Liquid Biopsies Sent To Different Labs May Yield Different Results

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gonzalo Torga, MD
Urology Department
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD 21287

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

Response: Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative to tumor tissue sequencing, and it is intended to specifically detect and sequence tumor DNA circulating in patients’ blood. The results are used to help guide oncologists to tailor the best treatment for patients at each point of their disease. Our research was initially aimed at finding the best commercial lab to test samples from metastatic prostate cancer patients. We wanted to make the best choice for our patients, so we started submitting the samples to both places at the same time to compare results. However, we found significant disparities in the results from identical patient samples submitted to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers, and we believed it would be important to share them with the oncology community.

The two liquid biopsy panels compared were the Guardant360, from Guardant Health, Inc., which sequenced at least part of the coding sequences of 73 genes; and the PlasmaSELECT panel from Personal Genome Diagnostics, which sequenced coding segments of 64 genes.  Both laboratories were licensed by Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and report having high sensitivity (in this case, the ability to correctly identify mutations when they occur) and high specificity (the ability to correctly report as negative when those mutations are not present). The two companies differ in which genes, and regions within each gene, are covered. Just 25 of the 40 patients in the study had at least one genetic mutation reported within the overlapping genetic sequences covered by both companies.

Even when the companies were analyzing DNA from the same blood drawn, their results rarely matched each other. When comparing results within the overlapping genetic sequences, the results from both companies completely matched for all the mutations reported in only 7.5 percent (3 of 40 patients) of cases. In 15 percent of the patients (6 of 40), both companies’ results matched for at least one of the reported mutations. In 40 percent (16 of 40) of the patients, no mutations reported that were potentially covered by both panels were detected by both companies.

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Family Members of Patients Prescribed Opioids More Likely To Fill Opioid Prescriptions Themselves

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pills” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0Marissa J. Seamans, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Mental Health
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD 21205 

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

Response: Many patients report sharing their prescriptions for opioids with family members. What we didn’t know is whether family members of opioid users are more likely to fill opioid prescriptions themselves than family members of non-opioid users. Our study found that the 1-year risk of prescription opioid initiation among family members of prescription opioid users was an absolute 0.71% higher than among family members of non-opioid users. The risks were particularly higher for initial prescriptions with refills or longer days supply.

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Toxin-Producing Bacteria Staph Aureus Induces Skin Inflammation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lloyd S. Miller, M.D., Ph.D. Vice Chair for Research, Department of Dermatology Associate Professor of Dermatology, Infectious Diseases, Orthopaedic Surgery & Materials Science and Engineering Faculty Member, Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) and Pathobiology Graduate Programs Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology Baltimore, MD 21231

Dr. Miller

Lloyd S. Miller, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Dermatology
Associate Professor of Dermatology, Infectious Diseases, Orthopaedic Surgery & Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty Member, Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) and Pathobiology Graduate Programs
Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology
Baltimore, MD 21231 

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

Response: Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterial skin pathogen and its abundance is greatly increased on affected skin of eczema patients, especially during disease flares. However, how S. aureus induces skin inflammation and exacerbates the skin inflammation is incompletely understood.

In this study, we found that S. aureus exposure of mouse skin induced skin inflammation through an inflammatory mediator known as IL-36.

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Chronic Inflammation in Midlife May Predispose To Smaller Brain Volumes and Memory Ability In Seniors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keenan A. Walker, PhD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

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

Response: There is quite a bit of evidence linking immune function with dementia. For example, several of the risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease are known to play a key role in immune functioning and the regulation of inflammation. We conducted the current study to determine whether systemic inflammation earlier in life might be a risk factor for neurodegeneration decades later. This long temporal window allows us to get closer to understanding causality. That is, which comes first – systemic inflammation or brain volume loss.

Using a large community sample, we found that individuals with higher levels of blood inflammatory markers during midlife tended to have smaller brain volumes in select regions and reduced memory ability as older adults. We found the strongest associations between systemic inflammation and brain volume loss in brain regions most vulnerable Alzheimer’s disease.

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Almost $3 Billion Spent Per Year On Injuries From Firearms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Faiz Gani MD
Postdoctoral research fellow
Department of Surgery
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

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

Response: The current study sought to evaluate epidemiological trend in emergency department (ED) visits for firearm-related injuries in the US.

In our study, we observed that 25.3 patients per 100,000 presented to the ED for a firearm-related injury. This translated to over 78,000 ED visits per year.

Over time, while firearm injuries decreased from 2006-2013, an increase in the incidence of firearm-related injuries was observed in 2014.

Additionally, over time injuries among older patients and those injured in an unintentional firearm injury increased. Injuries due to an assault decreased over time.

The average ED and inpatient charges were $5,254 and $95,887, respectively, resulting in an overall financial burden of approximately $25 billion over the study or an annual $2.8 billion in ED and inpatients charges.

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How Well Do Personal Sound Amplifiers Compare To Conventional Hearing Aides?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD Instructor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery PhD Candidate  | Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation Center on Aging and Health Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Nicholas Reed

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD
Instructor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery
PhD Candidate  | Graduate Training Program in Clinical Investigation
Center on Aging and Health
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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

Response: Hearing Aids are medical devices regulated by the FDA which must be purchased through a licensed individual while personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are essentially unregulated devices some of which can manipulate and increase sound similar to a hearing aid but cannot market themselves are devices for hearing loss. PSAPs can be purchased online or in the back of a store and are generally less expensive than hearing aids.

We aimed to explore a select group of PSAPs to see if they helped someone with mild to moderate hearing loss improve speech understanding (i.e. ability to repeat back sentences) in the presence of mild background noise (think a lunch crowd at a restaurant) as well as a hearing aid. We selected four PSAP devices that were technologically strong (i.e. meet many standards a hearing aid might be asked to meet) and one PSAP that was technologically fairly poor (i.e. lots of sound distortion) after an in-house electroacoustic analysis of devices. Our hearing aid was selected because it was a popular choice at a university audiology clinic. Forty-two people completed the speech testing unaided (i.e. with no device) and then with each of the five PSAPs and one hearing aid (order of devices was randomized).

We looked at improvement with the devices from unaided. We found that some PSAPs help people understand speech about as well as a hearing aid in this controlled environment while one PSAP actually hindered participants’ ability to understand speech due to sound distortion – imagine how difficult it can be when listening on a poor cell phone signal.

