Clinical studies are a vital component of bench-to-bedside biomedical research. The NIAMS invests significant resources in investigator-initiated clinical research focused on preventing disease, comparing treatments, identifying people who are likely to develop a condition or testing a treatment for a rare disease. This month’s letter highlights the importance of clinical research and the resources available to both researchers and potential study volunteers.
Image: Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
Vitamin D supplements likely do not improve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to results from a clinical trial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study, which was partially funded by the NIAMS, does not support observational data suggesting that raising people’s blood levels of vitamin D may ease OA pain and joint degeneration. OA is the most common form of arthritis, affecting nearly 27 million Americans age 25 and older.
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and their colleagues, have discovered that a gene called BACH2 may play a central role in the development of diverse allergic and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and type-1 diabetes. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks normal cells and tissues in the body that are generally recognized as “self” and do not normally trigger immune responses. Autoimmunity can occur in infectious diseases and cancer.
NIH Researchers Conduct First Genomic Survey of Human Skin Fungal Diversity: Location on the Body Surface Determines Fungal Composition With the Greatest Diversity on Feet
While humans have harnessed the power of yeast to ferment bread and beer, the function of yeast or other types of fungi that live in and on the human body is not well understood. In the first study of human fungal skin diversity, NIH researchers sequenced the DNA of fungi at skin sites of healthy adults to define the normal populations across the skin and to provide a framework for investigating fungal skin conditions.
Image: Sci Transl Med. 2013 Feb 13;5(172).
Membrane Remodeling: Where Yoga Meets Cell Biology—NIH-Funded Study Reveals Protein, Fatty Molecules and Cellular Energy Work Together During Endocytosis
Cells ingest proteins and engulf bacteria by a gymnastic, shape-shifting process called endocytosis. Researchers at the NIH revealed how a key protein, dynamin, drives the action.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Impact Reports for Eight NIAMS Topic Areas Added to the NIAMS Website
The NIH awarded more than 12,000 grants through ARRA. The ARRA Impact Reports offer additional details on the outcomes of these investments. The NIAMS ARRA page has been updated with the impact reports for several NIAMS topic areas.
Image: Scientists studying dynamin use an artificial membrane (orange). Source: Molecular Biology of the Cell,20:4630–4639.
On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration requires the NIH to cut 5 percent or $1.55 billion of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. The NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects and activities, which are primarily NIH Institutes and Centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected.
NIH Director’s Blog
The occasional itch—be it a bug bite or rash—is annoying. But there are millions of people with chronic itching conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, who are constantly scratching their skin. This is more than a little irritation—it drastically reduces their quality of life and is a perpetual distraction. Current anti-itch treatments include topical corticosteroid creams, oral antihistamines and various lotions. But researchers at the NIH have gone beyond the skin’s surface and discovered a critical molecule at the root of that itchy feeling.
Image courtesy of Mark Hoon, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH.
Inspiration can come from some pretty strange sources. Case in point: a new adhesive Band-Aid inspired by Pomphorhynchus laevis, a spiny-headed worm that lives in the intestines of fish. The parasitic worm pokes its tiny, spiny, cactus-shaped head through the intestinal lining and then inflates its head with fluid to stay anchored.
Image: Artist rendition of spiny headed worm (left). The adhesive patch with microneedles that swell (right).
Source: The Karp Lab, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
There is much excitement about the potential of stem cells for many applications, including regenerative medicine and treating human diseases. But growing pure cultures of stem cells by reprogramming adult cells—like human fibroblasts—into a less differentiated cell type called a human induced Pluripotent Stem cell (iPS cell), is a tricky business. These stem cell cultures are often contaminated with other normal cells that do not have the same coveted therapeutic potential. Manually sorting these stem cells is time consuming and difficult; using chemical approaches can damage the DNA inside. Now, we have a better option: NIH-funded researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have invented a cell-sorting device that exploits specific characteristics of iPS cells.
