Adolescent Violent Offenders With Childhood Adversity Have Increased Risk of Suicide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emma Björkenstam PhD
Department of Public Health Sciences
Karolinska Institutet

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

Response: My research team and I have previously shown that childhood adversity is associated with an elevated suicide risk in young adults, and this increased risk may be explained by maladaptive trajectories during adolescence. We also know that adolescent violent offending is linked with suicide, but up until now, less was known about the role of violent offending in the association between childhood adversity and later suicide.

Our main finding in the current study, based on almost half a million Swedes, is that individuals with a history of childhood adversity who also engage in violent offending in late adolescence, have a substantial increased risk of suicide.

Continue reading

Small Increased Risk of Cardiac Birth Defects With ADHD Drug During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Krista F. Huybrechts, M.S., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Epidemiologist in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Boston, MA 02120

Dr. Krista Huybrechts

Krista F. Huybrechts, MS PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02120  

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

Response: In recent years, use of stimulant medications in adults, including women of reproductive age, has increased substantially.

However, data regarding the safety of stimulant medications in early pregnancy are sparse and conflicting.  For example, two recent cohort studies failed to detect an association between use of methylphenidate in early pregnancy and overall or cardiac malformations, while another found an 81% increased risk of cardiac malformations, although the estimate was imprecise.

Given the rapidly increasing use of stimulant medications during pregnancy and among women of reproductive age who may become pregnant inadvertently, there is an urgent need to better understand their safety.

Continue reading

Hearing Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Hear” by Jaya Ramchandani is licensed under CC BY 2.0David G. Loughrey, BA(Hons)

NEIL (Neuro Enhancement for Independent Lives) Programme
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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

Response: Age-related hearing loss, a common chronic condition among older adults, has emerged in the literature as a potential modifiable risk factor for dementia. This is of interest as current pharmacological therapies for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease only offer symptom-modifying effects. Treatment of risk factors such as hearing loss may help delay the onset of dementia and may provide an alternate therapeutic strategy. However, there is variance in the research on hearing loss and cognition with some studies reporting a small or non-significant association. In this meta-analysis, we investigated this association and we only included observational studies that used standard assessments of cognitive function and pure-tone audiometry (the clinical standard).

Continue reading

No Convincing Evidence of Memory Dysfunction Due To Statins

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Beth-Taylor

Dr. Taylor

Beth A. Taylor, PhD
Director of Exercise Physiology Research, Hartford Hospital Associate Professor, Kinesiology
University of Connecticut

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

Response: Hydroxy-methyl-glutaryl (HMG) CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) are the most effective medications for managing elevated concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).  Although statins are generally well-tolerated, they are not without side effects, and mild central nervous system (CNS) complaints such as memory loss and attention decrements are the second most commonly reported adverse effect of these drugs.

Studies assessing cognitive effects of statins vary widely and have produced inconclusive findings. Despite the equivocal data on adverse cognitive side effects with statin therapy, in 2012 the FDA announced a safety label change for statins, based on published case reports of memory loss and confusion and data from the Adverse Events Reporting System. One possibility for these equivocal findings is that studies involving the effects of statins on cognition typically have assessed cognitive function using traditional cognitive tests, which may yield small effect sizes and demonstrate high intra-participant variability. This may explain the discrepancy between clinical trials and patient self-reports, and could be addressed by utilizing CNS tests that directly assess brain parameters.

To the best of our knowledge and literature review, this study is the first to investigate the effects of statins on the central nervous system by utilizing fMRI to assess brain neural activation in healthy adults treated with 80 mg atorvastatin or placebo.

We detected few changes attributable to statin therapy with standardized neuropsychological tests, a finding similar to that from previous clinical trials. However, participants on atorvastatin demonstrated altered patterns of neural activation on vs. off statin compared to participants treated with placebo. Unexpectedly, the treatment groups differed at both timepoints. The clinical implications of these findings are unclear and warrant additional clinical trials.

Continue reading

More Evidence That Higher Education May Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Larsson

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD
Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet,
Institute of Environmental Medicine,
Stockholm, Sweden

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

Response: The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown and there are currently no medical treatments that can halt or reverse its effects. This has led to growing interest in identifying risk factors for Alzheimer’s that are amenable to modification. Several observational studies have found that education and various lifestyle and vascular risk factors are associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but whether these factors actually cause Alzheimer’s is unclear.

We used a genetic epidemiologic method known as ‘Mendelian randomization’. This method involves the use of genes with an impact on the modifiable risk factor – for example, genes linked to education or intelligence – and assessing whether these genes are also associated with the disease. If a gene with an impact on the modifiable risk factor is also associated with the disease, then this provides strong evidence that the risk factor is a cause of the disease.

MedicalResearch.com:  What are the main findings?

Response: Our results, based on aggregated genetic data from 17 000 Alzheimer’s disease patients and 37 000 healthy controls, revealed that genetic variants that predict higher education were clearly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A possible explanation for this link is ‘cognitive reserve’, which refers to the ability to recruit and use alternative brain networks or structures not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Previous research has shown that high education increases this reserve.

We found suggestive evidence for possible associations of intelligence, circulating vitamin D, coffee consumption, and smoking with risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There was no evidence for a causal link with other modifiable factors, such as vascular risk factors.

Continue reading

Could Lithium Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Val Andrew Fajardo, PhD. NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow | Centre for Bone and Muscle Health Brock University | Department of Health Sciences St. Catharines, ON, Canada 

Dr. Fajardo

Val Andrew Fajardo, PhD.
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow | Centre for Bone and Muscle Health
Brock University | Department of Health Sciences
St. Catharines, ON, Canada 

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

Response: Lithium is best known for its role as a mood stabilizer, and several ecological studies across a number of different regions have shown that trace levels of lithium in tap water can exert its mood stabilizing effect and reduce rates of suicide, crime, and homicide.

The results from our study show that these trace levels of lithium could also potentially protect against Alzheimer’s disease.  These findings are actually supported by several years of research using pre-clinical and clinical models to demonstrate low-dose lithium’s neuroprotective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we also found that trace lithium in tap water may potentially protect against obesity and diabetes – an effect that is also supported with previous literature.  In fact, some of the earlier reports of lithium’s effect of increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism were first published in the 1920s.  Finally, we found that trace lithium’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease may be partly mediated by its effect on obesity and diabetes.

My collaborator Dr. Rebecca MacPherson who is an expert on Alzheimer’s disease as a metabolic disorder explains that this effect is in support of recent research demonstrating that obesity and diabetes are important risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  So interventions aiming to reduce obesity and diabetes such as physical activity can go a long way in lowering risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is also something we present in our study.

Continue reading

LMTX® Shows Promise As Monotherapy In Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Claude Wischik Co-Founder and Executive Chairman TauRx Pharmaceuticals

Prof. Wischik

Professor Claude Wischik
Co-Founder and Executive Chairman
TauRx Pharmaceuticals

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

Response: The study TRx-237-005 was the second of two Phase 3 trials conducted by TauRx, and was specifically set up to investigate the efficacy and safety of LMTX® in 800 patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease at a dose of 100 mg twice daily compared to 4 mg twice daily (intended as an inactive control dose) over an 18-month treatment period.

