Author Interviews, Technology / 17.07.2015

Adam Friedman, MD, FAADAssociate Professor of Dermatology Residency Program Director Director of Translational Research Department of Dermatology George Washington School of Medicine and Health ScienceMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD Associate Professor of Dermatology Residency Program Director Director of Translational Research Department of Dermatology George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Friedman: Acne vulgaris is one of the most  common skin disease that affects approximately 40-50 million people in the United States.    Acne’s multifactorial etiology, resulting from a mix of androgen-induced elevations in sebum production, abnormal follicular epithelial desquamation and proliferation, hypercolonization of Propionibacterium acnes and host inflammatory reactions, make treatment often times challenging. In looking at the topical therapeutic armament for Acne Vulgaris, which includes benzoyl peroxide, salicyclic acid, topical antibiotics such as clindamycin, and retinoids, all suffer from various related side effects including irritation, erythema, dryness, peeling and scaling, bacterial resistance, and resulting dyschromia from the associated irritation in patients of darker skin types. These adverse events often serve as major limiting factors influencing patient compliance and ultimately impacting efficacy. Therefore new treatments which target all of the complexities of acne are needed, especially given we have not had anything really new brought to market in years. Here, we looked to biology for the answer. Our bodies generate Nitric Oxide, a diatomic lipid loving gaseous molecule, to perform a broad range of biological activities, including but not limited to killing bacteria/fungi/viruses  and inhibiting inflammation - key elements in Acne. Its action however is very short lived and therefore using Nitric Oxide as a treatment is difficult as one would need a delivery system that would allow for continued and controlled release. Enter nanotechnology. We designed exceedingly small particles (of note, 1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a meter) which allow for the generation of nitric oxide gas from nitrite salt, and will only release the gas when exposed to moisture over time. The size of the particles also enables them to better interact with their environment, i.e. cells, pathogens, improving their activity as compared to large sized treatments In this study, we showed that the nitric oxide generating/releasing nano particles effectively killed the organism, P. acnes but was not toxic to both human skin cells and a live vertebrae model (embryonic zebra fish). More importantly, we found that the nano particles inhibits the activation of a newly recognized but exceedingly important inflammatory pathway that is directly tied to the formation of an acne lesion, called the NLRP3 inflammasome. Research has shown that our bodies already regulate this pathway with nitric oxide, and therefore once again, we are looking to biology for answers. As opposed to a drug that may only have one target, the nanoparticles inhibited multiple components/elements of the inflammasome pathway, giving some insight into its potential as a treatment for acne as well as other inflammatory diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Technology / 26.06.2015

Dr. Carsten Lennerz Deutsches Herzzentrum München MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Carsten Lennerz Deutsches Herzzentrum München Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The number of cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) is increasing. Worldwide more than 4 million people rely on an implanted pacemaker (PM) or implantable cardioverter defibrillator ICD. Sensing intrinsic cardiac electrical activity is the core principle of all CIED devices, however in case of electromagnetic interference (EMI) exogenous electric and magnetic fields can be picked up by the sensing circuit and mistakenly interpreted as a cardiac signal by the CIED. PM can respond to EMI with pacing-inhibition, leading to bradycardia or asystole and resulting in syncope. In ICDs EMI may be detected as a life threatening ventricular arrhythmia with the subsequent delivery of inappropriate shocks. Early studies on EMI, run more than 10 years ago, have identified mobile phones as a source of EMI with pacemakers. Based on these pacemaker studies the CIED manufacturer and the regulatory authorities (e.g. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]) currently recommend a safety distance, i.e. hold the phone to the contra-lateral ear and avoid placing a turned-on phone next to the generator pocket. In the meantime telecommunication and the CIED techniques have dramatically evolved. The classic mobile phone has been replaced by modern smartphones, furthermore the network standards have changed from GSM to UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G). New cardiac devices are now in use including more devices for cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) or for the protection from sudden cardiac death (ICD); some of them are even compatible for MRI diagnostics. With the use of a hemertic titanium shell, new filtering properties of the feed-throughs, sense amplifiers and noise protection algorhythms as well as the predominant use of bipolar leads the CIED may be better shielded against external influences and adverse effects of EMI. In light of the above, the purpose of our study was to evaluate if previous precautions recommended to cardiovascular implantable electronic devices recipients are still up-to-date or if they can be abandoned. By today there are neither studies focusing on EMI between modern smartphones and modern CIEDs nor on newer mobile network standards (UMTS or LTE). In a cross-sectional study we enrolled 308 patients and exposed them to the electromagnetic field of three smartphones (Samsung Galaxy 3, Nokia Lumia, HTC One XL) by placing the handhelds directly over the pulse generator. Installing an own base mobile network station we ensured that each smartphone went through a standardized protocol that included the entire calling process (connecting, ringing, talking), the handovers between all current network standards (GSM, UMTS, LTE where applicable) and operation at maximal transmission power. More than 3.400 tests on electromagnetic interference were performed. One out of 308 patients (0.3%) was repeatedly affected by EMI caused by smartphones. The patient’s MRI compatible CRT-defibrillator malfunctioned with short-term ventricular and atrial oversensing when exposed to Nokia or HTC smartphones operating at GSM and UMTS. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Surgical Research, Technology / 25.06.2015

