Lab notes

Lab notes

News from the research labs at UF Health

Asthma and obesity

Asthma can be particularly problematic for children who are overweight, leading to increased medication use, more emergency room visits and lower quality of life compared with their peers with asthma who are not overweight. UF Health researchers are now studying whether weight loss can improve lung function and help control asthma. A new UF pilot study funded by the American Lung Association aims to develop and test a behavioral weight-management program for young children who have asthma and are overweight or obese. It is the first study to tailor weight-management strategies to children with asthma and their parents. “There has been a concurrent rise in the prevalence of both asthma and childhood obesity,” said lead investigator David Fedele, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of clinical and health psychology at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. “They are both inflammatory diseases and it is well-established that they are interrelated.”Jill Pease

Leukemia’s hiding places

UF researchers have established what cancer researchers have long suspected: that leukemia cancer cells can embed themselves within the walls of blood vessels. In patients with leukemia, cancer cells can hide within the walls of blood vessels and hide from chemotherapy, according to findings published in the Oct. 8 edition of the journal Leukemia. Christopher R. Cogle, M.D., one of the study’s lead co-authors and an associate professor of medicine at the UF College of Medicine, has found that leukemia cells hug the branches of blood vessels. When they do this, they integrate into the lining of the blood vessels. They also change shape, mimicking the long, thin cells lining blood vessels, called endothelial cells. This can cause traditional chemotherapy to wash over leukemia cells. After some time has passed, these hidden cells reawaken as a form of relapse, Cogle said. Relapsing leukemia is one of the greatest challenges in treating patients with blood cancers. UF Health researchers are using a two-year, $800,000 grant from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to screen for new drugs that disrupt the tight-knit relationship between leukemia cells and blood vessels.Morgan Sherburne

Equine colic

A novel approach to managing a challenging form of equine colic could save the lives of many horses and also save horse owners the cost and uncertainty of major surgery. Developed by David Freeman, M.V.B., Ph.D., a professor of large animal surgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and his team, the approach relies heavily on a surgeon’s judgment during surgery to assess the viability of strangulated small intestine, an obstruction that impedes blood flow. If the affected tissue shows improvements in intestinal color and muscle activity after corrective measures, the organ has an excellent chance of recovering function, and costly surgery to remove the intestinal obstruction is avoided. Their research appeared last fall in the Equine Veterinary Journal and was presented in July at the 11th annual Equine Colic Research Symposium in Dublin. Sarah Carey