Author Interviews, HIV, PLoS, UC Davis / 31.07.2015

Dr. Satya Dandekar PhD Professor and Chair Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology UC DavisMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Satya Dandekar PhD Professor and Chair Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology UC Davis Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dandekar: Current anti-retroviral therapy is effective in suppressing HIV replication and enhancing immune functions in HIV infected individuals. However, it fails to eradicate the latent HIV reservoirs. Therapy interruption leads to a rapid viral rebound in these patients.  Eradication of latent HIV reservoirs is essential to achieve HIV cure. A “shock and kill” strategy for HIV cure has been proposed that involves reactivation of latent viral reservoirs using latency reversal agents (LRA) and eradication by the immune response. This highlights the need to identify potent LRAs to optimally activate latent HIV reservoirs so that immune surveillance and clearance mechanisms can be effectively engaged in the process of viral eradication. We have found that ingenol-3-angelate (PEP005), an anti-cancer drug can effectively reactivate latent HIV. It is a protein kinase C agonist that activates NF-kB and stimulates HIV expression. In combination with another compound, JQ1, a previously known p-TEFb agonist, the efficacy of PEP005 for HIV reactivation is markedly increased. In addition, ingenol-3-angelate decreases the expression of HIV co-receptors on immune cells, which potentially will help preventing further spread of the virus. The use of ingenol-3-angelate in combination with other latency reversal agents provides an excellent opportunity to optimally activate latent HIV reservoirs and target them for eradication. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, PLoS, Technology / 29.07.2015

Conrad Earnest, PhD, FACSM Texas A&M University College Station, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Conrad Earnest, PhD, FACSM Texas A&M University College Station, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Earnest: The study presented here is a thesis project performed by Robbyne Smith and Sammy Licence, under the direction of Professor Conrad Earnest. We were curious to about the effects of walking, texting and doing both while simultaneously being cognitively distracted by common tasks - in our case a maths test. Much of our curiosity was born from watching a YouTube video and reading an article on inattentional blindness where people did not notice a unicycling clown while using their mobile phones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysbk_28F068 Several reports suggest that this type of pedestrian behavior leads to more pedestrian accidents, possibly increases the risk of tripping and increases riskier road crossing behavior due to a lack of attention. While much of the literature has examined this question using a “straight line” model to look at walking characteristics and deviations within ones walking path, we elected to build an obstacle course that imitated common barriers that we measured in the city of Bath, England, that pedestrians might encounter during their walking day. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Earnest: Our main findings were that people slowed their walking speed, took more steps in their approach to common obstacles, and increased the height of their step to go up steps and over curbs. Interestingly, we did not see an increase in what we called barrier contacts, which were used as a surrogate measure for tripping. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, PLoS / 23.07.2015

Dr. Stephanie K. Venn-Watson Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, MS Director, Translational Medicine and Research Program National Marine Mammal FoundationMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Stephanie K. Venn-Watson Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, MS Director, Translational Medicine and Research Program National Marine Mammal Foundation
    Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Venn-Watson: Bottlenose dolphins, just like people, can develop a condition called metabolic syndrome. In humans, metabolic syndrome is also called prediabetes, which affects 1 in every 3 adults in the U.S. Some human studies have suggested that eating a diet high in fish may lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Other similar studies, however, have had inconsistent findings. To better understand how fish diets may be associated with dolphin metabolic health, we compared 55 fatty acids among 49 dolphins and their dietary fish. We were surprised to find that the strongest predictor of lower, healthier insulin levels in dolphins was a saturated fat called, heptadecanoic acid (or C17:0). When we provided a diet higher in C17:0 to six dolphins over six months, their insulin, glucose, and triglycerides normalized. We also saw an immediate decrease in ferritin, a protein which - at high levels - may be a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. In addition to some fish, C17:0 is present in dairy fat, including whole fat milk and butter. C17:0 was not present in nonfat dairy products. We hypothesize that movement towards nonfat dairy foods may be lowering human C17:0 blood levels, which may be contributing to the global rise in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Electronic Records, PLoS, UCSF / 17.07.2015

