New Orleans Higher Education Briefs for Jan. 7, 2013

Journals feature Loyola research

In a biology lab at Loyola University New Orleans, biology professor Rosalie Anderson, Ph.D., and her undergraduate students cut a tiny hole to remove just the elbow joint of a chicken embryo’s wing, and 18 hours later, a new joint grew back.

Their findings were featured in the Dec. 6 issue of Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals, and the full scientific research was published Dec. 15 in the journal Developmental Biology.

Loyola senior biology major Jeffrey Coote is a co-author on that paper as well as two Loyola biology graduates, Mariana Zapata and Daniel Frugé.

Co-authors also include B. Duygu Özpolat, Ph.D., and Ken Muneoka, Ph.D., of Tulane University.

Chickens, unlike salamanders, typically do not regenerate amputated limbs and body parts, but Anderson and her students are discovering certain conditions where that’s possible.

Anderson’s lab found that cells in the chicken embryo will actually migrate to the hole where the elbow joint once was to form a new one.

Her team of Loyola undergraduate students are identifying and studying the cells and genes responsible for the phenomenon.

Understanding that process could unlock clues for scientists looking to coax the human body into making new joints.

The genes important for a chicken’s development are the same genes found in humans, according to Anderson, a developmental biologist.

That’s why it’s not that much of a stretch to see the possibilities of her findings and their implications for humans in the future, especially in regenerative medicine.

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and represents a new and novel approach to studying joint regeneration and development by using chicken embryos as the model and focusing on larger joints that are directly applicable to elbow, hip and knee joints.

Study looks at how people weigh risks

When it comes to calculating their odds of getting the flu, consumers look to an unlikely gauge — the price of the flu shot — to measure their risk, according to a new study co-authored by a Tulane University researcher.

The study found that consumers make judgments about their risk of catching an illness based on the cost of its medication.

The higher the price, the less they think they’re at risk, says co-author Janet Schwartz, assistant professor of marketing at the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane.

Researchers conducted several surveys to gauge consumers’ reactions to different medications based on cost and perceived risk.

For example, they presented different health messages about getting a flu shot, emphasizing individual risk in one scenario and the larger public health risks in another.

They told some that the vaccine cost $25 and others $125. Even though all were told the cost would be covered by insurance, those in the high-price group felt that they were at a lower risk of getting the flu.

Researchers found that consumers instinctively believed important medication like flu vaccine should be affordably priced to be widely accessible.

When priced high and perceivably out of reach for some, consumers inferred that the medicine must not be all that necessary and the risk of getting the illness must be lower.

The results of the study, which is co-authored by Adriana Samper of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, will be published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

LSUHSC clinical research accredited

The Council on Accreditation of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs has awarded full accreditation to the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Human Research Protection Program.

The accreditation process ensures that human research programs meet rigorous standards for quality and protection.

To earn accreditation, organizations must provide tangible evidence of their commitment to scientifically and ethically sound research and to continuous improvement.

In conjunction with numerous private and public partners, 300 LSUHSC faculty are conducting more than 900 human research studies on a broad range of health issues from drug and device studies to behavioral and educational studies.

Compiled by
the New Orleans bureau