First International Integrative Nursing Symposium Held in Iceland
A wide range of health professionals gathered in Reykjavik, Iceland, last week for the inaugural International Integrative Nursing Symposium. The three-day event was attended by about 250 people and centered around improving health care by focusing on wellbeing rather than disease. Mary Jo Kreitzer, founder and director of Consortium member The Center for Spirituality and Healing, co-chaired the conference, which focused on creating relationships between healthcare professionals worldwide to teach each other about different integrative nursing methods. “We need to focus more on the art of nursing,” Kreitzer said in an article in the Minnesota Daily. “Instead of resorting to drugs or technology, we should think of the 10 other things we can do to help someone before administering a drug.”
"Living Ink" Bioprinter Could Revolutionize Transplant Medicine
The laboratory of a University of Minnesota researcher has been selected as one of 20 worldwide to receive one of the first bioprinters. In today's Star Tribune, Prof. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari is interviewed about the machine, which researchers hope will solve a major problem in transplant medicine: a lack of healthy, compatible organs for patients who need them. The article notes, "At labs across the country, researchers have used bioprinters like hers to produce transplantable ears, bone and muscle."
Stem Cell "Wild West" Raises Regulatory, Ethical Questions
An article in the New York Times describes a worrying trend: for-profit stem cell clinics that harvest bone marrow and fat, then inject or infuse them back into patients to treat conditions as various as asthma, Parkinson's disease and aging. While stem cells are known for their powerful regenerative qualities and therapeutic flexibility, these procedures have not been tested through standard research protocols or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nevertheless, stem cell clinics require patients to sign extensive waivers and represent a "mushrooming business [that's] almost wholly unregulated." Prof. Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics calls this approach "unauthorized, for-profit human experimentation" and has asked the FDA to investigate.
Avian Flu: "We're in Totally Uncharted Territory"
The current outbreak of avian flu -- the largest in US history -- has affected more than 30 million poultry so far. An article in Science quotes Michael Osterholm, director of Consortium member center CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), about the rapidly evolving situation. The H5N2 strain of the virus is spreading in an "unprecedented" way, challenging received wisdom and thwarting efforts to contain the outbreak. Read the entire Science article here.
Infant Antibiotic Use Linked to Adult Diseases
A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota has found a three-way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in the gut bacteria, and disease later in life. The imbalances in gut microbes have been tied to infectious diseases, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, and even obesity, later in life. The study was led by Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology program graduate student fellow Pajau Vangay, who works in the laboratory of Dan Knights, the study's senior author. Dr. Knights is also on the faculty of Consortium member center the Biotechnology Institute. The findings of the study were published in Cell Host & Microbe.