Dr. Courtney Lyles Ph.D. Assistant Professor UCSF School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Courtney Lyles Ph.D. Assistant Professor UCSF School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lyles: In our commentary (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001852), we describe the Meaningful Use program sponsored by the federal government to incentivize healthcare systems to implement electronic health records (EHRs).  This Meaningful Use program also includes financial incentives for healthcare systems who can get substantial proportions of their patient population to access their electronic health records – that is, by logging into an online patient portal website to view medical information like lab results or immunization lists or to perform a healthcare task like requesting a medication refill or messaging their provider.  Because there are billions of dollars at stake in this program for EHR implementation, there is a lot of attention on this issue right now.  Many thought leaders are discussing how we can transform healthcare by digitizing medical information and connecting with patients in their everyday life outside of office or hospital visits.  Portals are key to a lot of changes we might make in healthcare delivery in an attempt to increase convenience and satisfaction for patients.  Perhaps most importantly, these online portal websites are also one of the first health technologies that will be relatively uniformly distributed across healthcare settings, from private doctor’s offices to public clinics/hospitals serving vulnerable patient populations. However, our main message is that we in the medical and healthcare fields should be paying more attention to how patients are able to understand and use the information provided through portal websites.  There is a lot of evidence that patients who have lower education/income, are from racial/ethnic minority groups, or have limited health literacy are significantly less likely to use the existing portal websites.  There is also evidence that portal websites are not extremely usable or accessible, which is an additional barrier for those with communication barriers like lower literacy or limited English proficiency.  Therefore, we don’t want widespread EHR implementation to result in only the most well-resourced individuals gaining the potential benefits of portal access. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Toxin Research, University of Pennsylvania / 17.07.2015

Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D. Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division Director, Airways Biology Initiative Deputy Director, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Adjunct Professor, Wistar Institute Philadelphia, PA  19104-3413MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D. Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division Director, Airways Biology Initiative Deputy Director, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Adjunct Professor, Wistar Institute Philadelphia, PA  19104-3413 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Panettieri: Over the past ten years in the US, unconventional gas and oil drilling (hydraulic fracturing) to generate natural gas has markedly increased.  In areas with hydraulic fracturing, there is a large increase in truck traffic, noise and potential air and water pollution.  Accordingly, residents may experience health consequences from such exposures.  We questioned whether proximity to active wells increases hospitalization rates in residents.  To address this question, we reviewed all hospitalizations in two counties in Pennsylvania, namely, Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, that experienced a meteoric increase in active wells.  In comparison, Wayne County, where there is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, is demographically identical to Bradford and Susquehanna Counties and served as a control population.  Having examined the 25 most common reasons for admission to the hospital, we determined that cardiovascular hospitalizations as well as neurologic, dermatologic and cancer hospitalizations were associated with living closer to active wells.  These data represent some of the first studies to associate active well drilling with hospitalizations in the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome, PLoS / 10.07.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mashkoor A.  Choudhry, PhD Professor of Surgery, Microbiology & Immunology Burn & Shock Trauma Research Institute Stritch School of Medicine Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division Maywood, IL 60153 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Choudhry: Intestine is the major reservoir of bacteria in the body. We observed that gut bacterial composition is altered after burn injury. We found that burn causes a significant increase in Enterobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria that has the potential to be harmful for the host. Dysbiosis of the healthy intestinal microbiome is associated with a number of inflammatory conditions. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS / 26.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jose A. Garcia Salcedo, PhD. Unidad de Enfermedades Infecciosas Hospital Universitario San Cecilio Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria de Granada Granada Spain Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Drug resistance is complicating the treatment of parasitic diseases including African trypanosomiasis, a fatal disease if left untreated. Development of a vaccine is unlikely due to parasite antigenic variation. Current chemotherapy relies primarily on four drugs. Three of these drugs access the cell’s interior through surface transporters and resistance mechanisms are largely associated with loss-of-function mutations in the involved surface drug transporters. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Flu - Influenza, PLoS / 23.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brooke Bozick Ph.D. Candidate Population Biology, Ecology, & Evolution Program Emory University MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous research at the global scale has shown that air travel is important for the spread of disease. For example, much work has focused on the recent Ebola epidemic in Africa, identifying where this disease emerged and then using air travel networks to predict the path of spread from there. At a more local scale, other modes of transportation may be more important to structuring pathogen populations. We were interested in investigating seasonal influenza in the United States. Previous research has shown that once the winter influenza epidemic starts, it spreads very rapidly across the continental states, suggesting that the US may act as one large, well-mixed population. Previous work using genetic data to look for spatial structure at this scale didn’t identify any patterns. However, these studies used geographic proximity to define the distance between states; we wanted to see whether similar patterns existed at this spatial scale if we instead used movement data as a proxy for the distance between locations. Commuter movements have previously been shown to correlate with influenza timing and spread based on influenza-like-illness and mortality data. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Response: We found that spatial structure is detectable within the US. We used data on the genetic distance between sequences collected from different states and compared that to different measures of ‘distance’ between states—geographic proximity, the daily number of people flying between states and the daily number of commuters traveling between states using ground transportation—to see whether any correlations were present. Further, we did this for two different subtypes of seasonal influenza: A/H3N2 and A/H1N1. These subtypes have different epidemiological properties, so there was reason to believe that the observed patterns might differ depending on subtype. We found that some correlations were present for all the distance metrics studied, but that they were observed a greater proportion of the time when looking at commuter movements, and when looking at the A/H1N1 subtype. Since A/H1N1 is generally milder and spreads more slowly throughout the US compared to A/H3N2, we interpret this to mean that spatial structure is likely more easily detected in this subtype. If A/H3N2 spreads rapidly from coast to coast, any signature of spatial structure is likely obscured before we have a chance to observe it. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, PLoS, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vanderbilt / 14.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine Anne Potter Wilson Chair in Medicine Director, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Danxia Yu, PhD Research Fellow Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Nashville, TN, 37203 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provide the most authoritative advice in the US about healthy eating. Higher adherence to the DGA, reflected by a higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score, has been found to be associated with lower risk of developing or dying from chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers) in several US studies. However, these studies recruited mostly non-Hispanic white individuals and middle to high income Americans. It has been reported that racial/ethnical background and socioeconomic status may influence food choices and diet quality. However, no previous study has adequately evaluated the association between adherence to the DGA and risk of death due to diseases in racial/ethnical minorities and low-income Americans. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the health benefits of adherence to the current DGA can be generalized to these underserved populations. We analyzed diet and mortality data from the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), a large, prospective cohort study including approximately 85,000 American adults, 40-79 years old, enrolled from 12 southeastern states between 2002 and 2009. Two-thirds of the SCCS participants were African-American and more than half reported an annual household income <$15,000. During a mean follow-up of 6.2 years, we identified 6,906 deaths in the SCCS, including 2,244 from cardiovascular disease, 1,794 from cancer, and 2,550 from other diseases. Using multivariate analysis methods, we found that participants in the top 20% of the HEI score (highest adherence to the DGA) had only about 80% of the risk of death due to any diseases compared with those in the bottom 20% of the HEI score. This protective association was found regardless of sex, race and income levels. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, PLoS, Psychological Science / 12.06.2015

