Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Infections, Neurological Disorders / 14.12.2022

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eli Hatchwell, MA MB BChir (Cantab) DPhil (Oxon) BA (OU) Chief Scientific Officer Population Bio UK, Inc. Begbroke Science Park Begbroke Hill Begbroke, Oxfordshire United Kingdom MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a devastating condition that is associated with a number of clinical situations, including treatment with a variety of drugs. Of these, the best known is natalizumab (Tysabri), which is a very successful drug in the treatment of MS (multiple sclerosis). Only a small proportion of patients treated with natalizumab develop PML and this has always been a mystery. The study was based on a hypothesis that some individuals have an underlying susceptibility to developing PML, based on the presence of variants in genes that are important in the immune system. The study identified several of these variants. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Nature, Neurological Disorders / 07.04.2022

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tracy Fischer, PhD Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Tulane National Primate Research Center    MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study? Response: We investigated multiple regions of the brain from SARS-CoV-2 infected Rhesus macaques and African green monkeys for the presence of inflammation and other pathology that may result from COVID-19. Most animals were infected for approximately one month before our investigation, however, two of the African green monkeys developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) prior to the study endpoint. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurological Disorders / 27.10.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Scott Montgomery Professor of medical science (clinical epidemiology) Örebro University, Sweden Director of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Örebro University Hospital, Sweden MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Infections have been linked with increased risk of subsequent multiple sclerosis (MS), but it has been suggested this may be because the genetic or other family characteristics of people who go on to develop MS have a more severe response to infections: the infections would be more likely to be recorded in those who would subsequently develop MS, rather than being risk factors for the disease. To address this issue, we performed a large study of 2,492,980 people living in Sweden, and 5,867 of them had a diagnosis of MS after age 20 years. We identified who had a hospital diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis (caused by Epstein-Barr virus, EBV infection, and also known as glandular fever or the kissing disease). The new study was different from other studies of infection and MS risk, as it compared siblings in the same families. Siblings share much of their genetic make-up and have similar family lives. If glandular fever is associated with later MS when siblings are compared, then it is unlikely that the association is caused by genetics or other family characteristics that make infections worse in people more likely to develop future MS. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Medical Imaging, Neurological Disorders / 02.07.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Ferguson, PhD Instructor in Neurology | Harvard Medical School Lecturer on Neurospirituality | Harvard Divinity School Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics Brigham and Women’s Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Over 80% of the global population consider themselves religious with even more identifying as spiritual, but the neural substrates of spirituality and religiosity remain unresolved. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Where is this circuit located in the brain? What other effects does this circuit control or influence? Response: We found that brain lesions associated with self-reported spirituality map to a human brain circuit centered on the periaqueductal grey. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Clots - Coagulation, Hematology, Neurological Disorders, Pain Research / 22.05.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel Chasman, PhD Pamela Rist, ScD, Yanjun Guo, MD, PhD Division of Preventative Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been speculation in the field about relationships between coagulation and migraine susceptibility for some time, but previous research has been largely inconclusive. In this study, we leveraged Mendelian randomization, a mode of genetic analysis that can support or refute potential causal effects on a health outcome, to examine whether hemostatic factors may contribute to risk of MA. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Personalized Medicine / 19.06.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: https://polyneuron.com/Pascal Hänggi, PhD Chief Scientific Officer Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Anti-MAG neuropathy is a rare form of acquired demyelinating neuropathy. The disease onset normally presents after the age of 50 years and is 2.7 times more frequent in men than in women, with a prevalence of about 1 in 100,000. It is caused by the production of monoclonal anti-MAG IgM antibodies that recognize the HNK-1 epitope. The myelin-associated glycoprotein MAG is a mediator for the formation and maintenance of the myelin sheaths. There is strong evidence that the binding and deposition of anti-MAG IgM autoantibodies on myelin sheath is responsible for the demyelination, which clinically manifests itself as a peripheral neuropathy affecting primarily sensory nerves. However, the causes and the exact mechanisms behind the expansion of anti-MAG IgM producing B-cell and plasma cell clones are not fully understood. Most off-label treatments aim to reduce pathogenic autoantibody titers by depleting  autoantibody-producing B cell clones which interfere with antibody-effector mechanisms, or physically remove autoantibodies from the circulation. Most frequently, the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab is used to treat anti-MAG neuropathy patients. However, all of these treatment options often lack of selectivity, efficiency, or can induce severe adverse effects in some patients. Polyneuron has designed PN-1007 to highly selectively target the IgM autoantibodies that cause anti-MAG neuropathy. PN-1007 is a glycopolymer that mimics the natural HNK-1 carbohydrate epitope found on myelin of peripheral nerves and binds to the circulating disease-causing antibodies. By eliminating these pathogenic antibodies, PN-1007 may protect the integrity of the neuronal myelin sheaths of anti-MAG neuropathy patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Neurology, Pain Research / 11.05.