Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Environmental Risks / 07.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Lily Yan MD PhD Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • The effects of light on cognitive function have been well-documented in human studies, with brighter illumination associated with better cognitive performance. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are not well understood.
  • In this study, we explored the mechanisms of how light modulates spatial learning and memory, using diurnal Nile grass rats. In contrast to most laboratory animals that are active at night and fall asleep following light exposure, these animals are active during the day, thus an ideal model for understanding the effects of light on humans.
  • When the animals were housed in dim light during the day, mimicking the cloudy days or typical indoor lighting, the animals had a ~30% reduction in the dendritic spines, which make the connection between brain cells, within the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. Animals housed in dim light also performed poorly in a water maze, compared to those housed in bright light.
  • When the animals that had been in dim light were then housed in bright light for 4 weeks, the connections in their hippocampus and performance in the water maze recovered fully. 
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Author Interviews, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 04.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hsien-Yuan Lane, MD,PhD Distinguished Professor, Director, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan Director, Brain Diseases Research Center (BDRC), Addiction Research Center, and Department of Psychiatry, China Medical University and Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan PI, Taiwan Clinical Trial Consortium for Mental Disorders  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness affecting more than 21 million people worldwide. Clozapine has been regarded as the last-line antipsychotic agent for patients with refractory schizophrenia. However, an estimated 40–70% of patients with refractory schizophrenia fail to improve even with clozapine , referred to as “clozapine-resistant”. To date, there is no convincing evidence for augmentation on clozapine. Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, including inhibition of D-amino acid oxidase (DAAO) that may metabolize D-amino acids, has been reported to be beneficial for patients receiving antipsychotics other than clozapine. Sodium benzoate is a DAAO inhibitor. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that add-on sodium benzoate improved the clinical symptoms in patients with clozapine-resistant schizophrenia, possibly through DAAO inhibition and antioxidation as well. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia, Yale / 01.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Josephine Mollon PhD Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience King’s College London, London, England Currently with the Department of Psychiatry Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Connecticut MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are severe mental disorders that cause a range of abnormalities in perception and thinking. Individuals with psychotic disorders also experience severe impairments in IQ and there is evidence that these impairments begin many years before hallucinations and delusions first appear. Understanding how and when individuals with psychotic disorder experience a drop in IQ scores will help us better predict and treat poor cognition in these individuals, and perhaps even the disorder itself. (more…)
Author Interviews, Memory, Technology, UC Davis / 31.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Halle Dimsdale-Zucker University of California, Davis Center for Neuroscience | Ph.D. Candidate Dynamic Memory Lab MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study sought to test competing models for how different types of retrieved contextual information (spatial, episodic - which is spatial AND temporal information) are supported by the hippocampus and its subfields. We only found differences between the subfields when people were spontaneously reactivating episodic, but not spatial information. This is surprising because a dominant view of the hippocampus is that it is specialized to represent spatial information. What this suggests is that when there is more than just spatial information that can be remembered that the hippocampus is able to flexibly represent whatever information is most task-relevant for remembering and distinguishing items from one another. Intriguingly, we found that different subfields represented shared episodic contextual information and item-unique contextual information. This highlights that our memories need to both link together common features of related events while retaining the event-specific details. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, JAMA / 30.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “mirror clock” by tourist_on_earth is licensed under CC BY 2.0Yo-El Ju, MD Assistant Professor of Neurology Sleep Medicine Section Washington University School of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background for this study is that prior studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's Disease have poor circadian clock function, for example sleeping during the day and being awake or agitated at night. Autopsy studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's Disease have degeneration in the "clock" part of their brains. In this study, we wanted to examine whether there were any circadian problems much earlier in Alzheimer's Disease, when people do not have any memory or thinking problems at all. We measured circadian function in 189 people with an actigraph, which is an activity monitor worn like a watch, for 1-2 weeks. Brain scans and studies of cerebrospinal fluid were used to determine who had preclinical Alzheimer's Disease, meaning they have the brain changes of Alzheimer's but do not have symptoms yet.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, Mayo Clinic / 25.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard J. Caselli MD Department of Neurology Mayo Clinic Arizona Scottsdale, AZ   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Personality changes are common in patients with a variety of dementing illnesses, and underlie the behavioral disturbances that complicate the course of dementia patients.  We have a been conducting a large longitudinal study of cognitive aging in individuals at genetically defined risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) based on their APOE genotype, and have been administering a large battery of neuropsychological tests as well as the gold standard personality questionnaire (the NEO-PI-R) in order to determine whether personality changes during the transition from normal cognition/preclinical AD to mild cognitive impairment.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Genetic Research, JAMA, Medical Imaging, Mental Health Research / 25.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes” by Victor Soto is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dag Alnaes, PhD Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital Oslo, Norway  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The transition from childhood to adulthood is characterized by swift and dramatic changes, both in our environment and in our brains. This period of life also coincides with the onset of many mental disorders. To gain a better understanding of why, the clinical neurosciences must attempt to disentangle the complex and dynamic interactions between genes and the environment and how they shape our brains. The ultimate goal is to be able to predict which individuals are at risk before clinical symptoms appear. Advanced brain imaging has been proposed to represent one promising approach for such early detection, but there is currently no robust imaging marker that allows us to identify individuals at risk with any clinically relevant degree of certainty. Our study shows that self-reported early signs of mental illness are associated with specific patterns of brain fiber pathways in young people, even if they may not fulfill criteria for a formal diagnosis or are currently in need of treatment.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, PTSD / 23.