Innovation protecting against burnout and improving work lives see more
A new solution for protecting against burnout and improving the work lives of medical professionals may be to encourage innovation and creation, according to one physician from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Stephen Kalhorn, MD, professor of neurosurgery at MUSC spoke to Becker's about the hospital's innovation project, how it has improved his work life and how it has the potential to create inventions that benefit both patients and medical professionals alike.
Dr. Kalhorn's passion for innovation came while he was a resident. His chairman was also an innovator and together they would come up with ideas for inventions that would help patients and physicians.
"He would tell us, the Book of Ecclesiastes says there's nothing new under the sun."
While he believes that to be true, Dr. Kalhorn also argues that there are ways to get credit for being the first one to describe those ideas and then protect them, and that's what MUSC is helping their medical staff do.
MUSC formed the Zucker Institute of Applied Neurosciences (ZIAN) in 2012, which encourages physicians and medical staff to share and submit any ideas for innovations and inventions they may have. If there is any room to protect those ideas via intellectual property laws or to fulfill a commercial need, the center will help those staff do so. To date, the institute reviews around 60 inventions annually, has funded 11 technologies, issued 17 patents and got three inventions FDA approved.
Dr. Kalhorn told Becker's that he never would have thought he would get to create inventions while being a practicing physician. This opportunity to explore a creative side of science may also be an aid against burnout so many healthcare workers feel.
As is already well known that burnout is a major factor among healthcare professionals, with 29 percent of the hospital workforce considering leaving the field, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Kalhorn described how one patient compared physicians to scrambling ants:
"It's like we're ants on top of an ant hill that has just been kicked over. You're literally just running around, and ants can lift several magnitudes of their own strength, and they're just carrying these chunks of dirt around and viciously and ferociously trying to fend off the problems around them as well as rebuild the hill."
The challenging requirements of the field make the job difficult, but it can be made more enjoyable through innovation and creativity.
"I think some people, especially those prone to burnout, often don't have different outlets in their lives to vent frustrations or to use a creative aspect of their mind and personality," he said.
ZIAN's encouragement of innovation and creation offers a potential respite for tired medical professionals and gives them a chance to create solutions to their problems. It also gives the staff a sense of agency in an industry that can often feel increasingly bureaucratic and high pressure.
"You can draw something on a dry erase board or napkin and take a picture of it and then send it to the group [ZIAN] and they'll say, yes or no," Dr. Kalhorn told Becker's. The group, made up of biomedical engineers, a commercialization officer, an IP director then all work together to make the physician's idea work, testing it in 3D models and coming up with commercial strategies to bring it to market or submit patent applications.
Some of the innovations coming out of ZIAN include a blink reflexometer to detect concussions and a 3D printed titanium plate called Heal X, used to remove damaged vertebrae. Dr. Kalhorn himself came up with VayuClear, a suction de-clogging device that eliminates obstructions from surgical suction devices saving time and energy during long surgeries.
"At the end of the day, the goal is to be able to help as many patients as we can in the least invasive way possible with as little as possible stress and strain on your own body. So if there are ways to make it easier and better for both you and the patient, everyone wins."
MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital achieves top rankings in annual U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s HospitalsMUSC SJCH only children’s hospital in South Carolina to be ranked see more
New rankings from U.S. News & World Report’s (USNWR) 2022-23 Best Children’s Hospitals survey place the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital once again as the only children’s hospital in South Carolina to be ranked. And, the hospital improved one ranking, to #11, in the Southeast region best children’s hospitals survey. The latest rankings are published online and indicate the herculean efforts health care workers provided during the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.
The highly recognized specialties for MUSC SJCH include the following national rankings: No. 4 for cardiology & heart surgery, No. 30 for nephrology, No. 31 for cancer and No. 41 for gastroenterology & GI surgery. This year, the MUSC Pediatric & Congenital Heart Center received the #1 spot in the nation ranking for outcomes. This phenomenal achievement recognizes that the pediatric and congenital heart center’s expected outcomes are the best in the nation. USNWR issues the annual rankings “to help families with complex and rare conditions find the best medical care for their children,” according to the publication’s website. They’re designed to steer parents and caregivers to the hospitals that are best equipped to treat their children.