Vanita Ahuja, MD, MPH  Department of General Surgery York Hospital, York, PennsylvaniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vanita Ahuja, MD, MPH  Department of General Surgery York Hospital, York, Pennsylvania MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ahuja: Robotic-assisted surgery has been slowly accepted within the medical community. Felger et al. (1999), Falk et al. (2000), and Loumet et al. (2000) state that specific to cardiac surgery, the advantages of the robot in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and valvular operations were demonstrated with increased visualization, ease of harvest, and quality of vascular anastomoses as early as 1999. However, Giulianotti, et al. (2003), Morgan et al. (2005), and Barbash et al. (2010) suggest that although safety and efficacy are supported, it is not conclusive yet that robot-assisted surgery is cost-effective, given the high cost of the robot itself, longer operating times, and the short life of the robotic instruments. The purpose of our paper was to compare outcomes of complications, length of stay (LOS), actual cost, and mortality between non-robotic and robotic-assisted cardiac surgery. In general surgery and subspecialties, the use of the robot has increased significantly over the past few years. It has been noted that robotic surgery improves on laparoscopic surgery by providing increased intra-cavity articulation, increased degrees of freedom, and downscaling of motion amplitude that may reduce the strain on the surgeon. The biggest growth in robotic surgery has been seen in the fields of gynecology and urology. Recently, Wright et al. reported an increase in robotic assisted hysterectomy from 0.5 percent of the procedures in 2007 compared to 9.5 percent in 2010 for benign disease. In their study, robotic assisted surgery had similar outcomes to laparoscopic surgery but higher total cost of $2,189 more per case. In urologic surgery, Leddy et al. reported in 2010 that radical prostatectomy remains the biggest utilization of robotic assisted surgery in urology with 1% in 2001 to 40% of all cases in 2006 performed in the United States. Utilizing a nationwide database from 2008-2011, subjects were propensity matched by 14 patient characteristics to reduce selection bias in a retrospective study. The patients were then divided into three groups by operation types: valves, vessels and other type. Univariate analysis revealed that robotic-assisted surgery, compared to non-robotic surgery, had higher cost ($39,030 vs. $36,340), but lower LOS (5 vs. 6 days) and mortality (1% vs. 1.9%, all p<0.001). For those who had one or more complications, robotic-assisted cardiac surgery had fewer complications (27.2%) to non-robotic cardiac surgery (30.3%, p < .001). (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Technology, University of Pennsylvania / 24.06.2015

Dan Dongeun Huh, Ph.D. Wilf Family Term Chair & Assistant Professor Department of Bioengineering University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dan Dongeun Huh, Ph.D. Wilf Family Term Chair & Assistant Professor Department of Bioengineering University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The placenta is a temporary organ central to pregnancy and serves as a major interface that tightly regulates transport of various endogenous and exogenous materials between mother and fetus.  The placental barrier consisting of the closely apposed trophoblast epithelium and fetal capillary endothelium is responsible for maintaining this critical physiological function, and its dysfunction leads to adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Despite its importance, barrier function of the placenta has been extremely challenging to study due to a lack of surrogate models that faithfully recapitulate the key features of the placental barrier in humans.  Our study aims to directly address this long-standing technical challenge by providing a microengineered in vitro system that replicates architecture, microenvironment, and physiological function of the human placenta barrier.  This “placenta-on-a-chip” device consists of microfabricated upper and lower cell culture chambers separated by a thin semipermeable membrane, and the placental barrier is generated by culturing human trophoblasts and fetal endothelial cells on either side of the membrane with steady flows of culture media in both chambers.  This microfluidic cell culture condition allowed the cells to form confluent monolayers on the membrane surface and to create a bi-layer tissue that resembled the placental barrier in vivo.  Moreover, the microengineered barrier enabled transport of glucose from the maternal chamber to the fetal compartment at physiological rates. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 21.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mehdi Ardavan Concordia University/Université Concordia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: That thousands patients die each year in US hospitals due to ​medical errors that could be prevented if medical staff were provided with instant access to patient records. Wireless technology (such as portable tablets) is one way of providing this instant access. But using such devices can cause electromagnetic interference ​(EMI) ​ with electronic medical devices and can lead to dangerous consequences for patients. Hospitals may have a policy of minimum separation distance (MSD) which means that the staff members carrying wireless devices cannot approach sensitive medical devices closer than the specified MSD. The problem was that the recommend values of the minimum separation distance were not based on a quantitative and thorough analysis of the problem. We wanted to see what is the correct value of MSD, and how it's determined. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We developed new and fast methods for estimating the electromagnetic field distribution. We also mathematically modeled the roaming nature of the staff members carrying the wireless transmitters. Then we modeled the minimum separation distance policy and added an option to account for a possibility of non-compliance with the policy. First, we assumed a full compliance with MSD policy and found that the risk of interference decreased constantly as the minimum separation distance was increased. Quantitative recommendations are made for the value of the MSD. But once we considered a small non-compliance probability, an interesting ​and unexpected ​ phenomenon was observed: the EMI risk does not decrease beyond a certain value and remains almost constant for all ​MSDs bigger than a value we call the optimal MSD. If we increase the minimum separation distance beyond its optimal value, the risk of EMI does not decrease but more restrictions and thus more inconvenience is put on the staff members. So larger values of MSD are not necessarily safer and are not recommended. ​We also find that the risk and the optimal minimum separation distance are both sensitive to the rate of compliance with the MSD policy.​ (more…)
Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Technology / 14.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Neetika Garg, MD Fellow in Nephrology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine Boston, MA 02215 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Garg: One in every three Americans suffers from hypertension. Since high blood pressure (BP) frequently does not cause any symptoms, self-blood pressure monitoring at home and patient education are critical components of patient management. With more than 58% of the US adults owning a smartphone, mobile-based health technologies (most commonly in the form of applications or “apps”) can serve as useful adjuncts in diagnosis and management of hypertension. At the same time, several smartphone-based applications are advertised as having blood pressure measurement functionality, which have not been validated against a gold standard. In this cross-sectional study, we analyzed the top 107 hypertension related apps available on the most popular smartphone platforms (Google Android and Apple iPhone) to analyze the functional characteristics and consumer interaction metrics of various hypertension related apps. Nearly three-quarters of the apps record and track blood pressure, heart rate, salt intake, caloric intake and weight/body mass index. These app features can facilitate patient participation in hypertension management, medication adherence and patient-physician communication. However, it was concerning to find that 6.5% of the apps analyzed could transform the smartphone into a cuffless BP measuring device. None of these had any documentations of validation against a gold standard. Furthermore, number of downloads and favorable user ratings were significantly higher for these apps compared to apps without blood pressure measurement function. This highlights the need for greater oversight and regulation in medical device development. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Karolinski Institute, NEJM, Technology / 11.06.2015

