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A Publication of UC Davis School of Medicine

Volume 13 • No 3 • Winter 2016/2017

Body of knowledge

Noteworthy

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

newborn baby

UC Davis physicians have helped to establish a “proof of principle” for measuring patterns of ribonucleic acid (RNA) expression in the bloodstream that can enable clinicians to distinguish bacterial infections from other causes of fever in infants up to two months old. The diagnostic test means that emergency physicians could someday avoid ordering painful, invasive exams for many of the more than 500,000 febrile infants who arrive at hospitals each year for evaluation.

illustration of close-up pathogen

Pathogens in the intestinal tract cause harm because they benefit from immune system responses designed to repair the very damage to the intestinal lining caused by the bacteria in the first place, UC Davis researchers found. The finding explains how some enteric pathogens can manipulate mammalian cells to get the oxygen they need to breathe, and offers new insight into developing strategies targeting the metabolism of the intestinal lining to prevent the expansion of harmful bacteria in the gut — a situation exacerbated by overuse of antibiotics.

3d illustration of lung

Patients with late-stage, non-small cell lung cancer who have surgery have better survival rates than those who don’t, but fewer of these patients are undergoing surgery, UC Davis researchers have found. Using the California Cancer Registry, the team identified more than 34,000 patients who had stage IIIA, IIIB or IV NSCLC and found that patients who received surgery had improved survival rates compared to their non-surgical peers.

black lab mouse

About one-third of 1,751 genes studied in the first comprehensive survey of the mouse genome are essential to life, according to research by an international collaboration including the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program. Mutations of these genes cause death at the embryo stage. Many of them have counterparts in the human genome, so understanding why these genes are so vital could help prioritize human genes for study.

child leukemia patient

UC Davis researchers helped develop a hybrid treatment that harnesses a monoclonal antibody to deliver antisense DNA to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells and that may lead to less toxic treatments for the disease. The novel conjugate therapy showed great promise in animal models, destroying ALL cells while limiting other damage. ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer.

doctor talking to adult patient

The 30-day window for readmissions used by the federal government to penalize hospitals should be reduced to a week or less to more accurately measure factors within a hospital’s control, new research from UC Davis has found. Results showed that a five- to seven-day post discharge timeframe is when hospital-attributable factors have the greatest impact on readmissions. After that, readmissions are more heavily influenced by factors outside the hospital’s control.