Dr. rer. nat. Kristin Prehn, Dipl.-Psych. Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin Department of Neurology & NeuroCure Clinical Research Cente Berlin GermanyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. rer. nat. Kristin Prehn, Dipl.-Psych. Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin Department of Neurology & NeuroCure Clinical Research Cente Berlin Germany MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Prehn: The study is based on the theory by renowned American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg stating that people progress through different levels of moral reasoning. At lower levels, individuals judge moral issues based on self-interest or laws and rules. Individuals at the post-conventional level also take into account deeper principles and shared ideals. The Kohlbergian theory influenced moral psychology and education for decades. No study to date, however, had investigated in which way moral development is reflected in human brain structure and function. In our study, we compared gray matter brain volume in healthy young subjects who either reached the post-conventional level or did not reach that level so far. We found that subjects at the post-conventional level showed larger volume in a specific brain region of the prefrontal cortex which is essential for moral reasoning as well as the integration of emotion and cognition during human behavior. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Genetic Research, Lipids, PLoS / 31.05.2015

Dr. Yann C Klimentidis, PhD Assistant professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health University of Arizona Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yann Klimentidis Ph.D. Assistant Professor Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health University of Arizona Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Klimentidis: Previous studies have hinted at the possibility that genes which are associated with higher triglyceride levels may also be associated with lower type-2 diabetes. We set out  to test this hypothesis in multiple prospective cohort studies, in European-Americans and in African-Americans. We found that on a collective basis, the alleles which are associated with higher triglycerides are also associated with reduced type-2 diabetes risk. We also identified some individual genetic variants which are driving this trend. (more…)
Author Interviews, Coffee, Erectile Dysfunction, PLoS, University Texas / 26.05.2015