Jacob Hollenberg M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Cardiologist Head of Research, Centre for Resuscitation Science Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, SwedenMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jacob Hollenberg M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Cardiologist Head of Research, Centre for Resuscitation Science Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden Editor’s note: Dr. Hollenberg and colleagues published two articles in the NEJM this week discussing CPR performed by bystanders in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. MedicalResearch: What is the background for the first study? Dr. Hollenberg: There are 10,000 cases of cardiac arrest annually in Sweden. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) has been taught to almost a third of Sweden’s population of 9.7 million. In recent years the value of bystander CPR has been debated, largely due to a lack of a randomized trial demonstrating that bystander CPR is lifesaving. In this study, which included all cases of emergency medical services (EMS) treated and bystander-witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests recorded in the Swedish Cardiac Arrest Registry from January 1, 1990, through December 31, 2011, our primary aim was to assess whether CPR initiated before the arrival of EMS was associated with an increase in the 30-day survival rate. MedicalResearch: What were the main findings? Dr. Hollenberg: Early CPR prior to arrival of an ambulance more than doubled the chance of survival. (30-day survival rate was 10.5% among patients who underwent CPR before EMS arrival, as compared with 4.0% among those who did not (P<0.001).) This association held up in all subgroups regardless of sex, age, cause of cardiac arrest, place of arrest, EKG findings or time period (year analyzed). MedicalResearch: How did the patients who survived cardiac arrest do from a disability standpoint? Dr. Hollenberg: We had cerebral performance scores from 474 patients who survived for 30 days after cardiac arrest. (higher scores indicate greater disability). At the time of discharge from the hospital, 81% of these patients had a score of category of 1. Less than 2% had category scores of 4 or 5. MedicalResearch: What should patients and providers take away from this report? Dr. Hollenberg:
  • For patients with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, CPR performed by bystanders before the arrival of emergency medical personnel, saves lives. This has been validated by both the size of this study and the consistency of the results over three decades.
  • CPR education needs to continue and to increase. In Sweden about one-third of the population has been taught CPR.       Legislation has recently been passed that mandates CPR be taught to all teenagers in school which should allow an entire generation to become familiar with this lifesaving technique.
  • The willingness of the public to become involved also needs to increase. We need new ways of educating lay people to recognize cardiac arrest and to motivate them to perform it. The knowledge that bystander CPR saves lives may enhance that motivation.
(more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Technology / 02.06.2015