Results from this study were found to be consistent with those from the first Phase 3 study in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, published in The Lancet [(TRx-237-015) Gauthier et al. 2016], indicating that patients obtained no benefit from LMTX® when it was taken in combination with existing approved drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and supporting the hypothesis that LMTX® might be effective as monotherapy at doses as low as 4 mg twice daily. Please refer to the press release for full study results.

  Continue reading

Amyloid Deposits In Persons Without Dementia May Be First Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease 

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Willemijn Jansen, PhD  Postdoctoral researcher Department of Psychiatry & Neuropsychology Maastricht University Medical Center School for Mental Health and Neuroscience Alzheimer Center Limburg 

Dr. Jansen

Willemijn Jansen, PhD
Postdoctoral researcher
Department of Psychiatry & Neuropsychology
Maastricht University Medical Center
School for Mental Health and Neuroscience
Alzheimer Center Limburg 

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

Response: Cerebral amyloid-β aggregation is an early pathological event in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), starting decades prior to dementia onset. About 25% of cognitively normal elderly and 50% of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have biomarker evidence of amyloid pathology. These persons are at increased risk for developing AD-type dementia, but the extent to which amyloid-β aggregation affects cognitive function in persons without dementia is unclear. This is important to know for a better understanding of the course of Alzheimer’s disease and for the design of AD prevention trials.

We here investigate the association between amyloid plaques and memory scores, using data from 53 international studies included in the Amyloid Biomarker study. Cognitively healthy elderly people with plaques have a low memory score twice as often as these persons without plaques. MCI patients with plaques had 20% more often low memory and low global cognition scores than MCI patients without plaques.

We further observed 10- to 15-year intervals between the onset of amyloid positivity and emergence of low memory scores in cognitively healthy persons.

Continue reading

Most Common Brain Injuries in Babies Due to Hypoxia and Bleeding

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Baby” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr Chris Gale
Clinical Senior Lecturer in Neonatal Medicine
Imperial College London and
Consultant Neonatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
NHS Foundation Trust

 

 

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

Response: As part of a drive to make England a safer place to give birth, the Department of Health in England has set a target of reducing the number of babies that incur brain injury during or soon after birth by 20% by 2020 and to halve them by 2030.

Before now United Kingdom health services did not have a standard definition of brain injury in babies and there has been no systematic collection of data for this purpose. With colleagues and in collaboration with the Department of Health, we have devised a practical way to measure the incidence rate of brain injury in babies using routinely recorded data held in the National Neonatal Research Database.

The research estimated that 3,418 babies suffered conditions linked to brain injury at or soon after birth in 2015, which equates to an incidence rate of 5.14 per 1,000 live births. For preterm births (babies born at or less than 37 weeks) the rate was 25.88 per 1,000 live births in 2015, almost six times greater than the rate for full-term births, which was 3.47 per 1,000 live births.

Overall, the research found that the most common type of condition that contributed brain injuries was damage caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, called hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy; this is seen mainly in term babies. For preterm babies, the largest contributor to brain injuries is from bleeding into and around the ventricles of the brain, a condition called periventricular haemorrhage.

It is also the first time that brain injuries in babies have been measured using data gathered routinely during day to day clinical care on NHS neonatal units. The use of routine data required no additional work for clinical staff and provides a valuable way to measure the effectiveness of interventions to reduce brain injury.

Continue reading

Thinking Abilities May Decline After Treatment For Head and Neck Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN Clinical Research Unit Member, Princess Margaret Research Institute Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine University of Toronto Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in Psychology, York University

Dr. Bernstein

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych
Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care
Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program
ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN
Clinical Research Unit Member,
Princess Margaret Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Despite the increasing role of (chemo-)radiation treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), and involvement of central nervous system structures in the radiation field, we don’t know a lot about whether there are short or long term consequences in thinking abilities in survivors. So our question was this: Do people treated for head and neck cancer with radiation or chemoradiation have short or long term neurocognitive deficits after treatment?

We assessed head and neck cancer patients and healthy non-cancer controls four times, first at baseline (after diagnosis but before treatment), and then again 6, 12, and 24 months later. We found that compared to the controls, patients decline over time in several different neurocognitive domains, including concentration, verbal memory, and executive function. We found that as many as 38% of patients suffered from impaired global neurocognitive functioning by two years after treatment compared to none of the controls.

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

Response: The findings indicate that some (but not all) head and neck cancer survivors are at risk of suffering from declines in thinking abilities such as attention and memory. These changes can be subtle and increase gradually. We didn’t follow people beyond 2 years after treatment, so we don’t know whether these deficits would improve, worsen, or stabilize after that.

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

Response: Longer longitudinal follow-up is needed to determine if symptoms change after 2 years. More investigation of the relationships between treatment variables such as radiation dosing and long term neurocognitive function is important. Further research is also needed to find ways to avoid, reduce and compensate for declines.

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

Response: We are extremely grateful to the people who participated in this study. We plan to reassess participants for several more years, so we hope to know more about even longer term cognitive function in people treated for head and neck cancer. In addition, I want to acknowledge that we could not have done this work without the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and The Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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

Citation:

Alona Zer, Gregory R. Pond, Albiruni R. Abdul Razak, Kattleya Tirona, Hui K. Gan, Eric X. Chen, Brian O’Sullivan, John Waldron, David P. Goldstein, Ilan Weinreb, Andrew J. Hope, John J. Kim, Kelvin K. W. Chan, Andrew K. Chan, Lillian L. Siu, Lori J. Bernstein. Association of Neurocognitive Deficits With Radiotherapy or Chemoradiotherapy for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online November 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.2235

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infectious Prions Detected in Skin of Patients With Neurodegenerative Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.

The brain of one patient who died from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (sCJD) appears nearly identical to the brain of a mouse inoculated with infectious prions taken from the skin of patients who died from sCJD.
Case Western Reserve University

 

Byron Caughey, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator
Chief, TSE/prion Biochemistry Section
Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases
NIH/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Hamilton, MT 

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

Response: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is an incurable—and ultimately fatal—transmissible, neurodegenerative disorder in the family of prion diseases. Prion diseases can be found in many mammalian species and are due to the conversion of normally harmless prion protein molecules into abnormally folded, aggregated and self-propagating clusters and filaments in the brain. The accumulation of these clusters has been associated with tissue damage that often leaves dying neurons and microscopic sponge-like holes in the brain. In the sporadic and genetic forms of CJD this pathogenic process appears to arise spontaneously in the patient.

However, the transfer of the prion protein aggregates from a Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient into another human or experimental animal can initiate the pathogenic process in the recipient. These infectious forms of prion protein are called prions. Human prion diseases include fatal insomnia; kuru; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome; and variant, familial and sporadic CJD. Sporadic CJD is the most common human prion disease, affecting about one in one million people annually worldwide. Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep; chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose; and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in cattle.