The 16th annual rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology & heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.
“The U.S. News rankings recognize on a national stage that MUSC Children’s Health is a leader in pediatric health care and a safe and compassionate choice for parents seeking care for their child,” said Mark A. Scheurer, M.D., MUSC Children’s Health chief of clinical services.
This is the 15th consecutive year that the 4th-ranked cardiology & heart surgery program has made the overall Best Children’s Hospitals list. Criteria include the survival rate of patients after complex heart surgeries along with the level of specialized staff, services and technologies and the ability to prevent infections.
The nephrology program at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital ranks No. 30 in the U.S. That means it excels when it comes to the survival rate of children who have had kidney transplants, the management of dialysis and infection prevention and other factors. It maintains its status as the highest-ranked children’s kidney program in South Carolina. The program ranked #3 in the Southeast for overall care and the third best outcomes.
The GI & GI surgery program is no stranger to the U.S. News rankings, either. For the 15th year in a row, it made the grade, coming in at No. 41, one spot higher than last year. The rankings factor in the survival rate for children who have had liver transplants, the effectiveness of the hospital’s treatment of children who have inflammatory bowel issues and other key measures. Like all of the rankings, the GI rankings also include input from specialists in the field who responded to U.S. News surveys and recommend the hospital for serious cases in GI care. GI & GI Surgery ranked #8 in the Southeast region.
Finally, the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital’s cancer program ranks No. 31 on the list of Best Children’s Hospitals for Cancer. That’s a 13-level increase from last year’s ranking and a direct result of the #15 national ranking in outcomes. Cancer ranked #3 in the Southeast for overall care and achieved the best outcomes in the region. These rankings are based in part on the five-year survival rate for children with leukemia-related cancer, bone marrow transplant services, programs for brain tumors and sarcomas and infection prevention.
A critical criterion measured by USNWR is outcomes. Five of 10 MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital programs placed in the top 50 nationally for the outcomes portion of their respective survey, including:
GI / GI Surgery #37
For the second year, U.S. News featured regional rankings, and the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital tied at #11 for the Southeast region, which is one of the most competitive pediatric regions in the country. Four of MUSC’s pediatric specialties ranked in the top 10: cardiology & cardiac surgery #1, cancer #3, nephrology #3, and GI & GI surgery #8.
Current methodology combines clinical and operational data, results from a reputational survey of board-certified pediatric specialists and supplemental information from resources such as the National Cancer Institute. RTI International collects and analyzes the data for the rankings. The methodology reflects clinical outcomes, such as patient survival, infection rates and complications; the level and quality of hospital resources directly related to patient care, such as staffing, technology and special services; delivery of health care, such as programs that adhere to best practices and prevent infections; and expert opinion among pediatric specialists. This year, scoring also included an increased focus on the subjects of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; internal and external affiliations of experts; and clinical issues related to the pandemic.
“Our MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital care team members continue to be recognized for the outstanding care, service and commitment they provide, even in challenging times,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and executive vice president for Health Affairs, University. “The strength of our specialty outcomes is a testament to the quality of care our team members seek to provide to patients and their families on a daily basis.”
MUSC's Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital showcased for innovation in design, functionality see more
The Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion, in Charleston, showcase innovative structural elements, features designed to withstand environmental hazards, and spaces that will accommodate changes in function.
The Medical University of South Carolina, also known as MUSC, in Charleston, set out to design a state-of-the-art medical center that would transform how health care is delivered to women and children by seamlessly integrating children’s care with obstetrical services. The resulting Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion are the perfect examples of that desired integration.
