CRISPR Gene Editing May Lead To Cure For Retinitis Pigmentosa

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.</strong> Professor of Ophthalmology Chief, Ophthalmic Genetics Founding Director, Institute for Genomic Medicine Co-Director, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Institute for Engineering in Medicine Board Certification in Ophthalmology Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center Guangzhou Medical University Guangzhou China

Dr. Kang Zhang

Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Ophthalmology
Chief, Ophthalmic Genetics
Founding Director, Institute for Genomic Medicine
Co-Director, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Institute for Engineering in Medicine
Board Certification in Ophthalmology
Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery
Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center
Guangzhou Medical University
Guangzhou China
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Retinitis pigmentosa is a common blinding condition characterized by mutations in rod photoreceptor specific genes, night blindness and tunnel visual with eventual loss of day vision. Since it can be caused by numerous different mutations in many genes therefore it has been difficult to provide treatment benefits to a majority of patients. Traditional gene therapy has been in a piece-meal fashion, meaning to create a therapy for a particular gene or mutation. In this paper, we describe a universal gene therapy approach using the latest gene editing technology CRISPR/CAS9 to reprogram rod photoreceptors to cone photoreceptors with reversal of RP and restoration of vision.

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RepliCel Developing Autologous Cell Therapies For Skin, Hair and Tendon Regeneration

MedicalResearch.com with:

Lee Buckler, CEO
RepliCel Life Sciences

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this your company, RepliCel.com?

Response: RepliCel Life Sciences is a Canadian regenerative medicine company based in Vancouver, British Columbia that was founded in 2006. The company focuses on the development of cell therapies using a patient’s own cells (autologous cell therapy). It is developing treatments targeted at healing chronic tendon injuries that have failed to heal properly, hair restoration, and the treatment of damaged and aged skin.

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Outbreak of Severe Fungal Eye Infections Linked To IV Opioid Epidemic

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aubrey Tirpack, PGY3

New England Eye Center
Tufts Medical Center 

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

Response: Intravenous drug abuse is a known risk factor for the development of endogenous fungal endophthalmitis (EFE), a severe intraocular infection cause by the seeding of mycotic organisms to the eye.

Our institution noted a marked increase in cases of EFE beginning in May 2014, which correlates to increasing rates of opioid abuse throughout the New England region. Ten patients were found to have intravenous drug abuse related EFE over the two year time period studied. The most common presenting symptoms were floaters, decreased vision, and pain. All patients were treated with systemic antifungals and nine patients underwent intravitreal antifungal injection. All patients were ambulatory at presentation and the majority were without systemic signs of infection.

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Mass Media Campaign Can Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH Health Commissioner Department of Public Health City of Philadelphia

Dr. Thomas Farley

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH
Health Commissioner
Department of Public Health
City of Philadelphia

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

Response: Messages in the mass media have been used in anti-smoking campaigns, but have not be used much for other health-related behaviors.  Sugar-sweetened beverages are major contributors to the obesity epidemic in the United States, so they are an important public health target.

In this study we evaluated a brief counter-advertising campaign in a rural area of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky designed to reduce consumption of these beverages.  After the campaign, adults in the area were more wary of sugary drinks, and sales of sugary drinks fell by about 4% relative to changes in a matched comparison area.

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Childhood Adversities Linked To Increased Suicide Risk in Adolescents and Young Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Charlotte Björkenstam PhD

Dept of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Division of Insurance Medicine
Stockholm

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

Response: In a prior study we revealed that exposure to childhood adversities were associated with a substantial risk increase for self-harm. The risk was even higher for those exposed to accumulated childhood adversities. This finding together with the fact that the suicide rate among young adults is increasing (as opposed to decreasing in the general population) lead us to want to examine the relationship between childhood adversities and death by suicide.

