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2018 Research Highlights from Johns Hopkins Medicine

February 21, 2020


Let’s look back through 10 research discoveries
in the past year at Johns Hopkins Medicine. [1. A Groundbreaking Transplant] A team of surgeons successfully performed
the first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world. The recipient is a veteran who sustained injuries
during his service in Afghanistan. [2. Octopuses Get Friendly on Ecstasy, Just Like Humans] Scientists have found an evolutionary link
between the social behaviors of humans and octopuses after studying the genome of the
not-so-friendly sea creature and testing its behavioral reaction to a popular mood-altering
drug called MDMA or “ecstasy.” The findings may open opportunities for accurately
studying the impact of psychiatric drug therapies in animals distantly related to people. [3. This Cell Nabs Cancer Cells from Within Breast Milk Ducts] In a study in mice, scientists discovered
a cell layer surrounding breast milk ducts that reaches out to grab cancer cells to keep
them from spreading through the body. [4. Among Kids and Teens, Gunshot Wounds Cost $270 Million in Healthcare Expenses] A study of more than 75,000 teenagers and
children revealed that gunshot wounds cost $270 million in annual emergency room and
inpatient charges. [5. Cell Signals that Cause Heart Failure in Kids with Marfan Syndrome Identified] Johns Hopkins researchers identified the cell
signals responsible for rapid heart failure in a mouse model of Marfan syndrome, a genetic
disorder that affects connective tissue throughout the body and is typically identified during
childhood. The researchers also reversed heart failure
in Marfan mouse models. [6. Mini Probes Squeeze into Tiny Tissues and Organs in Animals] Scientists have developed miniature probes
— the width of nearly six sheets of paper — to peer into tiny tissues and organs in animals,
which may one day pave the way for smaller scopes to examine organs and structures in
humans. [7. Observational Study: Beef Jerky and Other Processed Meats Associated with Manic Episodes] Researchers have found that people hospitalized
for an episode of mania, a state of abnormally elevated mood, arousal and energy, were more
than three times likely to have eaten nitrate-cured meats, such as beef jerky, salami, and hot
dogs. Meat lovers shouldn’t worry just yet: the
study wasn’t designed to determine cause and effect, and experts say an occasional
hot dog is unlikely to spur a manic episode in most of the population. [8. Experimental Drug Slows Progression of Parkinson’s Disease in Mice] An experimental drug similar to compounds
used to treat diabetes can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease as well as its symptoms
in mice. Scientists think that the drug may work by
stopping a particular type of brain cell from eating away at connections in the brain. [9. Looking for a Mobile Health App? Beware: Positive Ratings Don’t Mean It Works] Researchers found that disclaimers on a mobile
health app — that was proven inaccurate and removed from the market — didn’t stop
people from using the app to manage their medical condition or stop health care professionals
from recommending it. They warn that just because an app has positive
ratings doesn’t necessarily mean it works. [10. World’s Reference Genome is Missing a Big Chunk; To Improve Genomic Research, Researchers Need More Reference Genomes] Finally, Johns Hopkins scientists have found
that the collective genomes of 910 people of African descent have a large chunk — about
300 million bits — of genetic material that is missing from the basic reference genome. To improve genomic research, the researchers
says that scientists need to build more reference genomes that more closely reflect different
populations. Stay tuned to a new year of research and discoveries
by following news from Johns Hopkins Medicine on our website and social media channels.

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