The 625,000 sq ft facility comprises an 11-story tower and a contiguous seven-story diagnostic and treatment building. Modifications to the existing central energy plant were also made as part of the overall project. The new complex boasts the largest neonatal intensive care unit in the state, a labor and delivery unit with mother/baby postpartum rooms, an advanced fetal care center, and entire floors dedicated to specific health conditions such as cancer and cardiac ailments. The facility also houses 250 licensed beds, surgical operating rooms, and a variety of specialty medical equipment.
Furthermore, in the desire to be an inclusive hospital, there is a sensory room specifically for the needs of those on the autism spectrum. In fact, the space was designed by Perkins&Will — which served as lead architect for the project — with feedback from parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, the hospital CEO, clinical leadership, staff, patients, and community volunteers, according to the firm’s website.
Blue Sky Award winners will be first to use ambulance-mounted portable scanners to monitor stroke patients en route to the hospitalMUSC team the first to place MRI in the back of an ambulance, drive around and take pictures see more
An interdisciplinary team of researchers at MUSC has received an inaugural Blue Sky Award for their study to determine whether equipping ambulances with a portable MRI scanner could reduce the time to treatment for South Carolina stroke patients in a cost-effective way. The team is led by MUSC Health neuroradiologist Donna Roberts, M.D., a professor in the College of Medicine, and evaluation expert Jillian Harvey, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Health Professions at MUSC. The Blue Sky Award, which will provide $100,000 in funding to test the feasibility of the idea, was created to reward such creative, out-of-the-box thinking and cross-disciplinary collaborations.
When a patient experiences a stroke, the clock starts ticking for receiving effective, emergent care. For patients with strokes caused by blood clots, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an important clot-busting drug, can help clear blocked vessels if given within a narrow time window. Because tPA carries a risk for increased bleeding, scans are needed before treatment to ensure that the stroke is not a brain bleed.
“We know that the faster we treat people, the better the outcomes and the lower the risk of complications from the tPA,” said MUSC Health stroke neurologist Christine Holmstedt, D.O., a professor in the College of Medicine and a collaborator on the project.
MUSC Health has worked to dramatically shorten its door-to-needle time – the time from when a patient enters the hospital until the tPA is infused. For example, stroke neurologists already conduct virtual pre-scan evaluations of patients en route to the hospital, shrinking the time to treatment from 40 to 20 minutes. However, Roberts and her colleagues thought more could be done to cut the crucial time lost while patients are transported to the hospital. Enjoy the complete article here, compliments of MUSC Catalyst News.
MUSC researchers using genetics to tackle health disparities see more
Quenton Tompkins’ family tree is deeply rooted in rural McCormick County, South Carolina.
His grandfather was a sharecropper in McCormick. His mother, who turns 88 this month, grew up as the youngest of 24 children. Branches of aunts, uncles, and cousins now stretch from Florida to Chicago.
And although 48-year-old Tompkins has heard plenty of stories, his family holds its secrets, too.
He didn’t know until he was an adult that his grandfather died of leukemia. And he’s still unsure if his father’s bout with prostate cancer runs in the family. Tompkins’ mother and her siblings have dealt with a range of health issues, including diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes, but he still doesn’t know what killed his grandmother more than 70 years ago.
“Those are questions I go through personally,” said Tompkins, a lobbyist for the Medical University of South Carolina. “There’s another side to knowing where you come from.”
Twenty-two years ago, President Bill Clinton announced the completion of a “draft version” of the Human Genome Project, a breakthrough he described as “the language in which God created life.” He predicted that scientists, armed with genetic discoveries, would find cures for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes in the coming years.
Clinton’s prediction, of course, hasn’t yet come to pass. But researchers in Charleston are hopeful that a large genetics research project underway across South Carolina may help scientists address some of the state’s persistent health disparities, which disproportionately impact its Black residents and regularly rank among the nation’s worst. Enjoy the rest of this article compliments of Kaiser Health News.