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20% of Hospitalized Patients Receiving Antibiotics Experience Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pranita Tamma, MD Assistant Professor Director, Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Program Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Pranita D. Tamma
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 

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

Response: A study examining the impact of antibiotics prescribed for nearly 1500 adult patients admitted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital found that adverse side effects occurred in a fifth of them, and that nearly a fifth of those side effects occurred in patients who didn’t need antibiotics in the first place.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the electronic medical records of 1488 adults admitted to the general medicine services at The Johns Hopkins Hospital between September 2013 and June 2014. The patients were admitted for reasons ranging from trauma to chronic disease, but all received at least 24 hours of antibiotic treatment.

The researchers followed patients for 30 days after hospital discharge to evaluate for the development of antibiotic-associated adverse events. To determine the likelihood that an adverse reaction was most likely due to antibiotics and to identify how many adverse reactions could be avoided by eliminating unnecessary antibiotic use, two infectious disease clinicians reviewed all of the data.

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Many Older Adults Welcome A Stop To Cancer Screenings

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nancy Schoenborn, MD Assistant Professor Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Nancy Schoenborn, MD
Assistant Professor
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: A lot of cancer screenings are not expected to save lives until up to 10 years later; however, the side effects of the test happen right away. Because of this, clinical guidelines have recommended against routine screening for those patients who will not live long enough to benefit but may experience the potential harm of the test in the short term. However, many patients with limited life expectancy still receive screening and clinicians are worried about how patients would react if they recommended that patients stop screening. This research is important because it is the first study that explores how patients think about the decision of stopping cancer screening and how patients want to talk to their doctors about this issue. Understanding patient perspectives would help improve screening practices and better align recommendations and patient preference.

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Doctors Continue To Order Mammograms Outside of Current Age Guidelines

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Archana Radhakrishnan MD MHS
Division of General Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

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

Response: We were interested in understanding the current practice trends in breast cancer screening recommendations by doctors in light of the guideline changes.  We performed a national survey of primary care providers and gynecologists asking about their breast cancer screening practices.

We found that a large number of doctors recommend breast cancer screening to younger and older women—upwards of 80% of doctors recommend it for younger women (ages 40-44) and almost 70% for women 75 and older.  But this varies by the type of doctor that a woman see.  Gynecologists were, in general, more likely to recommend routine mammograms.

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Probiotics May Influence Schizophrenia Symptoms Through Yeast in Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily G. Severance PhD
Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287

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

Response: Previously, we found that people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had an increased susceptibility to Candida albicans yeast infections, which was sex specific and associated with memory deficits. Also in an earlier placebo-controlled probiotic study, we found that although probiotics improved the overall bowel function of people with schizophrenia, there was no effect by this treatment on psychiatric symptoms.  Given that C. albicans infections can upset the dynamics of the human microbiome, we decided to re-evaluate the potential benefit of probiotics in the context of a patient’s C. albicans yeast status.  Not only was bowel function again enhanced following intake of probiotics, but yeast antibody levels were decreased by this treatment.

Furthermore, psychiatric symptoms were actually improved over time for men receiving probiotics who did not have elevated C. albicans antibodies. Men who were positive for C. albicans exposure, however, consistently presented with worse psychiatric symptoms irrespective of probiotic or placebo treatment.

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Large Teaching Hospitals Face Greater Risk of Data Breaches

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA Assistant Professor The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Washington, DC 20036

Dr. Ge Bai

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA
Assistant Professor
The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
Washington, DC 20036


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

Response: We examined the hospital data breaches between 2009 and 2016 and found that larger hospitals and hospitals that have a major teaching mission have a higher risk of data breaches.

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Laypeople Perceive Facelift To Give More Youthful, Healthier Appearance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lisa E. Ishii, MD, MHS
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
John Hopkins Medicine

Lisa Earnest Ishii, M.D. Associate Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Ishii

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

Response: There was a gap in our knowledge about what the average lay person thought about the impact of a facelift.  We had information about what experts thought, and some about what patients themselves thought, but nothing about lay people.
Patients who choose to have a facelift are typically concerned about the opinions of:

1) Themselves when they look in the mirror, and

2) Laypeople they encounter socially in society.

Our study showed for the first time that laypeople find people who have had a facelift to appear more attractive, more youthful, healthier and more successful than they were before their facelift.

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Should Teenagers Be Able To Get Oral Contraceptives Over The Counter?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Krishna K. Upadhya, M.D., M.P.H. Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine Department of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287

Dr. Upadhya

Krishna K. Upadhya, M.D., M.P.H.
Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287

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

Response: Our study reviewed medical literature to examine the question of whether minor teens should be treated differently from older women with regard to a future over the counter oral contraceptive product.  Our analysis found that oral contraceptive pills are safe and effective for teens and there is no scientific rationale to restrict access to a future oral contraceptive pill based on age.

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Number of Adults With Hearing Loss Expected To Rise Dramatically

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Adele Gorman PhD
Johns Hopkins Center on Aging & Health
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

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

Response: Hearing loss affects many people, especially older adults. We have previously estimated how common hearing loss is across different age groups and how many adults have hearing loss today. However, we did not know the number of people that are expected to have hearing loss in the coming decades. This is important to know in order to appropriately plan for future hearing health care needs. Recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine highlighted the crucial need to address hearing loss and made recommendations to improve hearing health care services. However, these recommendations should be considered by policy makers in the context of the number of adults with hearing loss in the coming years.

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Leaky Gate Model Connects Intense Itch With Pain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Xinzhong Dong PhD The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience and Center for Sensory Biology Howard Hughes Medical Institute Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21205

Dr. Xinzhong Dong

Xinzhong Dong PhD
The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience and Center for Sensory Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21205

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

Response: It is a puzzle that troubles the field for many years that how pain and itch, two closely related sensations (once thought as one sensation), are differentiated by the nervous systems. Coding of pain and itch are heatedly debated for decades. The current specificity theory suggests that these two kinds of signals are carried by separate pathways, with some interactions, for example pain can inhibit itch and that explains why we all scratch to inhibit pain. It is true in the periphery (our previous study indicate a small population of neurons in the periphery only codes for itch sensation), but now our study suggests that there could be more crosstalk between these two sensations in the central than we expected.

People might not notice in real life, but in human psychophysical studies, well-isolated experimental environments, when human subjects are given itchy substances, they typically report intense itch sensations accompanied by minor noxious sensations, such as pricking, stinging and burning. Our new leaky gate model suggest in certain circumstances intense itch signals can trigger minor pain sensations, which can explain such phenomenon.