David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. Assistant professor University of Texas Health School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. Assistant professor University of Texas Health School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lopez: Coffee, and its most studied component, caffeine, have been implicated in potential health benefits due to the rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in this beverage. Caffeine intake reduced the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction, especially an intake equivalent to approximately 2-3 daily cups of coffee (170-375 mg/day). This reduction was also observed among overweight/obese and hypertensive men, but not among diabetic men. These associations are warranted to be investigated in prospective studies. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Lopez: Caffeine intake reduced the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction, especially an intake equivalent to approximately 2-3 daily cups of coffee (170-375 mg/day). This reduction was also observed among overweight/obese and hypertensive men, but not among diabetic men. These associations are warranted to be investigated in prospective studies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Infections, PLoS / 24.05.2015

Dr. Michael Eriksen Benrós Mental Health Centre Copenhagen University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences Copenhagen NV, Denmark, National Centre for Register-based Research Aarhus University DenmarkMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Michael Eriksen Benrós Mental Health Centre Copenhagen University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Sciences Copenhagen NV, Denmark, National Centre for Register-based Research Aarhus University Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: It is increasingly recognized that infections and immune responses can affect the brain and activate immunocompetent cells within the brain, influencing on neuronal signal transduction and possibly cognition. Impaired cognition has been observed in association with several infections and with elevated levels of CRP in smaller studies. Furthermore, experimental activation of inflammatory reactions in healthy volunteers has been shown to induce short-term reduced cognitive performance. Moreover, particularly patients with infection in the brain or sepsis have been shown to have affected cognition in long time periods after the infection has been cleared, thus infections might also have a longer lasting effect on cognition. However, large-scale longitudinal studies had been lacking on the association between infections and cognitive ability in the general population. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Our study is the first large-scale study utilizing the extensive Danish registers to follow 190,000 males that had their IQ assessed at conscription, out of which 35% had a previous hospital contact with infection before the IQ testing was conducted. Our research shows a correlation between severe infections with a hospital contact and subsequent impaired cognition corresponding to an IQ score of 1.76 lower than the average. People with five or more hospital contacts with infections had an IQ score of 9.44 lower than the average. The study thus shows a clear dose-response relationship between the number of infections. Furthermore the effect on cognitive ability increased with the temporal proximity of the last infection and with the severity of the infection. Infections in the brain affected the cognitive ability the most, but many other types of infections severe enough to require a hospital contact where also associated with impairment of the cognitive ability. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, OBGYNE, PLoS / 18.05.2015

Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola Ph.D. Department of Medical Genetics Faculty of Medicine University of Helsinki Helsinki, FinlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola Ph.D. Department of Medical Genetics Faculty of Medicine University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Kaminen-Ahola: The beginning of embryonic development is vulnerable to the effects of  external influences and disruption of these processes can have long-term effects on development. Our previous study demonstrated, for the first time, that alcohol exposure in early pregnancy can cause permanent changes to the epigenetic regulation, gene function and the appearance of mouse offspring. We discovered increased DNA-methylation, transcriptional silencing of an epigenetically sensitive allele Agouti viable yellow (Avy) and darker coat colour in the offspring. In this study we wanted to see whether alcohol consumed in early pregnancy causes long-term changes to the epigenome and gene expression in hippocampus. According to previous studies the phenotype of offspring in this mouse model is highly variable, but reminiscent of human FAS with growth restriction, similar structural changes to corresponding areas of the face and skull, and hyperactivity. In this study we wanted to determine the impact of alcohol on the structures of the central nervous system. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Kaminen-Ahola: We observed that early exposure to alcohol caused subtle changes in  the epigenome and altered the function of several genes in the hippocampi of adolescent mice. We also detected alcohol-induced alterations in the brain structure of adult offspring. Interestingly, we also found out that in addition to hippocampus, alcohol caused similar changes to gene function in two different tissues of the infant mouse, bone marrow and the olfactory epithelium of the snout. These results support our hypothesis that early gestational ethanol exposure alters the epigenetic reprogramming of the embryo, which leads to alterations in gene regulation and embryonic development, and causes life-long changes in brain structure, function, and behaviour. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, PLoS, Technology / 15.05.2015