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Holly Yancy, DO Headache medicine specialist Banner – University Medicine Neuroscience Institute Phoenix, AZ Dr. Yancy comments on the recent Neurology journal article on the potential impact of yoga on migraine.  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? How might yoga reduce migraine intensity or frequency?  Response: The authors of this trial have studied the benefits of yoga when added to medical management of episodic migraine. They expand on prior, smaller reports of the potential benefit of yoga and mindfulness to migraine patients with a well-designed study that shows yoga, as an adjunct to preventive medication, can lower the intensity, frequency and impact of migraines. Participants even used less abortive medication. The authors propose multiple potential mechanisms of action, including an increase in parasympathetic / decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity, decreased muscle tension, and stress management. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biogen, Neurological Disorders, Pharmaceutical Companies / 30.04.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Toby Ferguson, M.D., Ph.D. Vice President, Head Neuromuscular Development Unit Biogen MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by SMA, who is primarily affected and incidence? Response: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare, genetic, neuromuscular disease characterized by a loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and lower brain stem that can result in severe, progressive muscle atrophy and weakness. Approximately one in 10,000 live births have a diagnosis of SMA. It is a leading genetic cause of infant mortality; however, people of all ages are impacted by the disease. More than three years ago, SPINRAZA (nusinersen) became the first FDA-approved treatment option for SMA. The DEVOTE study, which recently treated its first patient, is designed to evaluate the safety and potential for even greater efficacy of SPINRAZA when administered at a higher dose than currently approved for the treatment of SMA. The Phase 2/3 randomized, controlled, dose-escalating study will be conducted at approximately 50 sites around the world and aims to enroll individuals of all ages with SMA. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Parkinson's / 15.04.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Viviane Labrie, PhD Dr. Labrie is an associate professor in Van Andel Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science, where she studies Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: One of the most puzzling and persistent mysteries in neuroscience has been why some people are “right-brained” while others are “left-brained.” The two sides of the brain have different jobs. The left side is analytic and problem-solving, while the right side manages creativity and artistic talents. But despite their differences, the two sides are composed of the same cell types — essentially, brain neurons and their support cells. In this study, we sought to understand how it is possible for these cells to behave completely differently depending on what hemisphere they’re located in.  We also wanted to examine the reasons behind asymmetry in Parkinson’s disease; that is, why Parkinson’s symptoms typically start on one side of the body before the other. This asymmetry in neurodegeneration and symptoms in patients is one of the biggest unsolved puzzles in the Parkinson’s disease field — why do brain cells in one hemisphere begin dying before brain cells in the other hemisphere? (more…)
Author Interviews, Lipids, NEJM, Neurological Disorders, Stroke / 18.11.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pierre Amarenco, MD Professor and Chairman Paris University, Paris, France INSERM Department of Neurology and Stroke Centre Bichat Hospital Paris, France MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The rationale of the Treat Stroke to target trial was that after we published the SPARCL trial in 2006 (atorvastatin 80 mg/day vs placebo in patients with stroke) which showed a 16% relative risk reduction of recurrent stroke, we performed several pre specified and post hoc analyses, showing that in SPARCL patients randomized with "atherosclerotic disease" the risk reduction for the primary endpoint was much higher (33%), and in in patients achieving a LDL cholesterol of less than 70 mg/dL as compared to those achieving a LDL cholesterol 100 mg/dL or higher, the risk reduction was 28%. Therefore to confirm this findings, we designed the TST trial, which was an investigator initiated trial funded by the french ministry of health,  and enrolled patients with an ischemic stroke due to atherosclerotic stenosis and randomized them to either a target LDL cholesterol of less than 70 mg/dL or a target LDL cholesterol of 90 to 110 mg/dL. To achieve these goals, the investigators could use any statin available on the market, and titrate the dosage of the statin to get to the assigned target. They could also use ezetimibe on top of statin therapy if a high dosage of statin was not sufficient to get to the target level assigned by randomization. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurological Disorders / 12.