Researchers Examine Racial and Age Disparities in Cancer Survival

Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TennesseeMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine,
Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center,
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee

 

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

Dr. Wei Zheng: Substantial progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, resulting in a steady improvement in cancer survival. However, the degree of improvement by age, race and sex remains unclear. We quantified the differences in the improvement of cancer survival by race, age, and sex over the last two decades.

We used cancer diagnosis and follow-up data from more than 1 million cancer patients, collected in nine SEER registries, to investigate trends in improved survival for seven major cancers in the United States by age, race, and sex between 1990 and 2010. We found that elderly patients experienced a smaller improvement in survival for cancers of the colon/rectum, breast, prostate, lung, and liver than their younger counterparts. In particular, the age-related disparities were most pronounced for those cancers with the greatest advancements in diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades, including cancers of colon/rectum, breast and prostate. African Americans experienced poorer survival than whites for all cancers. Because of a greater improvement in prostate cancer survival in African Americans than for whites, the racial difference in the survival of this cancer decreased during the study period. For ovarian cancer, however, the survival rate declined in African Americans but slightly increased in whites, leading to a wider racial gap in the survival of this deadly cancer. No apparent disparities in survival improvement by sex were noted.

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Antimicrobial Chlorhexidine Baths Did Not Reduce Hospital Infections

Michael Noto, MD, PhD Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael Noto, MD, PhD

Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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

Dr. Noto: Health care-associated infections are the most common complication for hospitalized patients and several studies have suggested that bathing critically ill patients with the antimicrobial chlorhexidine reduces health care-associated infections.  In the largest study of chlorhexidine bathing to date, however, we were unable to demonstrate a reduction in infections.

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Ferric Citrate – Auryxia™ – Demonstrates Safety and Cost Savings in Dialysis Patients

Dr. Julia Lewis, MD, Lead Investigator Nephrologist and Professor of Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Julia Lewis, MD, Lead Investigator

Nephrologist and Professor of Medicine
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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

Dr. Lewis: The 48-week Open Label Extension (OLE) study for Auryxia™ (ferric citrate) was conducted to determine long term safety following the Phase 3 52-week active-control period. The study also evaluated changes in serum phosphorus, transferrin saturation (TSAT), serum ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit and additional parameters, as well as intravenous (IV) iron and erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) usage.

In the OLE study, Auryxia demonstrated long-term safety in dialysis-dependent chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. The results were consistent with those seen in the published pivotal Phase 3 trial.

The study demonstrated that the adverse events (AE’s) profile of Auryxia was similar to that seen in the Phase 3 52-week active-control period. AEs occurred in 142 patients treated with Auryxia. They were primarily non-serious gastrointestinal (GI) – related AE’s, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and constipation. Serious adverse events occurred in 75 patients, though none were related to Auryxia. In addition, there were no clinically or statistically significant differences in liver enzymes or aluminum levels observed from baseline to the end of the 48 weeks.

Similar to the original trial, we witnessed excellent phosphorus control with the drug, along with an increase and then a plateau in serum ferritin and TSAT levels with Auryxia. The plateauing of serum ferritin and TSAT further supports iron absorption is highly regulated by the gastrointestinal track as seen in the 52-week active control period. This suggests that the body absorbs iron as needed for effective erythropoiesis.

Additionally, iron store increases from ferric citrate resulted in, by the end of the extension study, 85% of subjects not using any IV iron.

We presented this data at the 2014 American Society of Nephrology Meeting. The abstract can be found online at www.asn-online.org.