Continue reading

Rapid Increase in ER Visits For Young Girls With Self-Inflicted Injuries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Melissa C. Mercado PhD, MSc, MA Behavioral scientist Division of Violence Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control CDC

Dr. Mercado

Dr. Melissa C. Mercado PhD, MSc, MA
Behavioral scientist
Division of Violence Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
CDC

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

Response: Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups combined and has been among the top 12 leading causes of death since 1975 in the U.S. In 2015, across all age groups, suicide was responsible for 44,193 deaths in the U.S., which is approximately one suicide every 12 minutes.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among U.S. youth aged 10-24 years in 2015. Self-inflicted injury is one of the strongest risk factors for suicide.

This study examined trends in non-fatal self-inflicted injuries treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) among youth aged 10 to 24 years in the United States from 2001-2015.  The overall weighted age-adjusted rate for this group increased by 5.7% annually during the 2008 to 2015 period.  Age-adjusted trends for males overall and across age groups remained stable throughout 2001-2015.  However, rates among females increased significantly, by 8.4% annually. The largest increase among females was observed among those aged 10-14 years, with an increase of 18.8% annually from 2009 to 2015.

Continue reading

Micro RNAs in Saliva May Predict Severity of Concussion Injuries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Steven D. Hicks,  M.D., Ph.D Penn State Health

Dr. Hicks

Dr. Steven D. Hicks,  M.D., Ph.D
Penn State Health

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

Response: Previous research has shown that small epigenetic molecules called microRNAs are altered in the blood after a traumatic brain injury. Our own pilot research showed that microRNAs were also changed in the saliva after brain injury and that some of these changes mirrored changes in cerebrospinal fluid. In this study we investigated whether salivary microRNA patterns after a concussion could be used to predict the duration and character of symptoms one month after injury.

We found that levels of five microRNAs predicted presence of symptoms one month later with greater accuracy (~85%) than standard surveys of symptom burden (~65%). Interestingly, one of the predictive salivary microRNAs (miR-320c) targets pathways involved in synaptic plasticity and was significantly correlated with attention difficulties one month after concussive injury.   Continue reading

Collaborative Effort Allows Oversight of Antipsychotic Medications in Medicaid Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie M. Zito, PhD Professor of Pharmacy and Psychiatry University of Maryland, Baltimore Pharmaceutical Health Services Department Baltimore, MD 21201

Dr. Zito

Julie M. Zito, PhD
Professor of Pharmacy and Psychiatry
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Pharmaceutical Health Services Department
Baltimore, MD 21201 

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

Response: The growth of antipsychotic use in children, mainly for the treatment of behavior, has been of increasing concern in recent years. Clinical safety issues (Burcu et al. 2017) and government reports on overuse in the treatment of poor and foster care children (GAO, 2017; 2012) motivated our assessment of peer review programs. These programs are a relatively new approach to Medicaid oversight intended to monitor and assure clinical appropriateness of second generation antipsychotics in children. Critically important is the fact that most antipsychotic use is for child behavioral problems which are off-label conditions, i.e. without sufficient evidence of effectiveness or safety.

Continue reading

Allergan’s VRAYLAR (carprazine) Receives FDA Approval For Maintenance Treatment of Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. David Nicholson PhD EVP and Chief R&D Officer Allergan

Dr. Nicholson

Dr. David Nicholson PhD
EVP and Chief R&D Officer
Allergan

Discusses Allergan’s announcement that:
New Data Shows Long-Term VRAYLAR Therapy Delayed Time to Relapse Compared to Placebo Over the Course of up to 72 Weeks and has received FDA approval for the Maintenance Treatment of Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this FDA approval?

Response: As many clinicians know, schizophrenia is among one of the most challenging mental health disorders to manage – due to the complexity of patient symptoms, varying response to treatment and high rates of relapse. Schizophrenia requires long-term medication management, and without maintenance treatment, 60 – 70% of schizophrenia patients relapse within one year.

The approval of Vraylar (carprazine) for the maintenance treatment of schizophrenia was based upon the results of a clinical trial, which found long-term cariprazine therapy delayed time to relapse compared to placebo over the course of up to 72 weeks.

MedicalResearch.com: What does this extended indication mean for people living with schizophrenia? 

Response: Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million American adults, and there remains serious unmet needs in the treatment of schizophrenia. The differences in how patients with schizophrenia respond to treatment underscore the importance of having more treatment options available. With its proven efficacy and well-characterized safety profile, cariprazine provides another treatment option for patients and clinicians. This study demonstrates cariprazine efficacy in the long-term (i.e., maintenance) treatment of schizophrenia.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from this announcement?

Response: As a chronic disease and disabling disorder, schizophrenia requires long-term medication management. Cariprazine is a safe and effective treatment for schizophrenia in both the short and long-term management of the illness. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add about this FDA approval and what it means for the mental health community?

Response: On behalf of Allergan as Chief Research & Development Officer at the company, we are pleased that the FDA has recognized the benefits of cariprazine for maintenance treatment of adults with schizophrenia. This approval demonstrates our continued investment in cariprazine, as well as our commitment to developing treatments that address unmet needs facing people living with mental illness. Additionally, VRAYLAR is also approved in the U.S. in adults for the acute treatment of schizophrenia and acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder.

David Nicholson is the Chief R&D Officer, and has served in this role since March 2015. Dr. Nicholson joined the company (then Actavis) as Senior Vice President, Global Brands R&D in August 2014. He has been in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry since 1978.

Previously, he served as Chief Technology Officer and EVP, R&D for Bayer CropScience from March 2012 to August 2014; Senior Vice President of Licensing and Knowledge Management at Merck from 2009 to December 2011; and Senior Vice President, responsible for Global Project Management and Drug Safety at Schering-Plough from 2007 to 2009. From 1988 to 2007, Dr. Nicholson held various leadership positions at Organon, where he most recently served as Executive Vice President, R&D and was a member of the company’s Executive Management Committee.

Dr. Nicholson earned his B.Sc. from the University of Manchester and his Ph.D. from the University of Wales.

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

Citation:

Allergan Receives FDA Approval For Use of VRAYLAR™ (cariprazine) in the Maintenance Treatment of Schizophrenia

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

 

 

 

 

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Associated With Educational Underachievment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ana Pérez-Vigil MD Department of Clinical Neuroscience Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research Center Karolinska Institutet

Dr. Perez-Vigil

Ana Pérez-Vigil MD
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research Center
Karolinska Institutet

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

Response: Everyone who regularly works with persons who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has seen that their patients often struggle with school work. It is not uncommon for these individuals to have poor school attendance and severe patients can be out of the education system altogether. This applies to persons of all ages, from school children to young adults who may be at university.

