Two Genes Linked to Severe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marlena Fejzo, PhD Aassociate researche David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA.

Dr. Fejzo

Marlena Fejzo, PhD
Aassociate researche
David Geffen School of Medicine
UCLA. 

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

Response: Most women experience some nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, and the worst 2% are diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is associated with poor maternal and fetal outcomes. I had HG in 2 pregnancies. In my second pregnancy my HG was so severe that I could not move without vomiting and did not keep any food or water down for 10 weeks. I was put on a feeding tube, but ultimately lost the baby in the second trimester. I am a medical scientist by training so I looked into what was known about HG. At the time, very little was known, so I decided to study it. I partnered with the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation (HER) and we did a survey on family history of .Hyperemesis Gravidarum that provided evidence to support a role for genes. I collected saliva samples from HG patients and their unaffected acquaintances to do a DNA study. Then I partnered with the personal genetics company, 23andMe to do a genome scan and validation study, which identified 2 genes, GDF15 and IGFBP7, linked to HG.

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Our Memory System Is Adapted To Helping Us Raise Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Cute babies” by daily sunny is licensed under CC BY 2.0Benjamin M. Seitz
Doctoral Student
Department of Psychology, Learning & Behavior
University of California, Los Angeles

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

 

Response: The adaptive memory literature is based on two crucial theories.

The first is that we process information on different ‘levels’ and these different levels of processing information strongly influence our ability to later remember that information.

The second is that our evolutionary history has shaped our cognitive abilities and that these abilities therefore perform optimally when performing tasks related to evolutionary fitness. It has been established that processing words based on their relevancy to an imagined ancestral survival scenario yields incredible memory performance far superior than processing those same words based on their relevancy to similar imagined scenarios that do not involve the survival element or ancestral environment.

Our study demonstrates that thinking about raising offspring in an ancestral environment while processing words leads to a similar benefit to recall of those words as when thinking about survival, suggesting the human memory system while also useful in helping our species survive may have also been particularly useful in helping us raise our offspring.

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Personalized Medicine Tool Helps Direct Cardiac Care in Elderly Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD Principal Substudy Investigator, PRESET Registry Subgroup Analysis, Elderly Patients Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Ladapo

Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD
Principal Substudy Investigator, PRESET Registry
Subgroup Analysis, Elderly Patients
Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles

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

Response: The mapping of the Human Genome 14 years ago ushered in a new era of precision medicine. Many people are familiar with advances in oncology using precision medicine, but recently, new developments in precision medicine in cardiology have allowed us to develop a tool to differentiate patients likely to have obstructive coronary artery (CAD) from those who have non-cardiac causes of their symptoms.

Diagnosing CAD in the elderly is challenging. Aging individuals often present with atypical symptoms of CAD which can complicate the evaluation process. The typical diagnostic pathway for possible CAD often starts with less invasive testing and progresses to invasive testing, especially in older patients. Invasive procedures pose greater risk in the elderly population than they do in younger patients because of the higher risk of side effects, including bleeding, vascular complications and kidney injury.

Elderly adults evaluated for CAD have a higher pretest probability of CAD and are also at higher risk of experiencing procedure-related complications during their evaluation.[i],[ii] It is also important to note that elderly patients are often underrepresented in clinical trials and other types of comparative effectiveness research.[iii],[iv] For example, the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Algorithm is only formally approved to be used in individuals up to the age of 75, despite the fact that individuals exceeding this threshold in age experience higher rates of adverse cardiovascular events.[v]

All of this means that the elderly population may have the most to gain from timely and accurate determination of their currently likelihood of obstructive CAD.
This precision medicine tool, the age, sex and gene expression score (ASGES), and its clinical utility in the elderly population is the focus of this study. It was based on patient data from the PRESET Registry, a prospective, multicenter, observational study enrolling stable, symptomatic outpatients from 21 U.S. primary care practices from August 2012 to August 2014.

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Regardless of Ejection Fraction, Hospitalization for Heart Failure Linked To Increased Risk of Death

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kevin S. Shah, M.D. Cardiology Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Dr. Shah

Kevin S. Shah, M.D.
Cardiology Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

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

Response: Heart failure (HF) is a chronic condition and progressive disease which is associated with a high-risk of hospitalization and death. One of the principle ways in which heart function is estimated is the use of ultrasound to calculate the ejection fraction of the heart, an estimate of the heart’s pump function. The ejection fraction can help predict how long patients will live and affects decision-making with regards to what medications may help their condition.