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Dr. Patrick Küry Dept. of Neurology Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf Germany MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? How do these viruses in our DNA differ from others such as the herpes family of viruses? Response: The background of our current two published studies is elucidating the role of endogenous retroviruses such as the HERV-W in contributing to neurological disease initiation and progression. Our new paper in PNAS (Kremer et al., PNAS 2019) describes a novel axon damage scenario for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in which a "toxic" protein called ENV from HERV-W instructs so called microglial cells in the human brain to attack and damage myelinated axons. Our second review article (Gruchot et al., Front Genet 2019) summarizes currently known effects on endogenous retroviruses exerted towards neural cells, that means cells other than the infiltrating immune cells. There is currently a shift of attention and research in the MS field in that resident neural cells such as oligodendrocytes, precursor cells, stem cells and microglial cells and their reactions are intensively investigated. HERVs are evolutionary acquired retroviruses (RNA viruses able to integrate into host DNA via reverse transcription from RNA to DNA) that were collected during evolution by our ancestors. Some of them remained in our genome (8% of our genome is HERV related) and in most cases appear to be non-functional, mutated or genetically silenced. A few of them, as for example HERV-W in MS or HERV-K in ALS, can apparently be activated, woken up so to say, and one of the mechanisms leading to activation might be an infection by Herpesviruses. Note that herpesviruses such as for example the Epstein Bar Virus (EBV) are long known suspected triggers of MS, however, a direct correlation could never be demonstrated. HERVs such as HERV-W might therefore constitute the missing link. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Neurological Disorders, Neurology, Stroke / 12.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas M Van Vleet PhD Posit Science  Dr. Tom Van Vleet,  presented results on a common symptom of stroke and acquired brain injury (hemi-spatial neglect) at the American Academy of Neurology May 2019 MedicalResearch.com: What makes this study newsworthy? Response For the first time ever a highly-scalable intervention — computerized brain training (BrainHQ made by Posit Science) —was found to improve symptoms of hemi-spatial neglect, which is a common and often intractable and debilitating problem after stroke or other acquired brain injury. MedicalResearch.com: What can you tell us about the medical condition (hemi-spatial neglect) investigated in this study? Response About a third of patients with a brain injury exhibit a complex and debilitating array of neurological deficits known as the “neglect syndrome” (sometimes called, “hemi-spatial neglect” or “neglect”). The most apparent symptom of neglect is the inability of patients to efficiently process information on the side of space opposite the injury; often completely missing relevant events without awareness. As a result, patients often fail to adopt compensatory strategies or respond to other conventional rehabilitation protocols. The cost is significant, as patients with neglect experience longer hospital stays and have higher requirements for assistance, including greater skilled nursing home placements relative to patients with similar extent of brain injury without neglect. To date, there’s been no broadly-applicable and highly-scalable intervention for addressing neglect. An alarming reality given the increasing cost of stroke, which is currently estimated to exceed $34 billion per annum (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Neurological Disorders, Neurology, University of Pennsylvania / 08.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren McCollum, MDCognitive and Behavioral Neurology FellowPenn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology DivisionLauren McCollum, MD Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Fellow Penn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology Division MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a heterogenous condition, with considerable variability in cognitive symptoms and progression rates. One major reason for this heterogeneity is “mixed pathology,” – i.e., both AD- and non-AD pathology. Examples of non-AD pathology include cerebrovascular disease (CVD), Lewy Bodies, and TDP-43. Pathologically, Alzheimer’s Disease is defined by characteristic amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which can be assessed for in living patients with CSF- or PET-based biomarkers for amyloid and tau, respectively. Classically, amyloid deposition begins years or even decades before pathologic tau accumulation, which is in turn associated with brain atrophy and cognitive decline. The recently developed NIA-AA “ATN” research framework allows for the classification of individuals with regard to 3 binary biomarkers: Amyloid (A), Tau (T), and Neurodegeneration (N). An individual’s ATN biomarker status indicates where along the “Alzheimer’s Disease continuum” they lie. Additionally, some ATN statuses are on the “typical AD” continuum, while others are not. Research has shown that 15-30% of cognitively normal older adults have elevated amyloid. It stands to reason that some portion of cognitively impaired individuals with elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration have something other than AD driving their neuronal injury. Within the context of the ATN research framework, this subset of people is the A+T-N+ group (i.e., people who have elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration, but are tau-negative), as amyloid alone (that is, amyloid without tau) is not thought to cause significant cognitive impairment or brain atrophy. Our hypothesis was that, compared to A+T+N+ (a set of typical-AD biomarkers), A+T-N+ have cognitive and neuroimaging profiles that deviate from a typical Alzheimer’s Disease pattern – i.e., with less memory loss and less atrophy in AD-signature regions – and may have biomarkers suggestive of alternate non-AD pathologies [e.g., white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), a marker of CVD]. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Neurological Disorders, Nursing / 18.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elsa F. Fouragnan PhD School of Psychology (Faculty of Health and Human Sciences) University of Plymouth MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Counterfactual thinking is a psychological process that involves the tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that are currently happening. It is very important because it gives us the ability to switch away from uninteresting activities if better ones become available. For example, if you are working or doing the housework, you may be thinking about gardening or watching a movie later. As soon as your duties are finished, you may engage in these more exciting activities. In our study, macaque monkeys were tasked to find treats under several colored cups (on a screen). Some of these cups were better than others but were not always available, thus the animals had to retain what they had learnt about the good cups in case they became available again. We found that a frontal part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex was responsible for tracking which cups were the best in order to efficiently switch to them if the opportunity arose. If this part of the brain was not functioning properly, then animals were stuck in non-optimal choices. To reveal the causal role of the anterior cingulate cortex, we used a new neurostimulation method called low-intensity repetitive ultrasound to modulates activity in this part of the brain with millimetre accuracy. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders / 24.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rachael D. Seidler, PhD Professor, Applied Physiology & Kinesiology University of Florida MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is accumulating evidence that spaceflight impacts the human brain: the brain is shifted higher within the skull and there are some regions of gray matter increases and decreases. To date, no studies have looked at the impact of spaceflight on human brain white matter pathways. Rodents flown in space show decreased myelination of white matter pathways. Here, we analyzed brain MRI scans pre and post spaceflight to quantify fluid shifts and white matter changes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Neurology, Personalized Medicine, Radiology, Surgical Research / 13.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yasser Iturria-Medina, PhD Primary Investigator, Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics & Mental Health Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery Faculty of Medicine McGill University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are millions of patients following therapeutic interventions that will not benefit them. In this study, we aimed to illustrate that it is possible to identify the most beneficial intervention for each patient, in correspondence with the principles of the personalized medicine (PM). Our results show that using multimodal imaging and computational models it is possible to predict individualized therapeutic needs. The predictions are in correspondence with the individual molecular properties, which validate our findings and the used computational techniques. The results highly also the imprecision of the traditional clinical evaluations and categories for understanding the individual therapeutic needs, evidencing the positive impact that would have to use multimodal data and data-driven techniques in the clinic, in addition to the medical doctor's criterion/evaluations.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Neurological Disorders, Pain Research, UCSF / 06.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Julie H. Ishida MD Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Gabapentin and pregabalin are used for the management of symptoms such as neuropathic pain, itching, and restless leg syndrome in patients receiving hemodialysis. However, hemodialysis patients may be particularly vulnerable to adverse events related to these agents, which are cleared by the kidney, but there is limited data evaluating their risk in this population. Gabapentin and pregabalin use were associated with risk for altered mental status, fall, and fracture, and in some cases, even at doses that would be considered safe for use in this population.  (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, JAMA, Neurological Disorders, Zika / 31.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Emilio Dirlikov, PhD Office of Epidemiology and Research, Puerto Rico Department of Health Epidemic Intelligence Service Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development CDC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: After reporting local Zika transmission in December 2015, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and University of Puerto Rico began identifying cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), testing specimens, and conducting follow-up telephone interviews after patients left the hospital. Through these efforts, we were able to characterize acute clinical features and long-term disability of GBS associated with Zika infection by analyzing data from GBS patients with and without evidence of Zika infection. This investigation increases scientific and medical understanding of Guillain-Barré syndrome following Zika infection, provides insight into the disease processes involved in GBS following Zika infection, and adds to growing evidence of a causal association between Zika and GBS.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Epilepsy, Neurological Disorders, NYU, Pharmaceutical Companies / 17.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: https://www.gwpharm.com/epilepsy-patients-caregivers/patientsAnup Patel, M.D. Section Chief of Neurology Interim Division Chief of Neurology Nationwide Children’s Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The study evaluated kids and adults with an epilepsy syndrome (Lennox Gastaut Syndrome – LGS) that is often difficult to treat and does not respond well to current medical treatment.  