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A population health approach to dramatically reduce heart disease Risk

UNC School of Medicine doctors enlisted a network of health care professionals from small primary care practices and used data analytics to help identify North Carolinians at risk for cardiovascular disease. Primary care doctors could use this approach to dramatically reduce heart disease risk for tens of thousands of people across the state.

“Sam
Sam Cykert, MD

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health created a state-wide network of health care professionals in urban, suburban, and rural areas who work in small primary care practices and used existing electronic health records to determine that tens of thousands of people across North Carolina were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease who had not been identified as high risk before. Primary care doctors across the state then used this analysis to proactively engage patients to reduce their risk.

This first-of-its-kind study, published in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, was made possible through a $15-million federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Evidence NOW Program to help primary care practices use the latest evidence to improve the heart health of millions of Americans. UNC’s Heart Health Now! Advancing Heart Health in NC Primary Care project was one of seven grantees back in 2015, and this paper is the first published results from their work.

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Preliminary Data from Groundbreaking Genome Editing Clinical Trial Encouraging

Dr. Joseph Muenzer
Dr. Joseph Muenzer

As part of the phase 1 clinical trial for patients with Hunter syndrome, Joseph Muenzer, MD, PhD, performed the UNC Clinical Translational and Research Center's first-ever in vivo genome editing therapy, achieving a milestone in his own career.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Preliminary safety and efficacy data from the first-ever trial studying an in vivo genome editing therapy have been presented by UNC's Joseph Muenzer, MD, PhD, at the 2018 Annual Symposium of the Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism (SSIEM) this week in Athens, Greece.

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Higher body fat linked to lower breast cancer risk in younger women

Hazel Nichols, PhD
Hazel Nichols, PhD

An analysis co-led led by UNC Lineberger's Hazel B. Nichols, PhD, linked higher body mass index to lower breast cancer risk for younger women, even for women within a normal weight range.

While obesity has been shown to increase breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, a large-scale study co-led by a University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher found the opposite was true for premenopausal women: higher body fat was linked to lower breast cancer risk.

The findings, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, show the need to better understand breast cancer risk factors in younger women before menopause, said UNC Lineberger's Hazel B. Nichols, PhD.

"The drivers of breast cancer risk can be different for young women compared to older women, so we need to do a better job of understanding what contributes specifically to breast cancer risk in younger women so we can make appropriate recommendations for them," said Nichols, who is an assistant professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. "This study is not a reason to try to gain weight to prevent breast cancer. Heavier women have a lower overall risk of breast cancer before menopause, but there are a lot of other benefits to managing a healthy weight that should be considered. What it does do is help us to try to understand what contributes to breast cancer risk in younger women."

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Compound stops sperm from swimming without side effects

A compound called EP055 binds to sperm proteins and significantly slows the overall motility of the sperm without affecting hormones.

The finding, which appear in PLOS ONE, suggest EP055 could be a candidate for contraceptive pill for men that’s free of side effects.

“Simply put, the compound turns-off the sperm’s ability to swim, significantly limiting fertilization capabilities,” says lead investigator Michael O’Rand, retired professor of cell biology and physiology in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and president/CEO of Eppin Pharma, Inc. “This makes EP055 an ideal candidate for non-hormonal male contraception.”

Currently, condoms and surgical vasectomy are the only safe forms of birth control currently available for men. There are hormonal drugs in clinical trials that target the production of sperm, but these affect the natural hormones in men much like female contraceptives affect hormones in women.

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Michelle Maclay, Communications Director