Informatics and data science in serving specific populations who are experiencing health inequities see more
With $1.2 million in funding from the National Library of Medicine, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Clemson University will establish a new training program that aims to make future data scientists more aware of health inequities. It will also build career development pipelines in biomedical data science for students from underrepresented minorities. The program will place special emphasis on using data science to address the toll chronic illness takes on rural communities.
South Carolina is the ideal location for a training program focused on addressing health inequities. Forty-three of its 46 counties, many of them rural, are designated as completely or partially medically underserved by the Health Resource and Services Agency (HRSA). South Carolina ranks 42nd for life expectancy (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), due in part to its high levels of chronic disease. The state has the eighth highest rate of diabetes (South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control) and sixth highest rate of stroke deaths (CDC) in the nation.
The leaders of the SC BIDS4HEALTH training program believe that harnessing big data could help to change that. Click to continue reading the full story, compliments of MUSC Catalyst News.
Augmented reality may be a next frontier in medicine see more
Marc Katz, M.D., touches the man’s heart, ever so gently. Then he takes his index finger and thumb, presses them against the spot he’s interested in and … he pinches.
To zoom out.
Thankfully, the cardiothoracic surgeon isn’t handling a real heart, rather, it’s an augmented reality (AR) model of a real heart, using a holographic headset manufactured by Microsoft and imaging software created by Virginia-based ClearView Surgical. If the surgeon and tech companies have their say, this is the future of surgery – and it’s not that far away.
Most people have heard of virtual reality (VR), a completely immersive experience that replaces your real-life environment with a simulated one. It’s everywhere these days: movies, video games, real estate. AR is slightly different. Instead of using a simulated environment, AR adds digital elements to your real-world surroundings. It, too, is starting to creep into everyday life. Want to see how that couch looks in your living room? Open up an app and you can see for yourself. That’s AR.The software uses Microsoft's HoloLens 2, a device anyone can purchase.
As Katz manipulates the organ in all different directions, he looks like someone trying to walk in a dark room – hands out in front, gently feeling for furniture or walls. But from Katz’s perspective, thanks to AR, what he sees is a very real looking heart hovering above his second-floor office desk.
How it works is – and this is radically oversimplified – the engineers at ClearView Surgical build exact 3D models of patients’ hearts (though it could be any organ; Katz said the heart is one of the more complicated ones because it is always moving), using the information from CT scans. In turn, these models then allow the surgeon to manipulate the heart in any direction. Need to remove a valve? No problem. What’s behind that ventricle? Let’s take a look. By marrying technology with medicine, surgeons like Katz will one day be able to look at – and touch – a patient’s heart without actually opening them up. The result: zero risk, tons of reward.
Though not yet used in actual practice (Katz and ClearView Surgical seem to think we’re still at least a year away), an idea that once seemed like a Hollywood fantasy is now a heck of a lot closer to becoming science nonfiction.
“Imagine all the things this technology will allow us to do,” Katz said. Take the heart apart, turn it upside down, you name it –it’s possible, he said. All without endangering the patient. Katz even thinks the technology could eventually lead to performing mock surgeries, which would allow the surgeon the luxury of experimentation.
Dan Neuwirth, co-owner of ClearView Surgical, said that despite radical improvements in imaging technology over the years, how doctors view the images has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. For the past 70 or so years, folks in the medical field have looked at those images on film or computer screens. In other words, it’s all 2D. Sure, technology has allowed for simulating three dimensions, but in the end, the image the doctor is looking at is still flat.This image, just like one Dr. Katz might see through his headset, allows the user to rotate it any direction as well as remove parts to see things which might otherwise be hidden. The green represents a valve replacement device. Provided by ClearView Surgical
Neuwirth and fellow co-owner Daniel Salzberg knew there was a tremendous opportunity, utilizing current technology, to change that. So they approached Katz and a handful of other surgeons across the country and asked for feedback. It’s a partnership where each side provides necessary value. Katz provides the imaging and the surgical know-how, ClearView Surgical makes the augmented version – so surgeons can manipulate it to their, well, heart’s content.
