Discovery: UTD Study Probes Socioeconomic Impact on Brain, UTA Patents ‘Cancer Trap’

Plus, UT Southwestern examines high-tech mental health strategies. Find out more in the weekly roundup of research and development in Dallas-Fort Worth.

brain image

Whats new, next, and reimagined in Dallas-Fort Worth ResearchGrowing up in an environment without adequate education, nutrition, and access to health care can adversely affect a developing child’s brain structure and function, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have found.

A new study led by researchers at the Center for Vital Longevity at UT Dallas examines the relationship of socioeconomic status to brain function and anatomy in adults.

“We know that socioeconomic status influences the structure of the brain in childhood and older age, but there’s been a gap in the research”

Gagan Wig

That’s an aspect of environmental impact that might not be well understood, and the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the adult brain may be sensitive to social and economic factors, according to the university. 

“We know that socioeconomic status influences the structure of the brain in childhood and older age, but there’s been a gap in the research,” said Gagan Wig, assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas and corresponding author of the study. “We wanted to see if there were relationships between the [socio-economic status] and the brain across a wider range of adulthood.”

Read more about the study here.


An implantable medical device invented by a faculty member that attracts and kills circulating cancer cells has been successfully patented in Europe by the University of Texas at Arlington.

cancer trap

Liping Tang

UTA said the so-called “cancer trap” developed by bioengineering professor Liping Tang can be used for early diagnosis and treatment of mestastisized cancer.

“Our cancer trap works just like a roach moteL, where you put in some bait and the roach goes there and dies,” Tang said in the release. “We are putting biological agents in a cancer trap to attract and kill cancer cells.”

Tang added that the method can be used along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”

You can find out more here in Louisa Kellie’s report.

cancer trap

How the cancer trap works. [Photo courtesy of UT Arlington]


A national research trial started by UT Southwestern Medical Center six years ago is generating the first results giving a look into how high-tech strategies could revolutionize the field of mental health.

The study looked at two main strategies — having patients get their brain activity measured and undergo blood tests to figure out which antidepressant medications best treat their individual case, as well having some people receive “brain training” or magnetic stimulation to make their brains more receptive to those treatments.

[Screenshot via UT Southwestern video]

“When the results of these tests are combined, we hope to have up to 80 percent accuracy in predicting whether common antidepressants will work for a patient,” said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, who oversees the EMBARC trial, a major endeavor to establish biology-based, objective strategies to remedy mood disorders.

UT Southwestern said that at least for more studies evaluating the effectiveness of other predictive tests are expected from the EMBARC trial.

Find out more here.


Follow the Money: OncoNano Closes $11.7M Round, Perot Jain Backs 2 Startups, BP Energy Raising $475M

Discovery: Researchers Tackle Skin Diseases, UNTHSC Library Gets $6.4M, Galderma Publishes Acne Study


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