From the Wire: R&D 2017

Site Connects Patients with Clinical Trials

December 2016—One of the significant advantages of living near a major research university with an academic medical center is the access to clinical trials, which are vital to developing treatment options and furthering our understanding of diseases.

Clinical trials are research studies that investigate the effectiveness of new drugs, diagnostics or treatments on human patients. They also give physicians a better understanding about the cost-effectiveness of a treatment and how it improves the quality of life of a patient. They play a vital role in the advancement of medicine, and without the information they provide, doctors wouldn’t be able to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific treatment.

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Brain Algorithm Enables Intelligence

November 2016—Our brains have a basic algorithm that enables us to not just recognize a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but the intelligence to ponder the broader implications of a bountiful harvest as well as good family and friends.

A relatively simple mathematical logic underlies our complex brain computations,” said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, co-director of the Augusta University Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neurobiology.

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Researchers identify autoimmune markers

June 2016­—Researchers at The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University have identified a gene that may indicate if individuals are predisposed to having Sjögren’s syndrome, one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases. For those with Sjögren’s syndrome, dry mouth and eyes are the first symptoms that something may be wrong, along with profound fatigue, chronic pain, cognitive impairment and other problems that can lead to disability.

“A dry mouth may seem to be more of a nuisance rather than a serious medical problem,” said Dr. Mahmood Mozaffari, one of the primary researchers. “However, a lack of adequate saliva makes it difficult to chew and swallow and makes the oral cavity susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.”

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Research quantifies intellectual property

May 2016—Theft of intellectual property from American-based entrepreneurs and large companies costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year, according to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property.

In an effort to help businesses guard their trade secrets, Dr. Mark Thompson, interim dean of the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University, co-authored a paper describing a methodology to help companies determine the value of their protected material.

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Gulf War research receives $1.1M

October 2016—In the 25 years since Desert Storm, the percentage of female veterans living with conditions linked to Gulf War Illness (GWI) may have surpassed that of their male counterparts, said Dr. Steven Coughlin, associate professor in the Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences.

Coughlin hopes to shed light on these health disparities with the development of his Gulf War Women’s Health Cohort (GWWHC), a group funded by a $1.1 million Gulf War Illness Epidemiology Research Award.

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Pain medicine could help preserve vision

JUNE 2016—A pain medicine that potently activates a receptor vital to a healthy retina appears to help preserve vision in a model of severe retinal degeneration, scientists report.

Potentially blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration result in the loss of photoreceptor cells in the retina that enable us to convert light into images.

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