On the other hand there is a group of patients who, against all odds, working 10 times as hard as everybody else, manage to stay in education and eventually get a degree. So we have long suspected that OCD has a detrimental impact on the person’s education, with all the consequences that this entails (worse chances to enter the labour market and have a high paid job). But we did not really know to what extent OCD impacts education. So we wanted to know what is the actual impact of OCD on educational attainment using objectively collected information from the unique Swedish national registers. Previous work had been primarily based on small clinical samples from specialist clinics, using either self or parent report and cross-sectional designs. Previous work also tended not to control for important confounders such as psychiatric comorbidity or familial factors (genetic and environmental factors that could explain both OCD and the outcomes of interest).

Continue reading

Adherence to HIV Treatment May Protect Brain From Further Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryan Sanford

Ryan Sanford

Ryan Sanford, MEng
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Montreal Neurological Institute
McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada
 

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

Response: With the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) the outlook for HIV+ individuals has dramatically shifted from a fatal disease to a chronic manageable condition. However, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders are still prevalent. The etiology of this dysfunction remains unknown. Previous work has reported progressive brain atrophy in HIV+ individuals with advanced disease and poor viral suppression, but it is unclear whether stable treatment and effective viral suppression can mitigate the progression of brain atrophy. To examine this issue, we followed well-treated HIV+ individuals with good viral suppression and well-matched controls, and assessed whether ongoing brain atrophy occurs over time.

The main finding in this study was the HIV+ participants had reduced brain volumes and poorer cognitive performance compared to the control group, but the changes in brain volumes and cognitive performance were similar between the groups.

Continue reading

Sleep Apnea Increases Amyloid Load In Brain, A Hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ricardo S Osorio MD Center for Brain Health Department of Psychiatry Center of Excellence on Brain Aging NYU Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016, USA

Dr. Osorio

Ricardo S Osorio MD
Center for Brain Health
Department of Psychiatry
Center of Excellence on Brain Aging
NYU Langone Medical Center
New York, NY 10016, USA 

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

Response: This was a study that was performed in a group of healthy normal elderly from the community that volunteered for studies on memory and aging.

The main findings were that sleep apnea was very common, in almost all cases undiagnosed, and that it was associated with a longitudinal increase in amyloid burden which is considered one of the hallmark lesions of Alzheimer’s disease

Continue reading

Mechanism Identified Linking ASD and Intellectual Disability, Opening Door To Development of Treatment Options

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D Associate Professor Department of Developmental Neuroscience  Munroe-Meyer Institute University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 68198-5960

Dr-Woo-Yang Kim

Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D
Associate Professor
Department of Developmental Neuroscience
Munroe-Meyer Institute
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-5960

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

Response:  Autism impairs the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with others. About 75 percent of individuals with autism also have intellectual disability, which is characterized by significant limitations in cognitive functions and adaptive behaviors. While autism and intellectual disability are currently defined using behavioral criteria, little is known about the neuropathogenesis of these conditions.

Recent genetic studies have reported that haploinsufficiency of ARID1B causes autism and intellectual disability. However, the neurobiological function of ARID1B during brain development is unknown.

Our study investigated the neurobiological role of the gene in brain development. Using genetically-modified mice, we found that Arid1b haploinsufficiency leads to an excitation-inhibition imbalance by reducing the number of GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex. Furthermore, we showed that treatment with a GABAA-receptor positive allosteric modulator rescues ASD-like behavior and cognitive dysfunction in Arid1b-haploinsufficient mice, suggesting an association between lower numbers of GABAergic interneurons and behavioral outcomes.

Our findings suggest a pathogenic mechanism for Autism Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disability.

Continue reading

Personality Changes Can Signal Incomplete Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof.dr. J van der Naalt PhD Department of Neurology University Medical Center Groningen Groningen, The Netherlands

Prof J van der Naalt

Prof.dr. J van der Naalt PhD
Department of Neurology University Medical Center Groningen
Groningen, The Netherlands

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

Response: Mild traumatic brain injury occurs frequently and is one of the leading cause of morbidity in adults worldwide. It is a major social-economic problem with one in three patients had persistent complaints several months after injury that interfere with resumption of daily activities and work.

One of the most important questions concerns the finding that some patients recover without complaints and others do not after sustaining a mild traumatic brain injury. In a follow-up study with more than 1000 participants we found that personality factors are a major factor in the recovery process. In particular coping, that is the way patients adapt to persistent complaints, is important next to emotional distress and impact of the injury.

In an add-on study with fMRI we found that in the early phase after injury, the interaction between specific brain networks was temporarily changed. However, when regarding persistent posttraumatic complaints , specific personality characteristics significantly determine long term outcome.

Continue reading

Even Treated, HIV-Positive Children Have Ongoing White Matter Brain Damage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Marcin Jankiewicz  University of Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa
Marcin Jankiewicz 
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa 

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

Response: The Children with HIV Early Antiretroviral (CHER) trial, conducted in Cape Town and Soweto, was designed when there was uncertainty whether to start antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as HIV was diagnosed (below 12 weeks of age) or to wait until there was evidence of immuno-compromise and disease progression. Also, there were concerns about maintaining adherence, long-term toxicity and also resistance in the setting of few antiretroviral options. Early outcomes showed a decreased risk in childhood mortality in the early treatment arms compared to deferred treatment, becoming standard of care globally.

The CHER cohort is one of the largest and best documented of children receiving ART within the first year of life. Also, age- and community-matched HIV exposed uninfected (HEU) and HIV unexposed (HU) uninfected infants were enrolled in parallel for a linked vaccine study.

We therefore had an amazing opportunity to link with a neurodevelopmental sub-study in participants from Cape Town and apply sophisticated neuroimaging modalities that could link with clinical, virological and immunological characteristics.

Continue reading

Common Antidepressant Sertraline Does Not Improve Depression in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Susan Hedayati MD University of Texas Southwestern Dallas, Texas

Dr. Hedayati

Dr. Susan Hedayati MD
Yin Quan-Yuen Distinguished Professorship in Nephrology
University of Texas Southwestern
Dallas, Texas

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

Response: We previously showed that Major Depression is associated with a significantly higher risk of death, dialysis initiation, and hospitalization among patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Now we show that a common antidepressant medication, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), sertraline, does not improve depression in this patient population, a chronically ill group that is not only at significantly increased risk for developing depression but also its serious complications.

Continue reading

Novel PDE4 Inhibitor Improves Symptoms of Autism Disorder Fragile X Syndrome in Animal Model

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Mark E. Gurney, PhD MBA

Dr. Gurney

Dr. Mark E. Gurney, PhD MBA
Chairman & CEO, Tetra Discovery Partners Inc.

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

Response: Fragile X is a genetic condition. Affected patients display a range of behavioral and other symptoms, including seizures, sleep disorders, anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, autism, mild-to-severe cognitive impairment and intellectual disability.

BPN14770 is a novel therapeutic agent that selectively inhibits phosphodiesterase-4D (PDE4D). Inhibition of PDE4 has been validated as a treatment strategy by many research groups in the Fragile X field, but non-selective PDE4 inhibitors have been associated with significant GI side-effects that have limited those drugs’ use. As a selective inhibitor, such side-effects were not seen for BPN14770 in a Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy young and elderly adults.