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State Same-Sex Marriage Policies Associated With Reduced Adolescent Suicide Attempts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Julia R.G. Raifman, ScD

Post-doctoral fellow
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 

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

Response: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 years old in the United States. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents have elevated rates of suicide attempts. In our study, we found that 29% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents reported attempting suicide in the past year relative to 6% of heterosexual adolescents.

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Arriving Late To Appointment Can Shorten Your Visit With The Doctor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chester G. Chambers, Ph.D.
Director, Enterprise Risk Management Program, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
Joint Appointment in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
Maqbool Dada, Ph.D.
Joint Appointment in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
John Hopkins Medicine
Kayode Ayodele Williams, M.B.A., M.B.B.S., M.D
Medical Director : Blaustein Pain Treatment Center
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
John Hopkins Medicine

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

Response: The result is based on a retrospective analysis of three specialty clinics in the Johns Hopkins System: a private practice low-volume clinic with one physician and no residents; a medium volume clinic that used one attending physician for each clinic session and included residents; and a high-volume clinic with multiple attending physicians and several residents.

Our main finding is that physicians adjust face time based on congestion in the clinic, and seem to do this without always knowing they are doing it. Patients who arrive early and whose service begins before their appointment times, tend to get more face-time then other patients. This is similar to other service systems in which first-line providers speed-up when they see long queues at their stations.This is important because most of the prior research in this setting assumed that this never takes place. We verified that it does happen in multiple settings and the changes in processing rates are statistically significant. This means we need to rethink many earlier conclusions about how clinics run.

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When Patients Can’t Choose: Out-of-Network Care Can Be Costly

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA Assistant Professor The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Washington, DC 20036

Dr. Ge Bai

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA
Assistant Professor
The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
Washington, DC 20036 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The average anesthesiologist, emergency physician, pathologist and radiologist charge more than four times what Medicare pays for similar services, often leaving privately-insured out-of-network patients stuck with surprise medical bills that are much higher than they anticipated.

The average physician charged roughly 2.5 times what Medicare pays for the same service. There are also regional differences in excess charges. Doctors in Wisconsin, for example, have almost twice the markups of doctors in Michigan (3.8 vs. two).

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Physicians Perceive Health Insurance as Barrier to Weight Management Efforts

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ruchi Doshi, MPH
MD Candidate 2017 | Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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

Response: Current guidelines recommend that physicians collaborate with non-physician health professionals to deliver weight management care. While several studies have looked at barriers physicians face in providing these services, few studies have looked at the barriers that the non-physician health professionals face. Ultimately, we found that one quarter of these health professionals found insurance coverage to be a current challenge to providing weight management care, and that over half of them felt improved coverage would help facilitate weight loss. These findings were consistent regardless of the income level of the patient populations.

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Cancer Can Mean High Out-of-Pocket Expenses For Seniors With Only Medicare

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Amol K. Narang, MD Instructor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Amol  Narang

Dr. Amol K. Narang, MD
Instructor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

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

Response: We know that cancer care is becoming increasingly expensive in the U.S., but the financial impact on patients in the form of out-of-pocket expenses is not well understood, in part because of the lack of data sources that track this information. As such, we used the Health and Retirement study, a national panel study that closely tracks the out-of-pocket medical expenditures of older Americans, to understand the level of financial strain that Medicare patients experience after a new diagnosis of cancer. We further investigated what factors were associated with high financial strain and what type of health services were driving high costs in this population.

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Barriers to Healthful Eating Linked to More Rapid Kidney Function Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Deidra C. Crews, MD, ScM, FASN, FACP Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine Director, Doctoral Diversity Program Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore MD 21224

Dr. Deidra Crews

Deidra C. Crews, MD, ScM, FASN, FACP
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
Associate Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine
Director, Doctoral Diversity Program
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore MD 21224

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

Response: Studies suggest that dietary patterns influence risk of kidney function decline. Barriers may hinder urban African Americans’ following healthful diets that could mitigate their increased risk of kidney function decline.

In this study, we characterized contextual barriers to healthful eating among urban African Africans with hypertension and examined the association of these barriers to kidney function decline over 1 year. We examined the presence of healthy foods in neighborhood stores of study participants.

We also assessed them for food insecurity (the inability to afford nutritionally adequate and safe foods), directly observed and documented the presence of fruits and vegetables in their homes, and examined their fruit and vegetable intake via questionnaire.

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DASH Diet For Hypertension May Also Lower Uric Acid in Gout Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD Fellow, Division of General Internal Medicine Johns Hopkins Hospital

Dr. Stephen Juraschek

Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD
Fellow, Division of General Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins Hospital

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

Response: Diet has long been viewed as an important way to lower uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks; however, there is little evidence about whether a particular dietary pattern might be effective for lowering uric acid. For the first time we show that the DASH diet, an effective diet for lowering blood pressure, it lowers uric acid levels substantially in people with abnormally high uric acid levels.

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Patients With Newly Diagnosed DCIS Breast Cancer May Not Need Their Core Needle Biopsy Tested for Hormone Receptors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pedram Argani, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Principal consultant of the Breast Pathology Service Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Pedram Argani

Pedram Argani, M.D.
Professor of Pathology and
Principal consultant of the Breast Pathology Service
Johns Hopkins Medicine

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

Response: Most pathology laboratories, at the request if clinicians, automatically (reflexively) test needle core biopsies containing ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) for estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR). The logic for testing DCIS for these hormone receptors is that, for patients who have pure DCIS that is ER positive after surgical excision, treatment with estrogen blockers like Tamoxifen can decrease the recurrence of DCIS by a small amount, though overall survival (which is excellent) is not impacted.

However, there are several factors which suggest that this reflex testing unnecessarily increases costs.
• First, the ER/PR results on core needle biopsy do not impact the next step in therapy; namely, surgical excision.
• Second, a subset of excisions performed for DCIS diagnosed on core needle biopsy will harbor invasive breast carcinoma, which would than need to be retested for ER/PR.
• Third, because ER and PR labeling is often variable in DCIS, negative results for ER/PR in a small core biopsy specimen should logically be repeated in a surgical excision specimen with larger amounts of DICS to be sure that the result is truly negative.
• Fourth, many patients with pure DCIS which is ER/PR positive after surgical excision will decline hormone therapy, so any ER/PR testing of their DCIS is unnecessary.
• Fifth, PR status in DCIS has no independent value.

We reviewed the Johns Hopkins experience with reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS on core needle biopsies over 2 years. We found that reflex core needle biopsy specimen testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately $140.00 per patient. We found that ER/PR testing in the excision impacted management in only approximately one third of cases, creating an unnecessary increased cost of approximately $440.00 per patient. Extrapolating the increased cost of reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS to the 60,000 new cases of DCIS in the United States each year, reflex core needle biopsy ER/PR testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately 35 million dollars.