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More Women Choosing Mastectomy For Early Breast Cancer Management

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Kristy Lynn Kummerow MD

Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center
Nashville, Tenn

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

Dr. Kummerow: This study looked at how we are currently treating early stage breast cancer in the US – early stage breast cancer includes small cancers with limited or no lymph node involvement and no spread to other body site – it was prompted by something we observed an our own cancer center, which is that more and more women seem to be undergoing more extensive operations than are necessary to treat their cancer.  It is helpful to understand the historical context of how we treat early breast cancer.  Prior to the 1980s, the standard of care for any breast cancer was a very extensive procedure, which involved removal of the entire breast, as well as underlying and overlying tissues and multiple levels of lymph nodes drained by that area.  Informative clinical trials were completed in the 1980s demonstrated that these extensive procedures were unnecessary, and that equivalent survival could be achieved with a much more minimal operation, by removing only the tumor, with a margin of normal breast tissue around it, and performing radiation therapy to the area; this technique is now known as breast conservation surgery, also known as lumpectomy with radiation.  In the 1990s, breast conservation was established by the national institutes of health and was embraced as a standard of care for early stage breast cancer; performance of breast conservation surgery also became a quality metric – accredited breast centers in the US are expected to perform breast conservation surgery in the majority of women who they treat for breast cancer.  However, what our research team observed at our institution didn’t fit – over time it appears more aggressive surgical approaches are being used for more women.  This has been found in other institutions as well, and is supported by smaller national studies.  We wanted to understand how surgical management of early breast cancer is changing over time at a national level using the largest data set of cancer patients in the United States.

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Childhood Pneumococcal Vaccine Linked To Sharp Decline In Hospitalizations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Marie R Griffin MD MPH Director, Vanderbilt MPH Program Department of Health Policy Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nashville TN 37212 Marie R Griffin MD MPH
Director, Vanderbilt MPH Program
Department of Health Policy Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville TN 37212

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

Dr. Griffin: In Tennessee, the introduction in 2010 of a new pneumococcal vaccine for infants and young children was associated with a 27 percent decline in pneumonia hospital admissions across the state among children under age 2. The recent decline in Tennessee comes on top of an earlier 43 percent decline across the United States associated with the introduction in 2000 of the first pneumococcal vaccine for children under 2 years of age.

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Genes Linked To Breast Cancer In East Asian Women Identified

Qiuyin Cai, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Vanderbilt University

Dr. Qiuyin Cai, M.D., Ph.D. Courtesy: Vanderbilt University

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Qiuyin Cai, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Vanderbilt University

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Cai: We conducted a genome-wide association study in East Asians to search for additional genetic changes that are linked to breast cancer development. The study was conducted as part of the Asia Breast Cancer Consortium, which includes 22,780 women with breast cancer and 24,181 control subjects. We found DNA sequence changes in two genes, PRC1 and ZC3H11A, and a change near the ARRDC3 gene were associated with breast cancer risk. These results were also replicated in a large consortium, including 16,003 breast cancer cases and 41,335 control subjects of European ancestry.
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Diabetes: Adding Insulin To Metformin May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christianne L. Roumie, MD MPH Associate Professor Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Institute for Medicine and Public Health Vanderbilt University Staff Physician VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Nashville TN 37212MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christianne L. Roumie, MD MPH
Associate Professor Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Institute for Medicine and Public Health
Vanderbilt University
Staff Physician VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
Nashville TN 37212

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Roumie: This retrospective cohort study compared time to acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, or death among Veterans with diabetes that were initially treated with metformin, and subsequently added either insulin or sulfonylurea. Among 178,341 Veterans on metformin monotherapy, 2,948 and 39,990 added insulin or sulfonylurea, respectively. Patients were about 60 years old, about 35% had history of heart disease or stroke, had been on metformin for an average of 14 months and their hemoglobin A1c was 8.1% at the time of addition of the second medication. Compared to those who added a sulfonylurea, those who added insulin to metformin had a 30% higher risk of the combined outcome of heart attack, stroke, and all-cause mortality. Although new heart attacks and strokes occurred at similar rates in both groups, mortality was higher in patients who added insulin.

