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MedicalResearch.com specializes in exclusive interviews with medical researchers from major and specialty journals and presenters at health care meetings.
Learn directly from the researchers as they discuss the ideas behind their investigations and their plans for future studies. Over 8643 interviews to date! More than 1707 interviews with researchers from JAMA.

BRCA1/BRCA2 Testing Varies Widely Worldwide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amanda Toland, PhD, Cancer biology and genetics researcher of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center -- Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute 

Dr. Toland

Amanda Toland, PhD,
Cancer biology and genetics researcher of
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Breast Information Core (or BIC) is a database that catalogs BRCA1 and BRCA2 sequenced variants.  The BIC is hosted by the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH and has a steering committee that oversees the BIC and has members from Europe, the middle East, Australia and the US.  In BIC SC discussions, we learned that there are differences in how BRCA1/2 clinical is testing between countries.

To characterize this variation, we performed an international survey of 86 genetic testing labs from around the world.

Our main findings are that there were many variations between testing laboratories.  These include: technologies differed for finding “large” genetic sequence variants, what parts of the genes were assessed, how genetic variants were classified as disease associated or not being associated with diseases, if genetic sequencing information was shared in public databases and testing volume.

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Bariatric Surgery Associated With Reduced Need For Diabetes Medications at Six Years

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Jérémie Thereauz
Praticien Hospitalier
Chirurgie viscérale et digestive 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Bariatric surgery has been proved to reduce type 2 diabetes in morbid obese patients. However, results of bariatric surgery at a nationwide level are lacking.

The aim of our study was to assess the 6-year antidiabetic treatment continuation, discontinuation or initiation rates after BS compared with matched control obese patients.

This large-scale nationwide study confirms that bariatric surgery is responsible for a significant 6-year postoperative antidiabetic treatment discontinuation rate compared to baseline and compared to an obese control group without surgery, and a low treatment initiation rate, with gastric bypass being the most effective procedure. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This long term study confirms at a nationwide level, previous mid term randomized studies finding effiicency of bariatric surgery in type 2 diabetes for patients with morbid obesity associated.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Patients and physicians must be aware that morbid obesity still remains a chronic disease even after bariatric surgery, as 50% of patients with pre-existing antidiabetic treatment remained on treatment 6 years after surgery. Our study highlights the message that these patients require careful lifelong follow-up to monitor obesity complications. Complementary medico-economic study would be helpful to determine the relevance of such treatment in a national health care system.

No disclosures

Citations:

Thereaux J, Lesuffleur T, Czernichow S, Basdevant A, Msika S, Nocca D, Millat B, Fagot-Campagna A. Association Between Bariatric Surgery and Rates of Continuation, Discontinuation, or Initiation of Antidiabetes Treatment 6 Years Later. JAMA Surg. Published online February 14, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.6163

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/2672216?resultClick=1

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Machines Can Be Taught Natural Language Processing To Read Radiology Reports

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric Karl Oermann, MD Instructor Department of Neurosurgery Mount Sinai Health System New York, New York 10029 

Dr. Oermann

Eric Karl Oermann, MD
Instructor
Department of Neurosurgery
Mount Sinai Health System
New York, New York 10029 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Supervised machine learning requires data consisting of features and labels. In order to do machine learning with medical imaging, we need ways of obtaining labels, and one promising means of doing so is by utilizing natural language processing (NLP) to extract labels from physician’s descriptions of the images (typically contained in reports).

Our main finding was that (1) the language employed in Radiology reports is simpler than normal day-to-day language, and (2) that we can build NLP models that obtain excellent results at extracting labels when compared to manually extracted labels from physicians.  Continue reading

Cigarette Taxes Associated With Increased Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS Associate Professor School of Social Work Boston College Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, MS
Associate Professor School of Social Work
Boston College 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Increasing cigarette taxes has been a major policy driver to decrease smoking, including adolescent smoking, while taxes on other tobacco products have received less attention. Taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars are all fiscal policies, but they are not all equal. While state taxes on cigarettes have increased substantially over the past decade, there has been little change in policies governing alternative tobacco products.

The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of chewing tobacco and cigar taxes, cigarette taxes, and the enactment of smoke-free legislation on adolescent male and female use of smokeless tobacco and cigars.

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Lack of Awareness of Cognitive Issues Presages Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joseph Therriault

Integrative Program in Neuroscience 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Neurologists have known for a long time that Anosognosia, or unawareness of illness, appears in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. For example, these patients will have diminished awareness of their memory loss, and will also engage in dangerous behaviors, such as leaving the house to go for a walk, without knowing they are at high risk of getting lost.

However, it was not known if decreased awareness of cognitive problems existed in the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease. In our study, we compared the ratings of cognitive decline from the patient and their close relative, who also filled out the same questionnaire. When a patient reported having no cognitive problems but the family member reported significant difficulties, the patient was considered to have poor awareness of illness.

We found that patients who are less aware had increased disease pathology, and were nearly three times as likely to progress to dementia within two years, even when taking into account other factors like genetic risk, age, gender and education. The increased progression to dementia was mirrored by increased brain metabolic dysfunction in regions vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.

