, a new type of microbiome-directed food boosts growth

A new type of therapeutic food specifically designed to repair the gut microbiomes of malnourished children is superior to standard therapy in promoting growth, according to the results of a proof-of-concept clinical trial conducted in Bangladesh. The study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and […]

Chemo for glioblastoma may work better in morning than evening

An aggressive type of brain cancer, glioblastoma has no cure. Patients survive an average of 15 months after diagnosis, with fewer than 10% of patients surviving longer than five years. While researchers are investigating potential new therapies via ongoing clinical trials, a new study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that a minor adjustment […]

Zika virus helps destroy deadly brain cancer in mice

The Zika virus that ravaged the Americas, leaving many babies with permanent brain damage, may have a silver lining. The virus can activate immune cells to destroy an aggressive brain cancer in mice, giving a powerful boost to an immunotherapy drug and sparking long-lasting immunological memory that can ward off tumor recurrence for at least […]

Can changes in driving habits predict cognitive decline in older adults?

“Driving is an integral part of the American identity,” said Ganesh Babulal, assistant professor of neurology. Babulal is the principal investigator on two of the grants and a co-principal investigator on the third. “For the next three decades, there’s going to be massive growth of the aging population, and driving — not autonomous vehicles or ride-sharing, but […]

Brain rewires itself after injury ‘on the edge of what’s compatible with life’

For 13 years, Daniel Carr had no idea he was missing part of his brain. One of the first clues occurred on the baseball field. The coach of his seventh-grade boys’ competitive team in suburban St. Louis noticed Daniel’s unusual, albeit effective, fielding tactic in the outfield. Daniel wore his glove on his right hand. […]

International Alzheimer’s clinical trial to test tau drugs

A worldwide clinical trial aimed at finding treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has expanded to include investigational drugs targeting a harmful form of the brain protein tau. The trial, known as the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit (DIAN-TU) and led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, launched in 2012 as the first […]

Brain signals decoded to determine what a person sees

Some people are trapped within their own minds, able to think and feel but unable to express themselves because brain injury or disease has damaged their lines of communication with the outside world. As a step toward helping people in such situations communicate, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have demonstrated […]

Acute itching in eczema patients linked to environmental allergens

In addition to a skin rash, many eczema sufferers also experience chronic itching, but sometimes that itching can become torturous. Worse, antihistamines — the standard treatment for itching and allergy — often don’t help. New research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that allergens in the environment often are to blame for episodes […]

Protein involved in removing Alzheimer’s buildup linked to circadian rhythm

Fractured sleep, daytime sleepiness and other signs of disturbance in one’s circadian rhythm are common complaints of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and the problems only get worse as the disease progresses. But the reason for the link between Alzheimer’s and circadian dysfunction is not well understood. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. […]

Bateman, Diamond, Hultgren named to National Academy of Inventors

Neurologist Randall J. Bateman, MD, virologist and immunologist Michael S. Diamond, MD, PhD, and microbiologist Scott Hultgren — all faculty members at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis — have been named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. They are among 175 new fellows elected this year […]

Building better vaccines for the elderly

As human lifespans have gotten longer, certain proteins in our bodies are increasingly prone to take on alternative shapes. These misfolded proteins can ultimately trigger neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Meredith Jackrel, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington […]

Young people with disabilities focus of COVID-19 testing grant

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received a two-year $5 million grant to offer 50,000 saliva tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to students, teachers and staff in the six special education schools operated by the Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD). The pandemic has disproportionately impacted students with […]

Lethal brain infections in mice thwarted by decoy molecule

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a molecule that protects mice from brain infections caused by Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), a mosquito-borne virus notorious for causing fast-spreading, deadly outbreaks in Mexico, Central America and northern South America. As the climate changes, the virus is likely to expand its […]

Fluvoxamine may prevent serious illness in COVID-19 patients

In a preliminary study of COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate disease who were attempting to recover in their homes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the drug fluvoxamine seems to prevent some of the most serious complications of the illness and make hospitalization and the need for supplemental oxygen […]

Barch, Bateman elected to National Academy of Medicine

Deanna M. Barch, PhD, an expert in cognitive and language deficits in psychological disorders, and Randall J. Bateman, MD, a leading Alzheimer’s disease researcher, have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the organization is extended to those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment […]

Startup company founded by Washington University scientists acquired by Eli Lilly

Pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly and Company has purchased Disarm Therapeutics, a startup biotechnology firm founded by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Disarm Therapeutics was co-founded by Jeffrey Milbrandt, MD, PhD, and Aaron DiAntonio, MD, PhD, to speed the development of treatments for multiple neurodegenerative conditions. Based on research from the Milbrandt and […]

Cerebral palsy also has genetic underpinnings

The causes of cerebral palsy have long been debated and often are attributed to in utero infections, premature birth, or brain injury to the baby near or during delivery, usually from a lack of oxygen. But many young children diagnosed with cerebral palsy have not experienced such events. Now, scientists have identified mutations in single […]

