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 Health multidisciplinary team has conducted the first human study using a full-body positron emission tomography (PET) scan to identify the biomarkers for autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. Published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, the study offers promising results that introduce novel means to assess joint inflammation that would aid clinicians in monitoring and treating patients. The study utilized UC Davis Health’s EXPLORER, the first total body PET scanner approved by the FDA in the U.S.

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UC Davis study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows some people may be overlooked for cessation counseling based on the way care providers ask about tobacco use. The study determined asking about “tobacco use in the past five days” or measuring cotinine would help identify current smokers better. It also recommends asking about type of tobacco product used, if others in the household smoke, and whether there is indoor exposure (i.e., at work).

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A study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers found that the severity of a child’s autism symptoms can change significantly between the ages of 3 and 11. Published in Autism Research, the study built on previous work by the same researchers on changes to autism characteristics in early childhood. The children studied were all part of the MIND Institute’s long-term Autism Phenome Project (APP). The results opened up questions about why some kids change and some don’t, and whether researchers can determine the influence of biology and daily living.

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A team of UC Davis researchers found that the levels of certain polyamine molecules in saliva and urine samples of head and neck cancer patients were significantly higher than those in healthy individuals. Their proof-of-concept study, published in Diagnostics, might help lead to a noninvasive low-cost method to screen for this cancer. Head and neck cancer is currently the seventh most common cause of cancer-related death, with approximately two-thirds of patients advanced stage III or IV tumors at the time of diagnosis.

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Research from UC Davis Health scientists provides clues for how probiotics may help eradicate bacterial pathogens like Salmonella by competing with them for needed resources. The study, published in Cell Host & Microbe, shows that availability of needed nutrients alone doesn’t define where bacteria — including pathogens — can survive and thrive in the gut. Authors said the insights provide better understanding of the nutritional basis of intestinal colonization, and can help inform efforts to develop probiotics to combat infection.

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An international team of researchers led by UC Davis geneticists has discovered a new gene implicated in a neurodevelopmental condition called DPH5-related diphthamide-deficiency syndrome. The syndrome is caused by DPH5 gene variants that may lead to embryonic death or profound neurodevelopmental delays. UC Davis led the project with collaborations from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Massachusetts and California, with findings published in Genetics in Medicine.