Research Briefs: Jeff Temple, Dr. Allen Brasier, Dr. Ana M. Rodriguez and Slobodan Paessler

Jan 19, 2016, 14:50 PM by Donna Ramirez and Christopher Smith Gonzalez

Jeff Temple, PhD, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has found that teens who are involved in dating abuse—as either the perpetrator or the victim—are more likely to also be involved in cyberdating abuse. Further, teens who commit cyberdating violence against their partners are more likely to later be victimized by it, and cyberviolence victims are more likely to later perpetrate this act. While researchers have explored teens’ use of technology to perpetrate dating violence, little is known about how traditional in-person and cyberabuse are linked, and this is the first study to examine their relationship over time. UTMB researchers collected information from 1,042 high school students as a part of an ongoing six-year study of teen health in several public schools in Texas. Researchers analyzed whether being involved in any form of dating abuse as either the perpetrator or the victim predicted involvement in cyberdating abuse over the following year. The study found that teens involved in cyberdating abuse both commit and fall victim to it. The findings appear in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

A multidisciplinary research group led by Dr. Allan Brasier, director of UTMB’s Institute for Translational Sciences, in tandem with several collaborating research institutions, has discovered a new way for early detection of a potentially deadly Aspergillus fungus in patients with suppressed immune systems. The team studied patients undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, bone marrow transplants and lung transplants from several of the collaborating institutions and identified, confirmed and evaluated a new method of detecting the infectious mold in patients with leukemia. The team’s discovery could translate to refined diagnostics, earlier treatment and improved survival for patients affected by this infection. The findings were published in PLOS One.

Dr. Ana M. Rodriguez, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has found that survival rates for women younger than 50 with primary, invasive endometrial cancer are not improving, despite improvements in diagnosis and treatment. Endometrial cancer is the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer and is treated with surgery, radiation, hormones and/or chemotherapy, depending on the stage of the disease when diagnosed. The study involved 82,721 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer. They found stark differences in cancer-specific survival based on a woman’s age and the stage of her cancer at diagnosis. Survival was greatly improved for patients who received a combination of surgery (total hysterectomy with removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries) and radiation, especially for women with late-stage diagnosis. In contrast, survival was greatly decreased in patients treated with radiation only. While combination therapy improved survival for both younger and older women with late-stage disease, the researchers found it troubling that younger women with early-stage endometrial cancer were only half as likely to receive combination therapy as those who were older. Future studies should look at why treatments are not being applied equally between these groups. The study’s findings appear in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology.

Slobodan Paessler, DVM, PhD, professor of Pathology, and colleagues have identified ways to make the flu shot more effective. The influenza virus evolves and changes quickly, so each year the World Health Organization recommends the needed influenza vaccine to match the predominant strains of the virus in circulation. It takes about six months to produce the vaccine, but by the time it reaches the public, the vaccine may no longer be an effective match against the evolving influenza viruses. The current genetic analyses used to monitor virus evolution cannot distinguish and predict important mutations in the influenza virus that would have an impact on vaccine efficacy. Using the researchers’ proposed bioinformatics approach and focusing on the portion of the virus responsible for binding to cells, scientists could still identify the predominant strains as well as some outliers that would be “resistant” to a seasonal vaccine. The study’s findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Compiled from press releases written by Donna Ramirez and Christopher Smith Gonzalez. Read more at