We investigated 7 different childhood adversities, including familial death (suicide analyzed separately), parental substance abuse, parental psychiatric disorder, substantial parental criminality, parental separation/single-parent household, public assistance recipiency, and residential instability occurring between birth and age 14. We then followed the individuals up until age 24 at most. All adversities were entailed with an increased suicide risk from IRR: 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1 to 2.4) for residential instability to IRR: 2.9 (95% CI; 1.4 to 5.9) for familial suicide. We also found a dose-response relationship between accumulating CA and suicide risk where IRR ranged between 1.1 (95% CI: 0.9 to 1.4) for those exposed to 1 CA, to 2.6 (95% CI: 1.9 to 3.4) for those exposed to 3 or more adversities.

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AI Can Be Embedded With Universally Accepted Human Biases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Aylin Caliskan PhD Center for Information Technology Policy Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Dr. Caliskan

Aylin Caliskan PhD
Center for Information Technology Policy
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

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

Response: Researchers have been suggesting that artificial intelligence (AI) learns stereotypes, contrary to the common belief that AI is neutral and objective. We present the first systematic study that quantifies cultural bias embedded in AI models, namely word embeddings.

Word embeddings are dictionaries for machines to understand language where each word in a language is represented by a 300 dimensional numeric vector. The geometric relations of words in this 300 dimensional space make it possible to reason about the semantics and grammatical properties of words. Word embeddings represent the semantic space by analyzing the co-occurrences and frequencies of words from billions of sentences collected from the Web. By investigating the associations of words in this semantic space, we are able to quantify how language reflects cultural bias and also facts about the world.

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Rapid Tests For Foodborne Infections Can Provide Faster Treatment But Curtail Important Outbreak Data

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ms. Ellyn Marder MPH</strong> Surveillance Epidemiologist, CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Georgia

Ellyn Marder

Ms. Ellyn Marder MPH
Surveillance Epidemiologist, CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia

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

Response: CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) report provides the most up-to-date information about foodborne illnesses in the United States. Each year, FoodNet publishes a report that includes preliminary data compared with data from the previous three years. FoodNet has been monitoring illness trends since 1996 and collects data on about 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Campylobacter and Salmonella caused the most reported bacterial foodborne illnesses in 2016, according to preliminary data. FoodNet sites alone reported 24,029 foodborne infections, 5,512 hospitalizations, and 98 deaths in 2016. The numbers of reported illnesses by germ are: Campylobacter (8,547), Salmonella (8,172), Shigella (2,913), Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (1,845), Cryptosporidium (1,816), Yersinia (302), Vibrio (252), Listeria (127) and Cyclospora (55).

This is the first time the report also includes in the total number of infections those foodborne bacterial infections diagnosed only by rapid diagnostic tests in FoodNet sites. Previously, the report counted foodborne bacterial infections confirmed only by traditional culture-based methods in the total numbers.

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Considering Circadian Rhythms May Aide in Diagnosis of Consciousness Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Copyright Anna-Lisa Bexten Dr. Christine Blume PhD Post-Doctoral Researcher University of Salzburg Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCNS) Laboratory for Sleep, Cognition & Consciousness Research Salzburg

Dr. Christine Blume

Dr. Christine Blume PhD
Post-Doctoral Researcher
University of Salzburg
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCNS)
Laboratory for Sleep, Cognition & Consciousness Research
Salzburg

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

Response: We are governed by rhythmic processes. Many of these processes follow a circadian pattern, that is, they have a period length of approximately 24 hours and are under tight control of a biological master clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. Given the circadian variation in global states like alertness, it is not surprising that consciousness also varies rhythmically in healthy individuals, it follows the sleep-wake cycle.

From a clinical perspective, misalignment of circadian rhythms, which occurs when the sleep-wake schedule is at odds with the light-dark cycle as in the case of night shifts, can cause considerable stress, have detrimental effects on the immune system and impair cognitive abilities. Despite the knowledge that entrained circadian rhythms are important for healthy body and brain functioning, very little is known about circadian rhythms in patients diagnosed with a disorder of consciousness (DOC) following severe brain injuries. We argue that studying circadian rhythms in DOC patients may be especially interesting and important for two reasons.

First, the presence or absence of circadian rhythms as well as anomalies in them could be informative about the state of the patient as well as their potential for recovery.

Second, this could provide information about time points that best capture remaining cognitive functions thereby minimising the risk of misdiagnoses.