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Infant Feeding: Racial and Ethnic Differences Require Culturally-Tailored Counseling

Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director, Office of Research Development University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  and Associate Professor Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7225MedicalResearch.com Interview Invitation with:
Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director, Office of Research Development
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  and
Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7225

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Perrin: The study included a large, diverse sample of 863 low-income parents of two-month-olds participating in Greenlight, an obesity prevention trial taking place at four medical centers: UNC, New York University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Miami.  Among all of the parents, behaviors that are thought to be related to later obesity were highly prevalent. Exclusive formula feeding was more than twice as common (45 percent) as exclusive breastfeeding (19 percent). Twelve percent had already introduced solid food, 43 percent put infants to bed with bottles, 23 percent propped bottles instead of holding the bottle by hand (which can result in overfeeding), 20 percent always fed when the infant cried, and 38 percent always tried to get their children to finish their milk.  In addition, 90 percent of the infants were exposed to television and 50 percent actively watched TV (meaning parents put their children in front of the television in order to watch).  There were differences in these behaviors by race and ethnicity, and study results show that culturally-tailored counseling should be offered to parents of different backgrounds who may feed and play with their children differently.

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Diabetes: Medication Adherence Improves with Information, Motivation and Skills

Chandra Y. Osborn, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine & Biomedical Informatics Division of General Internal Medicine & Public Health Center for Health Services Research Vanderbilt University Medical Center  Nashville, TN 37232-8300MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chandra Y. Osborn, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Medicine & Biomedical Informatics
Division of General Internal Medicine & Public Health
Center for Health Services Research
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN 37232-8300

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of your study?

Dr. Osborn:  We found that knowing how to take your diabetes medications (e.g., what to do if a dose is missed), believing medications are good for you, and having the appropriate skills to take them regardless of the situation (e.g., when life is busy, when in public) accounts for 41% of why people successfully take their diabetes medications, which, in turn, explains 9% of their glycemic control.

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Sports Related Concussions: Gender Related Differences

Dr. Scott L. Zuckerman, MD Department of Neurological Surgery Vanderbilt Sports Concussion CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Scott L. Zuckerman, MD
Department of Neurological Surgery
Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center


MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Zuckerman: Our study evaluated 244 athletes who suffered sports-related concussion (SRC), 122 males and 122 females, and assessed for gender differences in number, severity, and resolution of post-concussive symptoms using reliable change index (RCI) methodology applied to days to return to symptom baseline. Both groups were matched on number of prior concussions, age, and days to first post-concussion assessment, which consisted of the 22 symptom Post Concussion Symptom Checklist  from the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) evaluation tool.
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It’s Not Just Politics: People with Extreme Attitudes are Inordinately Convinced They Are Right

Kaitlin Toner, Ph.D. Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network 2301 Vanderbilt Place Nashville, TN 37240MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kaitlin Toner, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment
Vanderbilt Climate Change Research Network
Nashville, TN 37240
Dr. Kaitlin Toner, is a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University.
The study was conducted colleagues Mark Leary, Michael Asher, and Katrina Jongman-Sereno while Dr. Toner was a graduate student at Duke University.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Toner: The take home message is that people who hold more extreme attitudes also tend to feel superior about those attitudes, whereas people with moderate attitudes aren’t as convinced of the superiority of their own beliefs.  Although it might seem that this connection between attitude extremity and superiority seems reasonable, there’s no logical reason why people who hold moderate, middle-of-the-road attitudes should not think that their moderate attitudes are superior to other people’s.  But they don’t tend to do that; it’s the people with extreme attitudes who are inordinately convinced that they are right.