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Man’s best friend helps NC Guardsman with PTSD [Image 1 of 8]” by DVIDSHUB is licensed under CC BY 2.0, PhD Professor of Psychiatry Director, Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pa 19104 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: As much as 10 to 20 percent of military members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks suffer from PTSD, which is often chronic and incapacitating. A constant increase in the number of individuals suffering from PTSD as a result of massive natural disasters, terror attacks, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has prompted an urgent need for effective and efficient evidence-based treatments for PTSD. Prolong exposure (PE) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves exposure to trauma memories and daily life trauma reminders. Previous studies have proven PE is quite effective for treating civilians and veterans with PTSD. In this five-year study, the researchers sought to determine whether PE could have similar success with active-duty military personnel. The researchers examined the benefit of various methods for delivering PE including Massed-PE, (10 therapy sessions administered over two weeks) and Spaced-PE (10 sessions administered over 8 weeks), as well as Present Centered Therapy (PCT), a non-trauma-focused therapy that involves identifying and discussing daily stressors in 10 sessions over eight weeks, and Minimal Contact Control (MCC), which included supportive phone calls from therapists once weekly for four weeks. Patients who received Massed-PE therapy, delivered over two weeks, saw a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than those who received MCC. Importantly, Massed-PE therapy was found to be equally effective to Spaced-PE in reducing PTSD symptom severity. The researchers also found that PCT might be an effective treatment option for PTSD in active military personnel although it was less effective than PE in veteran and civilian PTSD sufferers.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Nature / 20.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Di Wu, Msc PhD candidate at Indiana University Graduate Research Assistant Department of Physics Indiana University Bloomington Linked-in: www.linkedin.com/in/di-wu-3a197373  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Current clinical diagnosis and evaluations of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). has remained subjective in nature. There is a need to have objective assessments for the disorder. We discovered in this study an important motion feature that was unknown before. This feature provides a clear screening of ASD. It gave a remarkable quantitative connection between the way children with ASD move and their psychiatric scores, like the IQ score and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale. This connection we captured suggests that the motor feature may be an essential core feature characterizing ASD deficits, as well as neurodevelopment in general. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 17.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael S. Okun, M.D. Adelaide Lackner Professor and Chair of Neurology Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases Gainesville FL 32607 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Deep brain stimulation is a promising therapy for carefully selected Tourette syndrome patients who fail medication and behavioral therapy. This study draws data from 31 institutions and 10 countries and shows a significant improvement of motor and vocal tics across multiple brain targets.  Because even expert DBS centers only perform 1-2 surgeries a year this type of database and registry will be critical to move the field forward.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, JAMA, MRI / 12.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Miguel ASantos-SantosMD Department of Neurology, Memory and Aging Center University of California San Francisco Autonomous University of Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Valles, Spain MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous (generally Frontotemporal lobar degeneration [FTLD, generally tau or tdp proteinopathies] or Alzheimer’s disease [AD] pathology) condition in which language impairment is the predominant cause of functional impairment during the initial phases of disease. Classification of PPA cases into clinical-anatomical phenotypes is of great importance because they are linked to different prevalence of underlying pathology and prediction of this pathology during life is of critical importance due to the proximity of molecule-specific therapies. The 2011 international consensus diagnostic criteria established a classification scheme for the three most common variants (the semantic [svPPA], non-fluent/agrammatic [nfvPPA], and logopenic [lvPPA]) of PPA and represent a collective effort to increase comparability between studies and improve the reliability of clinicopathologic correlations compared to the previous semantic dementia and progressive non-fluent aphasia criteria included in the 1998 consensus FTLD clinical diagnostic criteria. Since their publication, a few studies have reported amyloid imaging and pathological results in PPA, however most of these studies are retrospective in nature and the prevalence of FTLD and Alzheimer’s disease pathological findings or biomarkers in each variant has been inconsistent across the literature, therefore prospective validation with biomarker and autopsy data remains scarce and highly necessary. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism / 04.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tamara Rosen Graduate student in Clinical Psychology Stony Brook University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Approximately 40 percent of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are diagnosed with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.  Social anxiety is a common presenting problem for these youth. Youth with ASD and increased social anxiety have heightened threat sensitivity, particularly in relation to performance fears, as measured by a brain signal response called the error-related negativity (ERN), which measures response to errors. The threat sensitivity-performance fears association remained even after controlling for anxiety symptoms other than social fearfulness. (more…)
Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, JAMA / 01.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andre Russowsky Brunoni, MD, PhD Coordinator, Service of Interdisciplinary Neuromodulation, Laboratory of Neurosciences  Department and Institute of Psychiatry Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Neuromodulation, University Hospital University of São Paulo São Paulo, Brasil  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this study, our aim was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as an add-on treatment for patients with bipolar depression. There are a only few treatment alternatives for bipolar depression, which often have important side effects. Thus, we wanted to evaluate the efficacy of this non-pharmacological treatment. We found that active vs. sham tDCS effected greater response and remission for patients with bipolar depression. The frequency of adverse effects was similar, including treatment-emergent affective switches. However, higher rates of skin redness were observed in the active group. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 27.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Marte Bjørk, MD PhD Department of Clinical Medicine University of Bergen, Department of Neurology Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In utero antiepileptic drug exposure are associated with neurodevelopmental problems in the child. We looked into if maternal folate during pregnancy could reduce the risk of autistic traits in children of women in need of antiepileptic drugs in pregnancy. The rationale for the hypothesis that folate could be beneficial, was that many antiepileptic drugs interact with folate metabolism. Folic acid supplement use is also associated with slightly reduced risk of autism in children of women from the general population. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lifestyle & Health / 20.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Exercise” by Diabetes Education Events is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS Evidence-based Practice Center School of Public Health University of Minnesota  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We conducted a large systematic review to assess the evidence relating to interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We included experimental studies with follow up times of at least six months. This paper analyzes the physical activity interventions; other papers in this issue address other types of interventions. (more…)
Allergan, Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Brigham & Women's - Harvard / 20.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: allerganGary Sachs, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this data milestone? Response: Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adults in the United States.  It is a common, often disabling condition in which abnormal mood states impair a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks. Bipolar disorder touches nearly every family and community in America, because periods of illness, a patient’s symptoms often impact their family, their friends, and their community. There are a limited number of products approved to treat bipolar depression and even fewer products that have been studied and approved to treat the full spectrum of bipolar disorder, from mania through depression. Having another product proven to treat the full range of bipolar disorder would be a welcome addition to the treatment options currently available to the psychiatry community and patients. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Mineral Metabolism / 19.12.2017

