Fall 2017

Making headlines

The Martinez twins, shortly before their separation

Tiny packages, big success

Conjoined twins Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were born at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in February connected at the chest, liver, and heart. Then in May, after a 3-D model of the babies’ hearts made at the U’s philanthropy–supported Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center showed a “bridge” between the hearts that doctors hadn’t seen before, more than 40 medical professionals took part in a groundbreaking surgery to separate the girls. KARE11 told their story first in July. Paisleigh and Paislyn have a long road ahead, but they are recovering well at the hospital.

Patching a damaged heart

A team of biomedical engineers has created a revolutionary 3-D-bioprinted patch that can help heal scarred heart tissue after a heart attack. When the University of Minnesota’s Brenda Ogle, Ph.D., and colleagues placed the patch on a damaged mouse heart, the researchers saw a significant increase in functional capacity after four weeks. Because the patch was made from cells and structural proteins native to the heart, it was absorbed into the body and became part of the heart. The study, supported in part by gifts to the University’s Lillehei Heart Institute, was featured in Newsweek in June.

A thought on preventing addiction

Dentists prescribe about 12 percent of all immediate-release opioids and are the most frequent prescribers for 10- to 19-year-olds, the age group most vulnerable to misuse. Today the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry has implemented a mandatory protocol in its clinics and teaching practices: instead of opioids, the first-line pain control regimen following all dental procedures is ibuprofen and acetaminophen. So far, the evidence-based protocol, highlighted in July in The New York Timeshas not been met with an increase in patients’ reported pain or complaints.