“With Dr. Katz, we get to tap into the mind of a super accomplished surgeon and together, we can come up with ways to improve patient outcomes,” said Salzberg.
“It really has been a great partnership. Dr. Katz is a very forward-thinking guy in terms of technology,” Neuwirth added.
Neuwirth and Salzberg see this as the tip of the iceberg when it comes to utilizing AR in medicine.
“Obviously this is a great help for really complex cases like Dr. Katz works on,” Neuwirth said. “That’s one end of the spectrum. But we also see this eventually helping out residents with commonplace surgeries as well.”
From a medical standpoint, Katz sees this as a first step in what he hopes will be a wide range of medical applications.
“Imagine being in the OR and taking the images we have and fusing them with three-dimensional images,” Katz said. “It would be like looking through someone’s body like I’m wearing X-ray glasses.”
Program aims to provide more access to rural, underserved areas see more
Improving health care access and rural and underserved populations across South Carolina is a priority of MUSC Health. A new program called Healthy Me – Healthy SC launched in 2019 to address these issues and has already succeeded in bringing health care services to more South Carolinians.
Healthy Me – Healthy SC is now planning to extend its reach even further. On this episode of Advance with MUSC Health, Kapri Kreps Rhodes and David Sudduth, director and executive director of Healthy Me – Healthy SC, join the show to discuss these new developments and share a bit more about this innovative program.
MUSC's expansion plans bode well for South Carolinians see more
The Medical University of South Carolina is expanding throughout the state, and WIS-TV sits down with MUSC President David Cole and MUSC Health CEO Pat Cawley sit down to share details on plans and the organizational vision with news anchor Judy Gatson. Enjoy the interview here.
MUSC Innovation Week returns to in-person format see more
The fifth annual Innovation Week at the Medical University of South Carolina will kick off on April 25 and with it comes the return of the live version of the event. Hosted by the Office of Innovation, the event is designed as a week-long celebration of MUSC's culture of innovation meant to inspire and empower the MUSC community to innovate.
“Innovation Week is a visible and tangible representation of the value that MUSC places on innovation,” said Jesse Goodwin, Ph.D., chief innovation officer at MUSC. “It's meant as both a celebration of our accomplishments and as a source of inspiration of our future potential.”
Festivities will begin on Monday, April 25, at the Urban Farm. There, the first 50 attendees can pick up some Innovation Week gear and a ticket for a King of Pops treat or bag of kettle corn that will be offered during the Innovation on the Greenway event scheduled for the next day.
Afterward, the week will continue with back-to-back sessions in the Bioengineering Building, Room 112, and will include opening remarks from MUSC leadership as well as awards and recognition for participating students and faculty members.
Winding up the day, students will be pitching their ideas for research grants in a virtual session that is open to all at 2 p.m.
A staple of Innovation Week, the Charleston poster session will be held on Tuesday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on the Greenway, where visitors will review ideas submitted by MUSC employees and students and select which should be evaluated at the Shark Tank event on Thursday, April 28.
In addition to the Charleston poster session, for the first time, MUSC’s Regional Health Network sites will host their own poster sessions. Florence and Marion will do a combined event in Florence on April 25. Lancaster and Chester will host theirs in Lancaster on April 27.
“It's important to see MUSC as a system and for us to be inclusive when working to build a culture that expands off of the peninsula,” said Goodwin. “I can't wait to see the ideas and projects pitched by the Florence, Marion, Lancaster and Chester teams.”
An MUSC NetID is needed to view and vote, and voting closes at 5 p.m.
While Lancaster and Florence host their poster sessions on Wednesday, an interactive discussion on artificial intelligence in biomedical equipment will be held in the Drug Discovery Building from 1-2 p.m.
For those looking to decompress, Thursday will offer the “Stress Less Bash,” at the Urban Farm, where all faculty, staff and students can drop by to enjoy live music, games, stress-relieving activities, refreshments and more.
