Salivary Assay Developed for HIV Can Be Used To Detect Zika

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Researchers at NYU College of Dentistry are developing a test for Zika virus that uses saliva to identify diagnostic markers of the virus in a fraction of the time of current tests. NYU/Sapna Parikh

Researchers at NYU College of Dentistry are developing a test for Zika virus that uses saliva to identify diagnostic markers of the virus in a fraction of the time of current tests.
NYU/Sapna Parikh

Maite Sabalza Ph.D
Post Doctoral Associate
Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology
College of Dentistry, New York University
New York, NY 10010

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

Response: With previous NIH funding we were able to develop an automated “dual assay” (able to detect both host antibodies and viral RNA) for HIV.

In relatively short time, we were able to migrate those findings into the new assay for ZIKA Virus. Continue reading

ZIKA: Mouse Study Finds Antioxidant Ebselen Reduces Risk of Sexual Transmission

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth. Wikipedia image

Image of a baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a normal baby (right). This is one of the potential effects of Zika virus. Signs of microcephaly may develop a few months after birth.
Wikipedia image

Yogy Simanjuntak PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute of Biomedical Sciences
Academia Sinica, Taiwan 

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

Response: Despite the low case fatality, Zika virus infection has been associated with microcephaly in infants and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Primarily transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, Zika also can be sexually transmitted in humans. By August 2016, the sexual transmission of Zika had been documented in 11 countries worldwide and most of the cases were from male to female. Infectious Zika in semen has been reported. Moreover, unlike in serum or urine samples, Zika RNA can still be detected in semen up to 188 days after the onset of symptoms. In the absence of approved antiviral drugs or vaccines for Zika infection, preventing the disease transmission is critical.

We observed Zika progressively damaged testes by gaining access to testicular cells including sperm. Notably, Zika caused signs of increased testicular oxidative stress and inflammation, characterized by high levels of reactive oxygen species and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Our data indicate that these factors may contribute to testicular damage as well as successful sexual transmission of Zika; thus, we speculate antioxidants might display beneficial effects to alleviate these disease outcomes.

We found that antioxidant ebselen both alleviated testicular damage and prevented sexual transmission of Zika via sperm from infected male mice to uninfected female mice.

Continue reading

Genetic Pathways Determine Susceptibility to Dengue Shock Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

CDC/ Frederick Murphy

This transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image depicts a number of round, Dengue virus particles that were revealed in this tissue specimen. CDC image

Luisa Pereira PhD
Institute for Research and Innovation in Health
University of Porto 

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

Response: By using admixture mapping along the genome in Thai cohorts, we were able to identify new candidate genes conferring protection/susceptibility to dengue fever. A very interesting result was that the set of genes differed with the dengue phenotype: genes coding proteins that may link to the virus, conditioning its entrance in the host cells and mobility therein were associated with the less severe phenotype; genes related with blood vessels permeability were associated with the dengue shock syndrome.  Continue reading

Endocrine Disrupter PFAS Chemicals Linked To Weight Regain, Especially in Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gang Liu, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Gang Liu

Gang Liu, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 

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

Response: Although many approaches can be used to achieve a short-term weight loss, maintenance of weight loss has become a key challenge for sustaining long-term benefits of weight loss. Accumulating evidence has suggested that certain environmental compounds may play an important role in weight gain and obesity development.

The potential endocrine-disrupting effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are extensively used in many industrial and consumer products including food packaging, paper and textile coatings, and non-stick cookware, have been demonstrated in animal studies, but whether PFASs may interfere with body weight regulation in humans is largely unknown.

In a 2-year POUNDS Lost randomized clinical trial that examined energy-restricted diets on weight changes, baseline plasma concentrations of major PFASs were measured among 621 overweight and obese participants aged 30-70 years. Body weight was measured at baseline, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and other metabolic parameters, including glucose, lipids, thyroid hormones, and leptin, were measured at baseline, 6, and 24 months.

We found that higher baseline levels of PFASs were significantly associated with a greater weight regain, primarily in women. On average, women in the highest tertile of PFASs regained 1.7-2.2 kg more body weight than women in the lowest tertile. In addition, higher baseline plasma PFAS concentrations, especially perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), were significantly associated with greater decline in RMR during the first 6 months and less increase in RMR during weight regain period.  Continue reading

Modeling Intelligence As Ability To Access Multiple Brain States

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Glenn N. Saxe, MD Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry  Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Child Study Center, One Park Avenue New York, NY 10016

Dr. Saxe

Glenn N. Saxe, MD
Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Child Study Center, One Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by brain entropy and how it relates to intelligence?

Response: Think of human intelligence as the capacity for a human being to understand their complex and ever-changing world. The world of a person is really complex and constantly in flux so the human brain must be ready to understand whatever may come – when there is no way beforehand to predict what might come. How does the brain understand its world? It creates specific models of the information it receives through specific patterns of neuronal connection. These are called brain states. The way the brain understands its world is largely through using such models, or brain states, to accurately predict what comes next. So you can see that for an intelligent brain to properly understand and predict events in the world, it will need to have access to a very, very large number of brain states. And this is how entropy is defined.

Entropy is a very old and very powerful concept in the history of science. Not only is it fundamental for thermodynamics – what we learned in high school physics – but it is also fundamental for the nature of information and it’s processing. Entropy is defined as the number of states – or distinct configurations – any system has access to at any point in time. High entropy means access to a very large number of states. Low entropy means access to a very small number of states. A solid is a phenomenon with very low entropy. A gas is a phenomenon with very high entropy. Life, and the brain, are somewhere in between.