Michael Rebold, PhD, CSCS Assistant Professor Department of Exercise Science Bloomsburg University Bloomsburg, PA 17815MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Rebold, PhD, CSCS Assistant Professor Department of Exercise Science Bloomsburg University Bloomsburg, PA 17815 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rebold: We assessed how common smartphone uses (texting and talking) interfere with treadmill exercise. We found that when individuals use their smartphones during exercise for texting or talking, it causes a reduction in exercise intensity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, PLoS / 11.05.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Gordon Langsley Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire Comparative des Apicomplexes, Institut Cochin, INSERM U1016, CNRS UMR 8104, Faculté de Medecine Université Paris Descartes, Paris Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have been studying the role of cAMP-dependent PKA signaling in Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells for some time; see just a few examples: PMID: 25522250; PMID: 22626931; PMID: 18248092; PMID: 11559352 and we came to the conclusion that intra cellular cAMP levels regulate infected red blood cell deformability and adhesion to for example, brain endothelial cells. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, PLoS / 02.05.2015

G. Mandela Fernández-Grandon PhDNatural Resources Institute,University of Greenwich,Chatham, United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with: G. Mandela Fernández-Grandon PhD Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Chatham, United Kingdom Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: People often wonder why, when they are out with their friends or family, one person seems to get ravaged by mosquitoes but others come away relatively bite free. Mosquito bites can be a nuisance to many of us but they are no trivial matter. Mosquitoes are one of the most serious threats to public health through the transmission of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and others. We knew that mosquitoes rely on odour to find their hosts but until now the link between our body odour and genes had only been shown using human sniffers1. In a strictly controlled laboratory environment, we were able to present the odours of individuals in identical and non-identical twin pairs to mosquitoes allowing them following the odour stream of whichever they found to be more attractive. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Mosquitoes are equally attracted to identical twins in a pair but with non-identical twins they display a preference for one individual. The ability of mosquitoes to distinguish non-identical twins but not identical twins suggests a genetic basis for our odour profile, a genetic difference which plays a role in whether we get bitten more or less than others. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, PLoS / 03.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ricardo Battaglino, Ph.D. Department of Mineralized Tissue Biology The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts Department of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts,MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ricardo Battaglino, Ph.D. Department of Mineralized Tissue Biology The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts Department of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Battaglino: Mutations in sorting nexin 10 (Snx10) have recently been found to account for roughly 4% of all human malignant osteopetrosis, some of them fatal. To study the disease pathogenesis, we investigated the expression of Snx10 and created mouse models in which Snx10 was knocked down globally or knocked out in osteoclasts. We found that Snx10, a molecule expressed in osteoclasts, was also expressed in the stomach. Studies in tissue specific or global knock-down mice showed that Snx10 deficiency resulted in a phenotype that was a consequence of deficiencies in both osteoclasts and gastric zymogenic cells. Our studies add to a growing list of genes, including atp6i (Tcirg1), whose expression is required both in bone and stomach to maintain normal gastric acidification and calcium absorption. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Battaglino: Our work provides additional insight into the mechanisms governing the regulation of bone accrual by the gastrointestinal tract. Because osteopetrorickets has not been described clinically in Snx10-related osteopetrosis, these findings highlight the importance of considering impaired acidification in both stomach and bone in osteopetrotic patients with mutations in SNX10 and other genes with similar patterns of expression and activities. Reliance solely on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation can leave hypocalcemia uncorrected with sometimes fatal consequences. Because defects in gastric differentiation and/or gastric acidification may cause or contribute to hypocalcemia, bone insufficiency, and early death, our results suggest that dietary calcium supplementation could be a life-saving intervention in these patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS / 19.02.2015

Shai Mulinari  Researcher, PhD Sociology, Lund University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shai Mulinari  Researcher, PhD Sociology, Lund University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mulinari : Over the past decade, several so-called whistleblower cases have spotlighted the illicit marketing practices of pharmaceutical companies in the US but relatively few similar cases have been brought in Europe. The reason for this discrepancy is unclear but one possibility is that the wider use of self-regulation in Europe encourages companies to comply with drug promotion rules and deters illicit conduct. But to date self-regulation of medicines promotion has been poorly studied. We therefore investigated pharmaceutical industry self-regulation in the UK and Sweden. These are two countries often cited as places where self-regulation is effective. One of things that we found was that between 2004 and 2012 the Swedish and UK self-regulatory bodies ruled that 536 and 597 cases, respectively, were in breach of the country’s rules on medicines promotion; many of the violations in both countries concerned misleading claims about a drug’s effects. This equates to an average of more than one case per week in each country. Charges incurred by companies because of these violations were equivalent to about 0.014% and 0.0051% of annual sales revenue in Sweden and the UK, respectively. Notably, nearly 20% of the cases in breach of the code of conduct in both countries were serious breaches. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Geriatrics, PLoS / 19.02.2015

