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#Expert Research: Can CBD effectively impede growth of heterotopic lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the most chronic form of cancer and the leading cause of cancer mortality in the world, according to studies by the American Lung Association. Despite recent advances in medical oncology, metastatic lung cancer remains incurable; however, a new discovery by Augusta University researchers has brought new hope to tackling the illness. That discovery, which stems from a joint preclinic study conducted by scientists from the Dental College of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and Medicinal Cannabis of Georgia, LLC, was published in the May 2023 issue of Human Cell. The study was led by Babak Baban, PhD, associate dean of research, immunologist and professor at DCG and one of the founders of Medicinal Cannabis of Georgia, an Augusta-based biomedical research and developmental company. The study revealed for the first time that inhalant cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, can effectively impede growth of heterotopic lung cancer. “The central core of our research has been studying inflammatory diseases and for that we picked two different directions: one is centered around chronic inflammation in our system and the other is neurologic diseases such as dementia. Because of their impressive anti-inflammation effects, CBD, CBC and other cannabinoids have attracted our attention,” Baban said. “We have had some exciting findings before, and based on those, we built a new model of lung cancer. This is the first time the effect of the CBD has been assessed in inhalant format using an inhaler. This makes it more translatable into humans and more accurate,” he said. “Obviously, we are just as excited about our discoveries on mechanisms by which CBD worked. They help advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of lung cancer. We have seen some effects on plasticity and cancer stem cells, which appear to be crucial for tumors to regenerate and renew themselves.” Unlike most anti-angiogenesis drugs, inhalant CBD at the experimental dosage did not show any detectable side effects or toxicity. The findings support the notion that inhalant CBD has enough beneficial effects as a viable complementary modality to be included in combination with current standard treatments for lung cancer. Additionally, inhalant CBD delivered using a precisely metered dose is non-invasive, and has high translational value, warranting further research through clinical trials for lung cancer and possibly some other malignancies. “The cannabis plant has over 113 cannabinoids, two of which are very famous: THC and cannabidiol, or CBD. We have conducted extensive research on medicinal cannabis since 2014, but cannabis has been utilized for medicinal purposes for over 1,000 years,” Baban said. “It is not until recently we have started understanding a little better mechanisms how cannabidiols like CBD work.” Babak Baban is a professor, immunologist and associate dean for research at the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University where he has served for 13 of his 20 years as a translational and clinical immunologist. Babak is available to speak to media about this important topic - simply click on his icon now to arrange a time to speak today.

Babak Baban, PhD

July 24, 2023

3 min

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Electric vehicles are hitting the streets, but there are potholes to avoid

No doubt about it, electric vehicles are coming and coming fast. Production of EVs has ramped up in the last couple of years but there are many issues that need to be addressed before they become the everyday choice for consumers. Richard Franza, PhD, professor of management at the Hull College of Business at Augusta University said the timing of EVs is contingent on a few things. “It’s not a question of if they’re coming, but how fast will they be here,” said Franza. “One is the speed at which there is infrastructure built for them. There are still not a lot of places to charge a car. We need more charging stations. Eventually, EVs will be predominant.” Franza added a second hurdle is how fast the federal government moves on emissions requirements that will cause consumers to phase out fossil fuel vehicles. Georgia has become one of the leaders in luring EV manufacturers to call the state home. Not just that, but the state is also drawing in companies that supply batteries and other components. “Any time you build a manufacturing or assembly facility, you automatically get the suppliers around them. Even before Georgia got the vehicle manufacturers, we already had a battery manufacturer, so Georgia already has a good network for the automobile industry,” said Franza. Amazon has already made a major investment in EVs and Franza expects other companies like FedEx and UPS, companies that have a fleet of vehicles, to make the switch to EVs as well, since they have more ability to set up charging networks. The biggest question remains: how long it will take before EVs become more prevalent on the streets? Franza said the answer could depend on who you listen to, but other factors come into play. “Right now, electric vehicles account for less than 1% of the vehicles on the road. So I see two leading indicators – the number of gas stations vs. the number of charging stations, and the production of combustion engines vs. electric vehicles. Look for when the ratios of those really start to change, but it’s not black and white. There are several factors that will go into that and it could take longer than people are saying,” Franza said. Covering EVs and the auto industry? Then let us help. Richard Franza, PhD, is available to speak with media about trending issues like inflation, small business and the economy – simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.

