Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Texas Christian University

Last week, the NFL admitted for the first time that football is linked to brain damage. It’s something researchers have documented for years. Now, a new study conducted at Texas Christian University shows a component of fish oil could help reduce the brain-damaging effects of head trauma.

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Last year, Texas legalized limited medical use of cannabidiol oil, which is derived from marijuana. Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth is undergoing trials to see if that compound can be used to treat children with a severe form of epilepsy.

Elyse Barnard

Meet Hallie: for much of her young life, the 7-year-old Denton 2nd grader, has been looking for something you can’t buy in a store: She’s searching for someone who could save her life. There’s a chance you could help.

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Millions of Americans suffer from memory loss - it could be from Alzheimer’s disease, a traumatic brain injury from the battlefield – or even a car wreck. UT Southwestern Medical Center is working with several universities on an ambitious project to stop memory loss

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Lindsey Davidson says finding heroin is Texas easy; finding the drug to reverse an overdose, that’s hard.

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Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. But what they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they’re experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

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Research in Texas shows for the first time that electromagnetic fields from things like cellphone towers and power lines can amplify pain in people.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The Holy Grail in health care is finding a way to cut costs and improve outcomes. Researchers at UT Southwestern and Parkland Hospital say they’ve uncovered a way to do both – so that patients who typically have to stay in the hospital for more than a month can go home and care for themselves. The program could help hospitals save significantly and give patients independence.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. For the kids – they have to miss class –and for mom or dad, who have to leave work, try and schedule a last minute doctor’s appointment, maybe even go to the emergency room. So, what if kids could see a pediatrician without having to leave school? That’s the idea behind a telemedicine initiative run by Children’s Health. The program has gone from reaching several hundred kids to in Texas to thousands.

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By now many people in North Texas have heard of the Zika virus, but few have firsthand experience. Dr. David Vanderpool does. Vanderpool was raised and educated in Dallas and has seen the toll the disease is taking south of the border, in the poorest country of the Americas – Haiti. He says whether or not the Zika virus spreads to the U.S., we need to be paying close attention.

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Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas hopes to become one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to transplant a uterus from one woman to another.

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Texas is an epicenter for human trafficking. Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton established a new unit of attorneys and investigators focused on combating human trafficking. Each year, thousands of adults and children are trafficked through the state and many end up living in cities like Dallas and Houston. It turns out some victims are walking into hospitals, and some doctors believe these visits are a window of opportunity to help them escape.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There is no treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It’s a rare and fatal genetic condition that progressively weakens all muscles, including the heart. But scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center have successfully used a gene editing tool to halt the disease in young mice.

When most little boys were running up and down stairs, Ben Dupree was using his arms to pull himself up the wood banister in his home in University Park. His mom, Debbie, knew something was wrong.

 

The Longest Swim

Any day now, Texas swimmer Ben Lecomte will plunge into the Pacific Ocean off a Tokyo beach towards San Francisco. He wants to become the first person to swim across the Pacific. He’s already the first person to free swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Forest Park Medical Center campuses were supposed to be more like spas than hospitals.  And they were —  from the hand cut stone and sculptures to the lavish trees and fancy menu.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

There’s a new start up in Fort Worth that wants you to skip the gas station and let them bring the fuel to you, courtesy of a smartphone app. 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Toys can do more than entertain. Priscila Caçola, assistant professor of kinesiology in the UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation, has published research showing how specific toys and items in the home can help children develop motor skills.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

It’s common to train service dogs to help veterans with physical disabilities. But how about helping them with post traumatic stress disorder? The Veterans Administration is launching a major study to find out what effect specially-trained service dogs can have on a veterans ability to cope with life after service. Veterans who already rely on service dogs say the research should have been done years ago.

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It can be tricky to pin down a patent troll.

 

Gil Gillam, artist and attorney with Gillam & Smith LLP in Marshall, Texas.

East Texas is known for its Piney Woods, Caddo Lake, maybe for sweet potatoes. It’s also the patent lawsuit capitol of the country. More patent infringement cases are brought to Eastern District courts than anywhere else. There’s pressure to root out the so-called “patent trolls”.

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Doctors across the country will be trying out a new treatment for traumatic brain injury. UT Southwestern, the National Institutes of Health and other partners announced today that they’ll study a new drug that could help stop bleeding in the brain.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For the first time since it opened in 1790, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is expanding outside of Washington, D.C. The agency – which has a team of more than 8,000 patent examiners – has established regional offices in four cities across the United States, including Dallas.

 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Treating complex hand wounds often involves wrapping gauze and bandages around the injury to the point of making any movement impossible. The “boxing glove” look is problematic because the joints in the fingers can easily become stiff — making it harder to recover mobility later on. Researchers at UT Arlington are developing a specialized glove that can deliver medicine to an injured hand to help speed up healing time and make the process less painful.

Nate Rice / The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

A North Texas scientist is working to revive a bird that went extinct 80 years ago.

This is no Halloween prank.

Jonathan Bender

Even with the connections of a former NBA player, becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

Health Wildcatters

Ten young companies from across the world snagged a spot in the 2015 class of Health Wildcatters. Some entrepreneurs have developed products – one for reducing the risk of stroke, another for easy eye exams – others, health services – like fast access to specialists through telemedicine and bilingual wellness programs for employers. Each company gets $35,000 in seed money and space to work for three months.

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If you’ve ever wondered where your data is stored – maybe those family vacation photos, your medical records, podcasts – they could be here: in a highly-secure, grey building north of Dallas called Digital Realty.

Center for BrainHealth

This week, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas is starting construction on a new institute – and it’s shaped like a brain.

Lauren Silverman/KERA News

Fewer African-American men applied to medical school last year compared to 1978. To find out why, we talked with medical students and doctors who are bucking that trend.

Wendi Bates

When Caitlyn Jenner shared her story of transition from male to female she put the transgender community in the spotlight. She also focused attention on a specific surgery, known as facial feminization.

Have you ever thought about what makes a face feminine? I’m not talking lipstick here, but something deeper.

According to one of the surgeons who pioneered facial feminization surgery, what makes a face feminine isn’t easy to define.

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