Genetic roots of three mitochondrial diseases ID’d via new approach

When something goes wrong in mitochondria, the tiny organelles that power cells, it can cause a bewildering variety of symptoms such as poor growth, fatigue and weakness, seizures, developmental and cognitive disabilities, and vision problems. The culprit could be a defect in any of the 1,300 or so proteins that make up mitochondria, but scientists […]

Protein linked to intellectual disability has complex role

Fragile X syndrome, the leading inherited cause of intellectual disability, is due to a genetic mutation that largely eliminates the fragile X protein, a critical element of normal brain development and function. The fragile X protein modulates neuronal functions, including neurons within the so-called GABAergic system that regulates the activity of neural circuits. The protein’s […]

Medication that lowers risk of overdose underused

Less than half of Americans who received treatment for opioid use disorder over a five-year period were offered a potentially lifesaving medication, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Saint Louis University have found. And treatment with the medication was even more rare for those with what’s known as polysubstance use […]

Gut bacterium supports growth in infants with severe acute malnutrition

About 18 million children under age 5 suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and over 3 million children die from it each year. Treatment with high-calorie supplemental foods and antibiotics can prevent deaths, but these interventions often have limited impact on the long-term effects of severe acute malnutrition, such as persistent stunted growth, disrupted immune function […]

Does improving sleep reduce signs of early Alzheimer’s disease?

The TV sitcom grandpa character who always seems to fall asleep at unfortunate moments is so common it’s almost a cliché. But daytime napping and disjointed sleep at night aren’t normal parts of aging. Sleep disturbances can be an early sign of a neurodegenerative condition, and they may be treatable. Researchers at Washington University School […]

Diabetes, metabolic syndrome in mice treated with novel class of compounds

A study in mice — led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis — shows that a new class of compounds the scientists developed can improve multiple aspects of metabolic syndrome. An increasingly common group of conditions that often occur together, metabolic syndrome includes type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, fat buildup […]

Promoting resilience in health-care workers aim of new grant

After two years of wearing layers of protective equipment on crowded hospital floors and working shift after shift with COVID-19 patients, many front-line health-care workers are suffering burnout, anxiety, depression and other difficulties. Consequently, many have left the field or started to question whether to remain. Reducing burnout and promoting mental health and wellness among […]

WashU part of $65 million NIH study of schizophrenia in young people

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is part of a major international study aimed at identifying causes and effects of the early stages of schizophrenia in young people, with the goal of improving early diagnosis and treatment. The mental illness is characterized by alterations in thoughts, feelings and behaviors, which may include psychosis, […]

Racial equity in Alzheimer’s research focus of $7 million in grants

The burden of Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t fall on all communities equally. Black Americans face about double the risk of developing the devastating neurodegenerative disease than non-Hispanic white Americans do. The factors that place Black people at elevated risk remain poorly understood, partly because Black people historically and systematically have been underrepresented in Alzheimer’s studies. Without […]

Antipsychotic drugs may increase risk of breast cancer

Tracking medications provided to over a half million U.S. women, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that many commonly prescribed older antipsychotic medications, and some newer ones, are associated with a significant increase in risk of breast cancer. Antipsychotics are prescribed for a broad range of conditions, including depression, […]

Infectious disease initiative launches

The Brown School, the Institute for Public Health’s Center for Dissemination and Implementation and the School of Medicine’s Infectious Disease Division at Washington University in St. Louis have launched the Infectious Disease Dissemination and Implementation Science (IDDI) Initiative. Led by Virginia McKay, PhD, research assistant professor at the Brown School, the initiative is designed to cultivate local […]

More sleep leads to better grades and well-being

Want good grades? Get a good semester’s sleep. But good sleep, it turns out, is not just about quantity. It’s also about consistency. Research from Tim Bono, PhD, lecturer in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, found that students who get a good night’s sleep night in […]

Psychotic experiences in children predict genetic risk for mental disorders

So much has happened in the world to cause people to think deeper about their mental well-being and resiliency during difficult times. More than 50% of the population has struggled with a mental health issue at some point in their lives. They can be as disabling as physical conditions and are among the leading causes […]

Emotional aspects of chronic pain isolated in brain circuitry

Negative emotional states and physical pain are intimately connected. Numerous people who suffer from chronic, persistent pain also deal with negative emotions and loss of motivation. Some even become clinically depressed eventually, and doctors sometimes prescribe antidepressants to treat chronic pain, even though the pathways that link pain and mood are poorly understood. Now, studying […]

‘Fight or flight’ – unless internal clocks are disrupted, study in mice shows

For humans and animals, many aspects of normal behavior and physiology rely on the proper functioning of the body’s circadian clocks. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Your brain sends signals to your body to release different hormones at certain times of the day. For example, you get a boost of the hormone cortisol — nature’s […]

$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 […]