In the current study, daily treatment of Fragile X knock-out (FXS) mice with BPN14770 showed a reduction in hyperarousal, improved social interactions and natural behaviors, and changes in nerve structure in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the portion of that brain associated with cognition. Moreover, the drug’s benefit persisted for two weeks after all drug was cleared from the mice. At the same time, the behavior of normal mice treated with the drug remained unchanged. Examination of neurons from the prefrontal cortex of the treated FXS mice showed an improvement in dendritic spine morphology.

Continue reading

Chronic Valvular Heart Disease Linked To White Matter Brain Changes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Keun-Hwa Jung MD PhD

Program in Neuroscience, Neuroscience Research Institute of SNUMRC
College of Medicine
Seoul National University
First author: Dr. Woo-Jin Lee MD
Department of Neurology
Seoul National University Hospital
Seoul, South Korea 

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

Response: Cerebral white matter hyperintensity is a prevalent consequence of brain aging process and associated with various complications. One of the main mechanisms underlying the progression of white matter hyperintensity is chronic dysfunction of the glymphatic system which maintains metabolic homeostasis in brain. Glymphatic system is the route where the cerebrospinal fluid enters into the brain parenchyma and is cleared out with soluble wastes to the perivascular space of the cerebral small veins, peri-meningeal lymphatic vessels, deep cervical lymph nodes, and finally to the right atrium.

Although the integrity of the glymphatic system is dependent on the adequate drainage of cerebral veins and lymphatics to the downstream chamber, the right atrium, the impact of hemodynamic changes in right-sided cardiac chambers on the development of white matter hyperintensity have not been elucidated.

Continue reading

Single Injection of Klotho Gene Protected Animals From Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Universitat Autonoma Barcelona Spain

Dr. Chillon

Dr Miguel Chillon PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Universitat Autonoma Barcelona
Spain

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

Response: Klotho is a protein with an anti-aging and neuroprotective role. Recent studies show it prevents the development of cognitive problems associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Klotho works mainly by inhibiting the insulin / IGF-1 signaling pathway and decreasing the damage caused by oxidative stress in the brain. One of the latest results revealed that the concentration of Klotho in cerebrospinal fluid is significantly lower in Alzheimer’s patients than in human controls of the same age; and it is lower in the elderly with respect to young adults.

Our study used a gene therapy strategy to introduce the Klotho gene into the Central Nervous System of adult animals. With just a single injection of the Klotho gene, young adult animals were protected over time from the cognitive decline associated with aging in old animals. These exciting results pave the way to further advances in research and the development of a neuroprotective therapy based on Klotho.

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Marijuana Use Linked To Cognitive Impairment In HIV Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM Department of Community Health Sciences Boston University School of Public Health Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center Boston , Massachusetts

Dr. Saitz

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, DFASAM
Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit
Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicin
Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center
Boston , Massachusetts

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

Response: Many people living with HIV infection use alcohol and other drugs including marijuana. People with HIV infection are also susceptible to cognitive dysfunction from many causes from HIV infection itself to aging.

The main findings were that among people with HIV and substance use disorder, lifetime marijuana and alcohol use were not associated with cognitive dysfunction, likely due to competing risks.  But current marijuana use was associated with cognitive dysfunction.

Continue reading

Multispecies Study Identifies Critical Genes in OCD Neurobiology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hyun Ji Noh PhD Postdoc in the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Dr. Hyun Ji Noh

Hyun Ji Noh PhD
Computational Scientist, Medical and Population Genetics
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

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

Response: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating neuropsychiatric disorder, characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. OCD is estimated to affect roughly 80 million people worldwide, but its neurobiology remains poorly understood. To understand the disorder’s underpinnings, we searched for genetic mutations that are associated with OCD.

For this, we first identified 608 genes that were most likely to be important  in OCD – some that have previously been identified in OCD-like behaviors in dogs and mice, and others in human autism, which also involves repetitive behaviors. We compared these genes in 592 people with OCD and 560 people without OCD, and found that 4 of these genes were significantly different between people with and without OCD: NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2 and REEP3. All of these four genes have important functions in the brain. Specifically, we found that the variants in NRXN1 are likely to change its ability to bind other synaptic proteins. Synaptic proteins link neurons together, and are critical for transmitting signals through the brain. We also found that the variants in CTTNBP2 and REEP3 don’t actually change the proteins made by these genes, but instead probably affect gene regulation (for example, how much of the protein is made). These ‘regulatory’ variants disrupt the binding of transcription factors (proteins that regulate expression of genes in the body) near the gene.

Continue reading

Traumatic Brain Injuries In Baseball Can Be Catastrophic, and Mostly Preventable With Universal Helmet Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael D. Cusimano MD, FRCSC, DABNS, FACS, PhD, MHPE Adjunct Scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital Division of Neurosurgery, St. Michael\'s Hospital Professor of Neurosurgery, Education and Public Health University of Toronto

Dr. Cusimano

Michael D. Cusimano MD, FRCSC, DABNS, FACS, PhD, MHPE
Adjunct Scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital
Division of Neurosurgery, St. Michael\’s Hospital
Professor of Neurosurgery, Education and Public Health
University of Toronto

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

Response: Baseball is played by millions annually and is traditionally seen as a low risk sport for head injury when compared to sports like American Football, Ice Hockey and Rugby. Over 6 million children and youth are enrolled in formal baseball or softball leagues annually.

Continue reading

Dementia Incidence Lower For Atrial Fibrillation Patients Treated With Anticoagulation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Leif Friberg MD, PhD Associate professor in cardiology Karolinska Institute Friberg Resarch Stockholm, Sweden 

Dr. Leif Friberg

Dr. Leif Friberg MD, PhD
Associate professor in cardiology
Karolinska Institute
Friberg Resarch
Stockholm, Sweden 

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

Response: I have been doing research on atrial fibrillation and stroke risk for many years and knew that the very common heart arrhythmia is associated with a 40% increased risk of dementia. Considering that that 12-15% of 75 years olds have this arrhythmia, and even more at higher ages, the problem is significant to say the least.

The mechanism behind stroke in atrial fibrillation is that blood clots are formed in the heart. When these are dislodged they travel with the blood stream and may get stuck in the narrow vessels of the brain where they stop blood flow causing brain infarction or stroke. Oral anticoagulant drugs like warfarin or the newer so called NOAC (new oral anticoagulant) drugs are highly efficient in preventing formation of these large blood clots and offer at least 70% risk reduction. Now, blood clots come in different sizes. There are also microscopic clots that do not cause symptoms of stroke but all the same eat away at the brain at a slow but steady pace. Imaging studies shows this after only a few months or even weeks of atrial fibrillation. Our hypothesis was therefore: If anticoagulants are so effective in protecting against large clots, will they not help against the small ones too?

