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Posts Tagged ‘College of Medicine and Life Sciences’

A new mouse model from UT may unlock the secrets of treating Type I diabetes

Researchers at The University of Toledo have found a new way to replicate in lab mice the development and progression of Type I diabetes, a breakthrough that has the potential to reshape how the chronic disease is studied.

An estimated 1.25 million Americans are living with Type I diabetes. While the condition can be managed with insulin, finding a treatment or cure for the disease has been elusive — in part because scientists have not had a reliable animal model that mimics the full scope of human Type I diabetes.

“We see these patients every day. We see them come to the hospital, we see how they struggle,” said Dr. Juan Jaume, professor of medicine in UT’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences and senior author of the new invention. “Unfortunately, research has been held back because the scientific community didn’t have a good model to study the disease and its progression. Now we do. We have developed a mouse model that is a step forward toward finding a cure.”

Dr. Shahnawaz Imam, left, and Dr. Juan Jaume display an array of diabetes management tools. A new mouse model developed at the University of Toledo may open the door to research that finds new therapies.

The first peer-reviewed study using the UT-developed mouse model was published Feb. 7 in the natural sciences journal Scientific Reports.

In that study, Jaume, who is also chief of the Division of Endocrinology and director of UT’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, and co-collaborator Dr. Shahnawaz Imam, a senior researcher in the Departments of Medicine and an associate member of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, looked at how a certain protein can influence T-cells in the pancreas to delay the onset of diabetes.

While the study adds to the overall knowledge about diabetes, it is the mouse model that holds the real potential.

In the new model, mice spontaneously develop Type I diabetes and, importantly, the full range of complications experienced by diabetes patients. That allows study of the disease and its natural progression in a way not previously possible.

“Our model is showing exactly the same physiopathology that humans with diabetes suffer,” Imam said. “Our mice are getting eye problems, they are getting kidney problems and also neuropathy. That’s a very important part of this — they have the same human complications that all diabetes patients have, not just those with Type I.”

The laboratory mice were developed through a series of selective breeding experiments and genetic modification that included adding human genes to the mice.

A provisional patent on the Spontaneous Type I Diabetes Mouse Model was filed last year.

Type I diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, results from an autoimmune attack on cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, the body cannot process the sugars in food, leading to dangerously high blood sugar.

Though many species develop diabetes, Jaume said the process of Type I diabetes seems to be unique to humans. And while scientists have frequently used other specially bred mice, including what’s known as the non-obese diabetic mouse, to study diabetes and test treatments, those lab animals don’t mimic the exact human pathophysiology of the disease.

“The existing non-obese diabetic mouse model does not completely resemble the human condition,” Jaume said. “There are more than 125 different therapies that cure Type I diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Clinical trials were developed because of that model, but none have worked in humans. Everybody has been searching for a better model.”

Jaume and Imam have been working on their model for more than a decade. It is already showing research promise.

Using the same idea behind CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, in which certain immune system cells are taken from a patient and paired with an artificial receptor that once reintroduced into the body homes in on the tumor, the team is developing cellular therapies for diabetes that uses the mice’s regulatory cells to cool down the immune response.

The University has also filed a provisional patent on the treatment method, and Jaume and Imam will soon begin a more in-depth study of its effectiveness.


UT research finds link between refined dietary fiber, gut bacteria and liver cancer

Many of the processed foods we find on grocery store shelves have been loaded up with highly refined soluble fibers such as inulin, a popular probiotic that recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to be marketed as health-promoting.

But a new study from The University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences is raising serious questions about whether the risks of adding refined fiber to processed foods may significantly outweigh the benefits.

Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UT Microbiome Consortium and associate professor in the UT Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and his research team recently investigated if a diet enriched with refined inulin might help combat obesity-associated complications in mice.

While the inulin-containing diet did stave off obesity in 40 percent of mice, many of those same mice went on to develop liver cancer at the end of the six-month study.

“The findings shook us,” Vijay-Kumar said, “but at the same time we recognized their potential importance and accepted the challenge of exploring how processed dietary soluble fiber was inducing liver cancer.”

Although this study was performed in mice, it has potential implications for human health. It also suggests, researchers say, that enriching processed foods with refined, fermentable fiber should be approached with great caution.

“We fully appreciate that the fibers present in whole foods like fruits and vegetables are healthy,” Vijay-Kumar said. “Because of that, fortifying or adding purified fiber to processed food sounds logical. However, our results suggest it may in fact be dangerous.”

