Author Interviews, C. difficile, Hospital Acquired, JAMA / 05.05.2015

Dale N. Gerding, MD Research Physician, Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital Professor, Department of Medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dale N. Gerding, MD Research Physician, Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital Professor, Department of Medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gerding: Naturally occurring strains of C. difficile lack the genes for production of the toxins that cause C. difficile infection (CDI) and are known as non-toxigenic C. difficile (NTCD). These strains when ingested by patients whose normal microbiota is disrupted by antibiotic treatment will harmlessly colonize the colon and remain in the gut for weeks to months. Specific strains of NTCD found in patients were shown to colonize the gut and prevent C. difficile infection when challenged with toxigenic C. difficile strains in animal models. One such NTCD strain, NTCD-M3, was shown to be safe and well tolerated in human volunteer trials and was used in the present study to determine if it would prevent recurrence of C. difficile infection in patients who had just completed treatment with vancomycin or metronidazole of either their first CDI episode or first recurrence of C. difficile infection. 168 patients were randomized to receive by mouth in a liquid form, either 10,000 spores/day of NTCD-M3 for 7 days, 10 million spores/day for 7 days, 10 million spores/day for 14 days, or an identical placebo for 14 days.  Primary outcome was safety, and secondary outcomes were the percent who colonized the gut with NTCD-M3 in the time period from end of treatment to week 6, and the rate of recurrent CDI in the patients at week 6. The results showed that NTCD-M3 was safe and well tolerated, and colonized the gut of 69% of patients who received it. The C. difficile infection recurrence rate was 30% in the placebo patients and 11% in patients who received any of the NTCD-M3 doses (P<.006). The best dose tested was 10 million spores/day for 7 days which resulted in a recurrence rate of only 5% (p<.01 vs placebo). Colonization of the gut was not permanent, but lasted a maximum of 22 weeks. The summary conclusion is that NTCD-M3 is safe, colonized the gut, and when it colonized the gut, reduced recurrence of C. difficile infection to 2% (p<.001 vs patients who were not colonized). (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections / 05.05.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gerardo U. Lopez, M.A.T, M.Ed., Ph.D. Research Associate Soil, Water and Environmental Science The University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lopez: The background for this study was based on the missing data gaps on fomite-to-finger transfer in the literature that could be used as input parameters for Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessments (QMRA). This research was supported by the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment, funded by the U.S. Environmental Agency’s Science To Achieve Results (STAR) program and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Two different studies were conducted: 1st “Transfer Efficiency of Bacteria and Viruses from Porous and Nonporous Fomites to Fingers under Different Relative Humidity Conditions”   Appl. Environ. Microbial. 2013, 79(18):5728 and 2nd “Evaluation of a Disinfectant Wipe Intervention on Fomite-to-Finger Microbial Transfer”. This research was supported by The Clorox Company. Based on the findings of these two studies along with other input parameters drawn from previous studies, we were able to develop a risk assessment that focused on forecasting the exposure to Campylobacter jejuni contaminated surfaces during preparation of chicken fillets and how using a disinfectant wipe intervention to clean a contaminated work area decreases the risk of infection following the preparation of raw chicken fillet in a domestic kitchen. The title of our new publication is “Impact of Disinfectant Wipes on  the Risk of Campylobacter jejuni Infection During Raw Chicken Preparation in Domestic Kitchens” Accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Microbiology. The main findings were that the annual risk of C. jejuni infections showed a 99% reduction per person per event from 2 out of 10 to 2 out of 1000. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, HPV, University Texas, Vaccine Studies / 27.04.2015

Jacqueline Hirth, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor andMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jacqueline Hirth, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor and Dr. Abbey B. Berenson MD, MMS, PhD Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health Obstetrics and Gynecology The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston TexasDr. Abbey B. Berenson MD, MMS, PhD Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health Obstetrics and Gynecology The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Texas

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this sample of young women, vaccination was effective at reducing prevalence of vaccine-type HPV (6,11,16,18) compared to women who were unvaccinated. We also found a dose response, with young women who received at least 2 doses of the 3 dose vaccine series having a lower rate of vaccine-type HPV compared to those who only received one dose (8.6% compared to 16.9%, respectively). (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Infections, Lancet, Vaccine Studies / 25.04.2015

