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1997 Press Releases

December 9, 1997
Discovery links new form of inheritance in yeast to "mad-cow" type diseases
Researchers from the Howard Hughes Institute at the University of Chicago have discovered that a chaperone protein from yeast, which helps proteins to change their shapes, controls a new, protein-only form of inheritance, called a yeast prion. They have now isolated the chaperone and prion proteins and shown that they can produce such shape changes right in the test tube. The chaperone is very specific for certain target proteins and ignores most other proteins in the cell.

December 1, 1997
Transplant patients celebrate pioneering liver transplant program
Nearly 200 liver transplant recipients and their family members--including several liver donors and several patients who are currently waiting for transplants--are expected to attend the University of Chicago Hospitals' annual celebration for pediatric and adult liver transplant patients.

November 25, 1997
Eighth anniversary of the world's first successful living-related liver transplant, November 27 (Thanksgiving Day)
November 27, 1997 marks the eighth anniversary of the world's first successful living-related liver transplant surgery, performed at the University of Chicago Hospitals. Then 21-month old Alyssa Smith from Schertz, Texas, received a portion of her mother Teri's liver. Alyssa has perfectly normal liver function and leads the life of a typical nine year old. Since then, surgeons have performed 111 living-donor liver transplants in children.

October 31, 1997
University of Chicago Cancer Research Center to present 3rd Illinois breast-cancer summit October 31
The University of Chicago Cancer Research Center (UCCRC), working in collaboration with the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization and the Illinois Department of Public Health, will host "Practical Issues in the Diagnosis and Management of Breast Cancer: Helping Patients Make the Right Decisions," a federally sponsored summit meeting to educate physicians and other healthcare providers about the latest developments in the battle against breast cancer.

October 25, 1997
Scientists closing in on how increased Alzheimer's risk is linked to fat and cholesterol transport in the brain
Scientists studying the brain are learning how the removal of cholesterol and the proper delivery of fatty compounds are vital for the healthy function of the brain, in an effort to understand how these processes gone awry can lead to Alzheimer's disease.

October 20, 1997
Connections in brain provide clues to learning
Two University of Chicago researchers have determined for the first time how parts of the brain change at various ages, explaining why music is easier to learn in childhood, why foreign languages are more difficult to learn after age 12, and why some subjects, such as calculus, are better taught when children are older.

October 16, 1997
Illinois College of Optometry affiliates with University of Chicago's Department of Ophthalmology
On October 16, 1997, the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) and the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Science at the University of Chicago held a ceremonial signing of an affiliation agreement that brings together the educational and patient care resources of both teams of eye care providers.

October 12, 1997
3-D computer display brings precision to burn assessment
An easy-to-use, three-dimensional, computer graphics program is bringing a new level of accuracy, consistency, and standardization to the evaluation of burn patients, which should result in more precise treatment plans and better evaluation of new therapies.

September 25, 1997
Researchers discover probable molecular site of alcohol and anesthetic actions
After 155 years of searching, researchers have identified a small region on the surface of nerve cells that may be essential for the actions of inhaled anesthetics, opening a door to rational design of new pain medications.

September 16, 1997
Mouth-to-mouth ventilation's role in CPR questioned
A blue-ribbon panel of experts, assembled by the American Heart Association, has called into question the role of mouth-to-mouth ventilation as an integral part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

September 12, 1997
Huge gift of computers wires patient rooms at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital
Six companies--Comdisco, Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Comserv, Inc., Microdesign International, Microsoft Corp., and Peters & Associates--have joined together to provide computer equipment, software, and networking for inpatient rooms at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital (UCCH).

September 1, 1997
Targeting gene therapy to specific cells
Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center have developed the first practical method to restrict the activity of genes used for gene therapy to a specific cell type. This discovery, made in animals, neatly sidesteps one of the chief safety hurdles slowing the advance of gene therapy in humans.

August 14, 1997
Evolution re-sculpted animal limbs by genetic switches once thought too drastic for survival
Extremely powerful genes that govern the shape of an embryo from the earliest stages of development have been tinkered with by nature over the course of evolution to create the enormously wide range of animal forms, scientists report in the August 14, 1997 issue of Nature.

August 1, 1997
Diabetes medication produces unexpected benefits
A new drug, currently being tested as a way to help persons at risk prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, has more beneficial effects than anticipated, reveals a study from the University of Chicago Medical Center. Troglitazone (trade name Rezulin) not only helped "pre-diabetic" patients use glucose efficiently, but also enabled them to produce more insulin.

July 24, 1997
New device permits less invasive approach to leg surgery
The University of Chicago Hospitals is one of three medical centers in the United States using a new device, developed by Baxter Healthcare Corp., to restore blood flow to the leg for patients with advanced peripheral vascular disease, the leading cause of amputations in the United States.

July 1, 1997
Researchers link smoking during pregnancy to conduct disorder in boys
Women who smoke more than half-a-pack of cigarettes a day during pregnancy are significantly more likely to have a son with conduct disorder than mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy, report researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

June 12, 1997
Kidney-donor exchange proposed
In order to increase living-donor kidney transplants, a team of physicians from the University of Chicago has proposed to initiate a "paired kidney exchange" program and study its ethical implications. The program would allow two people who need kidney transplants and have willing, but incompatible, donors to exchange donor kidneys.

May 30, 1997
New type of DNA-free inheritance in yeast is spread by a "mad cow" mechanism
Researchers at the University of Chicago's Howard Hughes Medical Institute have found that a protein molecule, able to transmit a genetic trait without DNA or RNA in yeast, is able to string itself together into long fibers much like those found in the brain in "mad cow" and human Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases.

May 29, 1997
News from the cancer front: glass remains half empty
Despite 25 years of intense research and thousands of clinical trials of promising new cancer therapies, there has been only scattered progress in treatment since President Richard Nixon declared the "War on Cancer" in December 1971, report two researchers from the University of Chicago in a Special Article in the May 29, 1997, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

May 1, 1997
First autism-susceptibility gene found
A multi-centered team of researchers has found the first link between a specific gene abnormality and autism, a common neurobiological disorder. The discovery should speed the search for additional genes that increase susceptibility to autism and enhance understanding of this complex disorder. It could eventually result in more precise diagnosis and possibly better treatments.

March 12, 1997
Long-abandoned treatment revived for severe asthma attacks
Breathing a mixture of 80 percent helium and 20 percent oxygen (HELIOX), in combination with standard therapy, can ease the work of breathing in children with severe asthma attacks and may prevent the need for mechanical ventilation, according to a study by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center, published in the February 1997 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

February 9, 1997
Communication skills diminish malpractice risk
A new study suggests that the most important reason a patient with a bad outcome decides to sue his or her doctor for malpractice is not a lapse in the quality of care or medical negligence, but how the doctor talks with the patient.

January 30, 1997
Fetal cells tested as remedy for common eye disease
For the first time in the United States, a team of ophthalmologists from the University of Chicago Medical Center has transplanted fetal retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells into one eye of a woman suffering from age-related macular degeneration in an innovative attempt to cure this common and debilitating disease.

January 23, 1997
How cells prevent suicide
Researchers have shown that a mysterious protein, crucial to the survival of cells throughout the body, is able to form a channel through the internal membranes of cells, and thus may perform the vital function of selectively passing atoms or electrically charged ions between the cell's compartments.

January 13, 1997
Charles B. Huggins, 1901-1997
Nobel Prize winner Charles Brenton Huggins, MD, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center, died at his Hyde Park home on January 12, 1997. The last survivor of the original eight faculty members of the medical school, Dr. Huggins was 95 years old.

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