Dr. Vishal Singh, center, a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Fellow at The University of Toledo, recently authored a study published in the journal Cell that found a link between highly refined soluble fibers and liver cancer. He is pictured with fellow researchers Beng San Yeoh, left, a PhD student, and Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, right, director of the UT Microbiome Consortium and associate professor in the UT Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

The findings were published in the Oct. 18 issue of Cell, one of the world’s leading biological journals.

There are two basic types of naturally occurring dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are fermented by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. Insoluble fibers pass through the digestive system unchanged.

While both types are beneficial, the concern raised in the study relates to how gut bacteria break down the highly refined fiber that is added to some processed foods as a dietary supplement.

Dr. Vishal Singh, a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Fellow at The University of Toledo and lead author of the paper, said refined fiber is a new addition to our diets and that we are in the very early stages of understanding the risks and benefits it may present.

“Soluble fibers added to processed foods are not part of a natural meal,” Singh said. “The inulin used in this study is from chicory root, which is not a food we would normally eat. In addition, during the extraction and processing of the fiber, it goes through a chemical process. We don’t know how the body responds to these processed fibers.”

Chicory root is used as a source of inulin to fortify fiber in processed foods.

The mice that developed liver cancer in this study had altered and elevated gut bacteria, a condition known as dysbiosis. Intriguingly, the researchers observed no evidence of liver cancer in inulin-fed mice that were treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics to deplete gut bacteria.

The UT researchers collaborated with researchers at Georgia State University who performed a similar study in germ-free mice that completely lack gut bacteria. The absence of liver cancer in those mice further confirmed the contributory role of gut bacteria.

The bacteria collectively known as gut microbiota degrade and digest soluble fibers via fermentation. To inhibit that fermentation process, the UT researchers fed mice beta acids derived from Humulus lupulus — a plant more commonly known for producing the hops that go into beer to prevent spoilage from fermentation.

“Strikingly, feeding beta-acids to inulin-fed mice averted liver cancer, which further reinforces our hypothesis that gut bacterial dysmetabolism primarily driving liver cancer in these mice,” Singh said.

Researchers also found they could halt the development of liver cancer by intervening to replace inulin with the insoluble fiber cellulose.

“Cellulose could not be fermented by gut bacteria present in mice or humans. This finding again highlights the link between bacterial fermentation of soluble fiber and liver cancer development in these mice,” said Beng San Yeoh, a graduate student in Vijay-Kumar’s lab and another lead author of the study.

Researchers say their findings suggest the need for more studies that look at human consumption of the type of refined fiber found in processed foods.

“Our study is going against the conventional wisdom of what people think, that fiber is good, no matter how they get it,” Vijay-Kumar said. “We do not want to promote that fiber is bad. Rather, we highlight that fortifying processed foods with refined soluble fiber may not be safe or advisable to certain individuals with gut bacterial overgrowth or dysbiosis, whose abnormal fermentation of this fiber could increase the susceptibly to liver cancer.”

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

 


A no-pain gain to fight hypertension: UT research finds way to mimic exercise’s blood pressure lowering effects

Couch potatoes rejoice — there might be a way to get the blood pressure lowering benefits of exercise in pill form.

Hypertension researchers at The University of Toledo have shown that by increasing the body’s supply of beta hydroxybutyrate, a chemical produced predominantly by the liver, it is possible to regulate high blood pressure without reducing sodium intake or increasing exercise.

“Our team found that high salt consumption lowered levels of circulating beta hydroxybutyrate. When we put beta hydroxybutyrate back in the system, normal blood pressure is restored,” said Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of UT’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and director of the Center for Hypertension and Precision Medicine. “We have an opportunity to control salt-sensitive hypertension without exercising.”

The team’s findings were published Tuesday in the Oct. 16 issue of the life sciences journal Cell Reports.

Saroj Chakraborty, a fourth-year Ph.D. student at the University of Toledo, left, and Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of UT’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Beta hydroxybutyrate is a ketone body produced in the liver from the metabolism of fatty acids. It had not been previously explored as a method for controlling blood pressure, but the UT researchers noted a number of intriguing connections between how the body produces beta hydroxybutyrate and environmental factors known to raise or lower blood pressure.