Beyond this, examining circadian processes may also provide targets for therapeutic interventions such as light stimulation, which has proven successful in individuals with e.g. circadian sleep disorders. Interestingly, analyses with Lomb-Scargle periodograms revealed significant circadian rhythmicity in all patients (range 23.5-26.3h).

We found that especially scores on the arousal subscale of the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R) were closely linked to the integrity of circadian variations in body temperature.

Finally, we piloted whether bright light stimulation could boost circadian rhythmicity and found positive evidence in two out of eight patients.

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No Magic Age To Stop Performing Screening Mammograms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Cindy S. Lee, MD

Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco
Now with Department of Radiology
NYU Langone Medical Center, Garden City, New York

MedicalResearch.com: What led you and colleagues to conduct this study?

Response: I am a breast imager. I see patients who come in for their screening mammograms and I get asked, a lot, if patients aged 75 years and older should continue screening, because of their age. There is not enough evidence out there to determine how breast cancer screening benefits women older than 75. In fact, all previously randomized trials of screening mammography excluded people older than 75 years.

Unfortunately, age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer, so as patients get older, they have higher risks of developing breast cancer. It is therefore important to know how well screening mammography works in these patients.

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Spermidine in Foods Such As Aged Cheese Prevents Liver Damage and Extends Life — in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Center for Translational Cancer Research Institute of Biosciences and Technology Texas A&M University Houston, Texas 77030

Dr. Liu

Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Center for Translational Cancer Research
Institute of Biosciences and Technology
Texas A&M University
Houston, Texas 77030

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

Response: Our research team has been working on the question why people develop cancers and how we can prevent or cure them. In contrast to public views, we concluded from our studies that cancers, similar to our age-related diseases, originate from inefficiencies of our body to clean up cellular wastes accumulated during our lifespan. The most important pathway to clean up those wastes is called autophagy, or cellular self-eating behavior. We study how autophagy is regulated, how autophagy causes cancers, and whether we can control autophagy to prevent or cure cancers.

Previously we found autophagy is regulated by a protein called MAP1S and mice without MAP1S are more likely to develop liver cancer. We have been seeking ways to improve MAP1S-mediated autophagy to prevent liver cancer. Our current study show that spermidine, a natural component existing in many foods, can increase the stability of MAP1S proteins and activate MAP1S-mediated autophagy. Concurrent with the benefits of expand mouse lifespans ours also reported, spermidine can suppress the development of liver fibrosis and liver cancer specifically through MAP1S if we add spermidine into the daily drinking water of mice.

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Topical Cannabinoids May Fight Itch and Inflammatory Skin Diseases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jessica S. Mounessa, BS

University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, Colorado and
Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Professor of Dermatology and Public Health
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Colorado School of Public Health
Chief, Dermatology Service
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Denver, CO 80220 

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

Response: One in 10 adult cannabis users in the U.S. use it for medicinal purposes. Medicinal cannabis is well studied for its uses in chronic pain, anorexia, and nausea. Numerous recent studies have highlighted other medicinal uses for cannabinoids and related compounds.

We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on the potential role of cannabinoids in conditions affecting the skin.

Our study reveals the potential benefit of topically prepared cannabinoid compounds, especially for pruritus and eczema.  For example, creams containing Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which enhances cannabinoid-receptor binding, have been successful in relieving itch both in the literature, and anecdotally in our clinics.

Though not strictly considered an endocannabinoid, as it does not directly bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, PEA works by enhancing endocannabinoid binding to these receptors.** Furthermore, the majority of the cannabinoid compounds we studied did not contain psychoactive effects.

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Majority of Americans Believes Guns Should Not Be Allowed In Public Spaces

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP Assistant Professor Department of Health Management and Policy University of Michigan School of Public Health Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Dr. Julia Wolfson

Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Response: Gun violence is a serious public health problem that in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, was responsible for more than 36,000 deaths. High profile shootings in public places such as schools, nightclubs and airports have focused national attention on the threat of gun violence in public places. Many states have recently passed new laws that expand the public places where people can legally carry guns either openly or concealed on their person.

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