Andrew Bastawrous, MRCOphth International Centre for Eye Health, Clinical Research Department London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London, EnglandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrew Bastawrous, MRCOphth International Centre for Eye Health, Clinical Research Department London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London, England Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bastawrous: As part of my PhD with the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, I led the follow-up of a major cohort study of eye disease [http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2415/14/60] following up 5,000 people in 100 different locations across the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. It was really challenging, two-thirds of the locations had no road access or electricity and we were carrying over £100,000 worth of fragile eye equipment and a team of 15 people in two vans to be able to carry out high quality measures of eye disease and answer some important questions for planning eye services. What we found was that in the most difficult to reach locations we would find lots of people waiting to see us who had been unnecessarily blind from preventable/treatable diseases. Despite the locations having no roads, electricity and often no water, nearly all the locations had good phone signal. Together with a brilliant team of developers, engineers and ophthalmologists we developed a suite of smartphone based tests to see if we could replace some of the standard equipment being used, in the hope that we could make it more portable and easier for non-specialists to perform so that ultimately the most high-risk individuals could be reached and treated. This paper describes one of those tests, the visual acuity test - Peek Acuity. Our field workers tested patients in their own homes using a standard card based Snellen chart (the type of vision test most non-ophthalmic healthcare workers are familiar with and has been the most commonly used acuity test for several decades now) and Peek Acuity. The same tests were repeated by the same healthcare worker in the clinic the following day as well as a reference standard vision test (LogMAR ETDRS) performed by an eye trained clinical officer. This allowed us to perform "test re-test", a measure of a tests repeatability. i.e. if you have the same test at two separate time points we would expect the the measures to be very close. We found that for both Peek Acuity and Snellen they were highly repeatable. An advantage of Snellen is the speed of the test, Peek Acuity came out slightly quicker overall. We also found when compared to the reference standard test, Peek Acuity was highly comparable and within a clinically acceptable limit of difference. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Technology / 31.05.2015

R. Kenneth Marcus, FRSC & FAAAS Professor of Chemistry Clemson UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: R. Kenneth Marcus, FRSC & FAAAS Professor of Chemistry Clemson University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Marcus: We had previously shown that chromatographic columns formed from aligned capillary-channeled polymer (C-CP) fibers were highly effective in analytical scale and preparative separations of proteins from diverse media.  The C-CP fibers are extracted from commodity fibers such as polyester, nylon, and polypropylene.  The key aspects in using the C-CP fibers are very high bed porosity and rapid protein-surface mass transfer, this allows for very rapid separations.  Packing of the fibers in narrow-bore polymer tubing (0.8 mm id x 1 cm long) allows them to be fixed to the end of a micropipette tip.  Urine samples of 10 microliter-to-milliliter volumes can be spun through on a microcentrifuge, washed with DI-water, and then eluted with a solvent.  Thus the proteins are isolated and pre-concentrated on the fiber surface.  The elution solvent can be chosen based on the analytical method employed (e.g., MALDI- or ESI-MS).   (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Nature, Prostate Cancer, Technology / 27.05.2015

Gabriel Popescu PhD Associate Professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering & Bioengineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Urbana, IL 61801MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gabriel Popescu PhD Associate Professor and Shamira Sridharan, Ph.D. candidate Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory, Department of Bioengineering, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Urbana, IL Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Popescu: We developed a new optical tool that can identify patients at high risk for recurrence of prostate cancer after undergoing radical prostatectomy as treatment.  Early identification of risk for recurrence can allow early treatment of disease. Our main finding was that among individuals with worse disease outcomes, the tissue is more disorganized.  This manifests as a decrease in anisotropy, or light scattering angle, which reports on nano-scale differences in tissue architecture. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Technology / 19.05.2015

Dr. Linnea A. Polgreen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Health Services Research Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Coralville, IAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Linnea A. Polgreen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Health Services Research Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science Iowa City, IA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Polgreen: Many patients with hypertension are unaware that they have hypertension. Furthermore, a substantial number of patients diagnosed with hypertension are poorly controlled. Unfortunately there is no point-of-care test to diagnose hypertension. For most patients with multiple to moderate hypertension, multiple measurements are needed over time to confirm the diagnosis. This need to obtain multiple measurement often delays the diagnosis of hypertension, and delays potential for changes in therapy for those who are diagnosed but poorly controlled. Patients are routinely reminded to check their blood pressure measurements at home. However, these measurements often do not occur or are not collected in a timely fashion. Recently electronic medical records (EMRs) have built portals for patients to enter data such as blood pressure measurements, but it is unclear how effective these portals will be for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure.We studied 121 patients with at least one high blood pressure measurement in the past year and randomized them to three groups.
  • The first group received text messages to which they were told to reply with their blood pressure measurements.
  • The second group was sent text messages reminding them to enter their blood pressures measurements in the hospital’s EMR portal.
  • The third group was instructed to enter their blood pressure measurements in the EMR portal, but they were not given reminders. Automated messages were sent to each patient in the bi-directional text messaging and EMR+reminder groups twice daily for up to 15 days. For the EMR only group, only 47.8% of patients successfully recorded a total of 14 blood pressure measurements within 15 days. For the EMR + reminder group, this percentage was 81.2%, and for the bi-directional text messaging group, it was 97.7%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, PLoS, Technology / 15.05.2015

Michael Rebold, PhD, CSCS Assistant Professor Department of Exercise Science Bloomsburg University Bloomsburg, PA 17815MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Rebold, PhD, CSCS Assistant Professor Department of Exercise Science Bloomsburg University Bloomsburg, PA 17815 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rebold: We assessed how common smartphone uses (texting and talking) interfere with treadmill exercise. We found that when individuals use their smartphones during exercise for texting or talking, it causes a reduction in exercise intensity. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Exercise - Fitness, Technology / 13.05.2015