Continue reading

Patients With Dementia Less Likely To Receive Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Chen

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco 

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

Response: Both colon cancer and dementia are prevalent among the elderly and have a high risk of co-occurrence. Previous studies found that patients with dementia were treated less aggressively. In this study, we hypothesized that presence of pre-existing dementia was associated with worse survival for stage III colon cancer patients, and that post-operative chemotherapy was on the causal pathway.

Continue reading

Traumatic Brain Injury Laws Reduce Rate of Recurrent Concussions in High School Athletes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jingzhen (Ginger) Yang, PhD, MPH Principal Investigator Associate Professor, Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Dept. of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio 43205

Dr. Yang

Jingzhen (Ginger) Yang, PhD, MPH
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor, Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Dept. of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio 43205 

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

Response: From 2009-2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed their state TBI laws, more commonly known as concussion laws, to mitigate severe consequences of concussions.

These laws often include 3 core components:

(1) mandatory removal from play following actual or suspected concussions,
(2) requirements to receive clearance to return to play from a licensed health professional, and
(3) education of coaches, parents, and athletes regarding concussion symptoms and signs.

Our study aimed to evaluate whether the laws achieve the intended impact.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings showed that:

  • The rates of new and recurrent concussions initially increase significantly after a law goes into effect. This is likely due to more people – athletes, athletic trainers, coaches, and parents – becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of concussion and actually reporting a potential or actual concussion. Lack of knowledge about concussion signs and symptoms may have resulted in underreporting of concussions during the prelaw period. This trend is consistent across sports in our study and other studies looking at youth sports-related concussions.
  • The rate of recurrent concussions shows a significant decline approximately 2 ½ years after the law is in place. This demonstrates that the laws are having an impact. One of the core function of these laws is to reduce the immediate risk of health consequences caused by continued play with concussion or returning to play too soon without full recovery. The decline in recurrent concussion rates in our study is likely the results of the laws requirements of mandatory removal from play or permission requirements to return to play.
  • Football had the highest average annual concussion rate, followed by girls’ soccer and boys’ wrestling. Males had a higher average annual concussion rate than females. However, when comparing the rates in gender comparable sports (basketball, soccer, baseball/softball), females had almost double the annual rate of concussions as males. These results are consistent with findings from other studies. It is possible that girls have higher risk of concussions than boys or are more likely to report injuries. Future studies are needed to look specifically at these disparities.

Continue reading

Migraines More Frequent With Increased Anxiety and Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Headache.” by Avenue G is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Headache.” by Avenue G

Fu-Chi Yang, M.D., Ph.D.Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology,
Tri-Service General Hospital
National Defense Medical Center
Taipei, Taiwan

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

Response: Migraineurs are likely to suffer from comorbid depression and anxiety. Furthermore, increased migraine frequency is associated with an increased risk of mood/anxiety disorders. It is not distinguished by grouping frequency of migraine attacks, whether it is associated with severity scores of depression and anxiety. Thus, we evaluated the relationship between severity of depression/anxiety and migraine frequency

We mainly found that the severity of depression (BDI and HADS-depression scores) and anxiety (HADS anxiety score) were related to migraine frequency, after adjusting confounding factors.

Continue reading

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Lower in Black and Hispanic Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH Professor and Interim Chair Department of Population Health Sciences University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Madison, WI

Prof. Durkin

Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Population Health Sciences
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Madison, WI 

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

Response: Previous studies of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the U.S. have found two consistent patterns.  One is a higher prevalence among white non-Hispanic children than among black non-Hispanic or Hispanic children.  The other is a positive socioeconomic gradient, meaning that ASD prevalence in the U.S. is found to increase with increasing income and other indicators of socioeconomic status.

One of the findings of this new study is that the racial and ethnic differences in autism spectrum disorder prevalence are not explained by socioeconomic factors, because even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, ASD prevalence was found to be significantly lower in black and Hispanic children than in white non-Hispanic children.  Another finding is that the gap in ASD prevalence between children of high and low socioeconomic status did not change over time between 2002 and 2010, though the overall prevalence of ASD more than doubled during this period.

Continue reading

Antidepressants in Youth Associated With Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mehmet Burcu, PhD, MS
Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
University of Maryland, Baltimore 

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

Response: Antidepressants are one of the most commonly used psychotropic medication classes in U.S. youth, with serotonin reuptake inhibitors representing a large majority of total antidepressant use in youth.

The most interesting finding was that the current use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors in youth was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and this increased risk intensified further with the increasing duration of use and with the increasing dose. A secondary analysis also revealed that the risk of incident type 2 diabetes was most apparent in youth who used serotonin reuptake inhibitors for longer durations AND in greater daily doses.

Continue reading

Refined Biomarker Model Can Guage Risk of Alzheimer’s In Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ingrid S. van Maurik, MSc
Department of Neurology and Alzheimer Center
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Amsterdam Neuroscience
VU University Medical Center
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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

Response: CSF and MRI biomarkers are increasingly used in clinical practice, but their diagnostic and prognostic value is not perfect. Furthermore, criteria do not specify how to deal with conflicting or borderline results, or how to take patient characteristics into account. Therefore, optimal use of these biomarkers in clinical practice remains challenging.

As part of the ABIDE project, we constructed biomarker-based prognostic models (CSF, MRI and combined) that enable prediction of future Alzheimer’s disease, or any type of dementia, in individual patients with mild cognitive impairment. When using these models, any value can be entered for the variables, resulting in personalized probabilities with confidence intervals.

Continue reading

Virtual Human Interviewers May Help Armed Services Members Open Up About PTSD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Gale Lucas, PhD Director of Research USC Institute for Creative Technologies Playa Vista, CA 

Dr. Lucas

Dr. Gale Lucas, PhD
Director of Research
USC Institute for Creative Technologies
Playa Vista, CA

 

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

Response: A common barrier to healthcare for psychiatric conditions is the stigma associated with these disorders. Perceived stigma prevents many from reporting their symptoms. Stigma is a particularly pervasive problem among military service members, preventing them from reporting symptoms of combat-related conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This put them at risk for having their symptoms go untreated, with possible disastrous outcomes including suicide attempts. We envisioned a technology system – a virtual human interviewer – whereby military service members can get feedback about their risk for PTSD in a safe place without stigma. Indeed, our prior research has shown that, because its “just a computer” (therefore safe and anonymous), this virtual human interviewer helps people to feel safe discussing sensitive issues like mental health symptoms. In this follow-up research project (published in Frontiers), we sought to demonstrate the value of this kind of virtual human interviewer specifically for encouraging reporting of PTSD symptoms among service members.

Specifically, we were interested in comparing the willingness of service members to report symptoms of PTSD to our virtual human interviewer, compared to the gold standard of the Post Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA). We wanted to isolate the effect of anonymity, separating it from “relational factors” that the virtual human interviewer uses to encourage service members to open up. Indeed, before asking these same questions as on the PDHA to capture PTSD symptoms, the system engages in social dialogue, which build rapport with users. The system asks “get to know you questions,” and throughout the interview, engage in active listening with responses such as nods, smiles, saying “uh huh,” and other encouraging phrases like “that’s great.”