Thursday will also mark the return of the live hosting of Shark Tank. This fun-filled annual event features teams that have been chosen as finalists pitching their ideas to a panel of MUSC’s executive leaders for an opportunity to win bragging rights and funding to support the development or scaling of their concepts. The finalists are selected from the submissions to the Innovation Week poster session. After going virtual last year, the event – and the mascot – will be in the Storm Eye Auditorium from 2-4 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Regional Health Network sites will be hosting their own Shark Tank events for the first time as well. Florence and Marion will host a combined event at the Florence Floyd Conference Center, from 10 a.m.-noon., on April 27. Lancaster and Chester will also combine for their own session at the Lancaster Medical Theatre, from 2-4 p.m., on April 27.
The week will conclude on Friday with a virtual keynote address by Jeff Borden, chief academic officer of D2L, a global software company that created the online learning platform Brightspace. Attendees will gain a better understanding of how to make tomorrow’s learning start today as we build “Education 3.0” and create an atmosphere for better learning year after year.
“I believe the week and its events are important demonstrations of MUSC's commitment to building a culture of innovation,” said Goodwin. “The poster session is a way for our MUSC family to share their ideas and existing work on solving pain points in a manner that garners attention by colleagues and leaders. Shark Tank is a fun way to show that MUSC’s most senior leaders are seriously committed to considering and supporting ideas being brought forth by those that work here.”
Minimally invasive ‘Barostim’ device could improve quality of life for heart failure patients see more
Two doctors at MUSC Health are the first at an academic medical center and only the second in the world to use a new, minimally invasive procedure to implant a heart failure treatment device.
Both doctors are women in heavily male-dominated specialties. Vascular surgeon Jean Marie Ruddy, M.D., is principal investigator at the MUSC site for the trial of this new implantation method for Barostim. Cardiac electrophysiologist Anne Kroman, D.O., Ph.D., is site co-principal investigator of the BATwire percutaneous implant study, using the Barostim Neo System.
Barostim won breakthrough device approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019 following successful trials led by MUSC Health cardiologist Michael Zile, M.D. The device uses electrical impulses to stimulate the nerve that regulates blood pressure, inducing the blood vessels to relax.
Although the device can’t reverse heart failure, it can improve patients’ quality of life, said MUSC Cardiologist Ryan Tedford, M.D., section chief of heart failure, medical director of cardiac transplantation and professor in the College of Medicine.
His patient became the first at MUSC Health to undergo the new method of implantation last week and is doing well.
The original method of implantation required a vascular surgeon to make an incision in the patient’s neck to insert the electrode. But in a “feat of engineering,” the new method being tested would enable the device to be implanted through a wire using ultrasound guidance, Ruddy said.
“This is what we call a ‘first-in-man study.” It’s a new way to deliver the same technology but to save the patient from an incision in the side of the neck,” she explained.
“There are millions of patients living with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in the U.S. who may be able to benefit from Barostim. This new implantation method could eventually be used for most patients who may benefit from Barostim and represents a step forward in the evolution of the therapy to be even more simple to implant,” explained a spokesperson with CVRx, the company that created Barostim.
For more information about the procedure, check out this MUSC Catalyst News Story.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $4.4 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.
CVRx is focused on the development and commercialization of Barostim™, the first medical technology approved by FDA that uses neuromodulation to improve the symptoms of patients with heart failure. Barostim is an implantable device that delivers electrical pulses to baroreceptors located in the wall of the carotid artery. Baroreceptors activate the body’s baroreflex, which in turn triggers an autonomic response to the heart. The therapy is designed to restore balance to the autonomic nervous system and thereby reduce the symptoms of heart failure. Barostim received the FDA Breakthrough Device designation and is FDA-approved for use in heart failure patients in the U.S. It has also received the CE Mark for heart failure and resistant hypertension in the European Economic Area. To learn more about Barostim, visit the company’s website.
