Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia

 

KU Research Team Uses Keck Award to Predict Protein Mutation Outcomes

Canine Chemotherapy Trials pic

KU Medical Center
Image: kumc.edu

After earning her medical degree from Creighton University, Dr. Christie Mensch completed postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas (KU). To give back to her alma mater, Christie Mensch has provided financial support to the KU Medical Center, which remains a major research center.

The hospital is poised to emerge as a leader in the field of personalized medicine thanks to a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation that will let researchers develop new rules to predict how mutations in amino acids change the function of proteins. Genes code for specific proteins that in turn perform the functions of the cell. Proteins are built from strands of amino acids and the ultimate shape and function of the protein is determined by the sequence of amino acids. Mutations can cause the shape and function of a protein to radically change.

Currently, scientists have few tools to predict how mutations will alter the function of a protein. Computer algorithms designed to predict functional outcomes of mutations are correct only about 50 percent of the time. Conserved positions, meaning positions that have not been altered by evolution, follow a specific set of mutation rules, but a new set of rules needs to be written for nonconserved positions that have been altered by evolution. The KU researchers will use the Keck grant to study nonconserved positions in three different structural classes to create a library that can be used to derive new rules about the outcomes of mutations.

KUMC Researches Make Breast Cancer Diagnoses More Accurate

Breast Cancer Diagnoses pic An experienced psychiatrist, Dr. Christie Mensch treats patients through Wyandot Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Before beginning her career, Dr. Christie Mensch completed her residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), an institution she continues to support.

KUMC is home to cutting-edge research that recently produced a new device for storing and analyzing biopsied breast tissue. The device aims to make breast cancer diagnoses more accurate and could potentially reduce the rate of false positives by as much as 25 percent. Dr. Ossama Tawfik, a professor of pathology at KUMC, created the device in an effort to bridge the gap between pathologists and radiologists, who tend to work independently of each other.

Typically, radiologists take the tissue sample and then send it to pathologists. Transported in a liquid preservative, the specimen sometimes incurs damage during transit, and upon arrival pathologists cannot always ascertain the parts of the tissue that need to be analyzed. The new device ensures that the tissues arrive to pathologists in the same position in which the radiologist’s x-rays were taken.

A medical device start-up called Rad/Path Solutions LLC licensed the patented new technology from KUMC last July and plans to bring it to the market in the near future. As of February of 2017, the device is in the approval process with the Food and Drug Administration.