Mary J Hamel, M.D. Chief, Strategic and Applied Sciences Unit, And Deputy Branch Chief for Science, CDC Malaria Branch US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd, NE, MS A06 Atlanta GA 30333MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mary J Hamel, M.D. Chief, Strategic and Applied Sciences Unit, And Deputy Branch Chief for Science, CDC Malaria Branch US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd, NE, MS A06 Atlanta GA 30333 Dr. Hamel was principal investigator at the Siaya site in western Kenya. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hamel: Major progress has been made in malaria control during the past decade with the scale up of proven interventions including insecticide treated nets (ITNs), indoor residual spraying, effective diagnosis and treatment for malaria, and intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy. Nonetheless, malaria remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and a leading cause of pediatric death worldwide. An estimated 198 million cases of malaria and 580,000 deaths occurred in 2013 – most of these in African children. Now we face additional challenges in malaria control – the emergence of insecticide and drug resistance threatens some of our most effective interventions. New tools are needed to reach the goal of malaria elimination and eventual eradication. Vaccines are some of our most cost-effective interventions, and an effective malaria vaccine would be an important addition to our current malaria control tools. This week, the RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership published the final vaccine efficacy and safety results from the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine phase 3 trial in the Lancet (Efficacy and safety of RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine with or without a booster dose in infants and children in Africa: final results of a phase 3, individually randomised, controlled trial, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60721-8/abstract). This large randomized controlled double-blind phase 3 clinical trial was conducted in 11 sites in 7 African countries across a range of malaria transmission levels. In all, 15,460 children and young infants were enrolled in two age-categories, those first vaccinated at 5-17 months of age (referred to as children), and those first vaccinated at 6-12 weeks of age (referred to as young infants) who received the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine along with their routine childhood immunizations. Participants were randomized into 3 groups – the first group received three doses of the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine followed 18 months later by a booster dose; the second group received three doses of the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine without a booster; and the third group received a comparator vaccine. All participants received an ITN. Children were followed for an average of 48 months and infants for an average of 38 months. We found that vaccine efficacy was modest. Vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria in children was 36% with a booster and 28% without, and vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was 32% with a booster and non-significant without.   Efficacy results in young infants were lower than those in children– vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria was 36% with a booster and 28% without, and vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was non-significant. However, impact, defined as the number of cases averted per 1000 participants vaccinated, was substantial in both age-categories, and highest where malaria burden was greatest. In children who received the booster, during 4 years follow-up, 1700 cases of clinical malaria were averted per 1000 children vaccinated. In young infants, during 3 years follow-up, nearly 1000 cases were averted per 1000 young infants vaccinated. The safety findings were comparable overall in the different study arms, but two safety findings are notable. Meningitis occurred more frequently among children (but not young infants) who received RTS,S/AS01 than among those who received the comparator vaccines. There was no relationship between when the vaccine was administered and when meningitis occurred, most cases occurred in only two study sites, and the finding may be due to chance. If RTS,S/AS01 is licensed, post-licensing studies will be done to establish the significance of this finding. Both children and young infants experienced more episodes of fever and associated febrile convulsions during the 7 days following vaccination; convulsions occurred in 2.2 - 2.5/1000 vaccine doses. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Hand Washing, Hospital Acquired / 25.04.2015

Ojan Assadian, M.D., DTMH Professor for Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention Institute for Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention School of Human & Health Sciences University of Huddersfield Queensgate, Huddersfield UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ojan Assadian, M.D., DTMH Professor for Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention Institute for Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention School of Human & Health Sciences University of Huddersfield Queensgate, Huddersfield UK MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Assadian: Although medical gloves serve as an important mechanical barrier to prevent healthcare workers’ hands from getting contaminated with potentially pathogenic microorganisms, their inappropriate and incorrect use may support microbial transmission, eventually resulting in indirect horizontal cross-contamination of other patients. We conducted a clinical study designed to determine the efficacy of a newly developed synthetic antibacterial nitrile medical glove coated with an antiseptic, polyhexamethylen-biguanid hydrochloride (PHMB), on its external surface, and compared this antibacterial glove to an identical non-antibacterial glove in reducing surface contamination after common patient care measures in an intensive care unit. We found significantly lower numbers of bacteria on surfaces after performing typical clinical activities such as intravenous fluid handling, oral toilet, or physiotherapy, if touched with antibacterial gloves. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hand Washing, Infections / 21.04.2015

dr-erwin-duizer.pngMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Erwin Duizer, PhD Head of section Enteric Viruses Centre for Infectious Diseases Control National Institute for Public Health and the Environment The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Duizer: Hand hygiene is important for interrupting the transmission chain of viruses through hands. Alcohol-based hand disinfectants are widely used in hospitals and healthcare facilities, due to convenience, rapidity, and broad acceptance by healthcare personnel. The effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectant has been shown for bacteria and enveloped viruses but their effectiveness in reducing transmission of non-enveloped viruses, such as norovirus, is less certain. Therefore we tested, in a joint project of the RIVM and Wageningen University, the virucidal activity of a propanol based product and an ethanol based product in quantitative carrier tests. Additionally, the virus reducing effect of hand washing (according to health care guidelines) and the use the propanol based product was tested in a quantitative finger pad test. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, HPV, Vaccine Studies / 14.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lillian Siu, MD, FRCPC Princess Margaret Cancer Centre University Health Network Toronto Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Siu: Our study is a collaboration between researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the Canadian Center for Applied Research in Cancer Control. The study involves a statistical model being applied to a hypothetical population of 192,940 Canadian boys who were 12 years old in 2012, to determine the cost effectiveness of HPV vaccination for the prevention of oropharyngeal cancer.  On the basis of this model, HPV vaccination for boys aged 12 years appears to be a cost-effective strategy for the prevention of oropharyngeal cancer in Canada. There are limitations to our study as it is based on statistical modelling with many assumptions. For instance, we could not easily address the impact of herd immunity which refers to the indirect protective effect offered by HPV vaccination in women. Based on our statistical model, despite its limitations, the vaccine can potentially save $8 to $28 million CAD for a theoretical group of 192,940 Canadian 12-year old boys in 2012 over their lifetime. As stated, this is based on a theoretical model and not a randomized study, the results are relevant especially that HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is increasing in incidence and HPV is surpassing smoking as a risk factor for this cancer in many developed countries. Currently, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) of the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends HPV vaccination of females 9 through 26 years of age to prevent cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, and for anogenital warts; and of males 9 through 26 years of age to prevent anal canal cancers and their precursors, and for anogenital warts. However, funding is also provided for HPV vaccination in young females and not in young males. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections / 10.04.2015