Continue reading

Multivitamins in Pregnancy May Be Associated With Lower Autism Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elizabeth DeVilbiss, PhD MPH
Dornsife School of Public Health
Drexel University

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

Response: Unfortunately, not much is known about how diet during pregnancy affects autism risk.  There have been studies in recent years about varied aspects of diet during pregnancy and autism risk involving multivitamins, iron, folic acid, vitamin D, and more, but the evidence is still inconclusive.

After adjusting for several potentially influencing factors in both mothers and children, we found that multivitamin use, with or without additional iron and/or folic acid, was associated with a lower likelihood of child autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability relative to mothers who did not use folic acid, iron, and multivitamins.

Continue reading

Efficacy of SSRIs for Anxiety Influenced By Patient’s Expectations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Vanda Faria PhD
Department of Psychology
Uppsala, Sweden 

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

Response: It has been debated whether selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety, are more effective than placebo. Concerns have been raised that the beneficial effects of SSRIs, as measured in double-blind clinical trials, may be explained by expectancies (a crucial placebo mechanism) rather than the biochemical compound. But no study has tested experimentally the extent to which the SSRI treatment effect can be influenced by expectancies induced by verbal suggestions.

We compared the efficacy of overt vs. covert administration of an SSRI (escitalopram) in patients with social anxiety disorder. Rather than comparing the SSRI with placebo, we compared it with itself while manipulating the patients’ expectations of improvement. This was achieved by informing one group correctly about the SSRI and its effectiveness (overt group) whereas the comparison (covert) group received incorrect information. By use of a cover story, the covert group was led to believe they were treated with a so called “active placebo”, an ineffective neurokinin-1 antagonist yielding similar side effects as the SSRI but lacking anxiety-reducing properties. But the treatment, dosage and duration was in fact identical in both groups.

Results showed that overt outperformed covert SSRI treatment, as the number of treatment responders was more than three times higher on the main clinical outcome measure when correct information was given. Using neuroimaging (fMRI) we also noted differences between the overt and covert SSRI groups on objective brain activity measures. There were differences between the groups e.g. with regard to activation of the posterior cingulate cortex with treatment, and the functional coupling between this region and the amygdala which is a brain region crucially involved in fear and anxiety. The fMRI  results may reflect the interaction between cognition and emotion as the brain changes differently with treatment pending on the expectations of improvement.

Continue reading

Novel Brain Imaging May Detect Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Sanja Josef Golubic, dr. sc

Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
University of Zagreb, Croatia

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

Response: Our study was aimed to search the topological biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease. A recent evidences suggest that the decades long progression of brain degeneration that is irreversible by the stage of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, may account for failures to develop successful disease-modifying therapies. Currently, there is a pressing worldwide search for a marker of very early, possibly reversible, pathological changes related to Alzheimer’s disease in still cognitively intact individuals, that could provide a critical opportunity for evolving of efficient therapeutic interventions.

Three years ago we reported the discovery of the novel, fast brain pathway specialized for rapid processing of the simple tones. We named it gating loop. Gating loop directly links auditory brain areas to prefrontal brain area. We have also noticed the high sensitivity of the gating loop processing on AD pathology. It was inspiration to focus our Alzheimer’s disease biomarker search in the direction of prefrontal brain activation during listening of simple tones.

Continue reading

Stepped Care Case-Finding Intervention Can Provide Cost Effective Care For PTSD After a Disaster

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Gregory-H-Cohen.jpg 

Dr. Cohen

Gregory H. Cohen, MPhil, MSW
Statistical Analyst
Department of Epidemiology
School of Public Health
Boston University 

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

Response: We simulated a stepped care case-finding approach to the treatment of posttraumatic stress in New York City, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Stepped care includes an initial triage screening step which identifies whether a presenting individual is in need of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or can be adequately treated at a lower level of care.

Our simulation suggests that a stepped care approach to treating symptoms of posttraumatic stress in the aftermath of a hurricane is superior to care as usual in terms of reach and treatment-effectiveness, while being cost-effective. Continue reading

Gay and Bisexual Men With Less Education and Income At Greater Risk of Suicide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Oliver Ferlatte PhD

Men’s Health Research Program
University of British Columbia
Vancouver , British Columbia , Canada

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

Response: Suicide, like many other health inequities, is unevenly distributed among the population, with marginalized groups being most affected. In Canada, suicide has been found to particularly affect gay and bisexual men, aboriginal people and people living in rural and remote communities.

While the populations affected by suicide are not mutually exclusive – for example someone can be a bisexual Aboriginal man living in a remote community – much of the suicide prevention literature tends to treat these groups as such. Moreso, very little attention is given in suicide prevention research to diversity within groups: for example, we know very little about which gay and bisexual men are most at risk of attempting suicide. This situation creates a vacuum of knowledge about suicide among gay and bisexual and deprives us of critical information for the development of effective suicide prevention activities.

We therefore investigated in a survey of Canadian gay and bisexual men (Sex Now Survey), which gay and bisexual men are at increased risk of reporting a recent suicide attempt. The large sample of gay and bisexual men with 8493 participants allows for this unique analysis focused on the multiple, intersecting identities of the survey participants.

Continue reading

Autism Spectrum Disorder Found To Be Highly Heritable

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sven Sandin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029

D. Sandin

Sven Sandin, PhD Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY 10029 

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

Response: In 2014, we estimated the heritability of autism to be approximately 50%. Motivating us then was the lack of studies in autism heritability using population based and the findings from a twin-study in California finding the heritability to be substantially lower than the 80-90% estimated in previous studies. Since then continued efforts working with the questions on heritability and environmental factors for autism we found differences between different methods and different samples. When we went back to our previous data we found the heritability of autism to be higher than previously estimated. We found that our previous result was due to a methodological artifact where the adjustment for differences in follow-up used in that manuscript underestimated the heritability. Using methods used in other heritability studies the heritability is now estimated to 84%. Importantly, as previously concluded, there is no support for any ‘shared environmental factors’ in the etiology of autism, e.g. environmental factors shared between two siblings.