Image: Adult human fibroblast cells (left) are reprogrammed into iPS cells, which lets them adhere to sorting devices (right).
Source: Ankur Singh and Andres Garcia, Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience, Georgia Tech.
Other Federal News
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created the STEADI Tool Kit for health care providers who see older adults in their practice—especially individuals who are at risk of falling or who may have fallen in the past. The STEADI Tool Kit gives health care providers the information and tools they need to assess and address an older patient’s fall risk.
FDA Medwatch Celebrates 20 Years and Announces the Availability of New Consumer-Friendly Reporting Form and MedWatchLearn Tool
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its MedWatch program, which provides important safety information associated with FDA-regulated products, with a new form that will encourage more consumer participation. Under MedWatch, health care professionals and consumers submit reports to FDA when they find a problem with a drug, medical device, biologic, or other FDA-regulated products.
Enhance Your Materials and Websites With Images From the NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative
The NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative was established in recognition of the need to ensure that health information is available and accessible to people from all walks of life, including those from underserved populations. The NIAMS created an electronic toolkit for the National Multicultural Outreach Initiative that offers valuable resources to assist organizations with promoting health information to underserved minority populations. One such resource is the image gallery. The image gallery holds more than 150 photos of people from multicultural populations. If you need a high-resolution image, contact Richard Clark.
These web pages are for your kids. Help them learn about their bones, joints, muscles, and skin—what they do and how to keep them their healthiest.
Researchers used 3-D printing of cartilage cells and nanomaterials to create functional ears that receive radio signals. The study demonstrates that it may one day be possible to create bionic tissues and organs.
Image: Scientists used 3-D printing to merge tissue and an antenna that receives radio signals. Photo by Frank Wojciechowski.
Read practical health information in NIH News in Health, which is reviewed by the NIH’s medical experts and is based on research conducted either by the NIH’s own scientists or by its grantees at universities and medical schools around the country.
The NIH’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series offers weekly lectures every Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Building 10, NIH Campus. Renowned scientists from around the globe present research on a variety of topics. The lectures are continuing medical education certified, open to the public and available live via webcast.
June 26, 2013
Jeffrey Gordon, Washington University at St. Louis
“Exploring the Human Gut Microbiome: Dining in With Trillions of Fascinating Friends”
The NIH hosts a number of science seminars and events that are available online through real-time streaming video. You can watch an event at your convenience as an on-demand video or a downloadable podcast. Most events are available to all; a few are broadcast for the NIH or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are marked as such. See additional details on events.
The NIAMS exhibit is traveling to several events. See the schedule of health fairs and exhibits.
Image: The NIAMS Exhibit
Biomarker Candidate Platforms for Inflammatory Diseases (U44)
Letter of Intent Receipt Date: September 11, 2013
Application Receipt Date: October 11, 2013
NIH Common Fund Initiative Announcements
Other Funding Announcements
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Announces New Round of Funding Announcements
PCORI plans to award up to $81 million in a newly announced round of PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs). With this latest funding opportunity, plus previous calls for research proposals and plans to offer targeted PFAs later this year, PCORI aims to commit at least $355 million in support for patient-centered comparative effectiveness research in 2013. The revised PFAs released on May 15 correspond to PCORI’s National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda and respond to feedback received during previous funding cycles, including several improvements designed to make it easier for applicants to understand the criteria and features that make the funding process unique.
Download application materials
Application Receipt Date: August 15, 2013
Research on the Role of Epigenetics in Social, Behavioral, Environmental and Biological Relationships, Throughout the Life Span and Across Generations (R21)
Letter of Intent Receipt Date: October 13, 2013
Application Receipt Date: November 13, 2013
NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards FY 2013
Change in the Application Due Date for RFA-OD-13-199 “NIH Administrative Supplements to Recover Losses Due to Hurricane Sandy Under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act - Non-Construction (Admin Supp)”