Catherine M. Stein, PhDAssociate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Case Western Reserve Dr. Stein is a leader of international research on resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infectionMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Catherine M. Stein, PhD Associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Case Western Reserve Dr. Stein is a leader of international research on resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What do you hope to learn? Dr. Stein: In a 2002 study, we began to clinically characterize people who lived in households where there were infectious tuberculosis cases. We followed them for a two-year period and noticed that approximately 9 percent of household members were resistant to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection, even though they were highly exposed to the organism. This finding surprised us because the prevailing notion had been that everyone living in TB-endemic settings or living with someone who has TB would become infected eventually. After several years of study, we found a substantial number of these people who do not have any evidence for MTB infection, so we wanted to do studies to learn if we could figure out why. MedicalResearch: Is MTB resistance a new phenomenon? Do MTB resisters react to a tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) or a gold immunoassay but don’t develop clinical disease? Dr. Stein: We don’t have any reason to believe that MTB-infection resistance is a new phenomenon. It’s just that no one has thought to look for it before. In terms of the PPD or gold immunoassays, MTB-resisters produce a negative response to both tests. The way gold immunoassays are done, three tubes are collected. One is a control. Another is a test for reacting to MTB. Still another is a positive control to make sure immune cells are alive. The MTB-resisters show a response to that positive control but not to MTB. It’s not that these patients don’t have an immune response. It’s just that they have no response to MTB, which means they have no previous exposure to cause their T-cells to make that response. MedicalResearch: Are MTB-resisters immune to the newer multi-drug resistant strains of TB? Dr. Stein: Resistance to MTB infection is independent of the drug resistance pattern of the bacteria. Thus we would expect them to resist multidrug resistant (MDR)-TB as well. There is no strong evidence that MDR-TB is more aggressive or virulent. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, HPV / 08.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Luis Squiquera, MD Tamir Biotechnology MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Squiquera: Ranpirnase is a small peptide that has a characteristic enzymatic activity against double stranded RNA (dsRNA). As a drug it has been extensively tested intravenously in high concentration for oncology in over 1000 patients with different types of malignancy, especially mesothelioma, with minimal side effects and mainly a transient increase of serum creatinine level observed. In the last year we started a comprehensive antiviral program and obtained encouraging results in several RNA and DNA virus families. Several research groups have already studied the anti HIV activity. HPV was one of many viruses that showed a high selectivity index in our antiviral screening (the relationship between efficacy and cytotoxicity). We were encouraged by the low concentrations (nanomolar range) needed to stop virus reproduction in cell cultures. We performed in vitro analysis of two of the main HPV types that cause human disease (HPV 11 and 16). HPV 11 was highly sensitive to ranpirnase; and since this is one of the main virus type responsible for inducing genital warts, we decided to focus our efforts in bringing the drug to a new route of administration. We set out to obtain and did obtain a formulation that was extremely stable, even at high temperatures. Before using it in patients, we performed testing for irritation using standardized Draize animal models. Even though we ran these tests in high concentrations (1 mg/ml) the final product was not irritant and was deemed safe to use in a clinical setting. With these safety data on hand – plus extensive experience in IV dosing and non-irritation in animal models – we decided to make the formulation available as a compassionate use for patients with genital warts. As we reported in our presentation in San Francisco, all cases that completed an 8-week treatment showed clearance of the lesions. Some of the cases were cleared in as soon as two weeks and the average time for clearance was 33 days. One of the patients had to be discontinued due to an eczematous skin reaction. We will be studying the characteristic of this effect in our trials. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, HIV, NYU / 06.04.2015