Richard Franza, PhD

July 11, 2023

2 min

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Sorting through the socials: Augusta University expert explains why students need more literacy and awareness when it comes to social media

In this day and age, people of all ages are often on social media. While most of the platforms can be engaging for the good, there are always bad actors out there passing along misinformation. That’s the type of content younger students need to be aware of, according to an Augusta University faculty expert. Stacie Pettit, PhD, program director of the Master of Education in Instruction in the College of Education and Human Development, suggests there needs to be more media literacy and awareness of social media taught to students. With so many videos and posts claiming to be informative, how is one supposed to discern what is factual and what is not? Pettit feels people need to be more aware of how to tell when something is legit as opposed to something that is inaccurate. “Knowing what legitimate research is and what’s not, especially in this political climate, it can be tough to tell,” said Pettit. “More can be done in them understanding how deep it goes and what you search for, you’re going to get things that are skewing your mind to what you already want to believe. I feel like that component can be deeper.” Pettit realizes younger students know how to use social media, but using it in a responsible way can be just as important. People may post videos claiming one thing, but without fact checking, it may be inaccurate and can be a dangerous tool to mold a younger person’s mind. “If you already have your mind made up about something, you’re going to find things. It’s like the old phrase, ‘If you’re looking for a yellow cab, you’re going to find a yellow cab.’ This may be your context, your culture that you’re coming from, but put yourself in this place, how might they feel? Knowing there isn’t just one way to think about something, it’s not just a black and white answer to all these critical issues is important,” Pettit added. She knows it’s of the utmost importance for students to realize that every talking head they see in a video on social media isn’t always speaking the truth. Fact checking, finding another source to support a view and paying attention to the source in the first place can be key pieces of the puzzle students can use to find out the legitimacy of a post from the start. Amid all the misinformation, there are still plenty of legitimate uses for social media platforms. “There’s definitely educational and helpful things on YouTube. I encourage my kids a lot to go there because I’m trying to teach them to be more independent. She’s often like, ‘I don’t know how to do that’ but I tell her to find a video; this is what you’re going to have to do in college,” she said. If you're a journalist covering education and the impacts social media has on students,  then let us help. Stacie Pettit, PhD, is a respected leader in middle level teacher education and meeting the needs of marginalized young adolescents. She's available to speak with media; simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.

Stacie Pettit, PhD

June 27, 2023

3 min

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Post-pandemic, can America's kids catch up on lackluster literacy rates?

When COVID-19 hit, the education system nearly came to a halt. It went from in-person education in classrooms to virtual learning. Everyone knew there would be learning losses across the board. The question was how severe would they be and could those losses be mitigated? Literacy rates took a big hit, especially in younger students. Without in-classroom instruction, children started to fall further behind. According to the New York Times, about a third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, which is up significantly from before the pandemic. While every demographic has been affected, Black and Hispanic children and those from low-income families have fallen the furthest behind. Can anything be done to help students catch up? Betsy VanDeusen, PhD, director of the Augusta University Literacy Center, said a lot of research is coming out now and what’s being called “high dosage tutoring” is the way kids can catch up. “That just means you have to be able to see students more and more intensive,” said VanDeusen. “So we request for the kids that are at the lowest that we see them three times a week; one time a week won’t do it.” While that works on an individual basis, VanDeusen said there’s no magic bullet. While some schools here and there, and even a few states, may have found a way to help with literacy rates, the field continues to search for ways to implement needed changes across the entire educational system to support all students. She also added the decline in literacy actually started before the pandemic. “We’ve lost a tremendous amount. We lost 20 years of growth on the one national test that’s given. The achievement gap has been documented for decades and it has just been made worse.” This is an important topic and if you're a journalist covering education or how the impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt across the country, then let us help with your coverage. Betsy VanDeusen, PhD, director of Augusta University’s Literacy Center, is available to speak with reporters, simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.

Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, PhD

June 23, 2023

2 min

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Coronation of King Charles III: Augusta University professor talks about what to expect

Eyes from around the world will be on Westminster Abbey in London this weekend as King Charles III is crowned king following the passing his mother Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, 2022. As you might expect, there will be plenty of pageantry involved with the ceremony. Ruth McClelland-Nugent, PhD, is chair of History, Anthropology and Philosophy at Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Augusta University and an expert on the royal family. McClelland-Nugent said this is a major day for those in the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, some parts of the Commonwealth "where the British monarch is still monarch, such as Charles will become king of Canada as well as the U.K." The coronation is a religious service of the Church of England, so there will be a number of traditions upheld, such as anointing of the king with blessed oil, and by the end of the ceremony, Charles will have officially received his crown and his scepter, as well as the traditional robes and stole that mark him as king. The crown and the orb that will be used during the coronation date back to 1661 for King Charles II. New crowns were needed after the Puritans melted the old ones down during the English Civil Wars.  “These are very traditional things, and reinforce the ancient idea that the monarch is selected by God to have authority over people,” said McClelland-Nugent. "However, for the first time, there will be participation from clergy of other faiths as well, since the king has invited clergy from the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist faiths to participate, reflecting the great religious diversity in the U.K.” She also said those watching the coronation, in-person or virtually, will be invited to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch, giving the entire country a role in the ceremony for the first time. “It will probably feel very formal and ancient to any Americans who watch it, and it is, but it will be the most informal and diverse coronation in recent British history,” McClelland-Nugent said. Others in the royal family will also play roles in the ceremony. Queen Camilla will be crowned alongside Charles. Princess Anne, Charles' sister, will lead a procession of armed forces and other personnel behind the new king and queen when they leave Westminster Abbey. “Look for her to be on horseback. This is a highly prestigious role and not one carried out by a woman previously.” McClelland-Nugent said Prince William, Prince of Wales, who is now heir to the crown, will make an oath of loyalty directly to the newly crowned king. Some of the king’s grandchildren and queen’s grandchildren will also serve roles during the coronation. If you're a reporter covering the coronation and all the events leading up to it this week, then let our experts help with your stories. Ruth McClelland-Nugent is available for interviews; simply click on her icon now to arrange a time to talk today.

Ruth McClelland-Nugent, PhD

May 01, 2023

2 min

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Be careful where you plug in that cellphone - our expert explains the dangers of public charging stations

As technology continues to advance, so do the methods that hackers use to steal personal information. One such method that even the FBI has taken notice of is juice jacking, a technique where hackers use public charging stations to install malware onto your device or steal your personal information. The specific danger is very real, experts say. Steve Weldon, director of the Cyber Institute at Augusta University’s School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, said people need to understand there is risk when plugging a phone into a USB port at a public charging station. “USB uses pins for data and power. When we plug devices in to charge, the data pins are also connected,” said Weldon. “No big deal if we’re in an environment we trust. However, do we trust the public charging stations to have access to our data pins and being able to make data transfers? Probably not and that’s the gist of the recent warning.” There are ways to avoid the risk. “The best advice is to bring your own cables and adaptors. Then we can plug directly into power outlets,” Weldon said. If you must use a public charging station, he suggests using a data blocking USB cable. These cables only allow power to flow through, preventing any data transfer between the charging station and your device. Also, be aware if you are using your phone while charging it. “When using public charging stations we should, at a minimum, watch for strange behaviors, weird popups, and being asked questions about trusting the device or drive we’re connected to. Those are danger signs, and we’d want to disconnect quickly,” added Weldon. Another option to protect your phone from juice jacking is to use a wireless charger. These chargers do not require a physical connection between your device and the charging station. While wireless charging is typically slower than using a cable, it is a safe alternative when you’re on the go and need to charge your device.    Keeping your personal information safe is crucial in today’s digital age. Protecting your phone from juice jacking is just one way to prevent hackers from accessing your sensitive data. Looking to know more? Connect with our expert today. Steven Weldon is the Director of Cyber Institute at the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Augusta University and is an expert in the areas of cellular and mobile technology, ethics in computer science, scripting and scripting and automation. Steve is available to speak with media - simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.

Steven Weldon

April 19, 2023

2 min

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Candida auris: The deadly fungus is spreading and proving difficult to fight

Candida auris is making headlines - and for all the wrong reasons. The fungus can lead to severe infections causing long term health issues and even death. Recently, Fox News in Los Angeles was covering this emerging threat and reached out to Augusta University's  Dr. Jose Vazquez for his expert insight and opinion. Here's the piece: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says Candida auris, or C. auris, is an emerging health threat, a type of fungus can cause severe, potentially life-threatening infections in people hospitalized with compromised immune systems. Dr. Jose Vasquez, chief of infectious diseases at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, says there are several reasons for concern about this fungus. "The biggest fear is that it is multi-drug resistant," he says. "So, it is resistant to many different drugs." The CDC says most C. auris infections respond to antifungal medication, but some do not. Vasquez says C. auris is also hard to detect without highly specialized lab equipment that many hospitals do not have. And, he says, it is hard to stop the fungus once it gets into a hospital setting, such as an ICU or nursing care facility. C. auris can live on a person's skin without causing symptoms, allowing it to be transmitted from one person to another, or to get into a patient's body through contaminated surfaces or medical equipment like mechanical ventilators, feeding tubes and central lines. 'It is one of the Candidas that lives the longest on a surface, and we're talking about weeks," he sys. "So it can live there, dry and desiccated. Once it gets there, it kind of sets up shop, and it is very, very difficult to eradicate."  The rest of the news story is attached: Looking to know more? That’s where Augusta University can help. Dr. Jose Vazquez, division chief and professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, is an expert in the realm of infectious diseases. He studies and treats infectious diseases, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs and fungal infections. He has been a reliable source for local, statewide and national media regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Dr. Vazquez is available to speak with media regarding this topic – simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.

 Jose Vazquez, MD

April 17, 2023

2 min

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Going green: Solar and wind power remain the best alternatives to fossil fuels

Find video for use here.  In the U.S., more and more individuals, and even corporations, are making it a priority to go green in an effort to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels. Studies have proven carbon dioxide is a main contributor to human-caused climate change, so we're tapping into natural elements more often to reduce the use of fossil fuels. From solar farms to solar panels on houses and wind turbines, it’s tough not to find efforts to go green, and that’s a move in the right direction, according to Jessica Reichmuth, PhD, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science and Mathematics at Augusta University. She said we’re heading in the right direction, but more can be done. “We are taking the right steps, but I’m not sure if we will be entirely able to be green energy, but we definitely need to be more green than we are today,” said Reichmuth. “Fossil fuels will eventually run out and are a non-renewable resource.” Homeowners and municipalities are tapping into solar panels most often as a green resource. Some concerns include the costs involved and the fact that in most cases, the panels are permanently attached to a house. Reichmuth points to California as an example of a state trying to ease that burden. Some people who are moving into rental houses and know they aren’t going to be there for a long period of time can have a company attach removable panels. There are other companies jumping into the business of leasing solar panels as well. Even small panels the size of a binder located in a backyard can make a big difference in producing a noticeable amount of electricity. These are great steps, said Reichmuth, but more progress can still be made. “We are at a point within society with green technology that we know and understand how to make solar panels, the infrastructure is there to support them, we just need a movement to get them so they’re used everywhere,” Reichmuth said. Wind turbines remain a big source of discussion. Yes, they provide an alternative electric source, but at what cost? A big negative is the possibility of bird strikes. “Birds will learn to navigate around wind turbines. They are not built in a way that they are impervious to long-distance migration.” Hydroelectricity and geothermal energy are two other green sources of energy. There are not a lot of areas in the U.S. that offer geothermal resources, and as far as hydroelectricity goes, there’s still concern in Reichmuth’s eyes. “I think it would be great to see if dams are going to be used for hydroelectricity, but not as a water containment system. There are portions of the U.S., especially in the southwest, that are dealing with water issues because we have dammed them. Hydroelectricity is good if the dam is used specifically for that purpose and not water containment.” Renewable energy, cost savings and ESG are top of mind for corporations, governments and populations as we look to the future, and if you're a journalist covering this topic, then let us help. Jessica Reichmuth is available to speak with media. Simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.

Jessica  Reichmuth, PhD

April 10, 2023

3 min

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Annual Healthy Georgia Report from Augusta University shows state’s health care wins along with areas to improve

Augusta University’s second annual Healthy Georgia Report has been released, offering a snapshot of health in the Peach State as compared to not only neighboring states, but also the entire country. While Georgia’s population is doing well in some key health factors, researchers also found areas that could benefit from more awareness and public policy action. Biplab Datta, PhD, assistant professor in the Institute of Public and Preventive Health and the Medical College of Georgia’s Department of Population Health Sciences, collaborated with other IPPH faculty and staff to update the report and add new categories this year. The goal of the report is to connect with lawmakers, community leaders and researchers, stimulate conversations about public health needs and promote action, such as greater community engagement, research for informing effective policies and appraisal of required funds. “We need to make lawmakers aware of the public health situation in the state of Georgia,” said Datta. “We hope this report will help identify areas that need policy attention. It can also play an important role in bridging the gap between researchers and policymakers.” Using 2021 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance system, the National Survey of Children’s Health, the American Community Survey and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker website, the report was compiled on numerous health topics. Some categories studied include high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, alcohol consumption, diabetes and more. It also broke down each category by age, sex, race, income level and other socioeconomic indicators to get a full representation of the data. New to the study this year is an in-depth look at health insurance coverage, COVID-19 vaccinations, breastfeeding, child maltreatment, and unmet healthcare need of children. Georgia ranks 49th in the nation when it comes to health insurance coverage. That was a surprise to Datta. “I didn’t expect the numbers to be that bad, but I think it also indicates the scope of work that we need to undertake to improve insurance coverage in Georgia,” he said. Another surprise was the low rate of flu vaccination in Georgia. “We know there is a difference between whites and Blacks in the U.S. But when we look at and compare Black people in Georgia with Blacks in the rest of the southeastern states, we see the flu vaccination rate was significantly lower among Blacks in Georgia. This is an issue that warrants further research to understand the underlying causes of such disparity,” said Datta. As it was a year ago, hypertension remains a concern. There are several issues involved when talking about hypertension but there are also straightforward ways to improve the condition Datta said. “I think one of the core components of hypertension control is just changing some behavioral stuff. If we just reduced the sodium content in our daily diet, if we do regular physical exercise for a certain amount of time that will significantly improve our hypertension management. Community-level initiatives to make people aware of these things can make a real difference,” said Datta. Residents in Georgia are doing better in several areas such as obesity, cancer rates, asthma prevalence and depressive disorders. Datta said it’s important to recognize these improvements so we can learn from them. “We need to figure out where we are doing well and use that experience in areas where we are not doing so well. It will help us move toward the right direction.” He added it’s important to always be looking for ways to evolve the study, and that includes adding new categories when enough data is available. “We didn’t cover sexually transmitted diseases in this year’s report, which we would like to add when data will become available. We’d also like to add teenage pregnancy, maternal health issues, gun violence and opioid use,” he said. Looking to learn about health in the Peach State? Then let us help. Biplab Datta is available to speak with media regarding this important topic. Simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.

Biplab Datta, PhD

February 14, 2023

3 min

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Augusta University Staff is a collection of talented writers, photographers, students and professionals; all working together to promote and support the amazing impacts and every day wins of Augusta University and the people that make up JagNation.

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Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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