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Pancreatic Cancer Study Finds Abraxane Superior to Paclitaxel

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rajesh Kumar NV, Ph.D. Instructor of Oncology and Pathology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD, USA Current Affiliation: Senior Manager, Human Therapeutics Division, Intrexon Corporation, 20358 Seneca Meadows Parkway, Germantown, MD, USA

Dr. Rajesh Kumar NV

Rajesh Kumar NV, Ph.D.
Instructor of Oncology and Pathology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD, USA
Current Affiliation: Senior Manager, Human Therapeutics Division, Intrexon Corporation, 20358 Seneca Meadows Parkway, Germantown, MD, USA

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

Response: Pancreatic cancer remains as one of the most deadly malignancies in the world. Recently, a cremophor-free and albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel (nab-PTX, Abraxane) in combination with gemcitabine (GEM, Gemzar) is recently approved as a standard of care treatment option for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Majority of the newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients use the nab-PTX plus GEM regimen. Currently there are over 100 clinical trials at various stages with this regimen as a backbone to approved medicines or investigational agents. Since widely available cremophor-based paclitaxel (PTX, Taxol) is a key chemotherapy component for the treatment of several human malignancies and the treatment cost of nab-PTX is relatively higher than PTX, patients, clinicians, third party payers and regulatory agencies have a substantial interest in understanding whether these two drugs provide a similar level of therapeutic efficacy in pancreatic cancer.

We utilized orthotopic models of human pancreatic cancer, which were shown to better recapitulate the histologic and metastatic characteristics of disease, and compared the anticancer efficacy, effect on tumor stroma modulation, metastatic spreading to distant organs and survival following GEM, PTX, nab-PTX and combinations of GEM plus PTX or nab-PTX. The preclinical trial used a total of 300 mice with established orthotopic pancreatic tumors. The tumors used for implantation were originally resected from the primary tumors of patients with moderately differentiated and poorly differentiated pancreatic cancer.

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Profound Disparities By Race in Delivery of Care to Stroke Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Romanus Roland Faigle, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Neurology The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Dr. Roland Faigle

Romanus Roland Faigle, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology
The Johns Hopkins Hospital

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

Response: Stroke care entails a variety of procedures and interventions, which generally fall into one of the two following categories: 1) curative/preventative procedures (such as IV thrombolysis and carotid revascularization), which intent to prevent injury and restore function; and 2) life-sustaining procedures (such as gastrostomy, mechanical ventilation, tracheostomy, and hemicraniectomy), which intent to address complications from a stroke and to prevent death. The use of curative/preventative procedures is supported by excellent evidence and is guided by well-defined criteria, while those are largely lacking for life-sustaining procedures. Therefore, curative/preventative are desirable for eligible patients, while life-sustaining procedures indicate the need to address undesired complications and in itself have questionable utility. We wanted to determine whether race differences in the use of the individual stroke-related procedures exist, and whether presence and directionality of differences by race follow a pattern unique to each of the 2 procedure groups.

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Checkpoint Inhibitor Biologics Linked To Inflammatory Arthritis and Sicca Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Laura C. Cappelli, M.D Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Laura Cappelli

Laura C. Cappelli, M.D
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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

Response: We had been referred several patients with inflammatory arthritis or dry mouth and dry eyes after being treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. When searching the literature for information on how to evaluate and treat these patients, we realized that there was minimal information available. We wanted to describe our experience and inform the medical community about these events so that recognition could increase.

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Poor Cardiovascular Health Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk Especially African Americans and Hispanics

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joshua J. Joseph, MD
Christopher D. Saudek M.D. Fellow in Diabetes Research
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What does your study explore?

Response: Our study explores two basic questions:

(a) Are multi-ethnic people with higher levels of cardiovascular health less likely to develop diabetes based on the AHA ideal cardiovascular health metric?

(b) Do these associations vary by race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, Chinese American, African American, and Hispanic American)?

MedicalResearch.com: Why did you choose this topic to explore?

Response: The literature has shown a strong association between lifestyle factors and elevated risk of diabetes in majority non-Hispanic white studies. One study of American Indians showed that meeting a greater number of ideal cardiovascular health goals was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes. We aimed to assess the association of baseline ideal cardiovascular health with incident diabetes within a multi-ethnic population, due to variation of ideal cardiovascular health by race/ethnicity.

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Older Adults with Dementia Face Potentially Unsafe Living Conditions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Halima Amjad, MD, MPH Post-doctoral Fellow Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

Dr. Halima Amjad

Halima Amjad, MD, MPH
Post-doctoral Fellow
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology

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

Dr. Amjad: Safety is an important aspect of dementia care. Dementia is underdiagnosed, however, and there is limited understanding of safety issues in people with undiagnosed dementia. We wanted to better understand potentially unsafe activities and living conditions in all older adults with dementia and specifically examine these activities in undiagnosed dementia. We found that in all study participants with probable dementia, the prevalence of driving, cooking, managing finances, managing medications, or going to physician visits alone was over 20%. The prevalence was higher in older adults with probable dementia without a diagnosis, and even after accounting for sociodemographic, medical, and physical impairment factors, the odds of engaging in these activities was over 2.0 in undiagnosed versus diagnosed probable dementia. Potentially unsafe living conditions including unmet needs and performance on cognitive tests were similar between these groups.

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Personalized Virtual Heart Map Allows For Better Prediction of Sudden Death Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Natalia Trayanova PhD, FHRS, FAHA Murray B. Sachs Endowed Chair Professor of Biomedical Engineering Joint Appointment, Medicine Johns Hopkins University Institute for Computational Medicine Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD

Dr. Natalia Trayanova

Natalia Trayanova PhD, FHRS, FAHA
Murray B. Sachs Endowed Chair
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Joint Appointment, Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
Institute for Computational Medicine
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Trayanova: The methodology for modeling cardiac electrical function has matured sufficiently that we can now create computational models of the electrical functioning of the entire heart. My research is focused on translating this methodology into the clinic. The goal is to create, if you will, “a virtual heart for every patient”, that will enable the physician to play our scenarios that manifest the heart dysfunction in the given patient, and to enable physicians to make personalized decisions about patient treatment. The present paper is the first application of this overall vision.

