In brief
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Body of knowledge

A summary of recent findings in clinical, translational and basic science research at UC Davis

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A UC Davis-led study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to show that a vaccine can prevent transmission of cytomegalovirus (CMV) across mucosal surfaces, such as the mouth and nasal passages. Researchers simulated how the virus spreads and were able to target a viral gene that prevents the immune system from responding to the infection. The findings provide an approach to prevent infection in pregnant women while reducing the chance that babies become infected and develop disabilities.

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Researchers at UC Davis and Johns Hopkins have uncovered a better understanding of MRSA with the help of specially engineered mice, advancing the field a step closer to developing a staph vaccine or cell-based therapies. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study identified the exact type of immune cells that travel from lymph nodes to the infection site to fight the bacteria. The teams are collaborating again to investigate whether there is a parallel cell type in humans that can form a similar protective response to infection.

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UC Davis study of emergency departments and urgent care centers found that educating physicians and patients about safe antibiotic use can cut overuse by one-third. Published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, the findings highlighted important behavioral modifications that helped improve antibiotic-prescribing decisions, such as providing an on-site physician champion; physician feedback on prescribing rates; and a public commitment to reduce unnecessary use.

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In the first large, multicenter study to assess the amount of advanced imaging occurring during pregnancy, researchers found that CT scans – which expose mothers and fetuses to high doses of ionizing radiation – have significantly increased over the past two decades. The JAMA Network Open report found that imaging rates were highest in women aged 20 to 40 who delivered preterm, or were black, Native American, or Hispanic. Authors suggested alternative methods should be considered whenever possible to avoid unnecessary exposure and potential health risks.

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Researchers from UC Davis Health and Oregon Health Sciences University found that extensive cardiac testing for chest pain did not predict major cardiac events, and should only be performed when initial assessments indicate heart disease is likely, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. The study concluded that with a clinical history, exam, and more highly sensitive methods to predict major cardiac events, these evaluations could help better determine who should and should not get advanced cardiac testing

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A UC Davis research team has uncovered a cellular link between diabetes and blood vessel constriction that increases risks of serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. The study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that high glucose can damage the vascular system and arteries that control blood flow. The findings are an important target for further investigations into new treatments for the vascular complications of diabetes.