“As we searched through the literature we saw beta hydroxybutyrate has been observed increasing with exercise or calorie restriction. Both of those activities also reduce blood pressure. The key piece of our discovery is we now know that beta hydroxybutyrate decreases with salt consumption. This is a novel mechanism by which salt is tied to an increase in blood pressure,” said Saroj Chakraborty, a fourth-year PhD student in the UT Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and the paper’s lead author.

To test its hypothesis, the team led by Chakraborty and Joe developed a study in which they fed lab rats a chemical called 1,3-butanediol.

When that supplement reaches the liver, enzymes convert it to beta hydroxybutyrate. From there, it goes to the kidney where it was shown to reduce inflammation commonly associated with hypertension — and significantly decrease blood pressure in the process.

“By fixing the kidney it is indirectly contributing to the lowering of blood pressure. There could be many other organs that it is impacting,” Joe said. “We are studying the heart, blood vessels, brain and other organ systems. But this paper says that this molecule, predominately made in the liver, goes to the kidney, fixes kidney damage and controls your blood pressure.”

Joe noted that controlling function of the liver to regulate blood pressure is a new concept for researchers.

UT has received a provisional patent on the concept. Researchers in Joe’s lab next want to compare the level of beta hydroxybutyrate in hypertensive patients against those without high blood pressure. Further studies also will determine how much 1,3-butanediol is needed to modulate blood pressure and whether it might cause any potential damage to other organs.

Once the team collects that data, the researchers hope to secure funding for a clinical trial.

While lowering blood pressure without hitting the gym might sound appealing to those averse to breaking a sweat, it also could prove beneficial to those who aren’t able to exercise.

“There are certain patients who are not able to exercise for various reasons. This could prove to be a legitimate alternative for those individuals,” Chakraborty said.


Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for March 17

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Science’s Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame will induct a new class of honorees Saturday, March 17. 

Inductees will be recognized during a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000 on UT’s Health Science Campus. 

Members of the 2018 class are Dr. Diane Cappelletty, Dr. Ziya Celik and International Samaritan.

Dr. Diane Cappelletty

Cappelletty is a professor and chair of pharmacy practice in the UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Monclova, Ohio, resident and UT alumna has been involved with medical missions and local medical clinics for 15 years. 

Her mission work began in 2003 when she worked with a team in Peru. Since then, Cappelletty has been on numerous missions to Guatemala and Honduras, and has inspired students to serve alongside her. She compounds medications in the field, comes up with innovative techniques to provide meds during the missions, and mentors students, showing them the humanistic side of pharmacists in trying conditions. Her work has been recognized by the Ohio Society of Health System Pharmacists. 

In Toledo, Cappelletty volunteers at the free Community Care Clinic, which, thanks to her efforts, was licensed by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.   

Dr. Ziya Celik

Celik is a surgeon who has participated in medical missions for more than three decades. He has worked with Midwest Medical Missions, Medishare and Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, serving in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Haiti and Nigeria.

Born in 1941 in Rize, Turkey, Celik moved to the city of Erzurum to complete his early education. In 1960, he started medical school at the University of Istanbul, completed a surgery residency, and was an instructor at the University of Ataturk in Erzurum until 1971.  In 1976, he completed a residency in general surgery at the former Medical College of Ohio.

In addition to medical missions and earthquake relief, Celik maintained a general surgery private practice in Oregon, Ohio, for 30 years, retiring in 2006. Affiliated with St. Charles Hospital, he was a 20-year member of its Executive Committee, director of surgery for 10 years and chief of staff while volunteering his surgical skills around the globe. He lives in Pompano Beach, Fla. 

 International Samaritan is a ministry based in Ann Arbor, Mich., which serves more than 13,000 people each year. For nearly two decades, this nonprofit organization has established programs to alleviate severe poverty and health issues in numerous countries. 

In 1994, Rev. Donald Vettese, a Jesuit priest who was then president of St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, founded this ministry after a trip with students to an orphanage in Guatemala City. In 16 years, the ministry has started programs in Guatemala, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Haiti. The organization also is conducting feasibility studies for similar efforts in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. Oscar Dussan, president of International Samaritan, will attend the ceremony to accept the award. 

Dr. Andrew Casabianca

In addition, Dr. Andrew Casabianca, associate professor and chair of anesthesiology in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences and medical director of operative services at UT Medical Center, will receive the Dr. Lawrence V. Conway Lifetime Distinguished Service Award. He also is associate professor of surgery and dentistry. 

