Amyloid PET Scan Can Predict Progression to Alzheimer’s in Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David A. Wolk, MD Associate Professor Department of Neurology Co-Director, Penn Memory Center Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Wolk

David A. Wolk, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
Co-Director, Penn Memory Center
Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center
University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a state when individuals have mild memory problems, but not enough to impact day-to-day function.  Many patients with MCI are on the trajectory to developing Alzheimer’s Disease dementia, but about half will not and remain stable.  As such, patients with MCI are often uncertain about the likelihood they should expect to decline in the future which obviously may be associated with considerable anxiety and this may delay opportunities for them to plan for the future or begin therapeutic interventions.

This study examined the degree to which amyloid PET, which detects the amyloid pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease, a measure of shrinkage of the hippocampus with MRI, and cognitive measures predicted development of dementia over 3 years.  We found that each of these measures enhances prediction of whether an individual will or will not develop dementia in the future.  If all of these measures are positive, one has a very high risk of progression whereas if amyloid PET and the MRI measurement are normal, there is very little risk of progression. Continue reading

Maryland’s Global Budget Plan Did Not Change Hospital or Primary Care Usage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric T. Roberts, PhD Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Dr. Roberts

Eric T. Roberts, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

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

Response: There is considerable interest nationally in reforming how we pay health care providers and in shifting from fee-for-service to value-based payment models, in which providers assume some economic risk for their patients’ costs and outcomes of care.  One new payment model that has garnered interest among policy makers is the global budget, which in 2010 Maryland adopted for rural hospitals.  Maryland subsequently expanded the model to urban and suburban hospitals in 2014.  Maryland’s global budget model encompasses payments to hospitals for inpatient, emergency department, and hospital outpatient department services from all payers, including Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers.  The intuition behind this payment model is that, when a hospital is given a fixed budget to care for the entire population it serves, it will have an incentive to avoid costly admissions and focus on treating patients outside of the hospital (e.g., in primary care practices).  Until recently, there has been little rigorous evidence about whether Maryland’s hospital global budget model met policy makers’ goals of reducing hospital use and strengthening primary care.

Our Health Affairs study evaluated how the 2010 implementation of global budgets in rural Maryland hospitals affected hospital utilization among Medicare beneficiaries.  This study complements work our research group published in JAMA Internal Medicine (January 16, 2018) that examined the impact of the statewide program on hospital and primary care use, also among Medicare beneficiaries.

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Declining Medicaid Fees Translates To Fewer Available Primary Care Appointments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Molly Candon, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Candon

Molly Candon, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research
University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: We conducted a secret shopper study in 2012, 2014, and 2016 in which simulated Medicaid patients called primary care practices and attempted to schedule an appointment. When Medicaid fees were increased to Medicare levels in 2013 and 2014, primary care appointment availability increased. Once the federally-funded program ended in 2015, most states returned to lower fees. As expected, provider participation in Medicaid declined as well.

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Transplant Network Undercaptures Post-Transplant Skin Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thuzar M.Shin MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Dermatology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Shin

Thuzar M.Shin MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: The Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) collects data on cancers that develop after organ transplantation. Previous studies have shown incomplete reporting to the OPTN for many cancers (including melanoma). Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in solid organ transplant recipients and the most common post-transplant skin cancer, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), is not captured in standard cancer registries. We hypothesized that cSCC and melanoma are underreported to the OPTN. When compared to detailed medical record review obtained from the Transplant Skin Cancer Network database (JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Mar 1;153(3):296-303), we found that the sensitivity of reporting to the OPTN was only 41% for cSCC and 22% for melanoma. The specificity (99% for cSCC and 100% for melanoma) and negative predictive values (93% for cSCC and 99% for melanoma) were high. As a result, the OPTN database is unable to robustly and reliably distinguish between organ transplant recipients with and without these two skin malignancies.

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Severe Psoriasis Linked To Increased Risk of Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan H. Noe MD, MPH Clinical Instructor and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow University of Pennsylvania, Department of Dermatology Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Megan Noe

Megan H. Noe MD, MPH
Clinical Instructor and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Dermatology
Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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

Response: Previous research has shown that patients with psoriasis have higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease that may put them at an increased risk of death.

Our research found that patients with psoriasis covering more than 10% of their body had almost double the risk of death than people of the same age with similar medical conditions, but without psoriasis.