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  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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Memory, UCLA / 18.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Cute babies” by daily sunny is licensed under CC BY 2.0Benjamin M. Seitz Doctoral Student Department of Psychology, Learning & Behavior University of California, Los Angeles MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?   Response: The adaptive memory literature is based on two crucial theories. The first is that we process information on different ‘levels’ and these different levels of processing information strongly influence our ability to later remember that information. The second is that our evolutionary history has shaped our cognitive abilities and that these abilities therefore perform optimally when performing tasks related to evolutionary fitness. It has been established that processing words based on their relevancy to an imagined ancestral survival scenario yields incredible memory performance far superior than processing those same words based on their relevancy to similar imagined scenarios that do not involve the survival element or ancestral environment. Our study demonstrates that thinking about raising offspring in an ancestral environment while processing words leads to a similar benefit to recall of those words as when thinking about survival, suggesting the human memory system while also useful in helping our species survive may have also been particularly useful in helping us raise our offspring. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 14.12.2017

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. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, JAMA, OBGYNE / 14.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, Hearing Loss, JAMA / 11.12.2017

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). (more…)
Author Interviews, Memory / 11.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, BMJ, Education, Karolinski Institute / 10.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

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.

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Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Mineral Metabolism / 07.12.2017

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  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. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews / 06.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.   (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 30.11.2017

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  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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Imperial College, Pediatrics / 30.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Baby” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Dermatology, Infections, Mental Health Research, Neurological Disorders, NIH / 23.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:   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. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, CDC, Emergency Care, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 21.11.2017

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

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. (more…)