Improvements may one day improve the effectiveness and safety of chemotherapy see more
For patients with cancer, the tumor-killing power of chemotherapeutic drugs is a double-edged sword. While many cancer drugs kill tumor cells, they can also harm healthy cells as they travel throughout the bloodstream.
“A major limitation of chemotherapy agents is that only a tiny fraction goes to their targeted tumor,” said Dieter Haemmerich, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor at the Darby Children’s Research Institute within the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). “As a result, there are side effects that include damage to the heart.”
But what if you could “cleanse” the blood of chemotherapeutic drugs to reduce their harmful side effects?
In an article published in March 2022 in the journal Cancers, an MUSC research team led by Haemmerich reported that it had developed a device to remove excess chemotherapeutic drugs from circulation after cancer treatment. Using this device, the team removed 30% of the administered drug by one hour after treatment. Seed funding to develop the device was provided by a High Innovation - High Reward grant from the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute’s pilot project program.
Haemmerich and his colleagues, including Katherine Twombley, M.D., a professor in the MUSC Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Nephrology, focused on doxorubicin (DOX), which is one of the most widely used chemotherapy drugs in adults and children.
DOX is also known to be toxic to the heart. This toxicity is particularly detrimental in pediatric patients, since any resulting heart failure will have negative health effects for the rest of the child’s life. In a 2006 clinical trial, DOX reduced cardiac function in children with leukemia, and steroid therapy was required to reduce its damaging effects.
Despite its toxicity to the heart, DOX is a popular chemotherapy drug because it is highly effective at stopping cancer cells from dividing.
“Doxorubicin works by basically damaging DNA,” said Yuri Peterson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences in the MUSC College of Pharmacy and an author of the article. “That is useful for treating cancer, but it can also cause off-target side effects like hair and bone marrow loss.”
Recent efforts to target DOX more precisely to the tumor site have included encapsulating it inside temperature-sensitive nanoparticles. These tiny particles are intact at normal body temperature and carry the drug through the bloodstream to the tumor. There, they can be heated with a probe to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit to release their DOX cargo.
However, the technique has its own limitations. Only a fraction of the administered nanoparticles release their cargo when the heat is applied at the tumor site. Once the nanoparticles break down in the body, which can take as little as an hour, the remaining drug enters the bloodstream and can then cause side effects.
The MUSC research team wanted to improve outcomes with this technique by developing a device that would remove the leftover DOX after treatment.
Using a rodent model of cancer, the researchers injected the heat-sensitive DOX nanoparticles and applied heat at the tumor site to release DOX. After treatment, they cleansed the blood of leftover DOX by first passing it through a heating element to get the nanoparticles to release the drug and then through an activated carbon filter to remove the drug from the blood before it was returned to the rodents’ circulation.
Krishna Ramajayam, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Haemmerich’s laboratory in the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at MUSC, designed the heating element in the filtration device and supported the imaging studies for monitoring drug release and filtration.
“Since the device is computer controlled, you can have very precise heating to ensure that the drug is released,” said Ramajayam. “The most exciting part for me is addressing both delivery and removal of the drug, which will improve patients’ quality of life immensely.”
Importantly, the team also developed a method for detecting drug levels in the blood in real time to ensure that the drug is effectively removed.
“By imaging the blood before and after filtration, we can actually predict how much drug is being removed in real time in the clinic,” said Anjan Motamarry, Ph.D., who completed work on the study while a doctoral student in Haemmerich’s lab before transitioning to a job in industry. “This would be very useful information for a clinician who needed to make a decision about when to stop filtration.
”Reducing the exposure of patients to leftover chemotherapy drugs could allow them to recover faster, with fewer side effects. It could also enable them to receive more chemotherapy cycles in the future in case additional treatment is necessary to kill the cancer cells.
“Every drug has a maximum tolerated dose that you cannot go beyond,” said Motamarry. “Since we are removing the leftover drug after treatment, you can actually give an additional dose if the first cycle is not sufficient, which would not be possible if the drug was not removed.”