Tess Harris St George’s University of LondonMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tess Harris St George’s University of London   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: Physical activity is vital for both physical and mental health in older people, preventing at least 20 common health problems. Yet the majority of older people do not achieve the World Health Organisation physical activity guidelines for health of at least 150 minutes every week of at least moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity in bouts that each last at least 10 minutes. Brisk walking is a good way to achieve moderate intensity physical activity, with a low risk of harm. Pedometers can give you direct feedback on your step-count and accelerometers record both step-counts and the intensity of physical activity achieved. The PACE-Lift trial assessed whether an intervention to increase walking, comprising pedometer and accelerometer feedback, combined with physical activity consultations provided by practice nurses over a 3 month period, based on simple behaviour change techniques, could lead to sustained increases in physical activity in 60-75 year olds. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, PLoS, Stem Cells / 29.01.2015

Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute La Jolla, CAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute La Jolla, CA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Terskikh: Hair loss is a wide spread human condition with an unmet need for hair replacement. In the United States alone, over 40 million men and 21 million women are affected by hair loss. I have been interested in the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into various cell including neural crest cells. In-vivo neural crest cells give rise to a multitude of cell types, including dermal papilla cells, which populate the bulb of hair follicles and regulate hair growth. We have established new method to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells into dermal papilla-like (DP-like) cells, with a goal of inducing hair growth. To find out whether DP-like cells induce hair growth we transplanted these cells under the skin of mice (which have a small amounts of white hair) along with the skin cells from dark-haired mice. We observed the growth of new black hairs suggesting the induction of hair growth by transplanted human DP-like cells. (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, PLoS / 25.01.2015

Charles Morrison PhD FHI 360 Clinical Sciences Durham, North CarolinaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Charles Morrison PhD FHI 360 Clinical Sciences Durham, North Carolina MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Morrison: The possible connection between hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition has been an open question for 25 years. Some studies have suggested that there is an increased risk associated with hormonal contraception, particularly with the 3-month injectable contraceptive called depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). Other studies have found that no such risk exists. The World Health Organization (WHO) has held several technical consultations on this subject. WHO’s current guidelines state that “because of the inconclusive nature of the body of evidence on the possible increased risk of HIV acquisition, women using progestogen-only injectable contraception should be strongly advised to also always use condoms, male or female, and other HIV preventive measures.” Two meta-analyses focusing on hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition have recently been published. One of them, FHI 360’s collaborative study, is an individual participant data meta-analysis. It found that users of injectable DMPA were 50 percent more likely to become infected with HIV than women not using hormonal contraceptives. For women using a different injectable progestin, norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN), or combined oral contraceptives (COC), the study investigators did not find a significantly increased risk of acquiring HIV compared to those who were not using hormonal contraceptives. Furthermore, DMPA users were 43 percent and 32 percent more likely to become infected with HIV compared to oral contraceptives users and NET-EN users, respectively. It is important to point out a key secondary finding. The associations between hormonal contraception and risk of becoming infected with HIV were attenuated in studies that had a lower risk of methodological bias compared to those with higher risk of bias. This suggests that some of the risk found to be associated with hormonal contraception in fact may be attributed to inherent flaws in the nonrandomized studies themselves. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, PLoS / 23.01.2015