Dr. Shang-Ming Zhou Senior Lecturer in Statistical Modelling and Analytics for Epidemiology and Public Health, Public Health Informatics Group, Health Information Research Unit (HIRU), UKCRC DECIPHer (Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement) Centre, College of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Shang-Ming Zhou Senior Lecturer in Statistical Modelling and Analytics for Epidemiology and Public Health, Public Health Informatics Group, Health Information Research Unit (HIRU), UKCRC DECIPHer (Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement) Centre, College of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In medical and sport science research, body-worn accelerometers are widely used to provide objective measurements of physical activity. However, accelerometers collect data continuously even during periods of nonwear (i.e. periods when participants may not be wearing their monitor, such as during sleeping). It is important to distinguish time of sedentary behaviours (eg. watching television) from time of nonwear. The clinical consequence of misclassification of accelerometer wear and nonwear would overestimate or underestimate physical activity level, and mislead the interpretation of the relationship between physical activity and health outcomes. Automated estimation of accelerometer wear and nonwear time events is particularly desired by large cohort studies, but algorithms for this purpose are not yet standardized and their accuracy needs to be established. This study presents a robust method of classifying wear and nonwear time events under free living conditions for triaxial accelerometers which combines acceleration and surface skin temperature data. The new findings are: Either acceleration data or skin temperature data alone is inadequate to accurately predict wear and nonwear events in some scenarios under a free living condition; This study provides a simple and efficient algorithm on use of short time periods of consecutive data blocks for accurately predicting triaxial accelerometer wear and nonwear events; Combining both types of acceleration and skin temperature data can significantly improve the accuracy of accelerometer wear and nonwear events classification in monitoring physical activity. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Melanoma, Technology, UCSF / 01.04.2015

Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Dermatology Director, Melanoma Surveillance Clinic Multidisciplinary Melanoma Program University of California, San Francisco Staff Physician Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San FranciscoMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Dermatology Director, Melanoma Surveillance Clinic Multidisciplinary Melanoma Program University of California, San Francisco Staff Physician Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Wei: Effective physician-patient communication is essential for optimal medical care. There are now many methods available to notify patients of their biopsy results: a clinic visit (the method traditionally preferred by patients), a telephone call, secure online patient portals to access medical charts, email and texts. In addition, there is variability from state to state in the guidelines regulating the release of biopsy results online. Until recently, some states did not allow the on-line release of biopsy results. There have been few systematic studies on patient preferences for communication of biopsy results. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Personalized Medicine, Technology / 27.03.2015