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Similar Signaling Pathways Trigger Anxiety In Variety of Species

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yuanyuan Xie, PhD Postdoctoral Researcher Department of Neuroscience University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr.Yuanyuan Xie

Yuanyuan Xie, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Neuroscience
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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

Response: I joined Dr. Richard Dorsky’s lab in mid 2013 after a lab switch toward the end of the fourth year in my PhD. By then, the Dorsky lab at the University of Utah had published zebrafish lef1 mutants with a hypothalamic neurogenesis phenotype. I was asked to perform an RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) experiment to identify Lef1-dependent genes. In doing so, I also characterized the cellular phenotype in the hypothalamus of our zebrafish mutants in a greater detail.

The first transition of this project happened when I proposed in late 2013 to test whether Lef1’s function was conserved in the mouse hypothalamus. Dr. Dorsky liked that idea, but told me that I could only pursue that idea if there was a Lef1-flox mouse strain available, because he did not want me to delay my graduation after a lab switch by making a new mouse line. Fortunately, a quick google search located the right mouse line published from the group of Dr. Hai-Hui Xue, who was generous enough to share some mice with us. Because the Dorsky lab was a zebrafish lab by then, we collaborated with Dr. Edward Levine to maintain our mice under his animal protocol. I was initially trained by Dr. Levine and his lab specialist Anna Clark for general mouse colony management. After Dr. Levine moved to Vanderbilt University in early 2016, we began to maintain our mice under Dr. Camille Fung’s animal protocol. Dr. Dorsky also supported me in attending a 3-week Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Course on Mouse Development, Stem Cells & Cancer in mid 2015, which made me much more confident in handling mouse work afterwards.

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Diabetes Alters Oral Microbiome Leading to Periodontal Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dana T. Graves DDS Department of Periodontics School of Dental Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Graves

Dana T. Graves DDS
Department of Periodontics
School of Dental Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

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

Response: It was previously thought that diabetes did not have a significant effect on oral bacteria. We found that diabetes caused a change in the composition of the oral bacteria. This change caused resulted in a bacterial composition that was more pathogenic and stimulated more inflammation in the gums and greater loss of bone around the teeth.

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Google Searches Valuable Source of Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mackenzie R. Wehner, MD, MPhil Department of Dermatology University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Weher

Mackenzie R. Wehner, MD, MPhil
Department of Dermatology
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

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

Response: For some diseases, we have national registries, in which information about every person with that disease is entered for research purposes. For other diseases, unfortunately, we do not have such registries. There are growing opportunities to use information like internet searches to better understand behaviors and diseases, however. Our study was a proof-of-concept: we aimed to find out whether internet searches for diseases correlated with known incidence (how many people are diagnosed with the disease) and mortality (how many people die of the disease) rates. E.g. does the number of people who searched ‘lung cancer’ online correlate with the number of people who we know were diagnosed with or who died of lung cancer during that same time period? This is important to know if researchers in the future want to use internet search data for diseases where we lack registry information.

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VR/AR May Help Physicians Overcome Cognitive Biases To Admitting Errors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason Han, MD Resident, Cardiothoracic Surgery Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Han

Jason Han, MD
Resident, Cardiothoracic Surgery
Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: The inspiration for this study comes from my personal experience as a medical student on clinical rotations. Despite having been a victim of a medical error while growing up myself, I found it extraordinarily difficult to admit to even some of my smallest errors to my patients and team. Perplexed by the psychological barriers that impeded error disclosure, I began to discuss this subject with my advisory Dean and mentor, Dr. Neha Vapiwala. We wanted to analyze the topic more robustly through an academic lens and researched cognitive biases that must be overcome in order to facilitate effective disclosure of error, and began to think about potential ways to implement these strategies into the medical school curriculum with the help of the director of the Standardized Patient program at the Perelman School of Medicine, Denise LaMarra.

We ultimately contend that any educational strategy that aims to truly address and improve error disclosure must target the cognitive roots of this paradigm. And at this point in time, simulation-based learning seems to be the most direct way to do so, but also remain hopeful that emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality may offer ways for students as well as staff to rehearse difficult patient encounters and improve.

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Genetic Variants Tied To Kidney Disease in African Americans

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katalin Susztak MD, PhD Associate Professor of Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Susztak

Katalin Susztak MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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

Response: Previous studies showed an association between genetic variants in the APOL1 gene and kidney disease development, but it has not been confidently shown that this genetic variant is actually causal for kidney disease. For this reason we developed a mouse model that recapitulates the human phenotype.

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