A total of 39,982 patients from 254 hospitals who were admitted for Heart failure between 2005 and 2009 were included. They were followed over time to see if they were admitted to the hospital again or if they died during this period. We compared three subgroups within this large group of patients based on their estimated ejection fraction. Across subgroups, the 5-year risk of hospitalization and death was high when compared with the U.S. population. Furthermore, the survival for patients with a diagnosis of heart failure who have been hospitalized once for this condition have a similarly poor 5-year risk of death and re-hospitalization, regardless of their estimated ejection fraction.
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Anti-Fibrotic Drug May Block Cardiac Scarring That Leads To Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bruno Péault PhD Professor and Chair, Vascular Regeneration Center For Cardiovascular Science MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine Scientific Director, BHF Laboratories The University of Edinburgh and Professor, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center University of California at Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 90095-7358

Dr. Péault

Bruno Péault PhD
Professor and Chair, Vascular Regeneration
Center For Cardiovascular Science
MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine
Scientific Director, BHF Laboratories
The University of Edinburgh and
Professor, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center
University of California at Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7358

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

Response: Kidney, lung, liver, muscle, heart are among the many organs which can be severely affected by fibrosis, a natural scarring process whereby healthy tissues are replaced by a fibrous non-functional substitute. For instance, the billions of cardiac muscle cells that die after a heart infarct, consequently to blood supply interruption, are replaced by a fibrotic scar that cannot contract, reducing the capacity of the heart to pump blood, and leading often to heart failure. There is currently no efficient treatment of fibrotic scars, the basic cellular component of which is the myofibroblast, a cell of unremarkable appearance and unclear origin. The transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) molecule triggers fibrosis development after being activated, via the extra-cellular matrix, by αv integrins, which are adhesion molecules present at the surface of the target cells.

To gain further insight into the cells that drive fibrosis in the heart and skeletal muscle, and explore ways to control this deleterious process, mice were used in which cells expressing the β receptor for PDGF (platelet derived growth factor) have been genetically tagged with a green fluorescent protein, a system previously used by Prof. Neil Henderson to trace fibrosis in the diseased liver (cells naturally expressing PDGFRβ are, in their vast majority, perivascular cells surrounding small blood vessels, as well as some interstitial fibroblasts). Skeletal muscle was injured by a small incision or with a targeted injection of cardiotoxin, a snake venom compound that locally kills myofibers, while the heart was damaged by prolonged infusion of angiotensin II. In both settings, progression of fibrosis was followed over time and contribution of green fluorescent cells – i.e. those expressing PDGFRβ – was assessed.

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Cataract Surgery Linked To Improved Health and Survival, As Well As Sight

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD Center for Community Outreach and Policy, Stein Eye Institute David Geffen School of Medicine Director, UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health UCLA

Dr. Coleman

Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD
Center for Community Outreach and Policy, Stein Eye Institute
David Geffen School of Medicine
Director, UCLA Mobile Eye Clinic
Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health
UCLA

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

Response: Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, and cataract surgery is an intervention that is known to be extremely effective to address the vision loss related to cataract. However, it is unclear if there are benefits of cataract surgery beyond vision improvement in people with cataracts. Previous studies have suggested that in addition to improving vision, cataract surgery may decrease the risk of fractures and accidents, improve mental health, and improve overall quality of life. The purpose of the present study was to further investigate the potential benefits of cataract surgery and to determine if cataract surgery was associated with increased survival in people with cataracts.

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PCSK 9 Inhibitors May Be Cost Effective For Subset of High Risk Patients, If Price is Right

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, FACC, FAHA Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science Director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center Co-Chief of Clinical Cardiology, UCLA Division of Cardiology Co-Director, UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1679

Dr. Gregg Fonarow

Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, FACC, FAHA
Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science
Director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center
Co-Chief of Clinical Cardiology, UCLA Division of Cardiology
Co-Director, UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA 

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

Response: The study identifies the clinical and economic consequences of treating a population of patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD ) at high-risk of cardiovascular (CV) events and defines the cost-effectiveness of the PCSK-9 inhibitor evolocumab under various clinical scenarios. The analysis is based on the clinical outcomes from the Repatha Outcomes Study (FOURIER) in patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as those who have already had a heart attack or stroke who require additional therapy.

This is the first cost-effectiveness assessment of evolocumab using a model based on a high-quality outcomes trial, combined with U.S. clinical practice data. The analysis identifies the types of high-risk patients for whom this therapy is both clinically beneficial and cost-effective. This study utilized cost-effectiveness and value thresholds employed by the World Health Organization and the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association.

Evolocumab was found to exceed generally accepted cost-effectiveness thresholds at current list price. However, this medication could be a cost-effective treatment for patients with established ASCVD in the U.S. when the net price is at or below $9,669 per year.