The motivation for this particular paper was that determining which patients are at risk for sudden cardiac death represents a major unmet clinical need. Patients at risk receive life-saving implantable defibrillators (ICDs), but because of the low sensitivity and specificity of current approach (based on low ejection fraction), risk assessment is inaccurate. Thus, many patients receive ICDs without needing them, while others die of sudden cardiac death because they are not targeted for ICD therapy under the current clinical recommendations. Our goal was to develop a non-invasive personalized virtual-heart risk assessment tool that has the potential to ultimately prevent sudden cardiac death and avoid unnecessary ICD implantations.

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Candida Yeast Infections Linked to Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emily G. Severance, Ph.D Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology Department of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD

Dr. Emily Severance

Emily G. Severance, Ph.D
Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 

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

Dr. Severance: This research stems in part from anecdotal dialogues that we had with people with psychiatric disorders and their families, and repeatedly the issue of yeast infections came up. We found that Candida overgrowth was more prevalent in people with mental illness compared to those without psychiatric disorders and the patterns that we observed occurred in a surprisingly sex-specific manner.  The levels of IgG antibodies directed against the Candida albicans were elevated in males with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder compared to controls. In females, there were no differences in antibody levels between these groups, but in women with mental illness who had high amounts of these antibodies, we found significant memory deficits compared to those without evidence of past infection.

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What Else Can Be Done To Reduce Medical Errors?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael Daniel The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine M.D. Candidate 2016

Michael Daniel

Michael Daniel
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
M.D. Candidate 2016

Michael G. Daniel is a graduating medical student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He will be attending the Osler Internal Medicine Residency Training Program next year at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. His research focus is on Patient Safety, Quality, and Outcomes improvement.

Summary:

Medical error ranks as the third leading cause of death in the United States, but is not recognized in national vital statistics because of a flawed reporting process. Using recent studies on preventable medical error and extrapolating the results to the 2013 U.S. hospital admissions we calculated a mortality rate or 251,454 deaths per year.

MedicalResearch.com: What made you want to research this topic?

Response: I decided to study medicine because I wanted to improve patient health. However, I realized that improving patient health is not only about curing a disease but is sometimes about fixing the way we deliver healthcare.

MedicalResearch.com: Is this news surprising to you?

Response: Yes, because all previous estimates of medical error were much lower and when I started the research I couldn’t use the CDC statistics to get current data.

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PCSK9 Antibody May Revolutionize Treatment of Atherosclerosis and Acute Coronary Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Paul A. Gurbel, M.D. Director, Inova Center for Thrombosis Research and Drug Development Director, Cardiovascular Medicine Research Director, Interventional Cardiology Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Falls Church, VA Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Paul Gurbel

Paul A. Gurbel, M.D.
Director, Inova Center for Thrombosis Research and Drug Development
Director, Cardiovascular Medicine Research
Director, Interventional Cardiology
Inova Heart and Vascular Institute
Falls Church, VA
Professor of Medicine,
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Medicine,
Duke University School of Medicine 

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

Dr. Gurbel: In current practice, treatment with statins and antiplatelet agents is the primary strategy to reduce death and ischemic cardiovascular events following ACS (acute coronary syndrome)/PCI. Immediately following ACS, many patients are incompletely responsive to potent current therapy and remain at high risk for recurrent thrombotic events. Treatment with monoclonal antibodies that target proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is a new potent lipid lowering therapy. Recent studies have shown that PCSK9 antibodies combined with statins provided marked additional benefits in reducing atherogenic lipid fractions. In a recent meta-analysis, PCSK9 antibody therapy was also associated with a reduction in mortality and no increase in serious adverse events. In the current Narrative Review, we focused on novel pathways affected by PCSK9 antibodies that may make them appropriate for immediate treatment in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Gurbel: PCSK9 antibodies, in addition to markedly reducing LDL levels, may also reduce pro-inflammatory oxidized LDL levels and platelet function. The latter properties, in addition to plaque stabilization, may provide antithrombotic properties favorably influencing clinical outcomes following acute administration at the time of  acute coronary syndrome.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Gurbel: In addition to a potent lipid lowering effect, PCSK9 antibody therapy when administered immediately at the time of acute coronary syndrome in addition to standard statin and antiplatelet therapy may provide additional antithrombotic effects. The latter novel properties of PCSK9 antibodies may be associated with improved patient outcomes. However, at this time there is no direct evidence for recommending PCSK9 antibody therapy in patients at the time of presentation with acute coronary syndrome .

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

Dr. Gurbel: A large scale randomized study assessing the clinical effects of PCSK9 antibody therapy on top of current statin and antiplatelet therapy is needed. In addition, mechanistic studies to further delineate anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects of PCSK9 antibody therapy are also needed.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Gurbel: PCSK9 antibody therapy provides marked lowering of LDL. The latter property may revolutionize the treatment of patients with atherosclerosis. The potential antithrombotic effects of PCSK9 antibody therapy, in turn, may revolutionize acute therapy of ACS. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Navarese EP, Kołodziejczak M, Kereiakes DJ, Tantry US, O’Connor C, Gurbel PA. Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 Monoclonal Antibodies for Acute Coronary Syndrome: A Narrative Review. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 22 March 2016] doi:10.7326/M15-2994

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Dr. Paul Gurbel (2016). PCSK9 Antibody May Revolutionize Treatment of Atherosclerosis and Acute Coronary Syndrome MedicalResearch.com

About 3% of Rhinoplasty Surgeries Require Revision

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shaun C. Desai, MD Assistant Professor Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Shaun Desai

Shaun C. Desai, MD
Assistant Professor
Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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

Dr. Desai: Estimates of the rate of revision septorhinoplasty and the risk factors associated with revision are unknown because the current published literature is limited to small, retrospective, single-surgeon studies with limited follow-up time. The purpose of this study is to determine the overall revision rates of patients undergoing a septorhinoplasty procedure (for functional or cosmetic reasons) and to determine risk factors for the revision. We found that the overall revision rate was 3.3% (5,775 patients of a total of 175,842 patients undergoing the procedure) with an average time to revision at 1 year. Risk factors for revision surgery included female gender, younger age, a history of anxiety or autoimmune disease, cosmetic indications, and more complicated initial surgery (i.e. cleft rhinoplasty).

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Study Examines Trajectory of Moderate or Severe Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katherine L. Musliner, PhD National Centre for Register-Based Research, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research Department of Mental Health The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Katherine Musliner

Katherine L. Musliner, PhD
National Centre for Register-Based Research, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research
Department of Mental Health
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

 

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

Response: There is great variation among patients with depression in terms of long-term illness course. This variation may be indicative of underlying differences in the cause of the illness, and from a practical perspective, it also has implications for treatment and allocation of public health resources. Our goal was to identify different trajectories of depression course by examining inpatient and outpatient contacts for depression at psychiatric treatment facilities in Denmark (where healthcare is free) during the 10-year period following patients’ initial depression diagnosis.

