Teaching Heart-Healthy Habits to High-Risk Children and Families

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has received a $3.8 million grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote cardiovascular health through early education and intervention programs targeting high-risk children and their parents in Harlem and the Bronx.

Mount Sinai researchers will study the genes and lifestyles of 600 preschoolers and their parents or guardians who live in these communities, which are associated with high rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The investigators will track whether the interventions lead to healthier eating habits and additional exercise. They will also examine the participants’ DNA and RNA to understand how genetics plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

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New Research Refutes Long-Held Antiviral Theory

A long-standing belief that mammals use the same potent antiviral molecules deployed by plants and invertebrates is being challenged by researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Their findings, published in the July 10, 2014, issue of Cell Reports, surprised many scientists who assumed that antiviral RNA Interference (RNAi) exists in humans as a natural result of evolution.

Scientists know that human cells, like cells in every living organism with a nucleus, encode and generate small RNAs, which influence our genetics. It is also known that mammals combat viruses with interferons—proteins manufactured by immune cells in response to pathogens.

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Understanding the Roots of Autism

Specific cellular pathways, along which genetic mutations occur, appear to play a key role in the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), according to new research from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The findings, published online in the April 24, 2014, issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, provide scientists with a better understanding of the complex genetic architecture involved in ASD, which has its roots in early brain development.

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Mount Sinai Presents Groundbreaking Findings on Heart Procedure

In a groundbreaking, multi-centered randomized trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers, co-led by Mount Sinai’s David H. Adams, MD, determined that a catheter-based heart procedure to replace an aortic valve was superior to surgery for patients who have symptomatic severe aortic stenosis with increased risks. The findings, based on a clinical trial involving 795 patients treated at 45 institutions across the nation, were simultaneously presented by Dr. Adams at the 63rd Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology on Saturday, March 29, and represent a major advance for heart patients who are at high risk for surgery.

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Genetic Research Leading to Advances in Autism Care

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) describes a group of neurodevelopmental disorders with a wide range of severity and symptoms affecting 1 out of 68 children in the United States. While there is currently no medicine for this complex condition, discovering genetic causes of ASD will help accurate diagnosis and prediction of additional likely symptoms, thereby improving medical treatment. Genetic findings can also provide families with critical information about the clinical course of the disease and provide opportunities for family counseling. New genetic findings allow scientists to conduct more specific research into the mechanisms that cause ASD as well as the many subtypes and symptoms of the condition. Finally, genetic findings also allow for detailed study of the way these genes function, which can help scientists design new treatments and develop more tailored medical support in the form of personalized medicine.

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