Author Interviews, JAMA, Kidney Disease, Medicare / 10.04.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lead and Senior coauthors contributing to this interview: Abby Hoffman, BA is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Population Health Sciences at Duke University and a PhD Candidate in Health Policy and Management University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Virginia Wang, PhD, MSPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences, Associate Director of the Center for Health Innovation and Outcomes Research, and Core Faculty in the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University and Investigator at the Durham VA HSR&D Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT). MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: It is well established that healthcare providers are sensitive to changes in price, though their behavioral response varies. Dialysis facilities are particularly responsive to changes in Medicare reimbursement. Many dialysis patients are eligible for Medicare regardless of age, but dialysis facilities generally receive significantly higher reimbursement from private insurers than from Medicare. In 2011, Medicare implemented a new prospective bundled payment for dialysis that was expected to decrease Medicare payment and reduce overall revenues flowing into facilities. Then the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules against refusing to insure patients for preexisting conditions and the 2014 ACA Marketplace provided an additional avenue for patients to purchase private insurance. As a result of these policies, dialysis facilities had a strong motivation and opportunity to increase the share of patients with private insurance coverage. We were interested in understanding whether dialysis facilities were shifting their payer mix away from Medicare, possibly in response to these policy changes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Stem Cells / 27.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Orit Harari-Steinberg Dr. Dorit Omer Dr. Oren Pleniceanu Prof. Benjamin Dekel The Pediatric Stem Cell Research Institute Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, Israel MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The motivation behind this study is the rising epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD). With a prevalence in some reports of up to 17.3% and very expensive treatments, especially in its advanced stages, CKD is more common than most people think, and it keeps growing at a very fast rate, due to the increasing number of patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension. At the same time, medicine doesn’t offer good solutions to these patients, with dialysis creating high morbidity and mortality. From the fact that 70,000 cells are shed in the urine each hour, we deduce that the kidney has the ability to form new cells to make up for this loss. In a previous work, we used a mouse model to show that cell clones form and proliferate in the adult kidney, so we know that cells of the adult kidney, or at least a portion thereof, have the ability to multiply in-vivo. It has been possible for quite a while to isolate proliferating cells from human kidneys and grow them in a dish. The problem, however, is that in order to achieve a large enough number of cells capable of regenerating the kidneys, massive expansion is needed ex-vivo, and that's the real obstacle. The reason is that following several passages, the cells lose their phenotype and become senescent, and therefore useless for regenerative purposes. In this study, we developed a unique 3D culturing method, growing the kidney cells in structures which we termed 'nephrospheres'. This culturing method rejuvenated the cells and allowed massive expansion for long periods of time. The positive effect on the cells was evident when we analyzed their transcriptome and found activation of molecular pathways associated with renal epithelial identity and renal tissue-forming capacity. What's even more striking, is that the same effect was seen when we used cells from the kidneys of CKD patients. We were then interested in determining whether these cells might also have a therapeutic effect. Indeed, when we injected these cells into mice with CKD (which was generated by resecting 5/6 of their kidneys), we saw a functional improvement in GFR. When we analyzed the treated kidneys, we found that the injected cell both formed renal tubule-like structures and integrated into existing host tubules, which resulted in a therapeutic effect. So, altogether, this study showed that our culturing method can serve as an effective means of establishing large numbers of autologous cells with regenerative capacity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gout, Kidney Disease, Rheumatology, Transplantation / 10.11.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Megan Francis-Sedlak, PhD Director of Medical Affairs Horizon Therapeutics Lake Forest, Illinois MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The prevalence of gout is more than ten-fold greater among patients who have undergone a kidney transplant than the general population as post-transplant medications to prevent organ rejection can contribute to increased uric acid levels. Overall studies have shown this can lead to higher rates of uncontrolled gout among this vulnerable population with organ transplants. While we have seen higher mortality rates for patients who have received a kidney transplant with uncontrolled gout compared to kidney transplant patients without uncontrolled gout, we wanted to evaluate the impact of gout on transplant-related complications to better inform patient care and treatment approaches. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, OBGYNE / 02.10.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Silvi Shah, MD, MS, FACP, FASN| Assistant Professor Division of Nephrology, University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH-45267 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Our study uses data from the largest retrospective cohort of dialysis patients in the United States from the United States Renal Data System to determine pregnancy rates and factors associated with pregnancy in 47,555 women aged 15-44 years on dialysis. We identified 2,352 pregnancies with a rate of 17.8 pregnancies per 1000 person-years (PTPY) with the highest rate in women aged 20-24 years (40.9 PTPY). (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Kidney Disease, Transplantation / 11.09.2019

A retraction and replacement have been issued due to a major coding error that resulted in the reporting of incorrect data in this study surrounding the difference in transplant rates between for-profit and non-profit dialysis centers. Please see link below:

Bauchner H, Flanagin A, Fontanarosa PB. Correcting the Scientific Record—Retraction and Replacement of a Report on Dialysis Ownership and Access to Kidney Transplantation. JAMA. 2020;323(15):1455. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4368