The study was a double blind randomized control trial evaluating how well a plant based, liquid solution, cannabidiol (CBD) product made by Greenwich Biosciences called Epidiolex helped to treat drop seizures (the most common seizure type in LGS) and how safe it was compared to placebo.  Two doses (10 mg/kg/day and 20 mg/kg/day) were evaluated compared to placebo. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Hematology, JAMA, Neurological Disorders, Stroke / 23.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with : Dr. Hyacinth I Hyacinth MD Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center, Emory Children’s Center, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, GA 30322 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? This study was conducted against the backdrop of a significantly higher risk for stroke among African Americans compared to non-Hispanic Whites, despite adjusting for traditional risk factors. Also, sickle cell disease is a well-known genetic risk factor for stroke and recent studies show that sickle cell trait is a risk factor for chronic kidney disease, venous thromboembolism and pulmonary embolism, all of which are potential risk factors for stroke. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Neurological Disorders, Neurology / 23.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Birnkrant, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Director of Pediatric Pulmonology & Student Education, MetroHealth Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study updates guidance on all aspects of the multi-disciplinary care of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The project was funded by the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the results were recently published as three articles in The Lancet Neurology. The project was guided by a 25-member steering committee. Eleven expert committees worked over a period of three years to develop guidelines based on the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method, in which assessments and interventions were evaluated for appropriateness and necessity. The recommendations update those originally published in 2010. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is transmitted by X-linked recessive inheritance and thus affects primarily boys and men. Patients affected by DMD do not produce functional dystrophin protein, resulting in progressive weakness of skeletal, respiratory, and heart muscles, causing a shortened life span. Teens and young men may require surgery for curvature of the spine, a ventilator device to assist breathing, and a feeding tube to help ensure adequate nutrition. The approach of the various subspecialties involved in DMD management has evolved, with more anticipatory assessment and therapy, identifying and addressing predictable medical complications as early as possible for optimal patient outcomes. With this kind of multi-disciplinary care, people with DMD now live into their 30s and beyond. Along with the emergence of new genetic and molecular therapies, the recognition that people with DMD are living longer was one of the main motivations behind the need for these updated care considerations. Patients with DMD, their families and their advocacy organizations are driving a new emphasis on optimizing quality of life, not just prolongation of survival. Thus, there was a need to address issues related to transitions of care from childhood to adulthood, coordination of care across subspecialties, and other topics related to education, vocation, independence, personal relationships, emotional health, and intimacy. The updated care considerations thus include eleven topic areas, eight of which were part of the 2010 guidelines. These are: (1) diagnosis, (2) neuromuscular management, (3) rehabilitation management, (4) gastrointestinal and nutritional management, (5) respiratory management, (6) cardiac management, (7) orthopedic and surgical management, and (8) psychosocial management. Three topics are new: (9) primary care and emergency management, (10) endocrine management (including growth, puberty, adrenal insufficiency, and bone health), and (11) transitions of care across the lifespan. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Neurological Disorders, University Texas, Zika / 07.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Slobodan Paessler, D.V.M., Ph.D. Professor, Department of Pathology; Director, Galveston National Laboratory Preclinical Studies Core; Director, Animal Biosafety Level 3, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity; Member, Center for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Zika virus infection is associated with various developmental issues for human embryos such as reduced head growth, reduced brain tissue growth, and damage to brain or eyes. We wanted to better understand if some of these birth defects are caused directly by the Zika virus or maybe by the host response to infection. In our study we demonstrate that the Zika virus infection induces autoimmune response against the C1q protein. This protein is a very important immune protein as well as one of the essential proteins for healthy brain development. Attacking the C1q protein upon exposure with the Zika virus could contribute to the development of autoimmune disorders and birth defects.  (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Technology / 26.