Study reveals safety signal from genes that mimic drugs

Prospective mothers taking a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs might incur higher risk of spina bifida in their future children, according to a study published in the journal Drug Safety by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The first two drugs in the new class, alirocumab and evolocumab, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015. They’re taken by patients who don’t respond well to first-line therapy.

Spinach protein and blackberry dye give juice to biohybrid solar cells

Berries really do pack extra punch – increasing the voltage of spinach-derived biohybrid solar cells developed by Vanderbilt researchers by up to a factor of 20.

The interdisciplinary team discovered that combining a natural dye from blackberries with photosynthetic proteins extracted from spinach leaves creates a device that can produce vastly more voltage than a solar cell made from spinach protein alone.

Cannabis compound reduces seizures

About one third of patients treated for epilepsy continue to have seizures. Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the many active compounds in the cannabis (marijuana) plant, has gained attention as a treatment for epilepsy. Purified CBD is being tested, but artisanal formulations of CBD (oils) are already available and being used by patients.

Glaucoma study finds brain fights to preserve vision

A team of researchers, led by David Calkins, PhD, vice chair and director of Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, has made a breakthrough discovery in the field of glaucoma showing new hopes for treatments to preserve vision.

Initiative seeks to address malnutrition among adult patients

It is estimated that nearly one out of five pediatric patients and one of three adult patients age 60 and older are malnourished and will experience a decline in their nutritional status during their hospital stay.

Muscular dystrophy clue

Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) have a genetic mutation that causes incurable muscle degeneration. Research has shown that the immune system plays a complex, double-sided role in muscular dystrophy — promoting both muscle repair and muscle degradation.