Immune system affects mind and body, study indicates

New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis helps illuminate a surprising mind-body connection. In mice, the researchers found that immune cells surrounding the brain produce a molecule that is then absorbed by neurons in the brain, where it appears to be necessary for normal behavior. The findings, published Sept. 14 in […]

Stroke survival rates worse in rural areas, study says

A major U.S. study reveals large gaps between urban and rural patients in quality of care received after a stroke and rates of survival. In more rural areas, the ability of hospitals to deliver advanced stroke care is lower and mortality rates substantially higher, the research shows. The analysis, involving nearly 800,000 patients, was led […]

Scientists map how human retinal cells relay information to brain

To understand how we see the world and how diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma impair vision, scientists need to understand how the retina communicates vision signals to the brain. Previously, researchers have worked primarily with retinal cells from animals. But a new study from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in […]

Obituary: Barbara Geller, professor emerita of child psychiatry, 81

Barbara Geller, MD, an emerita professor of child psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, died Friday, May 8, 2020, in hospice in St. Louis after a brief illness. She was 81. A leading researcher in manic and depressive disorders in children, Geller was the recipient of […]

Research in most university labs moved from bench to internet

When Washington University Vice Chancellor for Research Jennifer K. Lodge first sounded the alarm about the disruptive impact COVID-19 likely would have on labs across the university, the research community heeded her warning, taking steps to shut down lab work and move as much as possible online. Those in position to do so began pivoting their research […]

Cancerous tumors, surrounding cells illuminated by new imaging agent

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a new imaging agent that could let doctors identify not only multiple types of tumors but the surrounding normal cells that the cancer takes over and uses as a shield to protect itself from attempts to destroy it. The study appears March 9 […]

Washington University to break ground on major neuroscience research hub

Washington University in St. Louis will begin construction in March on what will be one of the largest neuroscience research buildings in the country. Located on the School of Medicine campus, the 11-story, state-of-the-art research facility will merge, cultivate and advance some of the world’s leading neuroscience research. The 609,000-square-foot facility and interconnected projects initially […]

Diabetes in mice cured rapidly using human stem cell strategy

Researchers have converted human stem cells into insulin-producing cells and demonstrated in mice infused with such cells that blood sugar levels can be controlled and diabetes functionally cured for nine months. The findings, from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, are published online Feb. 24 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. “These […]

Why Zika virus caused most harmful brain damage to Brazilian newborns

Due to Zika virus, more than 1,600 babies were born in Brazil with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, from September 2015 through April 2016. The epidemic took health professionals by surprise because the virus had been known since 1947 and was not linked to birth defects. As scientists scrambled to figure out what was going […]

Investigational drugs didn’t slow memory loss, cognitive decline in rare, inherited Alzheimer’s, initial analysis indicates

An international clinical trial evaluating whether two investigational drugs can slow memory loss and cognitive decline in people in the early stages of a rare, inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease has yielded disappointing results, an initial analysis of the data has shown. However, the researchers continue to explore data from the trial’s cognitive and clinical […]

$29 million for new phase of international Alzheimer’s study

For more than a decade, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has led an international effort to better understand Alzheimer’s disease by studying people with rare genetic mutations that cause the disease to develop in their 50s, 40s or even 30s. The researchers have shown that the disease begins developing two decades or […]

Depression, anxiety may hinder healing in young patients with hip pain

New research suggests that physicians evaluating young patients with hip pain should consider more than such patients’ physical health. They also should consider screening those patients for clinical depression and anxiety — impairments that researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found can have a negative impact on outcomes following hip […]

Why doesn’t deep-brain stimulation work for everyone?

People with severe Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions that cause intractable symptoms such as uncontrollable shaking, muscle spasms, seizures, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are sometimes treated with electric stimulators placed inside the brain. Such stimulators are designed to interrupt aberrant signaling that causes the debilitating symptoms. The therapy, deep-brain stimulation, can provide relief […]

Brain imaging of babies with Down syndrome focus of $11.5 million grant

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received a five-year, $11.5 million grant to lead a multicenter effort to understand how brain development in babies with Down syndrome differs from that in other babies. The effort, which involves scanning the babies’ brains using MRI, will provide a foundation that may lead […]

Which came first: brain size or drinking propensity?

For years, researchers have observed that alcohol consumption is associated with reduced brain volume and concluded that drinking can literally shrink the brain. But new research turns that theory on its head, suggesting that reduced brain volume may represent a genetically-conferred predispositional risk factor for heavier alcohol consumption. “Our results suggest that associations between alcohol […]

Grant to help train researchers on mental health disparities in U.S., abroad

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have been awarded a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to train young scientists to recognize, investigate and work toward correcting disparities in access to mental health care in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Although […]

Dementia patients’ adult kids diagnosed earlier than their parents

A person’s chance of developing dementia is influenced by family history, variations in certain genes, and medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But less is known about the factors that affect when the first symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion will arise. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis […]