Trainer Bob Baffert wins Los Alamitos Derby

For the second time in less than one month, Gimme Da Lute got the better of Prospect Park, holding off his rival by a nose to win the Grade II, $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby Saturday. The 1-2 finishers in the Grade III Affirmed Stakes June 7 at Santa Anita dominated the Derby, finishing nearly eight lengths in front of pacesetter and 2-5 favorite Kentuckian.Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owner-breeders Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Gimme Da Lute, a 3-year-old son of Midnight Lute and the Proud Citizen mare Casino Gold, tracked the leader for most of the 1 1/8 miles, got the lead entering the long stretch and scored under jockey Martin Garcia as the 3-1 second choice.The win in 1:47.09 was the fourth in seven starts for Gimme Da Lute and the $210,000 payday increased his bankroll to $457,560."I'm glad to be back here at Los Alamitos where it all started and winning this race means a lot to me,'' said Baffert, the Triple Crown winning trainer of American Pharoah.The total combined mutuel handle of $8,022,511.76 on the July 4 program – highlighted by Gimme Da Lute’s narrow victory in Los Alamitos Derby – was the largest since thoroughbred racing returned to Los Alamitos a year ago.The handle increased 5.37 % through the first week of the 2015 Summer Thoroughbred Festival over the inaugural season the previous July. The total handle this year through four days is $26,209,149 compared to $24,873,656 in 2014.Apprentice jockey Bruno Panicucci earned his first win in the United States when 20-1 shot Princess Val captured Saturday’s second race at Los Alamitos.The 19-year-old won four races in Europe before arriving in Southern California earlier this year. Racing resumes Thursday at Los Alamitos. Post time is 2:15 p.m.

Tustin tops Cypress

The Cypress High baseball suffered its first loss in Empire League play.The reason: errors.Indeed, Cypress committed six errors against Tustin, which had previously not won a single league contest, and as a result, suffered a 12-3 beating to split the two-game series on April 11 at home, of all places.Cypress won the first meeting, which unfolded at Tustin, with an 8-3 tallyon April 8. The Centurions (9-6, 3-1) dropped to the No. 3 spot in the standings. They now trail frontrunner Valencia (8-1) and second-place Pacifica (5-1). The Centurions trailed for the entire contest, falling behind1-0 in the first and then into a 5-1 hole in the second.In fact, Tustin held a 7-1lead when Cypress dented the board for a pair of runs in the fifth. The Centurions actually finished with the same amount of hits as the opposition, swatting nine, with Brandon Alamo going 2-for-3 and Dominic Fletcher, who had a 3-for-3 day, knocking in all three RBI with a pair of doubles.Cypress starter Joe Mercado suffered the loss. He tossed three innings, allowing five earned runs off five hits while striking out four and walking six. Mike Murphy relieved him, allowing four earned runs while giving up a hit and fanning three hitters.Cypress returned to action against West, which it defeated by the score of8-1 in the Redondo Tournament on Saturday, April 12. It then faced JSerra Catholic in a doubleheader on April 16 (score not available) and will battle Bishop Amat in the Redondo Tournament onSaturday, April 19. That contest starts at11 a.m.

Cypress still battling in Empire League

The Cypress High basketball team rebounded from its defeat to Pacifica on Jan. 15. It did this with a 56-38 victory against Valencia on Friday, Jan. 18.The Centurions battled Western High on Jan. 22 and will now return to action against rival Kennedy on Jan. 28. Cypress won the first meeting against its rival to take a 1-0 lead in the season series.In the 37-33 loss to Pacifica, Jake Brito scored 6 points. The Centurions also trailed most of the game and managed to storm back in the fourth quarter, outscoring Pacifica 19-8. However, it was too little too late.Against Valencia, Cypress trailed 13-10 at the end of the first quarter but jumped ahead 29-21 by the end of the first half. The Centurions then outscored their opponents 27-17 in the second half.

Griffins make statement in win over Orange Lutheran

With Sunset League play arriving quickly, the Los Alamitos boys basketball team certainly looked ready last week, in a win over Orange Lutheran. The Griffins pulled away in the final minutes for a 72-61 win over the Lancers in the Orange County North/South Challenge last week at El Toro High. Senior guard EyassuWorku led the Griffins win 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Pepe Garcia had 21 points, including five three-pointers and also added four rebounds. Orange Lutheran had opened at No. 3 in the Orange County rankings, while the Griffins were No. 4. In the CIF rankings, the Lancers were the No. 1 team in the 4AA rankings and Los Alamitos is No. 15 in Division 1AA. It was a win that the Griffins can certainly use as momentum heading into the second half of the season. “Hopefully we can build off of this,” Griffins Coach Eddie Courtemarche said. The Griffins had a quick start against Orange Lutheran and an early lead in the game. But Orange Lutheran soon closed the gap and the game was tight into the fourth quarter. The Griffins took a 56-51 lead at the end of the third quarter on a rare five-point play. Tied at 51-51, Worku drove across the key and was fouled as he scooped a shot up for a basket. Orange Lutheran was also issued a technical foul and Worku hit all three free throws to extend the lead. Orange Lutheran would rally in the fourth to take a 57-56 lead, after Ty Lassiter dropped in a high-arc bank shot. Worku responded with a baseline driving layup to regain the lead, 58-57. After the Lancers regained the lead 59-58, the Griffins went on a 14-0 run to seal the win. “I think this was probably the toughest game on our schedule,” Worku said. Drew Platt scored an open layup after Connor Laines drove the baseline and dished a pass to Platt under the basket, for a 64-59 lead. Garcia followed with a baseline jumper that pushed the lead to 66-59 with 1:40 left in the game. The Griffins hit six free throws down the stretch as the Lancers were forced to foul to try to rally. The defense kept the Lancers at bay. Platt was key in slowing Lancer power forward Kavaughn Scott, who led the Lancers with 19 points, in final minutes to shore up the defense. The Griffins also prevented second chances. “I think we got some key rebounds that we didn’t get in the first half,” Courtemarche said of the late-game stand. The Griffins had one more tough tournament on their schedule at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, starting on Dec. 26. They will host their home-opener at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5 against Buena Park and will start league play on Jan. 8 at home against Edison.

Young ladies to compete in pageant

The Los Alamitos High girls water polo team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the CIF-SS Division I playoffs on Saturday. The Griffins fell to Corona del Mar, 7-5 at Corona del Mar High.The Griffins took a 3-2 lead into the half, but the Corona del Mar defense held the Griffins scoreless in the third period to take 4-3 lead into the fourth quarter. The Griffins were able to put two more goals on the board in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the Sea Queens added three more goals for the final score.The Griffins were led by Stephanie Mutafyan with two goals and had one each from Becca Corb, Shannon Crowley and Ella Weber. Goalie Nikki Quinn had 10 saves in the game.The Sea Queens were led by two goals from Maddie Musselman and had 11 saves from goalie Erica Weed.Last Thursday, the Griffins had little trouble in a first round match against Costa Mesa. The Griffins rolled past the Mustangs, 17-2, to advance to face Corona del Mar. The Griffins had four goals from Mutafyan and three from Weber. Corb and Crowley each added two in the win.Cypress edges Los AmigosThe Cypress High girls’ water polo team won its CIF wildcard against Los Amigos 8-7 on Feb. 23.Standout players in the win included goalie Rachel Privett, who had 18 saves in the win. Privett leads the county with 380 saves. Aimee Espey and Dana Ramos scored three goals each. Freshman Sarah Smith scored on a penalty shot in the fourth quarter that put Cypress in the lead.Kadisha Abarub also had a goal for the Centurions. Cypress advanced to the first round on Thursday, but fell to Chadwick of Palos Verdes, 9-4. Privett had 12 saves in the loss and Ramos had two goals for the Centurions. Abarub and Smith each added a goal. Cypress trailed just 6-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Dolphins outscored them 3-1 in the final quarter.

Cypress falls to Ocean View in CIF-SS playoff match

Despite a strong start, the Cypress boys water polo team could not hold down Ocean View, as the Centurions fell in a CIF-SS Division 6 playoff match, 10-7, last week at Ocean View High. The Centurions scored the first goal and would end the first quarter trailing just 2-1, but Ocean View went on a 4-1 run in the second quarter and were able to keep the Centurions at bay down the stretch. Six different players scored for Cypress, led by two goal by senior Ripken Saldana. Sooho Choi, Ben Navarro , Garrett Potter, Alberto Cortes and Nolen Verdun each scored a goal. Early in the third, the Centurions would fall behind 7-3, but respond with a run of their own to cut into the Seahawk lead. Cortes would score his goal at the 3:30 mark of the third to cut the lead to 7-4. After a Seahawk goal, Saldana would answer with just four seconds left in the quarter to again trim the lead to just three goals, at 8-5. Opening the fourth, Saldana would get his second goal at the 5:45 to cut the lead to 8-6. Twenty seconds later, Potter would add his goal to cut the lead to 8-7. The Centruion defense held the Seahawk offense scoreless for about five-and-a-half minutes until the Seahawks were able to find the back of the net with 3:31 left in the match to push the lead back to 9-7. The Ocean View defense then held off Cypress to secure the victory. Cypress ended the season with a17-7 overall record and took third in the Empire League with a 3-2 mark. It was a solid season for a team that was bringing up a lot of young players to the varsity level. “This year’s team was a very coachable team, taking to instruction and advice very well,” Head Coach Darren Sandvig said. The team was led by senior co-captains Choi and Verdun, but had several young players step into significant roles, including a few freshmen. One was freshman Potter, who moved into the vital two-meter position. His development in that spot could bode well for the next few years of Cypress water polo. “They meshed well and had a great rapport with each other,” Sandvig said.“Altogether, it was a fun season of play.”

Lady Griffins shine in Durango Tournament

Los Alamitos High girls volleyball team won three consecutive matches on their way to winning their division at the Durango fall classic tournament in Las Vegas from Sept. 19-20.The Griffins finished with an overall record of 4-3 but they rallied back to make their trip out to Nevada worthwhile.“The team found some energy that had been lacking in previous matches,” said Los Al’s head coach David Huber. “The high energy levels helped lead to some more consistent play.”The Griffins team did suffer its share of losses but their more experienced players in the squad helped lead their team to overcome the shortcomings.Senior libero Mikki Sale had an impressive showing at the tournament as she capped off Los Al’s backline. Sale’s ability to dig out would-be kills opened up hitting chances for her teammates.Griffins’ outside hitter Taylor Cochrane came up with with kills in crucial situations throughout the tournament, and she played a big part in finishing the tournament on a high note.Los Al wrapped up their final two matches in just two sets each as they claimed victories over Cathedral Catholic and then Bishop Manogue in the final game of the tournament.The success late in the tournament spilled over and gave the Griffins confidence going into their first of two games last week.On Sept. 24, the Griffins notches home an all around victory as they swept Palos Verdes High in three sets away from home.Their second match of the week would prove more troublesome.On Wednesday, Oct. 1, Los Al faced Newport Harbor High on its home turf for their first league match of the season. The Griffins fought throughout the match but couldn’t hold off the relentless Sailors’ attack.In a five set match, Newport came away with the overall victory just edging the Griffins in the end by only a set handing them their second straight loss to the Sailors in two years.Los Alamitos looked to to bounce back to its winning fashion in a matchup on Oct. 7 against Huntington Beach High away from home.The last two times these teams have faced off the Griffins came away with victories in 3-1 sets.

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease opens up possibilities for new drug development

There are several different methods of producing images showing the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The tau PET method reveals the presence of a protein in the brain, tau, with the help of a gamma camera and a specially selected radioactive molecule (F-AV-1451).

Tau has an important function in assisting the transport of various substances within the brain’s nerve cells. People with Alzheimer’s disease have raised levels of tau, leading to accumulation of the protein in the brain cells and gradually to cell death.

Lund University and Skåne University Hospital are among other institutions studying patients with the tau PET method for research purposes. Until now, no one has had precise knowledge of how well the new imaging method reproduces the actual changes in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The current case study, however, shows that image and reality match up well. The study has enabled researchers to compare tau PET images and brain tissue from the same person for the first time. The brain tissue came from a person who died having recently undergone examination with the new imaging method.

“Tau PET can improve diagnostics, but above all, the imaging method can be of great significance in the development of new drugs to combat Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Ruben Smith, researcher at Lund University and physician at Skåne University Hospital. He continues:

“There are new candidate drugs which aim to reduce the accumulation of tau. The imaging method opens up opportunities to investigate the development of the disease at a detailed level, and to observe how tau aggregates are affected by the drugs.”

Lights, camera, action: New catheter lets doctors see inside arteries for first time

The new image-guided device, Avinger’s Pantheris™ Lumivascular atherectomy system, allows doctors to see and remove plaque simultaneously during an atherectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.

The new technology treats patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of the legs and feet, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the extremities. Patients with PAD frequently develop life threatening complications, including heart attack, stroke, and in some severe cases, patients may even face amputation.

“Peripheral artery disease greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness and discoloration of their extremities,” said Mitul Patel, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health. “This new device is a significant step forward for the treatment of PAD with a more efficient approach for plaque removal and less radiation exposure to the doctor and patient.”

X-ray technology was previously used during similar procedures, but those images are not nearly as clear and do not allow visualization inside the blood vessel. The new catheter, with a fiber optic camera the size of a grain of salt on the tip, is fed through a small incision in the groin that does not require full anesthesia. Once inside, the interventional cardiologist is able to see exactly what needs to be removed without damaging the artery wall, which can cause further narrowing.

PAD affects nearly 20 million adults in the United States and more than 200 million globally. September is PAD Awareness Month, which has a personal meaning to one of Patel’s patients, who recently underwent an atherectomy at UC San Diego Health with the new catheter.

Patel said the patient had severe scar tissue and plaque build-up at a previously treated site in his right leg, limiting blood flow to his calf muscle and his ability to exercise or even walk a short distance.

“He was a good candidate for the new image-guided catheter approach. The device allowed for excellent visualization inside his leg artery as we removed only the diseased tissue,” said Patel.

Now able to walk several miles with this wife without any limitations, the patient’s quality of life has improved, and with some lifestyle changes, he hopes to manage his PAD and prevent another blockage.

Pantheris was approved by the FDA in March 2016. So far, cardiologists at UC San Diego Health have used the new catheter on 10 patients undergoing an atherectomy procedure with successful results.

Imaging technique measures tumor stiffness to aid surgical planning

“The group developed brain MRE several years ago and is now successfully applying it to clinical diagnosis and treatment,” explained Guoying Liu, Ph.D., Director of the NIBIB Program in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. “This development of a new imaging technique followed by its practical application in surgical planning for better patient outcomes is an outstanding example of one of the main objectives of NIBIB-funded research.”

MRE is a special magnetic resonance imaging technique that captures snapshots of shear waves that move through the tissue and create elastograms — images that show tissue stiffness. John Huston III, M.D., Professor of Radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and senior author of the study, explains how MRE works. “MRE is similar to a drop of water hitting a still pond to create the ripples that move out in all directions. We generate tiny, harmless ripples, or shear waves, that travel through the brain of the patient. Our instruments measure how the ripples change as they move through the brain and those changes give us an extremely accurate measure — and a color-coded picture — of the stiffness of the tissue.”

MRE data enables non-invasive surgical planning

Ninety percent of PMAs are soft — nearly the consistency of toothpaste. Therefore, without MRE, surgeons would routinely plan for a procedure called transphenoidal resection that employs very thin instruments that are threaded through the nasal cavity to the pituitary gland at the base of the skull, where suction is used to remove the tumor. However, in about 10% of the cases, the surgeon will encounter a hard tumor. At that point an attempt is made to break-up the tumor — essentially chipping away at it with sharp instruments. If that is not successful, the surgeon must perform a fully-invasive craniotomy that involves removing a piece of the skull bone in order to fully expose the tumor.

The more extensive procedure means added risk and discomfort for patients, and up to a week-long recovery in the hospital compared to the transphenoidal approach that allows patients to leave the hospital in a day or two. Using MRE, hard PMAs can be identified and the more extensive craniotomy can be planned before starting the surgery, which makes the more invasive procedure less taxing for both the surgeon and patient. Similarly, MRE showing a soft PMA gives surgeons confidence that the nasal entry and removal by suction will be successful-eliminating the likelihood that the surgeon may need to perform a second fully-invasive craniotomy.

In the study of PMA reported in the January 2016 issue of the journal Pituitary, the group performed pre-surgical MRE evaluation of the PMAs of 10 patients.The MRE measurements were compared to tumor classifications made by inspection of the tumor during surgery. The surgeons categorized six tumors as soft and four tumors as medium. No tumors were deemed to be hard. The comparison of the MRE results and reports of stiffness by the surgeons when the tumor was removed and inspected were in close agreement, which was confirmed by statistical analysis.

Future plans

Although brain MRE is not yet widely available, Huston explained that the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic are now routinely using MRE to plan the best procedure for the removal of PMAs as well as several other types of brain tumor. And, even though this study of the 10 PMA patients is a very small set, Huston believes that as Mayo surgeons continue to use MRE in planning, the technique will likely begin to be adopted by other surgical centers.

Huston explained that an important aspect of some of the other brain tumor types, which the surgeons are finding extremely useful, is the ability of MRE to identify tumor adhesion to the brain. Adhesion refers to whether the brain tumor and healthy brain tissue are connected by an extensive network of blood vessels and connective tissue. This is in comparison with a tumor that is in the brain but is isolated from healthy tissue.

When MRE is used to analyze this aspect of the tumor, it clearly identifies those that are non-adhered, showing a border around the tumor through which there are no vascular connections. Conversely, MRE of adhered tumors show no border between the tumor and healthy brain, indicating extensive vascular and soft tissue connections between brain and tumor. Mutual blood vessels make removal of adherent tumors much more difficult, with a much higher chance of damage to healthy tissue and potential loss of function for the patient.

Huston and his colleagues are continuing to apply MRE, often called “palpating by imaging” to diagnosis of other brain disorders. In addition to characterizing focal brain disorders such as tumors, the group is testing the potential for MRE to provide diagnostic information about diffuse brain disease, and are currently using MRE brain stiffness patterns to identify different types of neural disorders including dementia.