Dr. Holger Rehmann Department of Molecular Cancer Research UMC Utrecht The NetherlandsMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Holger Rehmann Department of Molecular Cancer Research UMC Utrecht The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rehmann: We have developed a chemical modified version of the second messenger cAMP, Sp-8-BnT-cAMPS that allows selective activation of Epac2, a protein that augments glucose induced insulin secretion. The second messenger cAMP activates a couple of receptor proteins, which controls such divergent physiological effects as gene transcription, pacemaker activity, olfaction, and cell adhesion. Almost any cell responses in one or the other way to cAMP and thus selective action on only one cAMP receptor would be a requirement for a drug to induce specific effects. The study confirms that it is possible to pharmacologically discriminate between structurally highly related cAMP receptors. And indeed, Sp-8-BnT-cAMPS augments glucose induced insulin secretion in primary human islets. Epac2 is thus a putative target for the development of an antidiabetic drug. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Sexual Health / 18.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew Golden MD, MPH Director, PHSKC HIV/STD Program Professor of Medicine, University of Washington Harborview Medical Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Golden: Gonorrhea and chlamydial infection are the most common reportable infections in the United States and, in women, are associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infertility and chronic pelvic pain. One way to decrease the number of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia is to increase our success in treating the sex partners of persons diagnosed with these infections. Expedited partner therapy (EPT) - treating partners without requiring them to first undergo a medical evaluation - is one way to increase partner treatment. This usually involves giving people medication to give to their partners. Prior randomized trials have found that EPT decreases patients' risk of becoming reinfected. We conducted a community-level randomized trial to evaluate whether making free Expedited partner therapy available to medical providers would increase the use of Expedited Partner Therapy and decrease gonorrhea and chlamydial infections at the population level. We found that a public health program that made Expedited partner therapy widely available could dramatically increase medical providers use of EPT. Although our final result was not statistically significant, our findings suggest that the program likely decreased both gonorrhea and chlamydial infection by about 10% at the population-level. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dengue, Infections, PLoS / 16.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jose R. Loaiza Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama, Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología,  Universidad de Panamá, Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: The mosquito Aedes albopictus is a worldwide vector of both Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. This species invaded Panama in 2002, and it expanded across much of the country since that time. Our main goal was to determine the factors (e.g., ecological and non-ecological) associated with its expansion, and to comment on the implications for vector and disease control programs elsewhere in the American tropics. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We found that road networks alone best predicted the distribution of Ae. albopictus in Panama over other variables such as population density and climate. Our data explain the invasion mode of this mosquito species on a local level and demonstrate a remarkable population expansion velocity across the country. Ae. albopictus is likely moving across the landscape as immature stages (i.e., larvae and pupae) in open water, such as used tires. (more…)
Author Interviews, Ebola, PLoS / 16.01.2015

John M. Drake, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia Director, Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU SiteMedicalResearch.com Interview with: John M. Drake, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Odum School of Ecology University of Georgia Director, Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU Site Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Drake: Ebola virus disease is a deadly illness caused by infection with the zoonotic Ebola virus. The world's largest epidemic of Ebola virus disease is currently ongoing in West Africa, concentrated in the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Ebola emerges in a human population after contact with an infected animal host and persists through human-to-human transmission. Persons with late stage illness are especially infectious. Ebola outbreaks are typically contained by outbreak investigation and patient isolation. But, as the current epidemic shows, containment may be very difficult to achieve in areas of high population density or where there is little health infrastructure. During the second half of 2014, the West African nation of Liberia suffered the greatest rates of Ebola transmission. Slowing the spread of Ebola was found to be especially difficult after the virus reached the urban areas around Monrovia, particularly the township of West Point. The United States, other nations, and non-governmental organizations promised aid and developed a plan to improve Liberia's health infrastructure, but many aspects of urban Ebola transmission were then unknown, including the relative importance of hospital- and community-acquired infection, how much hospital capacity must be increased to provide care for the anticipated patient burden, and what level patient of isolation would be required to contain the outbreak. To address these issues, we developed a model for Ebola transmission that accounted for the separate sites at which infection could occur, for instance in the home, in public places (particularly at funerals), or in health facilities. Based on information available by mid-October, it was not clear whether enough was being done to contain the epidemic in Liberia. But, through public vigilance and community participation, particularly the willingness of infected persons to be treated in health facilities and to allow safe handling of the bodies of the deceased, transmission dropped dramatically in the last quarter of the year. An updated version of our model developed in early December suggests that if these gains can be maintained then the epidemic may be over by the middle of 2015. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Weight Research / 22.12.2014

