Digest -- U.Va. Top News Daily
|Dr. Edward R. Laws Jr.
New study details trends in diagnosis, treatment of brain tumors
For patients diagnosed with malignant brain tumors, the prospect for recovery is not good. Since the 1960s, life expectancy has remained at only a little over a year. Although physicians use many acceptable practices, such as radiation therapy, they often prescribe anti-epileptic drugs even though they may not help patients, and do not prescribe anti-depressants for the high incidence of depression in patients. Varied patterns of care show the necessity for new clinical guidelines in the management of brain tumors, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “We have a long way to go, because we still do not have a reliable way of controlling these malignant tumors,” said Dr. Edward R. Laws Jr., professor of neurological surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics, and co-author of the study. The study found that there are common practice patterns that follow published medical findings on brain tumor patients. (Feb. 4)
Student threats: school response can prevent violence
School violence is a serious issue, and how schools deal with students who make threats is critical. University professors Dewey G. Cornell and Peter L. Sheras have released a new study demonstrating how schools can safely respond to students who make violent threats. Appearing in the current School Psychology Review, the field’s leading journal, the study reports on guidelines for student threat assessment that were field-tested at 35 schools in Albemarle and Charlottesville during one year. During that time, school officials successfully resolved 188 incidents in which students threatened to commit violent acts. This was the first study to field-test recommendations resulting from the FBI’s 1999 investigation of school shootings. The threat assessment approach represents a radical departure from profiling and zero tolerance approaches, which are the most widely used practices in the nation’s schools. (Feb.9)
Health system finds plant that stops cancer cell growth
They started with a bare room and an idea. Now, after five years of painstaking, sophisticated tests, scientists at the Health System have discovered that a compound derived from a rare South American plant stops the growth of human breast cancer cells in laboratory cultures. U.Va. scientists Deborah Lannigan and Jeffrey Smith hope that, after further testing, their discovery could translate into a successful drug for the treatment of breast cancer. The disease is the second leading cancer killer of women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society, with an estimated 40,410 deaths per year. The compound, called SL0101, comes from the plant Forsteronia efracta, a nondescript member of the dogbane family found in the Amazonian rain forest. (Feb. 3)