Although it is impossible to precisely measure the number of states a brain has access to at any one moment, there is a highly related concept that can be measured. A system with access to a very high number of possible states (like a gas) has components with behavior that is highly unpredictable. A system with access to very few possible states (like a solid) has components whose behavior is highly predictable. We measured brain entropy through the predictability of the brains components at the smallest scale we had access to: what are called voxels in an fMRI scan. These are 3mm cubes of neurons in a functional MRI scan, and there are many thousands of these voxels in our measurement and each of these voxels contains information on the activity of hundreds of thousands of neurons. We measured the predictability of each of these voxels and then found clusters of voxels where their predictability – or entropy – was related to intelligence.

Continue reading

Brief Interruption of HIV Treatment Did Not Lead To Irreversible Expansion of Viral Reservoir

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“HIV-infected T cell” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

HIV-infected T-cell
NIAID image

Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D.
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892 

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

Response: While antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved the clinical outcome for people living with HIV, persistence of viral reservoirs in the peripheral blood and lymphoid tissues remains a hurdle to complete eradication of virus and cure of the infection. We know the vast majority of people living with HIV will experience plasma viral rebound within weeks of cessation of therapy. Considering that current research on the treatment of people living with HIV has been heavily focused on developing strategies aimed at achieving sustained virologic remission in the absence of ART, it is of great interest to investigate whether treatment interruption results in expansion of the viral reservoir and/or damage to the immune system. Using data from a recently concluded trial that employed short-term analytical treatment interruption (ATI), we found that, as expected, HIV DNA increased in the CD4+ T cells of individuals living with HIV during the treatment interruption phase. However, the size of the HIV reservoirs as well as immune parameters returned to baseline 6–12 months after the participants resumed ART.  Continue reading

Alcohol-Harm Paradox Linked To Drinking Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by Jorge Mejía peralta is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Eirik Degerud, PhD

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

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

Response: Alcohol-related hospitalisations and deaths are more frequent among individuals with low socioeconomic position, despite that they tend to drink less on average. This is referred to as the alcohol-harm paradox. Alcohol is associated with both higher and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, depending on the drinking pattern. We wanted to assess if the paradox was relevant to these relationship also. Continue reading

Older Diabetes Drug Metformin May Resensitize Tumors to Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada 

Dr. Arnason

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor,
Division of Endocrinology,
Department of Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK, Canada

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

Response: Response: Metformin has been used worldwide for decades to treat Type diabetes.

Metformin is a cheap non-toxic compound that was originally plant derived. In the past decade a number of meta-analyses have demonstrated that Type 2 individuals taking
metformin have a reduced risk of developing many different cancers and do better
longterm. The molecular events facilitating metformin’s activity remain obscure and
it is unknown whether metformin can help cancer patients avoid the development of
drug resistant cancers years after successful treatment.

In our study we asked whether metformin can not only restore sensitivity of multiple drug resistant tumors to chemotherapy once again, but whether metformin can prevent the development of multiple drug resistance in the “rst place. We demonstrate that metformin can sensitize drug resistant cells to chemotherapy once again, which supports recent
studies, but we also show for the “first time that Metformin can prevent the
progression of cancer cells towards drug resistance using cell culture experiments.

Continue reading

Significant Amount of Medical Literature Contaminated With Misidentified Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Serge Horbach MSc Institute for Science in Society Radboud University Nijmegen

Serge Horbach

Serge Horbach MSc
Institute for Science in Society
Radboud University Nijmegen
 

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

Response: Since the late 60s, researchers have pointed to issues in biomedical research stemming from the misidentification of cells. Starting with controversy around HeLa cells, researchers became aware of cells invading other cell cultures. Currently, 488 cell lines have become mixed up with the wrong cells, still often HeLa cells. This leads to errors in reporting research. For example, some research papers have reported results for “lung cancer cells” that turned out to be liver cancer cells, or even mouse cells.

We wanted to know what happened to past research and set out to estimate the number of scientific publications affected by misidentified cells. By tracing misidentified cells of the ICLAC database in Web of Science, we found 32.755 contaminated publications, or 0,8% of all literature in cell biology. These articles are cited by at least 500.000 other publications.

More worryingly, it turned out that this problem is highly stubborn. Currently, still a few dozen new articles are published every month reporting on other cells than were actually used, leading to a total of 1200 each year. And this number is not decreasing, in spite of a database of misidentified cells, of genetic testing availability, requirements by some prominent journals, or attention for the problem in the literature. We were also able to establish that this is not just a problem for newly emergent countries in the international research community, but also for countries with well-establishments research traditions. In spite of great efforts, the problem of cell misidentification is not at all solved.

Continue reading

High Blood Pressure Is a Risk Factor For Mitral Regurgitation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Kazem Rahimi, FRCP MD DM MSc FES Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health UK Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr. Rahimi

Professor Kazem Rahimi, FRCP MD DM MSc FES
Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health UK
Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford
Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust 

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

Response: Mitral regurgitation, the most common heart valve disorder in high-income countries, has until now been considered a degenerative disorder, which results from damage over time due to ‘wear and tear’. As a result, the focus of medical practitioners has been on treating the disorder – by repairing or replacing the valve – rather than preventing it. This is partly because there has been a lack of large-scale, longitudinal studies investigating the effect of risk factors on the condition.

We set out to analyse data on 5.5 million patients in the UK over 10 years. Our findings show, for the first time, that elevated blood pressure is an important risk factor for mitral regurgitation. Consistent with prior evidence on blood pressure associations with other cardiovascular disease – such as stroke and heart attacks – we found an association with mitral regurgitation that is continuous across the whole spectrum of blood pressure. More specifically, every 20 mmHg higher baseline systolic blood pressure is associated with a 26% increased risk of mitral regurgitation, with no threshold below or above which this relationship is not true.

The association we found was only partially mediated by conditions that are established causes of secondary mitral regurgitation, which suggests that high blood pressure has a direct and independent effect on valve degeneration.

Continue reading