These findings are important because it sheds some light on how people become so polarized in their opinions: they don’t just take a side, but they believe everyone who disagrees with that view must be wrong. Importantly, it’s not just one political party who thinks this way, as previous research had suggested, but rather that it happens for both liberal and conservative attitudes.  And, given the stalemate in Washington, understanding why people become so entrenched in their views – even when there is often not an objectively correct answer – is more important than ever. Continue reading

Breast Cancer: 7 Triple-Negative Subtypes and Chemotherapy Response

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hiroko Masuda MD

Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic; Departments of 2Breast Medical Oncology, 3Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas;

W. Fraser Symmans, MD
Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Pathology, Unit 85, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030-4009;

Naoto T. Ueno, MD
Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Unit 1354, Houston, TX 77030.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) could be classified into 7 subtypes:
basal-like 1 (BL1), basal-like 2 (BL2), immunomodulatory (IM), mesenchymal (M),mesenchymal stem-like (MSL), luminal androgen receptor (LAR), and unstable (UNS).

Using cluster analysis, Lehmann and Bauer et al. identified these TNBC subtypes in 21 public mRNA gene expression profiles of breast cancer. However, the clinical relevancy of these novel molecular subtypes has not been established. To establish the clinical relevancy, we determined if the subtypes of TNBC have different rates of pathological complete response (pCR) to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens. In this study, we confirmed that TNBC is heterogeneous and that pCR differs by TNBC subtype using the algorithm proposed by Lehmann and Bauer et al. The BL1 subtype had the highest pCR rate (52%), and BL2 and LAR had the lowest pCR rates (0% and 10%, respectively). TNBC subtype was an independent predictor of pCR status (P=0.022) via a likelihood ratio test. To our knowledge, this was the first study to show that the TNBC subtype can serve as an independent predictor of pCR status in patients who received standard chemotherapy regimens.

This confirms the possible clinical relevance of the 7 molecular subtypes, and these subtypes may lead to innovative clinical trials of personalized medicine for patients with TNBC. Continue reading

Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support – Factors Influencing Graft Survival

Simon Maltais MD PhD Vanderbilt University Medical Center Division of Cardiovascular Surgery 1215 21st Ave S, MCE 5th Flr Nashville, TN 37232-8808.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Simon Maltais MD PhD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Division of Cardiovascular Surgery
1215 21st Ave S, MCE 5th Flr
Nashville, TN 37232-8808.


MedicalResearch.com: What did your study evaluate and why is this important?

Answer: We performed a rigorous, retrospective review of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data base to evaluate donor, recipient, and technical characteristics associated with graft survival in patients undergoing mechanical circulatory support (MCS) device explantation at the time of heart transplantation surgery.

Donor and recipient characteristics has been well described in the medical literature for routine heart transplantation, however these characteristics in patients who were supported with a long term MCS device at the time of heart transplant was not known.  Additionally, due to chronic donor heart shortages, an increasing number of patients with advanced heart failure are being bridged with MSC devices until a suitable donor heart can be obtained.

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HIV Rates for Black Women in Parts of the US Much Higher than Previously Estimated

Newswise — 3/09/2012 – Newark is one of six locations in the United States that are the focus of a new study whose findings indicate that the HIV incidence rate for US women living in areas hardest hit by the epidemic is much higher than the overall estimated incidence rate in the US for black women. The study was designed, and the national research team chaired, by Sally Hodder, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School.

At the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) announced results from its HPTN 064 Women’s HIV Seroincidence Study (ISIS) which found an HIV incidence of 0.24% in the study cohort of 2,099 women (88% black), a rate that is fivefold higher than that estimated for black women overall by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate noted in the HPTN 064 (ISIS) study is comparable to estimated HIV incidence rates in the general population in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa including the Congo (0.28 %) and Kenya (0.53%), underscoring the substantial ongoing HIV transmission within specific US populations, including women at risk as defined in this study. The six geographical areas in the US chosen for the study are locations where HIV and poverty are known to be more common.

Hodder, who also is director of the HIV/AIDS Program in the Division of Infectious Diseases of New Jersey Medical School, said about the findings, “We have known that black women in the US are disproportionately impacted by HIV, however, the magnitude of this disparity in areas hardest hit by the HIV epidemic underscores the gravity of the problem.”