Marya Viorst Gwadz, Ph.D Senior Research Scientist Director, Transdisciplinary Methods Core Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) New York University College of Nursing New York, NY 10010 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marya Viorst Gwadz, Ph.D Senior Research Scientist Director, Transdisciplinary Methods Core Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) New York University College of Nursing New York, NY 10010 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Gwadz: HIV is a major success story in that the tolerability, convenience, and efficacy of antiretroviral medications have improved dramatically over the last decade. A number of years ago in the course of another research study with vulnerable individuals infected with HIV in New York City, and we noticed that a substantial proportion of study participants were medically eligible for HIV medications, and had access to medications, but had declined or stopped taking them. We then turned our attention to understanding why this is the case, that is, to identify the individual, social, and structural barriers that persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) experience to antiretroviral therapy. We focused in particular on African American/Black and Latino/Hispanic PLHA, because the overall emphasis of our research group at the NYU College of Nursing is the development and evaluation of culturally targeted intervention approaches to address health disparities. Around 2011, studies of the “HIV cascade of care” began to emerge, which highlighted the problem of poor engagement in HIV care and antiretroviral therapy nationally. The ultimate goal of HIV treatment is viral suppression, but at present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that we have achieved that goal with only 30% of PLHA. Medical Research: What kind of intervention approach that emerged from these background findings? Dr. Gwadz: We found that barriers to HIV medication are complex and multi-faceted for PLHA from African American/Black and Latino/Hispanic backgrounds. In particular, PLHA experience serious emotional barriers to the uptake of HIV medications, such as fear of side effects, stigma, and disclosure of HIV status. Further, high rates of substance use and mental health distress, and barriers to accessing services for these concerns, impede medication uptake. Moreover, PLHA who are wary of HIV medication tend to avoid HIV primary care, often because they do not want to feel pressured to take medications, or explain to their providers why they are not taking them. So poor engagement in HIV care, which is very common among PLHA, and low uptake of HIV medication are actually related problems. With funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (grant #R34MH093352), and in collaboration with Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, we developed a multi-component culturally targeted intervention grounded in the Motivational Interviewing approach that included three individual sessions, 12-24 weeks of patient navigation (as needed), up to five support groups with other PLHA who had declined medication, which were co-led by a “successful” peer who was engaged in HIV care and were taking HIV medication with good adherence. One novel aspect of the intervention was its focus on emotional barriers to HIV medication, and the program’s “no pressure, no judgment” stance, congruent with the Motivational Interviewing approach, was key to engaging participants into the study to talk about these difficult issues. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Infections / 03.04.2015

Wikipedia mosquitoMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amalia Z. Berna CSIRO Food and Nutrition Flagship Acton ACT 2601 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Globally an estimated 3.2 billion people in 97 countries are at risk of malaria and, in 2013, an estimated 198 million cases and 584,000 deaths were attributed to this infection. Accurate diagnosis of malaria is important to provide adequate treatment, conserve valuable drugs, and help prevent the emergence of resistant strains of the parasite. It is becoming important to be able to diagnose low level and asymptomatic cases, to support the drive towards local and/or global eradication. Detection of volatile chemicals in expired breath has been used to diagnose or monitor a small number of diseases, including Helicobacter pylori infection, diabetes and lung inflammation but, if breath analysis is to be more broadly useful, we need to identify reliable biomarkers for a wider range of diseases and to develop more robust methods for breath analysis. In collaboration with Professor James McCarthy of the QIMR Berghofer Institute and Associate Professor Kevin Saliba of the ANU, we found:
  1. Four specific thioether biomarkers in the breath of volunteers with experimentally induced blood stage Plasmodium falciparum
  2. That the levels of the volatiles strongly correlate with the levels of malaria parasitaemia.
  3. That the thioethers are not produced by in vitro cultures of falciparum.
  4. That although we do not know the metabolic origin of the thioethers, our results suggest that interplay between host and parasite metabolic pathways is involved in their production.
We think it is important to emphasise that no volunteer was infected with malaria primarily for the purpose of this study. Our research was entirely piggy-backed on pre-existing trials of malaria therapeutics. (more…)
Author Interviews, FDA, Flu - Influenza, Geriatrics, Lancet, Vaccine Studies / 03.04.2015

Dr Richard Forshee PhD Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Richard Forshee PhD Associate Director for Research in the Office of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research U.S. Food and Drug Administration Silver Spring, MD On behalf of the study authors Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Forshee: Influenza continues to be a major public health concern causing illness, hospitalization, and death. The elderly are at highest risk for seasonal influenza complications, including hospitalization and death. As people grow older their ability to raise a strong protective immune response can weaken.  The availability of a vaccine that uses a higher dose to induce a stronger immune response could reduce the serious impact of influenza in this age group.  The purpose of this study was to determine whether a high-dose inactivated influenza vaccine was more effective for prevention of probable influenza infections and influenza-related hospital admissions, compared to standard-dose inactivated influenza recipients. In December 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed Fluzone High Dose, an injectable inactivated trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine for people ages 65 years and older. This high-dose vaccine contains four times more hemagglutinin—the active ingredient in influenza vaccines that cause the human body to produce antibodies against the influenza viruses—than the standard-dose vaccine. The FDA approved the high-dose vaccine using the accelerated approval regulatory pathway, which allows the agency to approve products for serious or life-threatening diseases based on reasonable evidence of a product’s effectiveness.  This pathway reduces the time it takes for needed medical products to become available to the public.  Studies conducted prior to licensure showed an enhanced immune response to the high-dose vaccine compared with the standard-dose vaccine in individuals 65 years of age and older indicating that the high-dose vaccine was reasonably likely to be more effective in preventing influenza disease. As part of the accelerated approval process, the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, was required to conduct a randomized clinical study post-licensure to confirm that the high-dose vaccine decreased seasonal influenza disease after vaccination relative to standard dose vaccine. This confirmatory study demonstrated that the high–dose vaccine prevented 24% more cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza illness compared to standard-dose vaccines in people 65 years of age and older. However, the study was not large enough to determine efficacy of the vaccine against severe disease. A team of scientists from FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Acumen LLC ( an independent research organization) studied the relative effectiveness of the high-dose influenza vaccine in the U.S. population ages 65 years and older.  The observational study, which covered the 2012-2013 influenza season, found a significant reduction both in influenza-associated illness and in influenza-related hospitalizations among individuals who received the high-dose vaccine, compared to those receiving the standard dose. Additional background about this study: “Comparative effectiveness of high-dose versus standard-dose influenza vaccines in US residents aged 65 years and older from 2012 to 2013 using Medicare data: a retrospective cohort analysis” is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(14)71087-4 A commentary on the study titled “Novel observational study designs with new influenza vaccines” is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(15)70020-4 (more…)
Antibiotic Resistance, Author Interviews, Infections, NEJM / 02.04.2015

