UC Davis School of Medicine

A Publication of UC Davis School of Medicine

Volume 13 • No 2 • Fall 2016

Body of knowledge


A summary of recent findings in clinical, translational and basic science research at UC Davis

illustration of DNA double helix

UC Davis researchers have identified a new metabolic disorder caused by abnormalities in the lipoyltransferase (LIPT1) gene, which affects newborns and leads to death hours after their birth. Identification of the genetic defect has meant the delivery of a healthy newborn to a mother who earlier had lost two others to the condition.

illustration of close-up of microrganisms

UC Davis researchers have identified a new mechanism explaining how antibiotics change the gut microbiota, increasing nutrients that benefit the growth of pathogens like Salmonella. The findings open the door to the development of new therapies designed to interrupt the chain of events that give pathogens a growth advantage after antibiotic treatments.

pathogen slide

Pregnant women with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines may be at significantly greater risk of having a child with autism combined with intellectual disability, UC Davis scientists have found. The research also suggests a potential immune profile for the differentiation of autism combined with intellectual disability, as distinct from either autism or developmental disability alone.

3d illustration of brain

UC Davis investigators have identified for the first time a way to use human mesenchymal stem cells to deliver the key brain protein growth factor that is dramatically diminished by Huntington’s disease. The discovery could be the precursor to a successful therapy for the devastating inherited neurodegenerative disorder, which affects more than 30,000 Americans.

radiation treatment

Radiation therapy following surgery benefits older patients more than their younger counterparts, UC Davis researchers have shown in a surprising finding that could change the way some patients are treated for soft tissue sarcomas. Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, the study found that radiation increases survival compared to surgery alone but that improvements mostly benefit patients 65 and older.

dna testing in laboratory

Autism and cancer share more than 40 risk genes — suggesting that common mechanisms underlying the functions of some of these genes could conceivably be leveraged to develop therapies for autism as well as for cancer, an extensive assessment by UC Davis researchers found.

illustration of kidney

Researchers at UC Davis found that “en bloc” kidneys transplanted from very young deceased donors (median age 1 year) are safe, and may have some advantages for children awaiting transplant. Results suggest very young donor kidneys transplanted en bloc have similar outcomes to those from standard deceased donors. Function five years after transplant was also superior and wait list times shorter for en bloc recipients.