Women constitute roughly one-quarter of new HIV infections in the US with 66 percent of these infections occurring among black women, although black women constitute only 14 percent of the US female population. In the US, the age-adjusted death rate of black women with HIV is roughly 15 times higher than that observed for HIV-infected white women. “Despite prevention efforts in the last 30 years, the reality is that we still have ongoing HIV transmission in the US that requires focusing prevention efforts,” said Hodder.

While at CROI, Hodder also described additional research that is focused specifically on Newark. Using data on the HIV-positive population in Newark collected from 2002-09, Hodder and a team of researchers created a model to predict which interventions might be most effective in controlling the epidemic. The four interventions tested were 1) increased HIV testing coverage, 2) decreased time from infection to testing, 3) decreased dropout of patients from treatment programs, and 4) improved use of therapies to suppress viral load in people who are infected. The model suggests that the best approach by far would be a combination of all four of those interventions, leading to a projected reduction the incidence of infection by 39% and in the number of deaths by 45.8%. No single approach among the four is projected to achieve results that are even half as positive as combining all of the interventions within the affected population.

HPTN 064 (ISIS) Study Background:
The HPTN 064 (ISIS) study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institute of Health, enrolled a total of 2,099 women, ages 18 to 44 years, between May 2009 and July 2010. Eighty-eight percent of women were black, 12% Hispanic/Latina. Women were enrolled from 10 communities in six distinct geographical areas in the northeast and southeast regions of the US; Atlanta, GA, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Washington D.C., Baltimore, MD, Newark, NJ, New York City, NY.

The study used a novel approach to recruit participants, focusing on geographic areas of the US with the highest HIV prevalence rates in women, i.e. ‘hot spots’. Women without a prior positive HIV test living in areas with high HIV prevalence and poverty were eligible for enrollment and were interviewed about many key aspects of their lives including mental health, sexual behavior, history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), domestic violence, social support, financial insecurity and health care utilization.

Another significant finding from the study is the high number of women who were found to have HIV infection at the time of enrollment (32 women or 1.5%). These women were previously unaware of their HIV status. This finding highlights the need to increase awareness of HIV risk and expand novel HIV testing and prevention efforts in high prevalence areas of the US.

“The study provides convincing evidence that more effort is needed to develop effective prevention strategies for high risk populations in order to stem the HIV epidemic in the US,” said Sten Vermund from Vanderbilt University, Principal Investigator of the HPTN.

New Multiple Sclerosis Gene Associations Discovered

An international team of scientists has identified 29 new genetic variants linked to multiple sclerosis, providing key insights into the biology of an important and very debilitating neurological disease.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), one of the most common neurological conditions among young adults, affects around 2.5 million individuals worldwide. It is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, and can cause severe symptoms such as paralysis or loss of vision.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Center for Human Genetics Research (CHGR) played an important role in the research published today in the journal Nature, which represents the largest MS genetics study ever undertaken and effectively doubles the number of genes known to be associated with the disease.

“We now know just how complex multiple sclerosis is,” said Jonathan Haines, Ph.D., director of the CHGR and one of the principal researchers in this effort. “These new genes give us many new clues as to what is happening in MS and will guide our research efforts for years to come.”

Researchers studied the DNA from 9,772 individuals with multiple sclerosis and 17,376 unrelated healthy controls. They were able to confirm 23 previously known genetic associations and identified a further 29 new genetic variants (and an additional five that are strongly suspected) conferring susceptibility to the disease.

Many genes implicated in the study are relevant to the immune system, shedding light onto the immunological pathways that underlie the development of multiple sclerosis.

One-third of the genes identified in the study have previously been implicated in playing a role in other autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease and Type 1 diabetes, Haines said.

Previous studies have also suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of multiple sclerosis; researchers in this study identified two genes involved in the metabolism of vitamin D, providing additional insight into a possible link between genetic and environmental risk factors.

The international team led by the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, includes contributions from nearly 250 researchers as members of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.