Author Interviews, Brain Injury / 12.08.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henry Mahncke, PhD Chief Executive Officer Posit Science Dr. Mahncke earned his PhD at UCSF in the lab where lifelong brain plasticity as discovered. At the request of his academic mentor, he currently leads a global team of more than 400 brain scientists engaged in designing, testing, refining, and validating the computerized brain exercises found in the BrainHQ app from Posit Science, where he serves as CEO. This week, MedicalResearch.com interviews Dr. Mahncke about a new study, with breakthrough results for service members and Veterans grappling with the signature injury of recent wars. MedicalResearch.com: What makes this study newsworthy? Response: As the last troops come home from Afghanistan, the battle is not over for many who served and continue to grapple with the signature injury of recent conflicts — mild Traumatic Brain Injury (or mTBI). Typically, such injures were caused by blasts or concussions, and they’ve been diagnosed in more than 300,000 service members. Most recover within a couple days or weeks, but for many — some estimate fifteen percent — physical, psychological, emotional, and cognitive problems persist for years. Such injuries often go untreated, because treatments focus on in-person, customized, cognitive rehabilitation, which can be helpful, but is costly, time-consuming, requires travel for treatment, and relies on the craft and expertise of the healthcare provider. Up until now, there’s been no effective intervention that’s highly-scalable and that can be delivered remotely. This study showed that remotely-administered BrainHQ computerized exercises improved overall cognitive performance in a population with very persistent cognitive issues. On average, patients in this study had cognitive issues for more than seven years. That means we finally have a tool shown effective in a gold-standard study that practitioners can employ in treating this large and underserved population, who sacrificed so much to serve our nation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes / 29.06.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, FASN Clinical Epidemiology Center Research and Development Service Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System St. Louis, MO MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: There are several randomized controlled trials of  Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 Inhibitors (SGLT2i) but none (not a single study) provided a head-to-head comparison with sulfonylureas -- the most commonly prescribed antihyperglycemics after metformin. We resolved to leverage advanced methodologies to undertake a head-to-head investigation of the comparative effectiveness of SGLT2I vs sulfonylureas on the risk of all-cause mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Duke, Telemedicine / 15.06.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew J. Crowley, MD Core Investigator, Durham Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) Affiliated Investigator, VA Office of Rural Health Staff Physician, Endocrinology Section, Durham VA Health Care System Elizabeth Kobe, BS Medical Student Durham VA Health Care System Duke University School of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? With whom were the telehealth sessions performed? (MDs, PAs, Dieticians etc). Response: Diabetes management in rural populations is especially challenging due to limited access to specialty care and self-management programs. Telehealth is a potential strategy for extending high-quality diabetes care to rural areas. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has a robust Home Telehealth (HT) system that is currently used for telemonitoring patient blood glucose values. In order to address the challenges of managing diabetes in rural areas in a clinically feasible manner, we strategically designed an intensive diabetes management intervention – Advanced Comprehensive Diabetes Care (ACDC) – for delivery using existing VHA HT infrastructure and clinical staffing. ACDC is a 6-month telehealth intervention that combines telemonitoring with module-based self-management support and medication management. ACDC is delivered entirely by existing clinical staff (a clinical HT nurse and a medication manager (typically a PharmD)) through bimonthly, 30-minute calls. Our initial randomized controlled trial found that ACDC improved HbA1c by a clinically and statistically significant  -1.0% relative to usual care at 6 months, while also improving blood pressure and diabetes self-care. Our goal with the present work was to improve diabetes care in clinical practice for rural Veterans whose type 2 diabetes remained uncontrolled despite receiving available services. To this end, we partnered with the VA Office of Rural Health to implement ACDC into VA sites across the country with large rural populations.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Heart Disease, Pharmacology / 31.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, FASN Assistant Professor of Medicine Director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center Chief of Research and Education Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System Saint Louis  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: In 2017, we published a paper showing increased risk of death associated with Proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) use. Following the publication of that 2017 paper, several key stakeholders including patients, doctors, research scientists, medical media folks, mainstream media folks, and others asked us: what do these people die from? Did you study causes of death attributable to PPI use? In the study published today, we developed a causal inference framework to answer this question. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease, UCSD / 28.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: H. Kirk Hammond, MD Professor of Medicine at University of California San Diego Basic research scientist and cardiologist San Diego Veterans' Affairs Healthcare System Dr. Hammond is winner of the 2017 William S. Middleton Award – the highest research honor in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Worldwide, 9% of adults have diabetes, predominantly due to insulin resistance, known as Type 2 diabetes. It is associated with obesity and diets high in fat and carbohydrates. In this gene transfer study we showed that a single injection of a vector encoding a natural hormone (urocortin 2, Ucn2) increased glucose disposal and improved heart function in a model of diet-induced Type 2 diabetes in mice.  (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Kidney Disease, UCSF / 23.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael G. Shlipak, MD, MPH Scientific Director , Kidney Health Research Collaborative (khrc.ucsf.edu) Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics University of California, San Francisco Associate Chief of Medicine for Research Development San Francisco VA Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
  • Our study represents major advancements in our understanding of whether kidney tissue damage accompanies the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease during hypertension therapy.
  • The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) was a landmark clinical trial that demonstrated that more intensive systolic blood pressure management (target <120 mmHg) reduced rates of major cardiovascular events and mortality compared with standard therapy (<140 mmHg). A recent announcement indicated that the lower systolic blood pressure target also slowed the rate of cognitive decline and dementia incidence.
  • The major concern with intensive blood pressure lowering in SPRINT is the 3-fold incidence of chronic kidney disease, as defined using the clinical standard of serum creatinine levels. This detrimental impact on the kidney was surprising because hypertension is a predominant risk factor for kidney disease, and hypertension therapy should reduce CKD risk.
  • Given the lower blood pressure targets in the recently-updated national hypertension guidelines, there has been substantial concern that guideline implementation of blood pressure targets could cause an epidemic of CKD and the attendant suffering from its downstream consequences of cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and kidney failure.
  • In our study, we compared SPRINT participants who developed CKD with matched controls, using a panel of validated urinary biomarkers of kidney damage. These urine tests can measure actual kidney damage, rather than relying on the creatinine which is an indirect reflection of the kidney’s filtering function.
  • In the group undergoing intensive blood pressure lowering in SPRINT, we found that the new cases of CKD had an overall lowering of the kidney damage biomarkers compared with the controls, contrary to what would have been expected if they were developing “real” CKD.
  • In contrast, the new CKD cases that developed in the standard treatment group did have overall elevations in the urinary biomarkers of kidney damage; 5 of the 9 biomarkers significantly increased relative to the CKD cases in the intensive treatment group. 
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