Ryan Jeffrey Shaw, PhD, MS, RN Assistant Professor School of Nursing Center for Health Informatics Center for Precision Medicine Duke University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ryan Jeffrey Shaw, PhD, MS, RN Assistant Professor School of Nursing Center for Health Informatics Center for Precision Medicine Duke University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shaw: Primary care delivery revolves around a series of episodes, rather than functioning as a continuum. When patients come to a clinic data on their health is collected as a single data point. This model neglects potentially meaningful data from patients’ daily lives and results in less informed treatment and scheduling of follow-up visits. Lack of meaningful data further blinds clinicians to patients’ health outside of the clinic and can contribute to unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Personalized care through mobile health technologies inspires the transition from isolated snapshots based on serial visits to real time and trended data. By using technologies from cell phones to wearable sensors, providers have the ability to monitor patients and families outside of the traditional office visit. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Technology / 05.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Avinash Pandey, the study author, is a high school student who conducted this study under the guidance of his mentor, Niteesh K. Choudhry., M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Healthcare Delivery Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Numerous studies have demonstrated that there is poor adherence to medications in cardiac patients (coronary artery disease patients, CAD). Despite the fact that non-adherence to these medications can have serious consequences on long-term health like disease progression, increased risk of cardiac events and premature mortality, many patients consistently miss their medications and many stop their medications only months after they are prescribed. This non-compliance leads to high costs for the health care system and more potentially preventable cardiac events. Studies suggest, that for the vast majority of patients, non-adherence to medications is not intentional. A significant portion simply forget to take their medications. Although many systems are available today to reduce medication non-adherence, like pill boxes and blisterpacks, these have demonstrated limited effect on medication adherence. Other systems may be expensive to purchase and cumbersome to use or of limited availability. With the proliferation of cellphones, text message reminders could represent a simple, cost-effective method to improve adherence to medications. This research began as a high school science fair project 4 years ago and has evolved into a large ongoing assessment of the impact of mobile technologies on adherence to evidence based therapies and lifestyle interventions in a broad cross-section of cardiovascular patients and those at risk for cardiovascular disease. The current report examines the impact of an automated computer program which sends free, personalized text messages to remind patients to adhere to their medications. 30 CAD patients were recruited from a single centre cardiac practice, in this 2 month cross-over study. Patients were randomized to either receive text message reminders in the first month or the second month. Adherence of each patient was compared between months. Text message reminders were shown to significantly impact medication adherence. Patients missed on average 60% less doses when receiving text message reminders. These numbers were even greater when looking at pre-specified groups identified in previous studies to be at high risk of medication non-adherence, including depression patients, dementia patients, elderly patients, and patients with less than 12 years of education. All patients improved with text message reminders but those with the lowest adherence improved the most. Although this study did not examine clinical outcomes, the text message reminder system appears to be a simple and widely applicable method to improve adherence to medications. The system is free to operate and represents no cost for patients receiving messages. Thus it could be implemented at an individual level or by physicians and clinics to improve patient adherence to medications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Surgical Research, Technology / 26.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Aidan Roche MBBS, PhD, BEng and Prof Oskar C Aszmann MD Director of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Restoration of Extremity Function Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department of Surgery Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study was prompted by lack of techniques to restore hand function in patients with global plexopathies with avulsion of the lower roots. In simple terms, this is a tearing injury to parts of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a complex junction of nerves that leaves the spinal cord and supplies the arm. If this junction of nerves is severely damaged, information cannot reach the hand to control it or to receive sensation from it.  In some of these cases, traditional reconstructive surgical techniques are only able to restore shoulder and elbow function, not the hand itself. In severe cases, this might leave the patient with a useless hand.  In previous clinical studies with existing amputees, advancing research has shown that good prosthetic control can be achieved by selectively transferring nerves. However, our study differs as our patients had intact, but functionless hands. The innovation here was to selectively transfer nerves and muscles to create useable signals for prosthetic control. Together with a comprehensive rehabilitation regime, followed by elective amputation, this formed the bionic reconstruction process. The main finding is that all three patients had excellent hand function restored through bionic reconstruction (as measured by the uniform improvement in all patients in the clinical outcome scores of the Action Research Arm Test, the Disability of Arm, Shoulder and Hand Questionairre, and the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure and reported in detail in The Lancet). (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Technology / 09.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tassaneewan Laksanasopin PhD Candidate Molecular and Microscale Bioengineering Lab Columbia University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We miniaturized and integrated all components needed for blood test (similar to ELISA) to be run on a smartphone accessory for point-of-care testing of infectious diseases.  The device simultaneously detects three infectious disease markers for HIV, treponemal syphilis and nontreponemal syphilis from a finger prick of blood in just 15 minutes.  In a blinded experiment in three health clinics in Rwanda, local health care workers obtained diagnostic results from 96 patients enrolled in prevention of mother-to-child transmission and voluntary counseling programs.  The test performance from our triplexed test was 92-100% sensitivity and 79-92% specificity compared to the gold standard of lab-based HIV ELISA, Treponema pallidum haemagglutination and rapid plasma reagin.  Importantly, patient preference for the dongle was 97% compared to lab-based tests, with most pointing to the convenience of obtaining quick results with a single finger prick.  This work suggests coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain lab-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones. (more…)
Technology / 06.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gautam M. Shah Vice President of Product Management at VoceraMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gautam M. Shah Vice President of Product Management at Vocera MedicalResearch.com Editor’s Note: Vocera announced on February 5, 2015, it will “provide a cloud-based secure text messaging solution as a benefit to all of its U.S. healthcare customers, at no additional cost, for use by any of their affiliated healthcare providers. Vocera Secure Texting will connect seamlessly with Vocera Communication Systems installed in over 800 U.S. hospitals” (Vocera press release). Mr. Shah, from Vocera, answers some questions regarding this new technology for the readers of MedicalResearch.com below. MedicalResearch: What is the background for this technology? Mr. Shah: The Vocera Secure Texting solution is a cloud-based, secure, HIPAA-compliant texting application that seamlessly integrates with the Vocera Communication System.  The solution will allow physicians to securely communicate with all members of their patient's care team, while helping hospital CIOs improve security associated with protecting personal health information (PHI). MedicalResearch: How will this texting method facilitate communication among health care providers? Mr. Shah: This solution is being offered to all of our 800+ U.S. hospital customers at no cost, and to new customers for a nominal fee. Vocera Secure Texting will connect seamlessly with our award-winning communication system to enable physicians to securely text care teams and improve care coordination, operational efficiencies, and patient experience. What’s unique about Vocera Secure Texting is that it combines the convenience physicians need with the security health systems require. Our new secure texting app will be easy to use and provide a HIPAA-compliant alternative to SMS, as well as basic communication and collaboration capabilities for physicians and care teams. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Technology / 05.02.2015