Henri van Werkhoven PhD student | Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The NetherlandsMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henri van Werkhoven PhD student and Douwe-PostmaDouwe Postma PhD student Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Community-acquired pneumonia is an important cause of hospitalization and death worldwide. Recommendations for antibiotic treatment in patients hospitalized to a non-ICU ward vary widely between guidelines, because the optimal antibiotic strategy is unknown. Interpretation of the available evidence from clinical studies is complicated by the heterogeneity in designs and findings. In our study, we hypothesized that the most conservative strategy, beta-lactam monotherapy, would be non-inferior to strategies with a broader range of antibiotic coverage. The latter strategies are potentially related to increased antibiotic resistance. For this purpose, we randomized hospitals to follow three different strategies of preferred antibiotic treatment in consecutive periods of four months. Physicians were allowed to deviate from the preferred antibiotic treatment for medical reasons. We found that a strategy with beta-lactam monotherapy (e.g. amoxicillin) as the preferred treatment was non-inferior to the strategies with beta-lactam/macrolide combination therapy or fluoroquinolone monotherapy for 30 and 90-day all-cause mortality. Also there was no difference in length of hospitalization and rate of complications. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, JAMA, Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania / 02.04.2015

Elizabeth Lowenthal, MD MSCE Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elizabeth Lowenthal, MD MSCE Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lowenthal: Between 2005 and 2012, HIV related deaths declined by 30% worldwide. However, during the same time period, HIV related deaths increased 50% among adolescents. Over 90% of HIV-infected children and adolescents live in sub-Saharan Africa and HIV is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa. Treatment is available that can allow babies born with HIV to live to be healthy adults. However, strict adherence to these medicines is necessary and often becomes a great challenge during adolescence. In our study of 300 adolescents (ages 10-19) in Botswana, my team found that adolescents who come to clinic without a parent or guardian have a 4.5X greater odds of failing their HIV treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, C. difficile, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 01.04.2015

Michael J Sadowsky Ph.D Director, BioTechnology Institute University of MinnesotaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael J Sadowsky Ph.D Director, BioTechnology Institute University of Minnesota MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sadowsky: Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has become increasingly common in the treatment of patients with refractory Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). It also holds promise for the treatment of medical conditions ranging from inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In contrast to standard antibiotic therapies, which further disrupt intestinal microflora and may contribute to the recurrence of CDI, FMT restores intestinal microbiome and healthy gut function. Despite therapeutic successes, little is known about the stability of transplanted microbiota over time. This report contributes to our understanding of the short-and long-term composition of gut microbiota following Fecal microbiota transplantation. In this study, fecal samples collected before and after treatment were compared with data from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). Treatment using FMT resulted in the rapid normalization of microbial composition in the patient, with the post-treatment profiles closely resembling the normal distribution of fecal microbiota from the donor. While the composition of fecal microbiota in the donor and recipient varied over time, both remained in the large band characterized as normal in hundreds of healthy individuals collected as part of the HMP. Furthermore, while the composition of the microflora in Fecal microbiota transplantation recipients and donors diverges over time, the recipient profiles stay within the same dynamic range as the original implanted donor material. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, HPV, Stem Cells / 01.04.2015

Marc Ryser PhD Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics Duke University Durham, North CarolinaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marc Ryser PhD Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics Duke University Durham, North Carolina Medical Research: What is the background for this study Dr. Ryser: Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for approximately 5% of all cancers worldwide. In addition to cervical cancers, HPV is associated with various other female and male cancers, including cancers of the anus and oropharynx. Despite expansive screening and vaccination programs, HPV-related cancers remain a serious public health concern in the US and abroad. To further improve public health interventions against HPV, a thorough understanding of the underlying biology is critical. The lifetime risk of getting infected with HPV is as high as 80%, yet most individuals remain asymptomatic and clear the virus after 1-2 years.  However, if an infection with a high-risk type of HPV persists, the virus can interfere with the replication mechanism of the host cells, and initiate tumor growth. Even though our understanding is incomplete to date, clearance of HPV infections is primarily attributed to an effective immune response. Interestingly, recent studies about the stem cell dynamics in epithelial tissues - the types of tissues that are affected by HPV -  have shown that the fate of these stem cells is random: most of the time, a stem cell divides into a new stem cell and a differentiating daughter cell; however, every now and then, a stem cell divides either into two stem cells, or into two differentiating daughter cells. These dynamics have not been acknowledged by the HPV community, and our goal was to develop mathematical models to examine whether the random division patterns of stem cells could play a role in the clearance of HPV infections. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Microbiome, Urology / 01.04.2015

