Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Infections, Technology, University of Pittsburgh / 13.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Donald S. Burke, M.D. Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Burke: At the University of Pittsburgh we developed a unique method for detecting antibodies in the blood of patients in a proof-of-principle study that opens the door to development of simple diagnostic tests for diseases for which no microbial cause is known, including auto-immune diseases, cancers and other conditions. We used a technique pioneered by co-author Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D., of the Scripps Research Institute, that synthesizes random molecular shapes called “peptoids” hooked onto microscopic plastic beads. The technique can produce millions of molecular shapes. The peptoids are not organic, but if they match to the corresponding shape on an antibody, that antibody will connect to them, allowing the scientist to pull out that bead and examine that peptoid and its corresponding antibody. My team chemically generated a huge library of random molecular shapes. Then, using blood from HIV-infected patients and from non-infected people, we screened a million of these random molecular shapes to find the ones that bound only to antibodies present in the blood of HIV-infected patients, but not the healthy controls. No HIV proteins or structures were used to construct or select the peptoids, but the approach, nonetheless, successfully led to selection of the best molecular shapes to use in screening for HIV antibodies. We then resynthesized that HIV-antibody-targeting peptoid in mass and tested it by screening hundreds of samples from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a confidential research study of the natural history of treated and untreated HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men (supported by the National Institutes of Health). Study co-author Charles Rinaldo, Ph.D., chair of Pitt Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and director of the Pittsburgh arm of the MACS, selected the samples, but blinded the testers to which samples were HIV-positive or -negative. The test distinguished between the samples of HIV-positive blood and HIV-negative blood with a high degree of accuracy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Lipids, MRI, NYU / 09.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sungheon G. Kim, PhD Associate Professor Department of Radiology NYU Langone and Researcher at the Center for Advanced Imaging, Innovation, and Research MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Kim: The role of fat in breast cancer development and growth has been studied extensively using body mass index (BMI), a measure of whole body fatness, and dietary fat intake in a number of epidemiological studies. However, there is a paucity of studies to assess the role of breast fat itself in breast cancer due to lack of a non-invasive and fast measurement method. Since breast fibroglandular cells are surrounded by breast fat cells, the characteristics of breast fat may have a stronger relationship with breast cancer development and growth than BMI and/or dietary fat. However, it is not trivial to study the role of breast fat, mainly due to the lack of a non-invasive and fast measurement method sensitive enough to important features of breast fat, such as types of fat. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy / 08.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Arjun Balar MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine Co-Leader Genitourinary Cancers Program NYU Langone Medical Center Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Balar: Standard treatment for advanced urothelial cancer includes cisplatin chemotherapy. But more than half of patients are not expected to tolerate it well and alternative treatment is inferior to cisplatin. The average survival for these patients is in the range of 9-10 months with carboplatin-based treatment, which is the most commonly used alternative to cisplatin. Atezolizumab is a PD-L1 blocking antibody that reactivates the body¹s immune system to fight bladder cancer and has been recently FDA approved in the management of advanced urothelial cancer in the second-line setting after failure of platinum-based chemotherapy. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, University of Pittsburgh / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Robert L. Ferris, M.D., Ph.D. Robert L. Ferris, M.D., Ph.D. UPMC Endowed Professor and Vice-Chair Associate Director for Translational Research Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology Program MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ferris: Investigators at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute<http://upci.upmc.edu/> (UPCI) co-led CheckMate-141<https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02105636> a large, randomized international phase III clinical trial that enrolled 361 patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma who had not responded to platinum-based chemotherapy, a rapidly progressing form of the disease with an especially poor prognosis. Patients were randomized to receive either nivolumab or a single type of standard chemotherapy until tumor progression was observed. Nivolumab, which belongs to a class of drugs known as immunotherapeutics, enables the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. It currently is approved to treat certain types of cancers, including melanoma and lung cancer. The nivolumab group achieved better outcomes than the standard chemotherapy group by all accounts. After 12 months, 36 percent of the nivolumab group was alive, compared to just 17 percent of the standard chemotherapy group. Nivolumab treatment also doubled the number of patients whose tumors shrunk, and the number whose disease had not progressed after six months of treatment. Importantly, these benefits were achieved with just one-third the rate of serious adverse events reported in the standard chemotherapy group. In addition, on average, patients receiving nivolumab reported that their quality of life remained stable or improved throughout the study, while those in the chemotherapy group reported a decline. The new trial was considered so successful that it was stopped early to allow patients in the comparison group to receive the new drug. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Dermatology, Journal Clinical Oncology, Melanoma, Primary Care, University of Pittsburgh / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Laura Ferris, M.D., Ph.D. Associate professor, Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Member of the Melanoma Program University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Ferris: Rates of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are on the rise, and skin cancer screenings are one of the most important steps for early detection and treatment. Typically, patients receive skin checks by setting up an appointment with a dermatologist. UPMC instituted a new screening initiative, which was modeled after a promising German program, the goal being to improve the detection of melanomas by making it easier for patients to get screened during routine office visits with their primary care physicians (PCPs). PCPs completed training on how to recognize melanomas and were asked to offer annual screening during office visits to all patients aged 35 and older. In 2014, during the first year of the program, 15 percent of the 333,788 eligible UPMC patients were screened in this fashion. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Colon Cancer / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gilles Jobin, MD, FRCP, MSc Chief of Gastroenterology Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine University of Montreal Montréal, Qc MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Jobin: It is known that the immune system has a role to play in keeping the body free of cancer and tumor cells. There is a lot of scientific literature that shows that when someone has cancer, certain cells from the immune system do not function very well. These cells are called natural killer or NK cells and they are the first ones to respond when there is a virus, a bacteria or a tumor cell in the body. If the activity of these cells is very low, then there is a higher risk of someone developing a cancer, and if someone has cancer, there are greater chances that their NK cell activity is low. In the last few decades, a few tests have been developed to measure NK Cell activity but they have been used in research only because they were complicated and difficult to use. The current study measured NK Cell activity (NKA) with a new commercially available simple blood test to investigate its clinical application in the detection of colorectal cancer in patients presenting for prescribed colonoscopy. The aim of this study is to evaluate the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of this in vitro diagnostic device in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and adenomatous polyps (AP). (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Geriatrics, Lymphoma, NYU, Pharmacology / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Catherine S. M. Diefenbach MD Assistant Professor of Medicine NYU Cancer Center New York, NY 10016 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Diefenbach: It is well known that age is important prognostic factor in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Multiple studies have illustrated that elderly lymphoma patients have inferior survival outcomes as compared to their younger counterpart. While the tumor biology is often different in these two groups, and may play a role in this discordancy, elderly patients are often frail or have multiple medical comorbidities. These include geriatric syndromes, such as: cognitive impairment, falls, polypharmacy, and potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use. All of these may contribute to poor outcomes for elderly patients. In addition, elderly patients are often under-treated for their aggressive lymphoma out of concern for toxicity or side effects, even though the data clearly demonstrates that elderly patients can still benefit from curative intent chemotherapy. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Immunotherapy / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Neil T. Mason, MBA Personalized Medicine Strategist Personalized Cancer Medicine Division of Population Science Moffitt Cancer Center MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting PD-1 (nivolumab and pembrolizumab) and CTLA-4 (ipilimumab) have revolutionized the treatment of metastatic disease in melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer with additional indications showing positive results. These drugs have elicited profound and durable responses in a significant number of patients, but have been criticized for their high cost. Though the price of the drugs themselves can reach over $100,000 per year, they can also cause severe, life threatening toxicities that are difficult and expensive manage. This model utilizes patient data from a large, NCI-designated cancer center to estimate the average cost of treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors based on average duration of treatment and reported incidence of major toxicities. Based on the model, PD-1 inhibitor therapies are less costly than ipilimumab due to the significantly higher cost per dose of ipilimumab and average treatment duration of less than a year for PD-1 inhibitors. Managing drug-related toxicities were estimated to contribute between $8,200 and $9,600 to the cost of therapy with nivolumab adding the most cost. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Personalized Medicine, UCSD / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maria Schwaederle PharmD Clinical Research Scientist Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy UCSD Moores Cancer Center La Jolla, CA 92093 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schwaederle: We performed this analysis with experts in the field, including but not limited to Drs Schilsky, Lee, Mendelsohn and Kurzrock, all known for their experience in the area of precision/personalized medicine. Historically, phase I trials (which are often first in human or highly experimental in other ways) were believed to be examining only toxicity. Our meta-analysis of 13,203 patients shows that in the era of precision medicine, this historical belief needs to be discarded. Second, it is the use of precision medicine that makes this belief outdated. Indeed, Phase I trials that utilized a biomarker-driven approach that is the essence of precision medicine had a median response rate of about 31%, which is higher than many FDA approved drugs, and this is in spite of the fact that phase I patients are a highly refractory group having failed multiple lines of conventional therapy. Importantly, however, it was not the use of targeted agents alone that was important. It was the biomarker-based approach where patients are matched to drugs. Without matching, response rates were dismal—about 5%. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy / 06.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dawn L. Hershman, MD MS Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Leader, Breast Cancer Program Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Columbia University NY NY MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hershman: Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of anti cancer therapy and there are currently no ways to prevent it. We used a large clinical trials database, SWOG, and linked it to Medicare claims for patients over the age of 65. We found that age and type of taxane were associated with the development of CIPN. We also found a significant increase when a taxane was given along with a platinum agent. We found a doubling of risk among patients with a prior history of diabetes. No other chronic condition was associated with an increased risk of CIPN. We found a suggestion of a decreased risk among patients with a prior history of auto-immune disease. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Pediatrics / 06.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katie Greenzang, MD Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Greenzang: Advances made over the last several decades mean that more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer will become long-term survivors. However, many of these survivors experience physical and cognitive late effects of the treatment that cured them. We surveyed 352 parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer to assess how well they understood their children’s risk of future limitations in physical abilities, intelligence, and quality of life. We found that an overwhelming majority of parents (92 percent) are very interested in learning about possible late effects, and most (86 percent) seek detailed information. Yet, parent and physician predictions of a child’s risk of experiencing late effects of treatment often don’t match. Among children identified by their oncologists as being at high risk for such challenges, only 38 percent of parents recognized this risk in physical abilities, 21 percent in intelligence, and 5 percent in quality of life. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research / 06.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gregory Idos MD Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90033 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Idos: Identifying individuals at increased risk for hereditary cancer prompts enhanced cancer surveillance as early detection mitigates disease specific morbidity and mortality. This justifies germ line genetic testing for specific cancer risk alleles. In recent years, the field of cancer genetics has moved from a gene by gene sequencing approach to now having the ability to examine multiple genes concurrently. Multiplex gene panel (MGP) testing allows simultaneous analysis of multiple high- and moderate- penetrance genes. As a result, more pathogenic mutations and variants of uncertain significance (VUS) are discovered. MGP tests are increasingly being used by cancer genetic clinics, but questions remain about the clinical utility and complexities of these tests. We are conducting a multi center prospective trial to measure the added yield of detecting pathogenic mutations using the MGP approach. In our interim analysis of the first 1000 participants, we found that multiplex gene panel testing increased the yield of detection of pathogenic mutations by 26%. In some cases, we found patient’s who had a mutation in the BRCA gene, but their family history did not indicate a history of breast or ovarian cancer. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Prostate Cancer, Surgical Research / 06.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sarmad Sadeghi MD, MS, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center University of Southern California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Sadeghi: Several years ago analyses of outcomes for radical prostatectomy highlighted the significant impact of surgical experience on the oncological outcome for the patients. In this case experience was measured by the number of radical prostatectomies performed by the surgeon, and oncological outcome was measured by treatment failure rates (rising PSA). Despite this data, the move for redirecting patients to “high volume centers” where more experienced surgeons perform the operation has been sluggish. There was insufficient data on what is involved in referring patients to high volume centers and whether or not such action is cost effective. In a previous study we demonstrated that for every referral to a high volume center, there would be an average of $1,800 over a follow-up period of 20 years in societal cost savings. The main source of these savings is fewer treatment failures. The next question was who is a good candidate for referral and whether these savings can offset the referral costs. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Stem Cells / 05.