Volume 12, Number 4 October 8, 2004

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Video developed for palliative patients

Fostering hope among palliative care patients and their caregivers is the goal of a new U of S-developed video that will be used as part of a study into ways of encouraging hope.

Living with Hope details the experiences of patients, their families and health care professionals.

One of the researchers, associate professor of nursing Wendy Duggleby, observed that hope is refocused at the end of life but is invariably still present. “It never goes away.”

Find may improve leukemia screening

A genetic change in a gene linked to the most common form of leukemia in the Western world has been found by a U of S research team which hopes their work could lead to better screening for the disease and a new target for drugs.

Published in the May 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the findings of pathology professor and study leader Dr. Anurag Saxena point to a genetic change that can be a marker for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a cancer of the blood that affects adults in mid to late life. The research centres on the family of proteins that control apoptosis, the programmed death of cells which, in cancer, goes awry with the result being cells living and dividing beyond their “best before” date, said Saxena.

In the study of 58 CLL patients as well a healthy control group, the researchers found the genetic marker present in those patients whose disease did not respond to treatment and killed them more quickly. The discovery, said Saxena in a news release, is a clue to how CLL develops and will be valuable in diagnosing the disease as well as in the development of more effective treatments.

“It sheds light on a key question in cancer research: why do some patients get sicker than others?”

High school grades don’t mean U. success

OTTAWA – Academic success in high school is not a good predictor of success in first-year university, according to research lead by James Parker, Trent University’s Canada Research Chair in Emotion and Health.

The study, released this summer, showed that student who do well in their first year at university have higher levels of emotional intelligence than students who have good high school marks but little success at university. The researchers tracked the academic performance of 1,426 first-year students at four U.S. institutions.

The successful students were particularly good at interpersonal skills, adaptability and stress management. Parker said these findings come at a time when Canadian universities are dealing with low retention and graduate rates.

Although many universities have broadened non-academic services for students, teaching “soft skills” remains a tough sell.

“There’s still a sizable number of faculty who would argue: ‘If they’re not ready for university, it’s not my job to teach them life skills’,” he said. “But if you think the goal of university is to allow people to achieve their best potential, then you have to think of the soft skills.”

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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