Alan J. Wolfe PhD, Professor Department of Microbiology and Immunology Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Maywood, ILMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alan J. Wolfe PhD, Professor Department of Microbiology and Immunology Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Maywood, IL

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Wolfe: Several years ago, Dr. Brubaker and I began a conversation. As a urogynecologist, she was concerned about the general lack of improvement in diagnosis and treatment in her urogynecological practice and thus in clinical outcome. As a microbiologist, I was extremely skeptical of the dogma that urine in the bladder was sterile in the absence of a clinical infection. This skepticism was based upon my former work in bacterial motility and biofilm formation and on the knowledge that most bacteria are not cultured by the standard clinical microbiology urine culture method. With the goal of ultimately improving urogynecological practice, and with the help of our colleagues in the Loyola Urinary Education and Research Collaborative (LUEREC), we decided to test the sterile bladder hypothesis by seeking evidence of bacteria in urine taken directly from the bladder to avoid vulva-vaginal contamination. To detect bacterial DNA, we used high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. To detect live bacteria, we developed an Expanded Quantitative Urine Culture (EQUC) protocol. We applied these complementary approaches to women with and without urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) whose standard clinical urine culture was negative. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Wolfe: First and foremost, the bladder is not sterile. We can detect bacteria and/or bacterial DNA in most women whether they have urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) or not. Thus, the female bladder contains a resident bacterial community, which we call the female urinary microbiome (FUM). We found that bacterial members of the FUM are distinct from the bacteria that typically cause urinary tract infections (UTI). Thus, the bacteria that make up the FUM are not the bacteria that cause typical UTIs. Indeed, detection of the female urinary microbiome was associated with reduced risk of UTIs that often occur after instrumentation or surgery. We therefore hypothesize that the FUM or some members of the FUM could protect against UTI. We also saw that the FUM in women with UUI differs from the FUM in women without UUI and that certain bacterial species were considerably more common in women with urgency urinary incontinence than in women without urgency urinary incontinence . We hypothesize that some of these bacteria could be causative or contributory to UUI or they could be a consequence of urgency urinary incontinence. (more…)
Author Interviews, FDA, Infections, Johns Hopkins / 01.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Benjamin Davis BA CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Food and Drug Administration banned the inter-state sale of raw (i.e. unpasteurized) milk in 1987. Currently 30 states still allow raw milk sales on local farms or in stores. We were requested by the Maryland General Assembly's Health and Government Operations Committee to conduct a review of the health benefits and risks of raw versus pasteurized milk in response to proposed legislation that would legalize raw milk in the state. After reviewing over 80 scientific articles we concluded that raw milk carries a substantially higher risk of foodborne illness when compared to pasteurized milk. However drinking raw milk may reduce allergies among children in rural settings. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 31.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Catherine R. Lesko, MPH Department of Epidemiology UNC School of Global Public Health Chapel Hill, NC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a lot of evidence out there that HIV-infected minorities, and in particular, African Americans, experience higher morbidity and mortality than do their white, HIV-infected counterparts. This study looked at whether there were still differences in mortality among treated, HIV-infected adults, which was a crude attempt to control for differences in access to HIV-testing, HIV-care, and antiretroviral therapy - all things previously shown to contribute to racial disparities among people infected with HIV. Even among people who had initiated HIV therapy, we still found that black patients had a 10-year risk of mortality that was 8 percentage points greater than white patients. Hispanic patients did marginally better than white patients, but not as much better as their non-HIV-infected counterparts. (more…)
Infections, Lancet, Pediatrics / 30.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Anne K Detjen, MD Child Lung Health Consultant International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Detjen: The bacteriological diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in children is challenging due to the difficulty in obtaining specimens such as sputum and the lack of an accurate and accessible diagnostic test. In most cases, diagnosis is made on clinical grounds based on a contact history and a combination of signs and symptoms. We included 15 studies in a systematic review and meta-analysis of Xpert for the diagnosis of pulmonary TB in children. The accuracy of Xpert for diagnosing TB in children is suboptimal, and the majority of children will still have to be diagnosed clinically. However, in settings where it replaces smear microscopy Xpert will increase the likelihood of bacteriological confirmation of TB as well as MDR TB among children. Xpert does not increase the number of confirmed TB cases among culture-negative children. We also found that smear status highly impacted Xpert results, i.e. a higher yield among smear positive compared to smear negative children. Smear positivity increases with bacillary load and might be a proxy for disease severity. Unfortunately, we were not able to assess the performance among children with different stages of disease severity since this was not classified in any of the studies included. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Infections, Microbiome / 27.03.2015