Uzma Samadani, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor; Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology NYU Langone Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Uzma Samadani, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology NYU Langone Medical Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Samadani: Research dating back as early as 3,500 years ago suggests the eyes serve as a window into the brain, with disconjugate eye movements -- eyes rotating in different directions -- considered a principal marker for head trauma. Current estimates suggest up to 90 percent of patients with concussions or blast injuries exhibit dysfunction in their eye movements. We wanted to find a way to objectively track and analyze eye movements following a head injury to measure injury severity and replace the current “state of the art” method of asking a patient to follow along with a finger. CT-scans and MRIs may not necessarily reveal concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the absence of structural damage, presenting a need for a diagnostic measure of head injury severity. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Neurosurgery, my team at the NYU Cohen Veterans Center tested our novel eye-tracking technology on military veterans, and found our device and tracking algorithm could reveal edema in the brain as a potential biomarker for assessing brain function and monitoring recovery in people with head injuries. Our latest paper, published January 29 in Journal of Neurotrauma, looked at a civilian population of patients admitted to the Bellevue Medical Center emergency department in New York City, with whom the NYU School of Medicine has an affiliation agreement. We compared 64 healthy control subjects to 75 patients who had experienced trauma that brought them to emergency department. We tracked and compared the movements of patients' pupils for over 200 seconds while watching a music video. We found that 13 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had CT scans showing new brain damage, as well as 39 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, had significantly less ability to coordinate their eye movements than normal, uninjured control subjects. Twenty-three trauma subjects who had bodily or extremity injuries but did not require head CT scans had similar abilities to coordinate eye movements as normal uninjured controls. Among patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, most were slightly worse at 1-2 weeks after the injury, and subsequently recovered about one month after the injury. Among all trauma patients, the severity of concussive symptoms correlated with severity of disconjugacy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dengue, Technology / 31.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Jackie Ying Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology The Nanos, Singapore Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed a paper-based disposable device that will allow dengue-specific antibodies to be detected easily from saliva within 20 minutes. Currently, dengue infection is diagnosed in the laboratory by testing the patient’s blood sample for the presence of dengue antigens or antibodies. IBN’s device, on the other hand, is capable of detecting IgG, a dengue-specific antibody found at the onset of secondary infections, directly from saliva in one step. Unlike blood samples, saliva can be collected easily and painlessly for rapid point-of-care diagnostics. However, unlike other body fluids, it cannot be applied directly to commercially available test kits as it would cause the sensor nanoparticles to stick haphazardly to the test strip. In addition, conventional paper-based tests are not designed to handle the larger sample volume of saliva required. As described in the journal Lab on a Chip, the IBN researchers used an innovative stacking flow design to overcome key challenges faced by existing lateral flow devices, which are not designed to handle large volume of saliva samples. In IBN’s device, different flow paths are created for samples and reagents through a multiple stacked system. This allows the saliva sample to flow separately through a fiber glass matrix, which removes the substances that would interfere with the nanoparticle-based sensing system before it mixes with the sensor nanoparticles. IBN’s device configuration also helps to regulate the flow in the test strip, generating uniform test lines for more accurate results. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, Compliance, Lancet, Technology / 30.01.2015

Amy Chan   BPharm(Hons) RegPharmNZ  MPS  ANZCP Pharmacist / PhD candidate Department of Paediatrics Auckland Hospital Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences University of Auckland  Auckland, New ZealandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amy Chan   BPharm(Hons) RegPharmNZ  MPS  ANZCP Pharmacist / PhD candidate Department of Paediatrics Auckland Hospital Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences University of Auckland  Auckland, New Zealand Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Asthma is one of the most common childhood conditions, affecting 1 in 4 children in New Zealand.  Although there are many effective medications available for asthma, of which the most important are inhaled corticosteroids, asthma control remains suboptimal due to poor adherence.  In children, adherence to regular preventive asthma therapy is about 50%, and can be as low as 30%.  Our randomised controlled trial looked at use of an electronic monitoring device with an in-built audiovisual reminder to see if it improved adherence and asthma control.  We recruited 220 children aged between 6-15yrs, who presented to the emergency department with asthma and randomised them to receive the device either with the audiovisual function enabled or disabled.  It found that those who received the audiovisual reminder (the intervention arm) took a median of 84% of their inhaled corticosteroids compared to just 30% in those who did not receive the reminder (control arm).  This equates to a 180% improvement in adherence.  We found significant improvements also in asthma control (including reduced asthma symptoms and increased participation in daily activities) and a reduction in reliever use from 17.4% to 9.5% in those who received the reminder. (more…)
Author Interviews, Technology / 16.01.2015

Moe Alsumidaie MBA MSF President & Chief Scientific Officer Annex ClinicalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Moe Alsumidaie MBA MSF President & Chief Scientific Officer Annex Clinical   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: SUMMARY: A real-world case study measuring the impact of Short Messaging System (SMS) or “Text Messaging” on clinical trial patient recruitment using an interactive two-way patient engagement platform by Mosio, Inc., which provides clinical research services designed to increase patient recruitment, engagement and retention, found that use of text messaging alone can be an effective means of patient engagement that results in clinical trial patient enrollment. Patient recruitment, retention and medication adherence continue to be challenges in conducting effective clinical trials. While clinical trials often rely on email recruitment, recent studies suggest that only 22% of emails are read.1 Alternatively, 98% of text messages are read1 and 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes of receipt.2 Recent research has evaluated the impact of Short Messaging System (SMS) or “Text Messaging” in healthcare settings, such as appointment reminders and medication adherence. Results have demonstrated that SMS intervention significantly improved patient behavioral outcomes: patients who received SMS reminders were more likely to show up to appointments on time,3 and patients who received SMS reminders were more adherent to medications.4 However, only limited research is available on the effect of SMS on clinical trial subject enrollment. Johnson County Clin-Trials (JCCT), a clinical research facility that specializes in executing 10-15 vaccine clinical trials per year, was facing issues with enrolling patients rapidly in a tight time frame using email. To access a more effective strategy to better engage patients, JCCT employed two-way SMS/text messaging solutions, and this study assessed the impact of SMS/text messaging on patient recruitment and enrollment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology / 12.01.2015

