Roundup of recent research involving UT Southwestern:

Antibody treatment lowers risk for food allergies 

News — Millions of children have food allergies, many of which can cause severe illness or death. In a study published in the , a team of researchers, including those from UT Southwestern, shows in a phase three clinical trial that an antibody-based therapy called omalizumab may inhibit food allergy reactions when delivered repeatedly over time. The researchers tested this treatment in a group of children with allergies to peanuts as well as at least two other foods such as cashews, milk, eggs, walnuts, wheat, and hazelnuts. Two-thirds of the participants received omalizumab injections every two to four weeks over 16 to 20 weeks. A third of the patients received a placebo. Results showed that 67% of those receiving this drug were able to tolerate approximately two or more peanuts after initially reacting to less than approximately ½ of a peanut at study entry, with similar results for other foods, suggesting omalizumab could offer some protection against common food allergens. The therapy does not eliminate food allergies, but it helps reduce allergic reactions in cases of accidental exposure, scientists say.

Contributing to the study were , Professor of  and , Interim Chief of the  at UT Southwestern, and Director of the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Health, and , Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern and Clinical Co-Director of the Dallas Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases and Esophagitis Program at Children’s Health.

Weight-loss surgery support offered for teens

Metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) can be a safe and efficacious way to treat severe obesity in adolescents, but no standardized program exists to successfully support preparation for surgery and subsequent weight loss in this population. To fill the gap, researchers, including those from UT Southwestern, developed an online support program called TeenLYFT using input from adolescents, according to details in the . The researchers surveyed 19 volunteers, ages 13-15, from an adolescent MBS program at Children’s Health on their preferences and interests in behavior or lifestyle topics surrounding weight loss and healthy living. Thirteen parents also provided information. TeenLYFT could eventually help improve outcomes after MBS, researchers say.

Researchers who contributed to the study include first author and Ph.D. candidate Maral Misserian in the ; , Professor of  at UT Southwestern and pediatric general and thoracic pediatric surgeon and Director of the Adolescent Bariatric Surgical Center at Children's Health; , Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Health; and , Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, a pediatric endocrinologist,  and the medical consultant for the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Team at Children’s Health.

Racial disparities found among pregnant patients with multiple sclerosis 

Numerous studies have identified racial disparities in health care for neurologic conditions and for pregnancy; however, researchers know little about racial disparities in patients with both conditions. Scientists, including those from UT Southwestern, show in  that significant disparities exist among white, Black, and Hispanic patients who are pregnant and have multiple sclerosis (MS). Using data from 294 patients seen at nine MS centers across the U.S., including at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and Parkland Memorial Hospital, researchers report racial differences in a range of metrics. Some examples include white patients being more likely to be employed, to be privately insured, and to have received a 14-week ultrasound; Black patients having a higher rate of emergency cesarean delivery; and Hispanic patients having the highest rate of uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Black and Hispanic patients also had lower median birth weights and shorter median duration of breastfeeding, the study showed. The findings could lead to interventions to decrease racial disparities among pregnant patients with MS. 

UTSW researchers , and , Assistant Professors of , contributed to the study.

Gestational age increased at start of COVID-19 pandemic 

The gestational age of babies born extremely early increased slightly during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from multiple institutions including UT Southwestern report in the . Because lockdowns and social distancing in the first few months of the pandemic decreased some risk factors associated with extremely preterm live births (EPLBs), such as occupational physical activity, physical stress, and infections, the scientists wondered whether EPLBs may have decreased as well. To answer that question, they used a large database from 26 hospitals, including William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and Parkland Memorial Hospital, containing outcomes from babies born extremely early between March and August 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic times, when the average gestational age for EPLBs was 26.1 weeks, the age for EPLBs during the first six months of the pandemic moved to 26.2 weeks, a slight improvement that was also associated with lower death rates within 12 hours of birth and lower incidence of brain bleeds.

UTSW researcher , Professor of , contributed to the study.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center 

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty members have received six Nobel Prizes and include 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 21 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 3,100 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 120,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 5 million outpatient visits a year.

About Parkland Health

Parkland Health is one of the largest public hospital systems in the country. Premier services at the state-of-the-art Parkland Memorial Hospital include the Level I Rees-Jones Trauma Center, the only burn center in North Texas verified by the American Burn Association for adult and pediatric patients, and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The system also includes two on-campus outpatient clinics – the Ron J. Anderson, MD Clinic and the Moody Outpatient Center, as well as more than 30 community-based clinics and numerous outreach and education programs. By cultivating its diversity, inclusion, and health equity efforts, Parkland enriches the health and wellness of the communities it serves. For more information, visit .