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Aggressive Systolic Blood Pressure Control In Older Patients With HFpEF Should Be Avoided

“Doctors” by Tele Jane is licensed under CC BY 2.0MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Apostolos Tsimploulis, Chief Medical Resident
Dr. Phillip H. Lam, Chief Cardiology Fellow
The Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Georgetown University, and
MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hypertension is a major risk factor for the development of new heart failure (HF). Findings from multiple randomized controlled trials in hypertension have consistently demonstrated that controlling systolic blood pressure (SBP) to normal levels such as to SBP <120 mm Hg reduces the risk of developing new HF.

However, interestingly, once patients develop heart failure, those with a normal SBP value such as SBP <120 mm Hg tend to have poor outcomes. This paradoxical association – also called reverse epidemiology – although poorly understood – has been described with other HF risk factors such as smoking and obesity. Regarding poor outcomes associated with lower SBP in HF patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF – pronounced Hef-ref), it has been suggested that it may be a marker of weak heart muscle that is unable to pump enough blood. However, less is known about this association in patients with HF and preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF – pronounced Hef-pef) –– the heart muscle is not weak in the traditional sense.

This is an important question for a number of reasons: nearly half of all heart failure patients have HFpEF which accounts for about 2.5 to 3 million Americans. These patients have a high mortality similar to those with HFrEF – but unlike in HFrEF few drugs have been shown to improve their outcomes. Thus, there is a great deal of interest in improving their outcomes. One of those approaches is to control . systolic blood pressure and the 2017 ACC/AHA/HFSA Focused Update of the HF guidelines recommend that SBP “should be controlled in patients with HFpEF in accordance with published clinical practice guidelines to prevent morbidity.”

Thus, our study was designed to answer that simple question: do patients with HFpEF and SBP <120 mmHg, which is considered to be normal SBP, have better outcomes than those with SBP ≥120 mmHg.

Using a sophisticated approach called propensity score matching we assembled two groups of patients with HFpEF – one group with SBP <120 mmHg and the other groups had SBP ≥120 mmHg – and patients in both groups were similar in terms of 58 key baseline characteristics. In this population of balanced patients with HFpEF, those with a normal systolic blood pressure had a higher risk of mortality – starting 30 days post-discharge up to about 6 years. Finding from our restricted cubic spline plots suggest that compared with SBP <120 mm Hg, SBP values ≥120 mm Hg (up to 200 mm Hg) was not associated with a higher risk of death.

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Balovaptan Has Potential to Improve Social Interaction and Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Kevin Sanders, MD Principle Medical Director-Product Development Neuroscience Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Vanderbilt University

Dr. Sanders

Dr Kevin Sanders, MD
Principle Medical Director-Product Development Neuroscience
Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Vanderbilt University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement? 

Response: The FDA has granted Roche Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its investigational oral medicine balovaptan (previously known as RG7314), a vasopressin 1a (V1a) receptor antagonist for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for balovaptan is primarily based on efficacy findings in the VANILLA (Vasopressin ANtagonist to Improve sociaL communication in Autism) study, a Phase II trial of balovaptan in adults with ASD. Trial results were first presented at the International Congress for Autism Research (IMFAR) in May 2017. Treatment effects were observed on the Vineland-II (secondary endpoint) and also demonstrated that balovaptan was safe and well tolerated by the subjects in the study. The Vineland-II is a scale that measures socialization, communication and daily living skills. This data was presented to the FDA and is part of the basis of the Breakthrough Designation.  Continue reading

ZIKA: Mouse Study Finds Antioxidant Ebselen Reduces Risk of Sexual Transmission

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth. Wikipedia image

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth.
Wikipedia image

Yogy Simanjuntak PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Academia Sinica, Taiwan 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Despite the low case fatality, Zika virus infection has been associated with microcephaly in infants and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Primarily transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, Zika also can be sexually transmitted in humans. By August 2016, the sexual transmission of Zika had been documented in 11 countries worldwide and most of the cases were from male to female. Infectious Zika in semen has been reported. Moreover, unlike in serum or urine samples, Zika RNA can still be detected in semen up to 188 days after the onset of symptoms. In the absence of approved antiviral drugs or vaccines for Zika infection, preventing the disease transmission is critical.

We observed Zika progressively damaged testes by gaining access to testicular cells including sperm. Notably, Zika caused signs of increased testicular oxidative stress and inflammation, characterized by high levels of reactive oxygen species and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Our data indicate that these factors may contribute to testicular damage as well as successful sexual transmission of Zika; thus, we speculate antioxidants might display beneficial effects to alleviate these disease outcomes.

We found that antioxidant ebselen both alleviated testicular damage and prevented sexual transmission of Zika via sperm from infected male mice to uninfected female mice.

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Genetic Pathways Determine Susceptibility to Dengue Shock Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

CDC/ Frederick Murphy

This transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image depicts a number of round, Dengue virus particles that were revealed in this tissue specimen. CDC image

Luisa Pereira PhD
Institute for Research and Innovation in Health
University of Porto 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: By using admixture mapping along the genome in Thai cohorts, we were able to identify new candidate genes conferring protection/susceptibility to dengue fever. A very interesting result was that the set of genes differed with the dengue phenotype: genes coding proteins that may link to the virus, conditioning its entrance in the host cells and mobility therein were associated with the less severe phenotype; genes related with blood vessels permeability were associated with the dengue shock syndrome.  Continue reading