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Familial Hypercholesterolemia: “Junk” RNA May Facilitate Gene Therapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tamer Sallam, MD PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Co-Director UCLA Center for Lipid Management Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine CDF Investigator Assistant Director, STAR Program Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Los Angeles, California 90095-1679 

Dr. Sallam

Tamer Sallam, MD PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Co-Director UCLA Center for Lipid Management
Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine CDF Investigator
Assistant Director, STAR Program
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, California 90095-1679

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

Response: This study is extension of our previous work published in Nature showing that a gene we named LeXis (Liver expressed LXR induced sequence) plays an important role in controlling cholesterol levels. What is unique about  LeXis is that it belongs to a group of newly recognized mediators known as long noncoding RNAs. These fascinating factors were largely thought to be unimportant and in fact referred to as “junk DNA” prior the human genome project but multiple lines of evidence suggest that they can be critical players in health and in disease.

In this study we tested whether we can use  LeXis “gene therapy”  to lower cholesterol and  heart disease risk. This type of approach is currently approved or in testing for about 80 human diseases.

Our finding was that a single injection of LeXis compared with control significantly  reduced heart disease burden in mouse subjects. Although the effect size was moderate we specifically used a model that mimics a very challenging to treat human condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia..Familial hypercholesterolemia is one of the most common genetic disorders affecting up to 2 million Americans and characterized by 20 fold  fold increase risk of early heart attacks and often suboptimal response to currently available treatments.

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Remediation Programs Linked To Reduced Attrition Among Surgical Residents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christian de Virgilio, MD LA BioMed lead researcher and corresponding author for the study He also is the former director of the general surgery residency program Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the recipient of several teaching awards.

Dr. de Virgilio

Christian de Virgilio, MD
LA BioMed lead researcher and corresponding author for the study
He also is the former director of the general surgery residency program
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the recipient of several teaching awards.

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

Response: Recent forecasts have predicted the United States will have a deficit of as many as 29,000 surgeons by 2030 because of the expected growth in the nation’s population and the aging of the Baby Boomers. This expected shortfall in surgeons has made the successful training of the next generation of surgeons even more important than it was before. Yet recent studies have shown that as many as one in five general surgery residents leave their training programs before completion to pursue other specialties.

Our team of researchers studied 21 training programs for general surgeons and published our findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery (JAMA Surgery) on August 16, 2017. What we found was the attrition rate among residents training in general surgery was lower than previously determined – just 8.8% instead of 20% – in the 21 programs we surveyed. Our study also found that program directors’ attitudes and support for struggling residents and resident education were significantly different when the authors compared high- and low-attrition programs.

General surgeons specialize in the most common surgical procedures, including abdominal, trauma, gastrointestinal, breast, cancer, endocrine and skin and soft tissue surgeries. General surgery residency training follows medical school and generally requires five to seven years. The programs are offered through universities, university affiliated hospitals and independent programs.

In this study, the research team surveyed 12 university-based programs, three program affiliated with a university and six independent programs. In those programs, 85 of the 966 general surgery residents failed to complete their training during the five-year period the research team studied, July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2015. Of those who failed to complete their general surgery training, 15 left during the first year of training; 34 during the second year, and 36 during the third year or later.

Notably, we found a nearly seven-fold difference between the training program with the lowest attrition rate, 2.2%, and the one with the highest rate, 14.3%, over the five-year period surveyed. In the programs with lower attrition rates, we found about one in five residents received some support or remediation to help ensure they would complete their https://medicalresearch.com/author-interviews/reduction_in_surgical_residents_work_hours/4475/ In the programs with higher attrition rates, the research team reported that only about one in 15 residents received such remediation. Continue reading

USPSTF: Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Cardiovascular Risk Factors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD Endowed chair in medicine David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Dr. Mangione

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP
Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD
Endowed chair in medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles
Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

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

Response: Americans can experience several health benefits from consuming healthy foods and engaging in physical activity. The Task Force recommends that primary care professionals work together with their patients when making the decision to offer or refer adults who are not obese and do not have hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or diabetes to behavior counseling to promote healthful diet and physical activity. Our focus was on the impact of a healthful diet and physical activity on cardiovascular risk because this condition is the leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality. The Task Force evaluates what the science tells us surrounding the potential benefits and harms of a particular preventive service. In this case, the Task Force found high quality evidence focusing on the impact a healthful diet and physical activity can have on a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Relying on this evidence, the Task Force was able to conclude that there is a positive but small benefit of behavioral counseling to prevent cardiovascular disease.

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