We found that the majority of patients (77% in our sample) followed a trajectory characterized by a brief period of contact with the psychiatric treatment system and no contact for depression during the remainder of the 10-year follow up period. Patients with more prolonged contact either had a drawn out initial period of contact lasting as long as five years (13%), left depression treatment for several years only to return with a depression diagnosis years later (7%) or exhibited a chronic course (3%).

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Stem Cells Vary Widely Depending on Location and Donor Age

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Andrew Jaffe PhD Investigator, Lieber Institute for Brain Development Assistant Professor Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Andrew Jaffe

Dr. Andrew Jaffe PhD
Investigator, Lieber Institute for Brain Development
Assistant Professor
Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Jaffe: Significant investments are being made worldwide in precision medicine, with much of the investment concentrated in the curation of stem cell lines for the generation of new tissues and organs. The most popular cell types for generating patient-specific stem cells are skin-derived and therefore receive potentially the highest amount of environmental exposure.

In our study, we were interested in characterizing the genomic variability in fibroblast cells from two locations in the body across the lifespan. The two locations were the scalp, which is exposed to the environment, and the dura mater, which is the membrane under the skull and is largely protected from environmental insult. While the fibroblast cells from these two locations look indistinguishable under a microscope, we found widespread epigenetic and expression differences between the cells related to where they came from in the body and also related, to a lesser extent, to the age of the donor.

As the field of personalized medicine continues to grow, this evidence necessitates further exploration into the epigenetic patterns in stem cells used for new tissue and organ generation. Additional research is required to determine which cells to cultivate and when, as researchers question how much epigenetic memory is actually erased when creating stem cell models.

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Racial Disparity in Kidney Transplant Failure Narrows

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD MPH Assistant Professor, Transplant Surgery and Epidemiology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Tanjala Purnell

Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD MPH
Assistant Professor, Transplant Surgery and Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Purnell:  Kidney transplantation (KT) is the best treatment for most patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD), offering longer life expectancy and improved quality of life than dialysis treatment. Despite these benefits, previous reports suggest that black KT recipients experience poorer outcomes, such as higher kidney rejection and patient death, than white KT recipients. Our team wanted to examine whether this disparity has improved in recent decades. We hypothesized that advances in immunosuppression and post- kidney transplantation  management might differentially benefit black KT recipients, who were disproportionately burdened by immunological barriers, and contribute to reduced racial disparities in kidney transplantation outcomes.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Purnell: 

  1. From 1990 to 2012, 5-year failure rates of the transplanted kidney after Deceased Donor Kidney Transplantation (DDKT) decreased from 51.4% to 30.6% for blacks and from 37.3% to 25.0% for whites; 5-year failure after Living Donor Kidney Transplantation (LDKT) decreased from 37.4% to 22.2% for blacks and from 20.8% to 13.9% for whites.
  2. Among DDKT recipients in the earliest group of patients, blacks were 39% more likely than whites to experience 5-year failure, but this disparity narrowed to 10% in the most recent group.
  3. Among LDKT recipients in the earliest group, blacks were 53% more likely than whites to experience 5-year failure, but this disparity narrowed to 37% in the most recent group.
  4. There were no statistically significant differences in 1-year or 3-year failure rates of transplanted kidneys after LDKT or DDKT in the most recent groups.

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Only 1 in 3 Surgeons Perceive Racial Disparities in Health Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adil H. Haider, MD, MPH Kessler Director for the Center for Surgery and Public Health Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Deputy Editor of JAMA Surgery
Adil H. Haider, MD, MPH
Kessler Director for the Center for Surgery and Public Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital  Harvard Medical School,
and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Deputy Editor of JAMA Surgery 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Haider: Racial/Ethnic disparities have been identified in multiple surgical fields. They are thought to be caused by a complex interplay of patient-, provider-, and systems-level factors. As healthcare professionals, providers play a key role in the care and outcomes that patients experience. However, despite published research about the existence of disparities, it remains unknown the extent to which surgeons perceive that racial/ethnic disparities exist.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Haider: In a pilot study designed to assess the extent to which US surgeons report awareness of racial/ethnic disparities, only 36.6% agreed that racial/ethnic disparities exist in healthcare. Even fewer, 11.6% acknowledged that disparities were present in their hospital or clinic, and a mere 4.7% reported disparities in their personal practice.

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Incomplete Follow Up Rates Exceed 10% in Oral Antithrombotic Trials

Victor Serebruany, MD, PhD HeartDrug Research, Towson, Maryland Department of Neurology Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Victor Serebruany

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Victor Serebruany, MD, PhD
HeartDrug Research, Towson, Maryland
Department of Neurology Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Serebruany: Missing data are common challenges to the validity of trial results, yet it is unclear how to characterize the extent of missing data.  We compared the published lost-to-follow-up rates to incomplete follow-up rates determined from subject records submitted to the FDA for major oral antithrombotic trials.  The 21 trials having both sets of rates included 270,089 patients followed for a median duration of 20 months.  The mean published lost-to-follow-up rates is 0.4% (median 0.3%, range 0.005% to 2%), consistently much lower than the FDA incomplete follow-up rates: mean 12% (median 13%, range 2% to 23%).  There is no correlation between the publication and FDA-calculated  rates (R 0.07, p = 0.76).   The FDA rates exceed greatly the endpoint rate differences: mean 1.3% (median 1,0%, range 0.2% to 3.0%).

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Serebruany: That the FDA incomplete follow-up rates greatly exceed the endpoint rate differences raises questions of whether the endpoint differences may be due to differential follow-up rather than drug effect.  That they greatly exceed the measures routinely reported for trials, i.e., lost-to-follow-up rates, suggests that current trial reporting is inadequate.  Completeness of follow-up and other indicators of trial data quality should be considered when interpreting trial results.

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10% of Patients Receiving Implantable Defibrillators Are Frail Or Have Dementia

Ariel R. Green, M.D., M.P.H Assistant Professor of Medicine Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Green

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ariel R. Green, M.D., M.P.H

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are widely used to prevent sudden cardiac death in patients with systolic heart failure. Older adults with heart failure often have multiple coexisting conditions and are frail, increasing their risk of death from non-cardiac causes. Our understanding of outcomes in older patients with ICDs is limited.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Our major finding was that more than 10% of patients currently receiving ICDs for primary prevention of sudden cardiac death (meaning that they have never had a potentially lethal arrhythmia but are at risk for one, usually due to systolic heart failure) are frail or have dementia.​ Patients with these geriatric conditions had substantially  higher mortality within the first year after ICD implantation than those without these conditions. Frailty and dementia were more strongly associated with mortality than were traditional comorbidities such as diabetes.

