Diagnostic marker found for deadly brain disease marked by dementia, movement problems

Zooming in on a single disease and studying it intensely is often the most productive route to finding treatments. But there’s no easy way to distinguish among people living with any of the primary tauopathies — a group of rare brain diseases marked by rapidly worsening problems with thinking and movement — because the symptoms […]

Rejuvenated immune cells can improve clearance of toxic waste from brain

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many other neurodegenerative diseases are marked by damaging clusters of proteins in the brain. Scientists have expended enormous effort searching for ways to treat such conditions by clearing these toxic clusters but have had limited success. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found an innovative way […]

Study yields clues to why Alzheimer’s disease damages certain parts of the brain

Memory loss is often the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease, followed by confusion and difficulty thinking. These symptoms reflect the typical pattern of worsening damage to brain tissues. Toxic clusters of proteins first concentrate in the temporal lobes of the brain — the memory area — before spreading to parts of the brain important for […]

COVID-19 widened health disparities in employment, food

Several studies on COVID-19 have revealed gaping disparities in the U.S. that negatively affect the health of people who aren’t white, especially nonwhite women. A deep dive from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the university’s Brown School shows that in St. Louis County, Black women suffered at disproportionately higher […]

Cellular housekeeping process implicated in fatal disorder

Huntington’s disease, a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative condition, is caused by a genetic error present at birth, though its symptoms often don’t begin until middle adulthood. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been trying to understand how the aging process triggers the onset of symptoms, with the expectation that such knowledge […]

New strategy shows potential to block nerve loss in neurodegenerative diseases

Two new studies from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis support development of a broadly applicable treatment for neurodegenerative diseases that targets a molecule that serves as the central executioner in the death of axons, the wiring of the nervous system. Blocking this molecular executioner prevents axon loss, which has been implicated in […]

Scientists ID pathway that triggers mice to scratch when they see others do the same

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a pathway in the brains of mice that is activated when the animals see other mice scratching. The researchers previously reported that the urge to scratch an itch after seeing other mice scratching is hardwired in the brain. Now they have found that […]

COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems

If you’ve had COVID-19, it may still be messing with your brain. Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection, new research shows. Such complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according […]

School of Medicine joins major NIH brain mapping effort

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are joining a national network to map the intricacies of the brain, with a goal of deepening knowledge of how the brain works and generating new insights into how the brain functions in healthy people — and how it malfunctions in Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism and […]

Investigational drug for genetic form of ALS improves disease’s molecular signs

An investigational drug developed to treat a rare, inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) reduced molecular signs of the fatal, paralyzing disease and curbed neurodegeneration — but at the six-month mark, the drug did not improve motor control and muscle strength, according to results from a phase 3 clinical trial led by researchers at […]

School of Medicine joins NIH initiative to expand use of AI in biomedical research

Imagine if one day in the future, doctors could diagnose throat cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression or other diseases based on the sound of a patient’s voice. To help make that a reality, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is joining the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bridge2AI program, an estimated $130 million initiative intended […]

Simple blood test predicts neurotoxic complications of CAR-T cell therapy

Cell-based immunotherapy called CAR-T cell therapy has revolutionized the treatment of several cancers. The treatment uses genetically modified T cells to target and attack certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. While it can eliminate cancer in some patients who would otherwise succumb to the disease, it also comes with the risk of a range of […]

New center’s aim: To ID biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases

A new center established at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis aims to accelerate research into biomarkers of neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS) and the so-called tauopathies, a group that includes Alzheimer’s disease along with rarer diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, corticobasal syndrome […]

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 […]