Continue reading

Parasitic Infection With Toxoplasmosis May Be Linked To Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Under a magnification of 900X, this hematoxylin and eosin-stained (H&E) photomicrograph of a brain tissue specimen revealed a case of neurotoxoplasmosis in a patient who had also been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Note the Toxoplasma gondii tissue cyst, within which bradyzoites could be seen developing. CDC Image

Rima McLeod, M.D., F.A.C.P, F.I.D.S.A
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences,Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases), and The College,
Director, Toxoplasmosis Center,
Senior Fellow,Institute of Genomics, Genetics and Systems Biology, Member, Commitees on Immunology, and Molecular Medicine and Pathogenesis,
Member Global Health Center, Affiliate CHeSS;
Attending Physician, Chicago Medicine,
The University of Chicago

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

* One third of humans are infected lifelong with the brain-dwelling, protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii.
* Approximately fifteen million of these have congenital toxoplasmosis.
* The parasite interconverts between slow-growing, encysted bradyzoites and rapid-growing tachyzoites.
* In mice, T. gondii creates a chronic intra-neuronal infection and an inflammatory process.
* Mice with acute and chronic infection have alterations in neurotransmitters, memory, seizures, and neurobehavior.
* Some epidemiologic-serologic studies show associations between seropositivity for T. gondii and human neurologic diseases, for example, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
* Although neurobehavioral disease is associated with seropositivity, causality is unproven.
* Serologic studies of humans with diverse genetics are not optimal to detect strong associations or directionality.
* Epidemiologic associations also do not reveal parasite-modulated gene networks in human brain that could provide insights into how to cure and prevent resultant diseases.
* We need integrative approaches to examine relationships between brain parasitism and other brain diseases, to provide a foundation to identify key pathways and molecules for drug and vaccine design
* To address these problems, we considered two central questions: (i) If chronic brain parasitism associates with other neurologic diseases, what are they? And (ii) Which macromolecular networks are modulated by the parasite in human brain that lead to neuropathology which could underpin and facilitate design of treatments?
* We hypothesized that a systems approach integrating multiple levels of host parasite interactions might resolve these questions.
* To better understand what this parasite does to human brains, we performed a comprehensive systems analysis of the infected brain.  Continue reading

OCD Not Associated With Above-Average Intelligence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amitai Abramovitch, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Psychology Texas State University

Dr. Abramovitch

Amitai Abramovitch, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Texas State University

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

Response: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is associated with moderate degree of underperformance on several cognitive tests such as processing speed, and some higher order functions such as planning and inhibition. While this does not constitute a clinically meaningful impairment on these functions, we set out to explore the prevailing myth that OCD is associated with above-average intelligence. This myth, that was propagated by Sigmund Freud 115 years ago and is still surprisingly all too prevalent –  was never tested empirically. The notion of above average intelligence in OCD didn’t make sense to us given that IQ tests are comprised of subtests that assess cognitive function. To test this, we collected all the available data ever published in the scientific literature regarding IQ in OCD versus control samples, and conducted a meta-analysis. Our results show that OCD is not associated with higher IQ than average. In fact we found a slightly lowered IQ in OCD compared to controls, although IQ scores for OCD samples were in the average range. The total IQ score (Full Scale IQ) is comprised of two subscales, namely Verbal IQ, and Performance IQ.

Our results show that reduced Full Scale IQ stems primarily from lowered Performance IQ, a scale that is comprised of a number of timed tests. In other words, as opposed to Verbal IQ tests, test scores on Performance IQ subtests rely heavily on performance within a specific time frame, and not only on performance accuracy.

Thus, our findings suggest that reduced processing speed found in OCD could lead to reduced Performance IQ, and subsequently lead to lowered Full Scale IQ, and may not be indicative of specific cognitive deficits. This finding suggests that IQ tests administered to individuals diagnosed with OCD may result in a biased Full Scale IQ scores that does not accurately reflect their full intellectual potential.

Continue reading

Childhood Tackle Football Linked To Increased Risk of Depression and Cognitive Issues In Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael Alosco, PhD NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease & CTE Center Boston University School of Medicine 

Dr. Alosco

Michael Alosco, PhD
NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow
Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease & CTE Center
Boston University School of Medicine 

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

Response: TThe goal of this study was to investigate whether playing youth tackle football, particularly before the age of 12, is associated with worse emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties later in life. Participants in this study included 214 former amateur and professional American football players who were part of the LEGEND study at Boston University. Participants had an average age of 51. 43 played high school football, 103 played college football, and there were 68 professional American football players. The former players were divided into two groups: those who began playing tackle football before age 12 and those who began at age 12 or older. Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy, and executive functioning, such as initiating activity, problem-solving, planning, and organization. Results from former players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 were compared to those of participants who started playing at age 12 or later.

The study showed that participation in tackle football before age 12 increased the odds for having problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning by two-fold and increased the odds for clinically elevated depression scores by three-fold. These findings were independent of the total number of years the participants played football or at what level they played, such as high school, college, or professional. Even when a specific age cutoff was not used, younger age of exposure to tackle football corresponded with worse clinical status.

Continue reading

Folic Acid May Reduce Risk of Autism Associated With Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California

Dr. Schmidt

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences
UC Davis California

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

Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies.

Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism.

Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides.

This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child.

Continue reading

Association of Brain White Matter Structure With Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Adriana Di Martino, MD Associate Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry NYU Langone Health

Dr. Di Martino

Dr. Adriana Di Martino, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
NYU Langone Health

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

Response: While there has been an increased awareness of the co-occurrence of symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children with a primary diagnosis of ASD, only recently has there been an appreciation that a substantial proportion of children with ADHD may also have ASD traits. These symptom domains overlap pose a challenge for accurate recognition and targeted treatments, yet their underlying mechanisms have been unknown.

With more traditional diagnostic group comparisons we detected a significant influence of ASD on white matter organization, but our analyses of the severity of symptoms across individuals revealed an association between autistic traits and white matter organization, regardless of the individual’s diagnosis. These findings were mostly centered around the corpus callosum, a structure that enables communication between the left and right cerebral hemispheres.

Continue reading

Study Evaluates Pediatric Outcomes of Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Xiaoqin Liu, PhD Department of Economics and Business Economics Aarhus University

Dr. Xiaoqin Liu

Xiaoqin Liu, PhD
Department of Economics and Business Economics
Aarhus University 

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

Response: Previous research on the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes of serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use during pregnancy has primarily focused on offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder. Given SSRIs cross the placental barrier and affect the fetal brain, in-utero SSRI exposure may increase risks of other psychiatric disorders as well as autism spectrum disorder.

We conducted a population-based study to look at a range of diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy. This was possible because of the nature of information available in Danish population registers, allowing us to follow children for many years. We found increased risks of various diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers continued antidepressant treatment during pregnancy, in comparison to children whose mothers stopped antidepressant treatment before pregnancy.

Continue reading

Educational Interventions May Head Off Anxiety Attacks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Patricia Moreno-Peral, PhD Research Unit, Primary Care District of Málaga-Guadalhorce Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network Institute of Biomedical Research in Málaga Málaga, Spain 

Dr. Moreno-Peral

Dr. Patricia Moreno-Peral, PhD
Research Unit, Primary Care District of Málaga-Guadalhorce
Prevention and Health Promotion Research Network
Institute of Biomedical Research in Málaga Málaga, Spain 

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

Response:  No systematic reviews or meta-analyses have been performed on the effectiveness of preventive psychological and/or educational interventions for anxiety in varied populations. Previously, other systematic reviews have been focused on prevention efficacy in specific interventions (e.g. cognitive behavior interventions) or age groups (e.g. adolescents).

Continue reading