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Philip McCarthy, BA, MD Professor of Oncology Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Roswell Park Cancer Institute Associate Professor of Medicine Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14263 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. McCarthy: There have been three Phase III studies that examined the role of maintenance lenalidomide after autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients. IFM 2005-02 (France), CALGB 100104 (Alliance, USA), GIMEMA-RVMM-PI-209 (Italy). All three studies had progression free survival (PFS) as their primary endpoint and all demonstrated a superior PFS when compared to placebo or no therapy after ASCT. However only the CALGB 100104 study demonstrated a statistically superior overall survival (OS). Thus, a meta-analysis was necessary to assess the effect of post-ASCT lenalidomide maintenance on overall survival. This study utilized a pooled analysis of updated primary-source patient data from all three studies after the primary efficacy analyses had been conducted. The meta-analysis demonstrated that there is a statistically superior OS (P value=0.001, HR=0.74 (0.62-0.89)), Median OS for no maintenance or placebo was 86 months and the median OS for lenalidomide had not been reached. The median OS for lenalidomide treatment arm was extrapolated to be 116 months based on median of the control arm and HR (median, 86 months; HR = 0.74). Thus, there is a 26% reduction in the risk of death which is an estimated 2.5 year increase in median OS. There is an increased incidence of second primary malignancies with lenalidomide maintenance when compared to placebo but this risk is less than the risk of dying when not receiving lenalidomide. (more…)
Author Interviews, Prostate, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 04.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth A. Iczkowski, M.D. Department of Pathology Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI 53226 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Iczkowski: The International Society of Urological Pathology (ISUP) in 2014 proposed use of a new 5-tier grade grouping system to supplement traditional Gleason grading to facilitate prognosis stratification and treatment1. The 5 categories subsume: Gleason 3+3=6, Gleason 3+4=7, Gleason 4+3=7, Gleason 8, and Gleason 9-10. We desired to determine whether men with a highest Gleason score of 3+5=8 or 5+3=8 in their set of prostate biopsy specimens, would have differing outcomes from those with Gleason 4+4=8. Because Gleason 5 cancer has been demonstrated to have a higher biologic potential than Gleason 4, it was expected that Gleason score 8 pattern with any Gleason 5 pattern would have a worse outcome. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy / 04.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wayne L. Furman, MD Department of Oncology Jude Children's Research Hospital Memphis, TN 38105-3678 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Furman: Despite improvement in 2-yr EFS from 46% to 66% with the inclusion of dinutuximab, a monoclonal antibody that recognizes a glycoprotein on neuroblasts called ‘GD2’ (disialoganglioside), more than one-third of children with high-risk neuroblastoma still are not cured. Therefore novel therapeutic approaches are needed for this subset of patients. The clinical evaluation of various anti-GD 2 monoclonal antibodies in children with neuroblastoma has been exclusively focused on treatment of patients after recovery from consolidation, in a state of ‘minimal residual disease’. This is because traditionally chemotherapy has been thought to be too immunosuppressive to combine with monoclonal antibodies. However recent studies suggest, even in the setting of “bulky” solid tumors, the combination of chemotherapy with monoclonal antibodies can enhance the effectiveness of the antibodies. First, chemotherapy can increase the efficacy of antibodies by depleting cells of the immune system that suppress immune function. Also chemotherapy-induced tumor cell death can trigger tumor antigen release, uptake by antigen processing cells and an enhanced antitumor immune response. There is also data that anti-GD2 monoclonal antibodies can suppress tumor cell growth independent of immune system involvement. Furthermore anti-GD2 monoclonal antibodies and chemotherapy have non-overlapping toxicities. All of these reasons were good reasons to evaluate the addition of a novel anti-GD2 monoclonal antibody, called hu14.18K322A, to chemotherapy, outside the setting of minimal residual disease, in children with newly diagnosed children with high-risk neuroblastoma. (more…)
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Opiods, Pain Research / 04.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Sarah Saxena Université Libre de Bruxelles MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Saxena: Opioids are well known analgesics, but like every drug, they do not come without side-effects. Recently, certain studies have been published about an opioid-free approach in bariatric patients. An opioid free approach is possible combining ketamine, lidocaine and clonidine. We studied this type of approach in breast cancer patients and looked at several factors such as patient comfort pain quality after an opioid free approach vs after an opioid approach. The study showed patients requiring less analgesics after an opioid free approach. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Kaiser Permanente, Pediatrics / 03.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrea C. Wickremasinghe, MD Neonatologist Kaiser Santa Clara California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Neonatal jaundice is common and is often treated with phototherapy. Phototherapy is typically considered to be benign. In the past decade, phototherapy use has increased and it is sometimes started at bilirubin levels below recommended treatment thresholds. Beginning in the 1970’s, in-vitro and in-vivo studies have shown phototherapy to be associated with cellular changes implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer. Epidemiologic studies have yielded mixed results, with some studies showing associations between phototherapy and leukemia and other studies failing to show this association. In this study, we used a large statewide administrative dataset to investigate the relationship between neonatal phototherapy and cancer in the first year after birth. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, Stem Cells / 02.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ajay Goel, Ph.D. Professor, and Director of Center for Epigenetics and Cancer Preventio Baylor Scott & White Research Institute Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Goel: One of the areas in which I am interested is examining the activity of natural compounds as it relates to cancer prevention, progression, and treatment. Polyphenols have known antioxidant and anti-cancer activity, but it is important that we better understand the mechanisms of action. I have found in my research on curcumin and boswellia that these plants contain compounds that work on an epigenetic level and can influence microRNA in ways that chemotherapeutic agents cannot. MicroRNA is important because it is like a master control panel that turns on and off a multitude of genetic “switches.” Influencing the activity of microRNA influences a wide array of genetic expression. If you tell the general of the army what to do, it has a much greater impact than directions given to a private, because the general influences so many more soldiers. Because grape seed extract contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) that are also quite active in influential cancer mitigating genetic pathways, I wanted to determine its effects more exactly. I chose specifically tannin-free, low molecular weight OPCs because there is some evidence that the larger sized OPCs are not absorbable. (more…)
Author Interviews, Prostate Cancer, Weight Research / 01.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Aurora Perez-Cornago, PhD Cancer Epidemiology Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health University of Oxford MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Excessive body size and adiposity have been proposed to influence several metabolic and hormonal mechanisms that can promote cancer development. We found that men who have greater adiposity have an elevated risk of high grade prostate cancer, an aggressive form of the disease, and prostate cancer death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Genetic Research / 01.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Nicholas Turner Academic Consultant Medical Oncologist Team leader at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre Institute of Cancer Research, London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Turner: Prior laboratory research had identified that gastric cancers with a particular mutation, amplification of the gene FGFR2, were potential sensitive to a drug that inhibits FGFR2. We conducted a trial and showed that gastric cancers with this FGFR2 amplification respond to FGFR inhibition with a drug AZD4547. The amplification is rare, occurring in only a few percent of gastric cancers, so we designed a blood test to identify which patients have the amplification in their cancer, and we are not using the blood test to screen patients for the study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Mental Health Research / 27.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael A. Johnson Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Chemistry University of Kansas MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Johnson: We undertook these studies because chemotherapy induced cognitive dysfunction, also known as ‘chemobrain’, has become a major health issue in recent years. For example, up to a third of patients who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer have reported symptoms of chemobrain. These symptoms may include loss of verbal and visual memory as well as decreased mental flexibility and difficulty focusing. For this study, we wanted to understand how treatment with chemotherapeutic agents affects the ability of neurons to communicate. An impairment of neurotransmitter release would imply that communication is hindered. This inability to communicate normally could contribute to cognitive dysfunction. We initially measured the release of dopamine in a region of the brain called the striatum. Our measurement of dopamine in this region was motivated by two key issues: its importance in cognitive function and our ability to measure it with high temporal resolution. From a cognitive standpoint, dopamine is important because the striatum helps translate signals, received from the cortex, into plans by forwarding wanted signals to other parts of the brain and suppressing unwanted signals. Fortunately, we can easily measure dopamine release using an electrochemical technique called fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. This method allows us to not only measure how much dopamine is released from a living brain slice, but also it affords us the capability to measure how quickly dopamine is taken back up. We also measured serotonin release using this method. Our main finding was that the ability of neurons to release dopamine was impaired after carboplatin treatment. We also found that serotonin release was similarly impaired. These release impairments corresponded to a decrease in cognitive ability of the treated rats. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Gastrointestinal Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Robert Wong, M.D., M.S. Attending Physician, Gastroenterology & Hepatology Director, GI Education & Research Highland Hospital I A member of Alameda Health System Oakland, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wong:  Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Early diagnosis through implementation of effective screening and surveillance programs leads to earlier staged tumor at time of diagnosis, which increases the treatment opportunities and improves overall survival. However, disparities in access to effective screening and surveillance can impair timely diagnosis and lead to advanced disease, limited treatment options and poor outcomes. The current study evaluated race/ethnicity-specific disparities in colorectal cancer epidemiology at a large urban safety net hospital and observed African American