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Vitamin D Status May Influence Bariatric Surgery Outcomes

Leigh A. Peterson, PhD, MHS Post-doctoral fellow Department of Surgery - Bayview Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dr. Leigh Peterson

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Leigh A. Peterson, PhD, MHS

Post-doctoral fellow
Department of Surgery – Bayview
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Peterson: From our previous study published in Obesity Surgery earlier this year, we knew that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency was very common in our bariatric surgery candidates (71.4% < 20 ng/ml and 92.9% < 30 ng/ml). We wanted to explore the effect of this deficiency on adverse outcomes after bariatric surgery such as wound healing, infection, and extended hospital stay.

We turned to the Nationwide Inpatient Sample to answer this question, as it would contain enough surgeries to detect changes in even less frequent outcomes such as wound infection. But blood concentration of vitamin D is not available, so we used a traditional method to estimate group vitamin D status with season and geography. Vitamin D comes from the sun, so people have the most vitamin D in summer and in sunnier places.

In 932,091 records of bariatric surgeries from 2001 to 2010, we saw that more adverse outcomes occurred during winter—January to March, the time of lowest vitamin D status—compared to summer or even spring or fall. Additionally, most adverse outcomes occurred in northern latitudes (≥ 37°N) compared to sunnier southern latitudes.

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Easing ICU Admission Threshold May Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Joseph M Carrington DO, MHA Department of Medicine - PGY3 Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital

Dr. Carrington

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joseph M Carrington DO, MHA
Department of Medicine – PGY3
Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Carrington: This study looked at a total of 886 patients at a community hospital. We were faced with the dilemma that our ICU beds were frequently over utilized with severely ill patients for whom our interventions had minimal impact. This prevented patients who were less ill from coming to the ICU who may have benefited from our services. We made a hospital wide culture change to lower ICU admission thresholds. Any patient felt to be “borderline” received an automatic ICU evaluation without any push-back. The result of these earlier interventions was a decrease in complications from patients decompensating in the ED and floors. In turn, the overall ICU length of stay, mortality, and ICU transfers all decreased. By decreasing these overall complications and mortality, our number of ICU over-utilizes decreased. This saved our hospital an annualized amount of over $2 million and freed up ICU beds and resources.

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Study Examines Safety Climate and Support Within Cardiac Surgical Teams

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jill A. Marsteller, PhD, MPP
Department of Health Policy and Management,
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland and
Juan A. Sanchez, MD, MPA, FACS, FACC
Associate Professor of Surgery
Associate Faculty, Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The culture of healthcare organizations with regards to safety has an impact on patient outcomes.  A strong culture serves as a platform for preventing medical errors. This study examines the culture of safety along several dimensions in cardiac surgical teams and compares this data to surgery of all types using a large database. In our study, cardiac surgery teams scored highest in teamwork and lowest in non-punitive responses to error.  In addition, there was substantial variation on safety climate perception across team roles. For example, surgeons and support staff had higher perceptions of a safety climate than other team members. Compared to all types of surgery teams, cardiac surgery teams scored higher in overall perceptions of safety except for anesthesiologists who reported lower scores on communication about errors and communication openness.

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Blood Biomarker Can Identify Patients At Risk of Continued Symptoms After Traumatic Brain Injury

Frederick Korley MD Ph.D Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Emergency Medicine Baltimore, MarylandMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Frederick Korley MD Ph.D
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Emergency Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Korley: Each year, millions of Americans are evaluated in emergency departments for traumatic brain injuries. Currently the only test available for diagnosing traumatic brain injury is a brain CT scan. Brain CT scans accurately identify bleeding in the brain from trauma.  However, they are unable to identify damage to brain cells. Approximately 90% of patients with traumatic brain injury have no bleeding in the brain and therefore have unremarkable brain CT scans.  However, these patients typically have damaged brain cells and they continue to suffer headaches, dizziness, attention and memory deficits, sleep problems among others for months after their injury and can’t figure out why. Therefore new tests are needed to identify traumatic brain injury patients with damaged brain cells and especially those who are likely to have persistent traumatic brain injury-related symptoms for months after injury.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Korley: Our study determined that the blood levels of a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can help predict whether a patient will continue to have symptoms related to traumatic brain injury at six 6 months after injury, even if they had an unremarkable brain CT scan.

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30-Day Readmission Penalties May Disproportionately Affect Safety-Net Hospitals

Timothy M. Pawlik, MD, MPH, MTS, PhD, FACS, FRACS (Hon.)Professor of Surgery and Oncology John L. Cameron M.D. Professor of Alimentary Tract Diseases Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology Program Director, Surgical Oncology Fellowship Director, Johns Hopkins Medicine Liver Tumor Center Multi-Disciplinary Clinic Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD 21287MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Timothy M. Pawlik, MD, MPH, MTS, PhD, FACS, FRACS (Hon.)
Professor of Surgery and Oncology
John L. Cameron M.D. Professor of Alimentary Tract Diseases
Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
Program Director, Surgical Oncology Fellowship
Director, Johns Hopkins Medicine Liver Tumor Center Multi-Disciplinary Clinic
Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD 21287

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

Dr. Pawlik: In 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) whereby hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission incur financial penalties. Initially proposed to target readmissions following acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia and congestive heart failure, the program has since expanded to encompass knee and hip replacement surgery with the inclusion of additional surgical procedures anticipated in the near future. Although initial results from the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program have been promising, several concerns have been raised regarding potential limitations in methodological approach; specifically in the ability to adequately risk-adjust and account for variations in patient, provider and disease. As a consequence, many fear that the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program may disproportionately penalize safety-net hospitals as well as hospitals caring for “sicker” and more vulnerable populations.

In the current study we sought to investigate factors associated with the variability in 30-day readmission among a cohort of 22,559 patients discharged following a major surgical procedure at the Johns Hopkins Hospital between 2009 and 2013. Overall, 30-day readmission was noted to be 13.2% varying from 2.1% to 24.8% by surgical specialty / procedure and from 2.1% to 32.9% by surgeon. Non-modifiable patient specific factors such as preoperative comorbidity, insurance status and race / ethnicity, were found to be most predictive of 30-day readmission as well as postoperative factors such as complications and length of stay both of which may also be influenced by preoperative comorbidity. Overall, we noted that 2.8% of the variation in 30-day readmission was attributed to provider-specific factors, 14.5% of the variability was due differences in surgical specialty / procedure while over 84% of the variability in 30-day readmission remained unaccounted for due to non-modifiable patient-specific factors.