Oleh Taratula, Ph. D. Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences College of Pharmacy Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331-3507MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Oleh Taratula, Ph. D. Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences College of Pharmacy Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331-3507 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Taratula: Our research group is focused on the development of novel nanotechnology-based approaches to treat different cancers, including ovarian cancer. For many cancers, surgery is a first choice of treatment. For example, only optimal surgical resection of most abdominal metastases can significantly reduce ovarian cancer recurrence and, therefore, improve patient survival. However, it is challenging to remove most of the cancer tumors and residual cancer cells eventually may lead to cancer relapse. Therefore, our aim is to develop a nanomedicine platform, which could help surgeons achieve maximal tumor resection, using the intraoperative guidance with real-time near infrared (NIR) fluorescence signal. Moreover, we expect that the same nanoplatform could further enhance surgical outcomes by combinatorial phototherapy to be performed intraoperatively after tumor resection to eradicate unresected cancer cells. Our data published in Nanoscale is the first step towards our main goal. At this point, by utilizing naphthalocyanine, we have developed a single-agent-based nanomedicine platform capable of both NIR fluorescence imaging and combinatorial phototherapy. Naphthalocyanine is a commercially available compound, but its potential clinical application is limited by low water solubility and aggregation. Especially, aggregation diminishes the imaging ability and phototherapeutic efficacy of this compound. To address these shortcomings, we discovered that the loading of naphthalocyanine into the dendrimers significantly enhances water solubility, prevents aggregation and preserves imaging and therapeutic abilities. Our data demonstrated that naphthalocyanine-based nanoplatform can generate a NIR fluorescence signal in the cancer tumors, required for elimination of autofluorescence from healthy tissue and body fluids. Furthermore, our results also indicated that the developed nanoplatform is an efficient therapeutic agent which, upon exposure to NIR light, destroys chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer tumors by producing both heat and toxic reactive oxygen species. Finally, many organic fluorophores, including naphthalocyanine, can undergo photobleaching under exposure to light, which could be misinterpreted as a lack of fluorescence signal during the surgery. We demonstrated that the dendrimer encapsulated naphthalocyanine exhibits extremely high photostability and could overcome the above mentioned issue. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Technology / 12.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Živa Cotič Research Assistant & PhD Student,Global eHealth Unit Imperial College London and A/Prof Josip Car Director of Health Services and Outcomes Research Programme Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Director of Global eHealth Unit School of Public Health, Imperial College London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Department of Health Workforce in collaboration with the Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research at the World Health Organization commissioned the report to provide countries with evidence to inform and guide the adoption of innovative, technology enabled models into health professional education. The report aims to address complex challenges of 21st century global workforce development through eLearning, which has been recognised as key to building more effective health education and a stronger, better qualified workforce. Global workforce development is one of the most pressing global health issues. The World Health Organization estimates the shortage of the health workforce at approximately 7.2 million health workers, with an expected increase to 12.9 million by 2035. The magnitude of the health workforce challenges the health care systems are facing require both greater investment and more effective and strategic use of available resources. The findings of the report suggest that eLearning could be equivalent to traditional forms of learning in regard to knowledge and skill acquisition in health education. This information is crucial for policy makers and educators who are forming future education. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stroke, Technology / 15.12.2014

Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves Senior Lecturer in Design Interactions ImaginationLancaster LICA |Lancaster UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves Senior Lecturer in Design Interactions ImaginationLancaster LICA |Lancaster University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings Dr. Tsekleves: The study was influenced by the anecdotal use of the Nintendo Wii in therapy in NHS physiotherapy clinics back in 2010/11. This led to the need for conducting a study with therapists and patients (33 questionnaires and 10 interviews were completed) to explore the current use of the Nintendo Wii console technology in physical rehabilitation programmes across four NHS Trusts in London. The study revealed that although respondents felt the Wii helped with rehabilitation, over half of them  reported difficulty using equipment (such as using the hand-held remote controls). Therapists believed use of standard Wii was limited due to the high level of dexterity, movement and coordination necessary to operate the system. Adapting Nintendo Wii To Enhance Stroke Rehabilitation The results of the aforementioned study informed the development of a personalised stroke treatment, using adapted Wii technology, for arm re-education post-stroke (that is reported in the article http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/17483107.2014.981874). The developed system was tested for acceptability with three stroke survivors with differing levels of disability. Participants reported an overwhelming connection with the system and avatar. A two-week, single case study with a long-term stroke survivor showed positive changes in all four outcome measures employed (Fugl-Meyer Assessment, Nine Hole Peg Test, Motor Activity Log – Amount of Use  sub-scale] and the Modified Ashworth Scale), with the participant reporting better wrist control and greater functional use. Activities, which were deemed too challenging or too easy were associated with lower scores of enjoyment/motivation, highlighting the need for activities to be individually calibrated. (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Technology / 04.09.2014

Giulio Ruffini PhD Starlab Barcelona Neuroelectrics Barcelona Barcelona, Spain.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Giulio Ruffini PhD Starlab Barcelona Neuroelectrics Barcelona Barcelona, Spain. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Ruffini: We demonstrated that it is possible to transmit information directly from a brain to another one, without intervention of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) - e.g., the senses. By hyperinteraction we mean this: the technologically mediated transmission of information directly from one brain to another, bypassing our senses or effectors (all which require the intervention of the PNS). (more…)