Since traveling to the Dominican Republic on his first medical mission trip in 1994, Casabianca has returned every year. A member of the Midwest Medical Missions, he has participated in more than 30 trips, conducting primary care, anesthesia and dentistry. Casabianca has been the faculty adviser for UT Students for Medical Missions and is on the missions committee at Calvary Church in Maumee. He also was on the planning committee for Serve Week, participated in medical clinics for Vision Ministries and Convoy of Hope, and is a board member for Midwest Medical Missions. 

RSVPs are requested for the free, public induction ceremony. Call 419.530.2586 or 1.800.235.6766, register online or email medmissionhof@utoledo.edu. 

In conjunction with the induction ceremony, the College of Medicine Students for Medical Missions will host a symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17 in Health Education Building 110.

Speakers will include Cappelletty, Celik, Dussan and Casabianca. Register for the free symposium here.

Dr. Lawrence V. Conway, UT professor emeritus of finance, founded the Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame in 2004 to honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to advancing the medical well-being of people around the world. In 2006, the Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame became affiliated with the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences. The hall of fame can be seen in the lobby of the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center. 

 


UT researchers to lead 38% of Ohio’s new water quality research projects, including ‘impairment’ criteria

The University of Toledo is slated to lead eight out of the 21 new research projects to be funded with $3.5 million from the state of Ohio to address water quality and algal bloom toxicity.

UT, situated on the western basin of Lake Erie, is to receive nearly $1 million of the $3.5 million dedicated by the Ohio Department of Higher Education for these additional projects in the ongoing, statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which began three years ago after the city of Toledo issued a Do Not Drink advisory for half a million water customers due to the level of microcystin detected in the water.

UT is one of the lead universities in the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of ten Ohio universities and five state agencies.

The selected projects focus on reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie; investigating algal toxin formation and human health impacts; studying bloom dynamics; better informing water treatment plants how to remove toxin; and aiding the efforts of state agencies.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, will lead a project to develop sampling protocols and collect samples to assess listing criteria that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may use to monitor the water quality of the open waters of the western basin of Lake Erie and to potentially assign official designations such as “impaired” or “unimpaired.”

“Although it is obvious to nearly everyone that harmful algal blooms are impairing Lake Erie each summer, we need to develop objective scientific criteria that can be used to list the open waters of the lake as officially ‘impaired,’ and to remove an ‘impairment’ designation in the future if conditions improve sufficiently,” Bridgeman said.

UT researchers also to receive some of the $988,829 in state funding for their projects are:

  • Dr. Jason Huntley, associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, will be developing and testing biofilters – water filters containing specialized bacteria that degrade microcystin toxins from lake water as it flows through the filter. These biofilter studies are aimed to develop cost-effective, efficient and safe drinking water treatment alternatives for the city of Toledo and other Lake Erie water municipalities.
  • Dr. Steven Haller and Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professors in the Department of Medicine, will investigate how cyanotoxins such as microcystin damage organs not only in healthy settings, but in settings that may increase susceptibility such as diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. Their research teams are working in concert with experts in medicine, pathology, physiology, pharmacology and chemistry to not only to learn how microcystin affects organ function in these settings, but also to create new therapies to prevent and treat organ damage, especially in vulnerable patient populations.
  • Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use a transportation model to simulate potential distribution of volume of agricultural manure from permitted livestock facilities to surrounding farmland for application as a nutrient. The results will assist in determining the estimated acreage of land within the Lake Erie western basin where manure application could be undertaken and examine associated crop types, farming practices, soil types, drainage and other environmental conditions in those areas.
  • Dr. Saatvika Rai, assistant professor of environmental policy in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use GIS and remote sensing to assess the implementation of agricultural and farming practices in three sub-watersheds of the Maumee River Basin – Auglaize, Blanchard and St. Joseph – to identify where best management practices are being implemented. These maps will then be correlated with perceptions of farmers through surveys and interviews to identify hotspots and priority areas for policy intervention in the region.
  • Dr. April Ames, assistant professor in the College of Health and Human Services, will apply an industrial hygiene technique to the exploration of the presence of microcystin in the air using research boats on Lake Erie. Simultaneously, residents who live on or near Lake Erie will be surveyed about their recreational use and self-reported health.

“I am proud of the work that is being done, and that researchers from our public and private higher education institutions continue to work together to address this issue,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “Using the talent of Ohio’s researchers and students to solve pressing problems makes perfect sense.”