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How To Handle ICD If Patient’s Heart Function Improves?

Alan Cheng, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS Associate Professor of Medicine Associate Professor of Pediatrics Director, Arrhythmia Device Service Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alan Cheng, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS
Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Director, Arrhythmia Device Service
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cheng: Sudden cardiac death (SCD) has been the most common way in which people in the United States die. While it’s hard to accurately identify who is a higher risk for SCD, we have learned from a number of studies over the past 30-40 years that people with significant reductions in their heart function (measured as the ejection fraction (EF)) is one group of individuals at high risk for Sudden cardiac death. In fact, the current American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines state that people with an EF below 35% are at high enough risk for Sudden cardiac death that these patients should undergo implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (or ICD for short), a device capable of monitoring the heart 24/7 and shocking the heart out of any arrhythmias that could lead to Sudden cardiac death. The data they cite for this recommendation are so compelling that they currently recommend implanting ICDs in patients not only among those who already experienced an Sudden cardiac death event, but also those who have not. Implanting an ICD to prevent Sudden cardiac death before they have had Sudden cardiac death is known as primary prevention and this accounts for about 70-80% of all ICD implants in the United States.

While the EF is the best metric out there to determine if a patient should get an ICD, it has its limitations. Because of these limitations, we have been interested for a long time in better understanding how the EF and other metrics affect a patient’s risk for Sudden cardiac death.

In this study, we followed 538 patients who were recipients of a primary prevention ICD who underwent repeat assessment of their EF during followup in order to determine if changes in their EF over time altered their risk for ICD shocks for ventricular arrhythmias or death. Over a median of almost 5 years of followup, we found that 40% of the cohort had improvements in their EF. And when the EF does improve, the risk goes down for ICD shocks for ventricular arrhythmias as well as for death.

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Many Cancer Patients Never Communicate Their Preferences For End of Life Care

Amol Narang MD Radiation Oncology Resident Johns Hopkins MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Amol Narang MD
Radiation Oncology Resident
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Narang: The care provided to cancer patients at end-of-life can be intense, including frequent ER visit, hospitalizations, and ICU stays in the last month of life, administration of chemotherapy in last two weeks of life, and late referrals to hospice. Providing high-intensity treatments at end-of-life has been associated with reduced patient quality-of-life and increased caregiver bereavement. Advance care planning represents an opportunity for patients to indicate their preferences for end-of-life care to try to ensure that the care that they receive at end-of-life is consistent with their values, and has been endorsed by oncologic professional societies, such as ASCO and the NCCN. As such, we wanted to assess if oncologists’ long-standing recognition of the merits of advance care planning has translated into increased participation in advance care planning by cancer patients, and to determine which forms of advance care planning are associated with intensity of care given at end-of-life.

From 2000-12, we found that the only type of advance care planning that increased was the assignment of a power of attorney (52% in 2000 to 74% in 2012). However, having a power of attorney was not associated with receiving less aggressive end-of-life care. On the other hand, having a living wills and engaging in a discussion with a provider or loved one about preferences for end-of-life care were both associated with reduced treatment intensity. However, the frequency with which cancer patients created a living or discussed their preferences for end-of-life care did not increase over the study period; importantly, 40% of patients dying of cancer never communicated their preferences for care at end-of-life with anyone.

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Residents Participation In Neurosurgery Did Not 30-Day Outcomes

Judy Huang, M.D. Professor of Neurosurgery Program Director, Neurosurgery Residency Program Fellowship Director, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery Johns Hopkins HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Judy Huang, M.D.
Professor of Neurosurgery
Program Director, Neurosurgery Residency Program
Fellowship Director, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery
Johns Hopkins Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Huang: Residents are medical school graduates who are in training programs working alongside and under supervision of more senior physicians, known as attendings. Patients are sometimes wary of having residents assist in their operations, but an analysis of 16,098 brain and spine surgeries performed across the United States finds that resident participation does not raise patient risks for postoperative complications or death.

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Tumor DNA In Saliva and Plasma May Be Biomarker For Head and Neck Cancer

Nishant Agrawal M.D. Associate Professor of Otolaryngology Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nishant Agrawal M.D.

Associate Professor of Otolaryngology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Agrawal: The idea of the study really arose from the specificity of genetic changes that characterize and are the hallmark of cancer cells.  Only cancer cells contain these mutations so their detection in bodily fluids was a reasonable expectation.  The current study builds on previous work from our group that tumor DNA can be detected in the bodily fluids of patients with many different types of solid malignancies.  The main findings of the study are that tumor DNA in saliva and plasma provides a non-invasive biomarker for head and neck cancer.  The take home message is that tumor DNA has potential to be used as a biomarker for screening, early detection, monitoring during treatment, and surveillance after cancer treatment is completed.

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Majority of Medical Cannabis Products Found To Be Mislabeled

Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. Associate Professor Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21224MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21224

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Vandrey: The background for the study was that I have had several conversations with individuals that led me to believe that there was insufficient regulation of products of all types being sold in medical cannabis dispensaries.  In order to evaluate that, we needed to do a study.  We decided to test edible products because that is a growing market, and, because it involves some level of manufacturing, there is greater chance for dose variability and inaccuracy.  The main finding was that the majority of products were purchased from retail stores selling cannabis products for medical use were significantly mislabeled with regards to the dose of THC and other cannabinoids.

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ACA Medicaid Expansion Will Require More Primary Care Providers, Especially In Low Income Areas

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Eric T. Roberts and Darrell Gaskin
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study looked at the implications of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid on the need for additional physicians working in primary care. Since 2014, 11 million low-income adults have signed up for Medicaid, and this figure will likely increase as more states participate in the expansion. Many new Medicaid enrollees lacked comprehensive health insurance before, and will be in need of primary and preventive care when their Medicaid coverage begins. In light of these questions, in this study, we projected the number of primary care providers that are needed to provide care for newly-enrolled adults.

We forecast that, if all states expand Medicaid, newly-enrolled adults will make 6.1 million additional provider visits per year. This translates into a need for 2,100 additional full time-equivalent primary care providers. We conclude that this need for additional providers is manageable, particularly if Congress fully funds key primary care workforce training programs, such as the National Health Service Corps. Continue reading