Filtering the blood through the device also led to nearly three times less DOX in the heart, as measured using mass spectrometry at the MUSC Drug Discovery Core. Peterson and Thomas Benton, Ph.D., who was a doctoral student at MUSC at the time of the study, performed the measurements.
These promising results suggest that the new device could reduce side effects in the heart that can be caused by chemotherapy, but more studies will be needed to confirm that promise.
“If you deliver less drug to the heart, you will probably have fewer side effects,” said Haemmerich. “Our next step is to test the function of the heart directly after using this method in long-term animal tumor studies.”
Further improvements to their device may one day improve the effectiveness and safety of chemotherapy in children and adults.
“It’s really hard for anyone to go through chemotherapy,” said Motamarry. “This is the least that we can do to make it easier for them.”
MUSC ranked #30 among public institutions see more
The Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine has been ranked No. 56 in Best Medical Schools: Research by U.S. News & World Report’s latest survey. The school tied with Georgetown University.
When ranked solely among other public institutions, MUSC came in at No. 30.
The U.S. News research rankings are based on federal expenditures, survey assessments completed by deans and senior faculty members at peer institutions, and entering class data, MUSC said. The magazine surveyed 192 accredited medical and osteopathic schools in the U.S. for this year’s rankings.
“This ranking is truly a testament to the dedication of our faculty, their leadership and their desire to make discoveries that can change the lives of patients,” said Lisa Saladin, MUSC executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “Research is at the core of what we do as an academic health sciences center, and we believe it is an important component of medical education. Our faculty, students, trainees and staff are inspired to reach for the impossible every day, which is vitally important in a time where we’re more committed than ever to improving the health of all.”
MUSC was additionally recognized by U.S. News & World Report as nationally ranked in several adult specialties, including No. 17 in gynecology, No. 14 in ear, nose and throat and No. 39 in cancer. The institution also was ranked No. 6 in most graduates practicing in medically underserved areas.
In the most recent Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll, MUSC also ranked in pediatric specialties, including No. 12 in cardiology and heart surgery, No. 30 in pediatric nephrology, No. 42 in pediatric gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery and No. 44 in cancer.
Life science recruitment expert explains how Charleston, SC, is attracting top talent from across the globeAddressing high demand for accomplished leaders to spearhead the sector’s growth. see more
Compliments of Investment Monitor
The life sciences industry in Charleston is growing fast. As more and more businesses and professionals are drawn towards the area, there is high demand for accomplished leaders to spearhead the sector’s growth.
Executive search consultant Joyce De Leo is doing her part to find these individuals. She spent a 25-year career researching and teaching medicine at esteemed institutions in the north-eastern US, earning a PhD in neuropharmacology, and establishing a start-up pharmaceuticals company focused on treating chronic pain. She now works for executive search company WittKieffer, where she recruits talent for high-level leadership roles in healthcare and academic medicine. Last year, De Leo relocated from Boston to Charleston after falling in love with the region and recognising its rich opportunities for market growth. Read the rest of this article by clicking here.
MUSC exploring a promising new approach to treating Alzheimer’s see more
Alzheimer’s disease is an enormous problem that, with an aging population, will only become bigger. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and 1 in 3 seniors will die of it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. By 2050, the cost of Alzheimer’s disease, currently estimated at $355 billion, will rise to $1.1 trillion.
Could one of the causes of such a huge and costly problem be traced back to the cells that line the body’s tiniest blood vessels?
A new study published by a Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) research team in Molecular Therapy suggests that the answer is yes. The team, led by Hongkuan Fan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, found fewer of these cells, known as pericytes, in the brains of people who died of Alzheimer’s disease. They also found higher levels of Fli-1, a protein most often found in blood cells and thought to govern their development.
When the team blocked, or inhibited, the action of Fli-1 in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, the memory of the mice improved. Blocking the protein also stopped immune cells from leaking into the brain and causing the inflammation that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Blocking Fli-1 could be a promising new approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Click to continue enjoying the complete article.