patients had significantly more advanced cancer stage at the time of diagnosis. Our study observed that African Americans were over 5 times more likely to have advanced stage 3-4 colon cancer at time of diagnosis compared with non-Hispanic white patients with colon cancer. While these findings are likely multifactorial, it sheds important light on race/ethnicity-specific disparities in colorectal cancer epidemiology and helps target future education and research to improve outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, Ovarian Cancer / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sibaji Sarkar Ph.D Instructor of medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sarkar: Although breast and ovarian cancers have different clinical presentations, there are certain molecular events that are conserved between the two types of cancers. For example, mutation in a few genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, is an indicator of possible development of both breast and ovarian cancers. ARHI, a pro-apoptotic imprinted gene is epigenetically silenced in both breast and ovarian cancers. A similar pattern was observed in microRNA as well. There are also several genes which are differentially expressed in these two types of cancers but few of these striking resemblances led us to investigate whether they have a common origin. In this paper, we compared genetic and epigenetic events in both breast and ovarian cancers and we hypothesize that they may have similar origin (mechanism of formation of cancer progenitor cells), which should be regulated by epigenetic mechanism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Global Health, Lancet / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Mahiben Maruthappu MD Senior Fellow to the CEO,NHS England Imperial College London, UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Maruthappu: There are over 8 million deaths due to cancer every year. At the same time, there are around 40 million unemployed people across the OECD, 7 million more than before the recent economic crisis. As a result, understanding how economic changes affect cancer survival, given the economic climate, is crucial. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Colon Cancer, Exercise - Fitness, JAMA / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: NaNa Keum, ScD| Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Nutrition Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: While general health benefits of physical activity are well-known, evidence on its specific benefits on cancer endpoints is limited and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention lack details in terms of the optimal dose, type and intensity of physical activity. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Response: We found that the optimal exercise regime to prevent overall digestive system cancers may be to accumulate 30 MET-hours/week of physical activity primarily through aerobic exercise and regardless of its intensity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Heart Disease, JAMA / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Conen MD MPH Department of Medicine University Hospital Basel Basel Switzerland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Conen: A previous study of a contemporary population with atrial fibrillation (AF) treated with oral anticoagulation showed that over a third of all deaths were due to non-cardiovascular causes, and malignancies accounted for the largest proportion of these deaths. These data suggested that AF patients may have an increased risk of malignancies, but little data existed to support this hypothesis. During more than 19 years of follow-up, our study showed that atrial fibrillation was a significant risk factor for the occurrence of malignant cancer. After taking into account a large number of other risk factors and co-morbidities, the risk of cancer was approximately 50% higher among women with new-onset AF compared to women without AF. The risk of cancer was highest in the first 3 months after new-onset AF but remained significant beyond 1 year after new-onset AF (adjusted HR 1.42, p<0.001). We also observed a trend towards an increased risk of cancer mortality among women with new-onset AF. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Urology / 24.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alejandro Sousa, MD, PhD Department of Urology, Comarcal Hospital Monforte, Spain MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Sousa: Bladder Cancer management has remained stable over the past 25 years, with very little in the way of new therapies or approaches being developed. Traditional treatment using intravesical Mitomycin C for Non Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer (NMIBC) patients is limited due it's low absorption levels. Device assisted therapies that deliver Chemo-hyperthermia offer a new hope, with the potential for improved outcomes and better disease management due the the increased drug activity and better efficacy. We wanted to investigate the optimal treatment regime for this new therapy and whether it provides a safe and effective alternative to current standard treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Melanoma, Radiation Therapy / 24.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: James S. Welsh, MS, MD, FACRO President, American College of Radiation Oncology Professor and Medical Director Director of Clinical & Translational Research Department of Radiation Oncology Stritch School of Medicine Loyola University- Chicago Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center Maywood, IL 60153 Chief of Radiation Oncology Hines VA Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Welsh: Cancer immunotherapy could represent a truly powerful means of addressing cancer. Although immunotherapy itself is not new, there are new agents and combinations of older agents (including radiation therapy) that could prove more successful than anything we have seen in many years. The data in melanoma thus far is quite encouraging and this preliminary success could possibly extend to many other malignancies as well. (more…)