Vijay R. Ramakrishnan, MD Assistant Professor University of Colorado Department of Otolaryngology Aurora, CO 80045MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vijay R. Ramakrishnan, MD Assistant Professor University of Colorado Department of Otolaryngology Aurora, CO 80045 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ramakrishnan: Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is an extremely common problem, associated with major quality of life alterations and financial burden. Bacteria are thought to play a role in the initiation or sustenance of the disease, at least in a subset of CRS patients. Chronic rhinosinusitis is probably a group of heterogeneous diseases with different pathways that result in the same endpoint. Here, we study the bacterial microbiome of a large group of CRS and healthy sinuses, and discover that a few clinical subtypes display unique bacterial microbiome profiles and that the microbiome may predict outcomes from severe Chronic rhinosinusitis patients electing to undergo surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 27.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Fiona McQuaid Clinical Research Fellow University of Oxford, United Kingdom Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Meningococcal B disease is a common cause of sepsis and meningitis with significant mortality and morbidity. A multicomponent vaccine against serogroup B meningococcus has been licensed for use in the Europe, Australia, Canada and recently the USA (though only in the 10-25 years age group) but questions remain about how long the bactericidal antibodies induced by infant vaccination persist and the likely breath of strain coverage. This was a follow on study looking at a group of children aged 5 years who had been vaccinated as infants and a different group who were vaccinated for the first time at 5 years of age. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: The percentage of children with protective antibody levels who had been immunized as infants fell in the 20 months since their last immunization but this varied by the strain of meingococcus B tested and by the different infant/toddler vaccination schedules. The children who were vaccinated for the first time at 5 years of age showed a good antibody response, but most reported pain and redness around the site of vaccination and 4-10% had a fever. (more…)
Author Interviews, MRSA, NEJM / 20.03.2015

 Loren G. Miller, M.D., M.P.H. Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) Infectious Disease SpecialistMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Loren G. Miller, M.D., M.P.H. Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) Infectious Disease Specialist   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Miller: Skin and skin structure infections are extremely common reasons for persons to seek medical care in the U.S., accounting for approximately 14.2 million outpatient visits in 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, and 850,000 hospital admissions. Until this study was completed, the most effective approach to outpatient antibiotic treatment of uncomplicated skin infections in the era of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was unclear. Prior to this research, there were no data on which antibiotics were best for treatment of these common skin infections. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Miller: Two antibiotics frequently prescribed to treat serious skin infections - clindamycin and trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) - had similar rates of success in curing uncomplicated infections in outpatients. They also had similar rates of side effects. To conduct the study, we recruited outpatients from emergency departments, clinics and other healthcare facilities associated with Los Angeles County's Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center from May 2009 to August 2011. We studied 524 adults and children with uncomplicated skin infections who had cellulitis, abscesses of 5 centimeters or more or both. In the multicenter, double blind, randomized clinical trial, 264 received clindamycin and 260 received TMP-SMX. We followed the outpatients for a month after their treatment. We found similar outcomes for both groups - 80.3% of the outpatients who received clindamycin and 77.7% of the outpatients in the group that received TMP-SMX were cured within seven to 10 days after the end of their treatment. These are not considered significant differences, so our evaluation is that these two commonly prescribed antibiotics for serious skin infections are similarly effective in treating uncomplicated skin infections in children and adults who have few or no major co-existing conditions. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA, University of Michigan / 17.03.2015