Elina Helander, PhD Personal Health Informatics Department of Signal Processing Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, FinlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elina Helander, PhD Personal Health Informatics Department of Signal Processing Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Helander: Frequent or at least regular self-weighing is a part of behavioral therapy in many weight programs. However, self-weighing frequency typically varies over time. We analyzed almost 3,000 weight observations from 40 overweight individuals that participated in a 1-year health promotion program. These individuals were instructed to weigh themselves daily but eventually had varying self-weighing frequencies. We examined how different self-weighing frequencies of the same individual were linked with weight changes. We found that weight loss generally occurred during daily weighing. When there were longer breaks in self-weighing such as one month or more, there was a risk of weight gain.  We also computed a theoretical minimum self-weighing frequency for having no weight gain that was 5.8 days in our study. That corresponds approximately weekly weighing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, PLoS / 22.12.2014

Leonard A. Mermel DO FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA Professor of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Division of Infectious Diseases, Rhode Island Hospital Providence, Rhode IslandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Leonard A. Mermel DO FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA Professor of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Division of Infectious Diseases, Rhode Island Hospital Providence, Rhode Island Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mermel: While talking to infectious diseases physicians some years ago in Israel, Greece, and Thailand, I learned that unlike my experiene here in the US, most of the bloodstream infections they see are far and away due to Gram-negative bacteria.  So, a hypothesis was generated, namely that the likelihood of Gram-negative bacteremia compared to Gram-positive bacteremia was greater the closer to the equator.  A writing group was formed, colleagues around the world graciously shared their data.  The main finding is that in fact, we unequivocally found that the likelihood of Gram-negative, compared to Gram-positive bacteremia is more common closer to the equator.  This difference was greatest during the warmer months of the year.  We also found that the % GDP spent on healthcare in a given country is also associated with more Gram-negative than Gram-positive bacteremia.  These findings may reflect differences in the human microbiome as one gets closer or farther from the equator as has been recently demonstrated, differences in survival of Gram-negative compared to Gram-positive bacteria under certain environmental conditions, and likely reflects differences in public health and other factors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, PLoS / 19.12.2014

Daniel Irimia, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor  Division of Surgery, Science & Bioengineering Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School Associate Director, BioMEMS Resource Center Boston, MA 02129MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel Irimia, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Division of Surgery, Science & Bioengineering Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School Associate Director, BioMEMS Resource Center Boston, MA 02129 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sepsis is affecting more than half of the patients with major burn injuries (20 percent of body surface) and is the leading cause of death among these patients.  Sepsis is also a significant complication for other critically ill patients. More than one million Americans are affected and it has been estimated that approximately 30% of these people die, despite significant advances in life support and antibiotics.  Early diagnosis is essential, and it has been calculated that every 6 hours of delay in a sepsis diagnosis decreases the chances of survival by 10 percent. We have found that the motility of the white blood cells called neutrophils, inside a microfluidic device, is significantly altered two to three days before sepsis develops. (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, PLoS, Vaccine Studies / 15.12.2014

Adrian Egli, MD PhD Research Group leader Infection Biology Laboratory Department of Biomedicine University of Basel and University Hospital Basel Basel, SwitzerlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adrian Egli, MD PhD Research Group leader Infection Biology Laboratory Department of Biomedicine University of Basel and University Hospital Basel Basel, Switzerland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Egli: Infections with influenza viruses are associated with a high morbidity and mortality. In particular, people with a weak immune system are at danger for more severe complications. This includes elderly people, pregnant women, patients after transplantation, patients with HIV infection, chronic diseases such as diabetes and many more. In these high-risk groups, annual vaccination is clearly recommended. However, due to the immunsuppressive condition the immune response to the influenza vaccine is often reduced. The seroconversion rate - a 4-fold antibody titer increase upon vaccination - is one of the key markers for a successful vaccination. In young adults the seroconversion rate is normally >85%; however, in patients with immunosuppression, this can be lower than 40%. Improving vaccine efficacy is one of the key focuses of my research group. We try to understand, how to improve vaccines and better protect the people at the highest risks for influenza-associated complications. In this study, we could show that an important cytokine, called Interferon lambda, is clearly associated with the vaccine induced antibody response upon influenza vaccination. We could show that genetic polymorphisms, in one of the Interferon lambda gene family (IFNL3), are modulating the expression of this gene. This strongly affects the cross talk between the innate and adaptive immune response in the context of vaccination. We observed that, the more Interferon lambda is present, the lower the antibody response is. People with a lower expression of Interferon lambda had a significant higher response to the vaccine. Therefore, we developed substances to block the effect of Interferon lambda. We could show in vitro, that due to the Interferon lambda blockade, the antibody production was improved. (more…)