The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education with $7.1 million made available for four rounds of research funding since 2015. Matching funding from participating Ohio universities increases the total investment to almost $15.5 million for more than 50 projects, demonstrating the state’s overall commitment to solving the harmful algal bloom problem.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With more than $14 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

The UT Water Task Force, which is comprised of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.


ARC-PA reinstates accreditation for PA program

The University of Toledo received today the decision from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) to reinstate accreditation for UT’s Physician Assistant Studies Program.

Statement
“We are pleased the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants has decided to reinstate accreditation of our Physician Assistant Studies Program, effective immediately. During this probationary period, we will work with ARC-PA to demonstrate how our program, curriculum and processes meet or exceed current standards.

This is good news for our students, whose success remains our top priority. The University is committed to providing a high-quality physician assistant education and training program. We will continue our work to enhance the quality of our PA program.”

Christopher J. Cooper, M.D.
Dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and
Executive Vice President for Clinical Affairs

Letter from the President
UT President Sharon L. Gaber sent a letter to campus this afternoon. It is available online here.


Cancer Research topic of Oct. 12 lecture

“History of Cancer Research: Why Patients Are Still Dying for a Cure” will be discussed Thursday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 110 on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Dr. Azra Raza, Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine and director of the Myelodysplastic Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, will deliver the ninth annual S. Amjad Hussain Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery.

Her research focuses on myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In 1984, she started a tissue repository that now contains 60,000 samples from thousands of patients.

“This repository has helped my colleagues and me define the molecular and genetic milestones that must be covered for pre-leukemia cells to cross over into leukemia cells,” Raza said during a 2016 TEDx talk in New York. “It will also help us define potential therapeutic targets that could be used to intercept the disease before it is too late. This work will likely apply to the evolution of other cancers as well.”

She was part of President Barack Obama’s the Cancer Moonshot Program.

“Cancer is slated to become the leading cause of death in the coming decade, with one in two men and one in three women suffering from the disease at some point in their lives,” she said during the Tedx talk. “Over the next 10 years, the number of new cancer cases in the United States will increase by 42 percent, and the number of cancer survivors will rise from 15.5 million to 20.3 million. During the same period, the number of oncologists will increase by only 28 percent.”

Raza’s research has appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Blood, Cancer, Leukemia, and Cancer Research. In 2012, she was a Hope Funds for Cancer Research honoree. Two years later, Raza received the Distinguished Services in Field Research and Clinical Medicine Award from Dow Medical College.

This annual lecture was created in honor of Hussain, professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and humanities, and columnist for The Blade. The free, public event is designed to highlight Hussain’s interest in many diverse fields, including the history of medicine.


UT College of Medicine students to receive white coats at ceremony

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences will recognize first-year medical students during its official White Coat Ceremony 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 in Nitschke Hall Auditorium.

The ceremony, held during the week of orientation, welcomes medical students to the college and prepares them for undertaking a medical career. Highlights of the event include a welcome from the dean of the college, a keynote address on humanism in medicine and the presentation of white coats and recitation of the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will officiate the ceremony in which 175 medical students will receive their white coats. More than 75 percent of the new students are Ohio residents and about 20 percent are from northwest Ohio.

“This traditional ceremony really underscores the foundation of the medical profession for first-year medical students,” Cooper said. “The white coat serves as a symbol of their achievement of being selected to medical school. Secondly, it reiterates their commitment to professionalism, continuing education and their service to others through medical care.”

The annual ceremony will conclude orientation week for the medical students. In addition to College of Medicine and Life Sciences, UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences holds a white coat ceremony for third-year PharmD students and the UT College of Health and Human Services presents white coats to first-year physical therapy and occupational therapy doctorate students and respiratory care students in their junior year, which is the first year of their professional program.


2017 report for Ohio’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative highlights UT water quality research

Ohio Sea Grant released today its 2017 update on the statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative documenting two years of progress seeking solutions for harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

The University of Toledo, situated on the western basin of Lake Erie, is one of the lead universities in the initiative, which consists of ten Ohio universities and five state agencies and is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and matching funds from participating universities.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman

The 54-page report features a variety of important research activity underway by members of the UT Water Task Force to protect the public water supply and public health, including:

  • Early warning system for toxic algae in Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay by Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Ricky Becker, associate professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences;
  • Developing methods to help water treatment plant operators make decisions on lake water pumping rates according to time of day and weather conditions in order to reduce exposure to algal toxins at the Lake Erie water intake, also by Bridgeman and Becker;
  • Transport and fate of cyanotoxins in drinking water distribution systems, such as pipes and storage tanks, by Dr. Youngwoo Seo, associate professor in the UT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • Investigating alternative biological filtration for algal toxin removal in water treatment through better understanding of microcystin-degrading bacteria, also by Seo;
  • Investigating the influence of potassium permanganate treatment on algal cell integrity and toxin degradation, also by Seo;
  • Developing microcystin-detoxifying water biofilters to upgrade water treatment filters with friendly bacteria through the discovery of enzymes and pathways responsible for microcystin degradation, by Dr. Jason Huntley, associate professor in the UT Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology;
  • Studying the accuracy of ELISA, the standard test measuring harmful algal toxins, in comparison to a more time-consuming but reliable method, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), by Dr. Dragan Isailovic, associate professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;
  • Developing lab tests for detecting microcystin exposure through biological samples and measuring how much remains inside the body, also by Isailovic;
  • Evaluating the ability of commercially available home purification systems to remove algal toxins from tap water, by Dr. Glenn Lipscomb, professor and chair of the UT Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering;
  • Reconsidering recommended healthy exposure limits by studying the impact of algal toxins in experimental models of pre-existing liver disease, by Dr. David Kennedy and Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professors in the UT Division of Cardiovascular Medicine;
  • Studying health effects of recreational and work exposure to harmful algal blooms through fishing, swimming or boating, by Dr. April Ames and Dr. Michael Valigosky, assistant professors in the UT Department of Occupational and Public Health; and
  • Creating an online database to help inform public about harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, by Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT geography professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

Ohio Sea Grant, which manages the statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, is soliciting proposals for a third round of funding to continue the efforts underway to address toxic algae in Ohio’s Great Lake.

Participating universities include UT, The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, Defiance College, Heidelberg University, Kent State University, Sinclair Community College, University of Akron and University of Cincinnati. UT and OSU serve as leaders of the university consortium.

To view the full report, go to http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/p/ib57m/view.

For Ohio Sea Grant’s news release, go to http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/2017/gz884/habri-report-year-2.

The UT Water Task Force, which is comprised of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

Researchers and students help to protect the public drinking water supply for the greater Toledo area throughout summer algal bloom season by conducting water sampling to alert water treatment plant operators of any toxins heading toward the water intake. UT’s 28-foot research vessel and early warning buoy enable UT to partner with the city of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor the health of Lake Erie and provide real-time data.


UT research shows cigarette smoke exposure increases scar tissue in kidney, heart

Smoking cigarettes leads to fibrosis in the kidneys and heart and accelerates kidney disease, according to research at The University of Toledo.

“Smoking is bad for the kidneys and heart together,” said Dr. Christopher Drummond, post-doctoral fellow in the cardiovascular division of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Tobacco and nicotine increase the formation of injury or scarring called fibrosis. That reduces cardiac function, so your heart isn’t operating as efficiently. It also makes it so your kidneys can’t filter toxins from your blood as effectively.”

Dr. Christopher Drummond

Dr. Christopher Drummond

His research titled “Cigarette Smoking Causes Epigenetic Changes Associated With Cardiorenal Fibrosis,” which was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and done in collaboration with the University of California at San Diego, was recently published in the journal Physiological Genomics.

“The results of this study are a public health concern because a significant portion of the U.S. population suffers from kidney disease and heart-related side effects,” Drummond said. “When you smoke, you’re speeding up the development of kidney disease.”

An estimated 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Drummond exposed two groups of rats to cigarette smoke five days a week for four weeks. One group had chronic kidney disease. The other group had normal renal function. Drummond compared those two groups with two control groups of rats – one with chronic kidney disease and one with normal kidney function – that were kept in a room with no smoke.

“We designed and built a system to expose rats to a constant concentration of smoke from cigarettes,” Drummond said. “Those were lit and the animals inhaled around five cigarettes worth of combustible smoke a day.”

In the smoke groups, researchers found a decrease in the genetic material called microRNA associated with slowing or preventing fibrosis in the organ tissue.

Smoking alone drove the rats into renal dysfunction, according to Drummond. Also, blood pressure increased, the heart enlarged and scar tissue developed in the heart muscle and kidneys.

“If you are concerned or have a preexisting condition, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your health,” Drummond said.

Drummond is currently investigating the effects of e-cigarettes on the kidney and heart.