Lona Mody, MBBS, MSc Associate Division Chief, Clinical and Translational Research Associate Director, Clinical Programs, VA GRECC Associate Professor, Internal Medicine Research Associate Professor, Institute of Gerontology University of Michigan Geriatrics Ann Arbor, MIMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lona Mody, MBBS, MSc Associate Division Chief, Clinical and Translational Research Associate Director, Clinical Programs, VA GRECC Associate Professor, Internal Medicine Research Associate Professor, Institute of Gerontology University of Michigan Geriatrics Ann Arbor, MI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over 1.5 million residents live in 15,600 Nursing Homes in the US. The acuity of illness in this population has increased substantially in the last decade, as has the risk of acquiring new infections. Multi-drug resistant organisms, also known as MDROs, are endemic in this setting with prevalence estimates upwards of 35% and surpassing those in the hospitals. Nursing homes historically have had few infection prevention resources, which contributes to these high rates. Patients with indwelling devices such as urinary catheters and feeding tubes present an attractive habitat for these ‘superbugs’ and thus carry the added burden of device-related infections. The authors examined the effect of a targeted infection program, or TIP, to reduce the prevalence of Multi-drug resistant organisms and new catheter or feeding tube infections among patients with indwelling devices. The TIP intervention was three-fold:
  1. Surveillance for infections and Multi-drug resistant organism colonization with regular feedback to facilities;
  2. Extensive and interactive staff education using adult learning theory about key infection prevention practices and hand hygiene; and
  3. Use of gowns and gown when providing assistance to patients for high-risk activities such as bathing and grooming.
Staff education emphasized precautionary measures against the spread of infection and included mock game shows, songs and dances. Hands were cultured for bacteria before and after hand washing. Outcomes were measured by results of the cultures taken for each patient and monitoring infection rates. A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health System has demonstrated that simple measures might be all it takes to push back at the spread of Multi-drug resistant organisms or ‘superbugs’ in nursing homes as well as reduce infections. In their study of patients with indwelling devices, MDROs were reduced by 23 percent among 418 residents in six southeast Michigan nursing homes who participated over the course of the three-year study. The numbers of catheter-associated urinary tract infections and MRSA acquisitions also decreased, 46 percent and 22 percent respectively. The trial examined the relationship between acquisition of antimicrobial resistance among nursing home and assisted living facility residents with the use of devices by adapting new methodological approaches and study designs to study infection prevention interventions including the use of cluster-randomized study design for infection prevention interventions, adopting adult learning practices to engage frontline healthcare personnel and using multi-anatomic site sampling to demonstrate effectiveness of the program. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, CDC, Infections / 17.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr.Yecai Liu Division of Global Migration and Quarantine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since the early 1900s, immigrants and refugees applying for a visa to come to the United States undergo a medical examination that includes tuberculosis (TB) screening. In 2007, CDC began implementing the new screening guidelines, which require people suspected of having TB to receive a much more sensitive sputum culture test to confirm TB to ensure that those individuals who do have TB receive treatment before they arrive in the United States. These requirements have now been completely rolled out to all countries with U.S.-bound immigrants and refugees. From 2007 through 2012, half of the 3.2 million arrivals of immigrants and refugees to the United States were screened for TB by the new screening guidelines. Out of more than 4,000 TB cases diagnosed by the new screening guidelines during this period, nearly 2,200 were smear-negative and culture positive. These cases would likely have been missed under the previous screening requirements. The results of this study showed that the updated overseas screening guidelines led to a roughly one-third decrease in the annual number of TB cases among foreign-born persons within their first year in the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Infections, JAMA / 15.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ana Ramírez-Boscá, MD Department of Dermatology and Clinical Research UnitDr. Ana Ramírez-Boscá, MD Department of Dermatology and Clinical Research Unit and Vicente Navarro-López, MD Clinical Research Unit and Infectious Diseases Unit Centro Dermatológico Estético, Alicante, SpainVicente Navarro-López, MD Clinical Research Unit and Infectious Diseases Unit Centro Dermatológico Estético, Alicante, Spain   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Infections have been related with the pathogenesis of guttate psoriasis, however antibiotic treatment does not improve prognosis nor does it affect the evolution of the disease. The association between psoriasis and other infectious diseases has been reported as well, although in these cases there is scarce information on the causative microbial likely involved and the role of these bacteria in the pathogenesis of this skin disease. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?  Response: Bacterial DNA may be detected in bloodstream of a significant proportion of patients with active plaque psoriasis. Increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with presence of bacterial DNA but not in patients without presence of bacterial genomic fragments suggest a role of bacterial DNA translocation in inducing an inflammatory response. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Hospital Readmissions, Infections, JAMA, University of Michigan / 11.03.2015

Hallie Prescott, MD, MSc Clinical Lecturer, Internal Medicine Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine University of Michigan Health System Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hallie Prescott, MD, MSc Clinical Lecturer, Internal Medicine Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine University of Michigan Health System Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Prescott: The post-hospital period has been widely recognized as a vulnerable time for patients. In particular, patients who survive sepsis are frequently readmitted to the hospital in the following three months. In this study, we examined data from 2,600 survivors of sepsis, a severe infection that leads to organ failure. About 42% of the sepsis patients were readmitted in the next 90 days, similar to the rate seen for patients hospitalized for other acute conditions. However, the reasons for hospital readmission after sepsis are different. A greater number of patients are re-hospitalized for “ambulatory-care sensitive conditions”, which are conditions that could potentially be prevented or treated early in the outpatient setting to avoid a hospital stay. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections / 09.03.2015

Dr. Grant Hansman CHS Research Group at CellNetworks Heidelberg University and DKFZ Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg GermanyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Grant Hansman CHS Research Group at CellNetworks Heidelberg University and DKFZ Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg Germany Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hansman: Human noroviruses are the major cause of outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis. There are several promising vaccine candidates. Vaccines may offer some protection, but the fact that the virus changes every other year produces a challenge. Therefore, my research group investigates the possibility to produce universal antivirals targeting conserved regions on the virus capsid. We found that a Nanobody was able to bind with a high affinity, and broad reactivity to diverse norovirus types. The Nanobody binding on the virus capsid caused the virus particles to disassemble. The disassembly of the particles may render the virus non-infectious and block viral infections. (more…)
Author Interviews, Herpes Viruses, Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 07.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Su-Ying Wen, MD Chief of Department of Dermatology, Taipei City Hospital, Renai Branch, Taipei City, Taiwan Department of Dermatology, Taipei City Hospital, Renai Branch, Taipei City, Taiwan Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Su-Ying Wen: Though herpes zoster is seen as a disease of the elderly, it can affect individuals in any age group including children. There are limited population-based data regarding pediatric herpes zoster. We reported a higher incidence rate of pediatric herpes zoster than in previous studies. The higher incidence observed in this population-based study might be because it was measured in a cohort of children who were all infected with varicella rather than as other reports including individuals free of varicella infection in the denominator. Children younger than 2 years at the diagnosis of varicella had a significantly higher risk and shorter duration of developing herpes zoster. (more…)