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Brandman, MD, PhD Postdoctoral research associate (neuroengineering), Brown University Senior neurosurgical resident Dalhousie University BrainGate Website MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: People with cervical spinal cord injuries, ALS, or brainstem stroke, may lose some or all of their ability to use their arms or hands. In some cases, they may even lose the ability to speak. One approach to restoring neurologic function is by using a brain computer interface (BCI). BCIs record information from the brain, and then translate the recorded brain signals into commands used to control external devices. Our research group and others have shown that intracortical BCIs can provide people with tetraplegia the ability to communicate via a typing interface, to control a robotic limb for self-feeding, and to move their own muscles using functional electrical stimulation. Use of a BCI generally requires the oversight of a trained technician, both for system setup and calibration, before users can begin using the system independently. An open question with intracortical BCIs is how long it takes people to get up and running before they can communicate independently with 2 dimensional cursor control. The goal of this study was to systematically examine this question in three people with paralysis. As part of the ongoing BrainGate2 clinical trial, each study participant (T5, T8, and T10) had tiny (4x4 mm) arrays of electrodes implanted into a part of their brain that coordinates arm control. Each participant used motor imagery – that is, attempted or imagined moving their body – to control a computer cursor in real time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders / 07.12.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Audrey S. Dickey, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Neurology, DUMC 2900 Durham, NC  27710 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A drug already used to treat certain forms of cancer may also be an effective therapy for Huntington’s disease, according to a new study in the latest issue of Science Translational Medicine. The same study also increases our understanding of how this drug, and other medications like it, may offer hope for other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease. Huntington’s disease is a devastating, inevitably fatal disease, with no medications that slow or stop disease progression. In this study, mice with the equivalent of Huntington’s disease became more mobile, recovered from neurodegeneration, and lived longer after being treated with Bexarotene. The same research builds on a 2016 study where Dr. Al La Spada, Dr. Audrey Dickey and colleagues showed that the drug KD3010 is an effective treatment for Huntington’s disease in mice and in human patient neurons made from stem cells. (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…)
Author Interviews, Epilepsy, NEJM, Neurological Disorders, Pediatrics, Surgical Research / 25.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Manjari Tripathi Professor, Epileptology, Neurology Dr. P Sarat Chandra, Chief epilepsy Neurosurgeon AIIMS, New Delhi MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?:
  1. Surgery for drug resistant epilepsy (DRE) is an accepted procedure for children and there have been multiple surgical series and surgical techniques published in literature. However, till date there are no randomized controlled trials (RCT) available to objectively demonstrate the safety and efficacy of surgical therapy in children with DRE. There are till date only 2 randomized trials for adult patients with drug resistant epilepsy (both for mesial temporal sclerosis only, Wiebe S et al, New Eng J Med, 2001 & Engel J et al, JAMA, 2012).
  2. Children constitute a significant proportion of patients undergoing surgical therapy for DRE (close to 50% in tertiary centers). They have unique problems associated due to uncontrolled epilepsy and some of these include epileptic encephalopathy and status epilepticus. In addition, surgery is also associated with problems like hypothermia, issues related to blood loss etc. Thus the senior author (Manjari Tripathi) and her team felt that a RCT would be very important to objectively assess the role of surgery and hence designed this study.
(more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, JAMA, Neurological Disorders, Zika / 17.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emilio Dirlikov, PhD Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer CDC  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In December 2015, Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) reported its first confirmed locally acquired case of Zika virus disease. In February 2016, PRDH reported the first person diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) who also had evidence of Zika virus infection. At the time, scientific evidence of the potential association between Zika virus infection and GBS was lacking, and rigorous studies were needed. Through a collaboration between PRDH, CDC, and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), we conducted a case-control study to determine risk factors for GBS during the 2016 Zika virus epidemic. By prospectively enrolling case-patients, we shortened the time to enrollment, increasing the likelihood of detecting Zika virus nucleic acids to confirm Zika virus infection. As a result, we found that an acute Zika virus infection confirmed by laboratory testing is a risk factor for developing Guillain-Barré syndrome. This is the first case-control study to find laboratory evidence showing this given the difficulty of confirming Zika virus infection among people diagnosed with GBS. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Technology / 29.06.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Howard Jay Chizeck ScD Professor, Electrical Engineering Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering Co-Director UW Biorobotics Laboratory Graduate Program in Neuroscience UW CoMotion Presidential Innovation Fellow Research Thrust Testbed Co-Leader MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Essential Tremor is treated using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in some patients. Current clinical practice involves Deep Brain Stimulation with an "always on" stimulation. This causes extra battery drain, because stimulation is applied when not needed. Also excessive stimulation is not necessarily a good thing, Our work is aimed at adjusting the stimulation, so that it comes on and turns off only when needed to suppress tremor symptoms. (more…)