Columbia University Medical Center

Top 10 Research Stories of 2014

The 10 most popular research stories on CUMC websites in 2014 include articles on hair regeneration, flu forecasting, and brain toxins in ALS

FDA-Approved Drug Restores Hair in Patients with Alopecia Areata

alopecia-areata-clinical-trial-columbiaInitial results from an ongoing clinical trial in the Department of Dermatology show that a drug approved for treatment of a blood disorder can restore hair growth in several patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles. Read the full story or watch the video.


Children with Autism Have Extra Synapses in the Brain

A neuron from the brain of young person with autism. A new study finds that young people with autism have excess synapses. Image: Guomei Tang and Mark Sonders/CUMC.

A neuron from the brain of young person with autism. A new study finds that young people with autism have excess synapses. Image: Guomei Tang and Mark Sonders/CUMC.

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain because of a slowdown in normal synaptic “pruning” during development, P&S neuroscientists have found. Read the full story or watch the video.


Phthalates May Increase Risk of Developing Childhood Asthma

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Image: Thinkstock

Children born to mothers exposed to high levels of phthalates during pregnancy were about 75 percent more likely to develop asthma between ages 5 and 11 than children born to mothers exposed to low levels, Mailman researchers found. Read the full story.


Cocoa Flavanols Improve Memory

Cocoa flavanols—naturally occurring bioactives found in cocoa beans—reversed age-related memory decline in healthy older adults, a study from the Department of Neurology found. Read the full story.


Is Parkinson’s An Autoimmune Disease?

brain-stock-sulzer

Image: Thinkstock

P&S researchers propose that in Parkinson’s disease, neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the body’s own immune system. Read the full story.


It May Take Guts to Cure Diabetes

Gut cells expressing insulinBerrie Center researchers converted human GI cells into insulin-producing cells in the lab, suggesting that a drug may be able to accomplish the same feat in patients with diabetes.


Toxin from Brain Cells Triggers Neuron Loss in Human ALS Model

Przedborski-featuredimage

Image: Diane Re

P&S researchers found that a toxin produced by star-shaped cells in the brain kills nearby motor neurons, in a human stem cell model of the disease. Read the full story.


Knee Cartilage Regenerated with 3-D Printed Implant

Using a 3-D printer and some growth factors, bioengineers in the College of Dental Medicine can reconstruct the meniscus—cartilage that cushions the knee joint—in sheep. Read the full story.


Longer Nurse Tenure Leads to Higher-Quality Care

Image: Christopher Furlong/Thinkstock

Image: Christopher Furlong/Thinkstock

Patients get the best care when they are treated in hospital units that are staffed by nurses who have extensive experience in their current job, according to a study from researchers at the School of Nursing and Columbia Business School.


“Flu-casters” Predict Influenza Activity City-by-City

Image: Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases

Image: Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases

Adapting techniques used in modern weather prediction, Mailman researchers created a new forecasting system to create local forecasts of the flu’s seasonal peaks in cities across the United States. The “flu-caster” recently took first place in this year’s CDC “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge.”