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rachel Patzer, PhD, MPH Associate Professor Director, Health Services Research Center Department of Medicine Department of Surgery Emory University School of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We know that historically, for-profit dialysis facilities have been shown to have lower rates of kidney transplantation than patients who receive treatment in non-profit dialysis facilities. However, these studies are outdated, and did not examine access to living donor transplantation or include the entirety of the end-stage kidney disease population (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Kidney Disease, Transplantation / 26.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexandre Loupy, MD PhD Nephrologist, Department of Nephrology & Kidney Transplantation Necker Hospital, Paris Head of the Paris Transplant Group (Inserm) MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The lack of organs for kidney transplantation is a major public health problem across the world, due to its attributable mortality and excess cost to healthcare systems while waitlisted patients are maintained on chronic dialysis. Nearly 5,000 people in the US and 3,500 people in Europe die each year while waiting for a kidney transplant. Yet in the US, over 3,500 donated kidneys are discarded annually, representing almost 18% of the available organs, while the discard rate in France is only 6,8%, though these countries have similar organ allocation systems and offer the same treatments to patients after transplant. We thus compared the use of donated kidneys in the US to France from 2004-2014 in much more depth, using a new approach based on validated analytic methods and computer simulation. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, Heart Disease, Kidney Stones / 16.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sunil Badve MBBS, MD, DNB, FRACP, PhD, FASN Senior Research Fellow, Renal & Metabolic Division Staff specialist nephrologist | St George Hospital University of New South Wales The George Institute for Global Health Australia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Despite the high prevalence of cardiovascular thrombotic events and venous thromboembolism (VTE) in chronic kidney disease (CKD), oral anticoagulant therapy is often underutilized in patients with advanced CKD and dialysis-dependent end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) due to uncertainty of benefit and potential bleeding complications. This comprehensive systematic review was performed to study the benefits and harms of oral anticoagulant therapy in patients with CKD. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Kidney Disease, Surgical Research / 13.06.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Caitlin W. Hicks, M.D., M.S. Assistant Professor of Surgery Recipient of the Department of Surgery Rothman Early Career Development Award for Surgical Research Johns Hopkins Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Arteriovenous fistula are associated with better long-term patency, lower rates of infection, and lower long-term costs compared to arteriovenous graft. As a result, the Fistula First Catheter Last Guidelines recommend placement of an arteriovenous fistula over an AVG whenever possible. We looked at individual physician utilization of AVF vs AVG for first-time AV access in Medicare beneficiaries. We found that the median physician utilization rate for AVG was only 18%, but that 21% of physicians use AVG in more than 34% of cases, which is above currently recommended practice guidelines. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Kidney Disease / 31.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: "Plugged into dialysis" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Amal Trivedi, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice Associate Professor of Medicine Brown University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion gave states the option to expand coverage to low-income adults. Prior research has reported that these expansions have been associated with increased coverage, improved access to care, and in some studies better self-rated health. To date the impact of Medicaid expansion on mortality rates, particularly for persons with serious chronic illness, remains unknown. Our study found an association between Medicaid expansion and lower death rates for patients with end-stage renal disease in the first year after initiating dialysis. Specifically, we found an absolute reduction in 1-year mortality in expansion states of -0.6 percentage points, which represents a 9% relative reduction in 1-year mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Mineral Metabolism, Pharmacology / 29.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Mattias Ivarsson PhD CEO, Inositec, co-author of data MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: When control of factors in the blood that regulate mineral balance in the body is lost, the subsequent build-up of calcium deposits in the arterial walls and cardiac valves lead to an increase in cardiac events, particularly in patients with chronic kidney disease or diabetes, as well as all-cause mortality. There is a significant unmet need for therapeutic agents capable of reducing pathological mineral accumulation regardless of their root cause. To date, there is no approved therapy for treating calcification-dependent cardiovascular disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Kidney Disease / 07.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: "Plugged into dialysis" by Dan is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Elani Streja MPH PhD Division of Nephrology and Hypertension University of California, Irvine | UCI · Elvira O. Gosmanova, MD, FASN Medicine/Nephrology Albany Stratton VA Medical Center Csaba P Kovesdy MD Fred Hatch Professor of Medicine Division of Nephrology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Nephrology Section Chief, Memphis VA Medical Center Director, Clinical Outcomes and Clinical Trials Program Memphis TN, 38163 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Statins are lipid-lowering drugs that have a proven track record in reducing risk of CVD in patients with advanced CKD who did not yet reach its terminal stage or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Paradoxically, new prescription of statins after ESRD onset failed to reduce CVD related outcomes in three large clinical trials. However, benefits of statin continuation at transition from advanced CKD to ESRD was never formally tested. Therefore, we identified a cohort of 14,298 US Veterans who used statins for at least half of the year during 1 year before ESRD transition and evaluated mortality outcomes based on whether statins were continued or stopped after ESRD onset. We found that ESRD patients who continue statins for at least 6 months after transition had 28% and 18% lower risk of death from any cause or cardiovascular causes, respectively, during 12-months of follow up, as compared with statin discontinuers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Kidney Disease, Occupational Health / 01.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kevin F. Erickson MD, MS Section of Nephrology and Selzman Institute for Kidney Health Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: An amendment to the Social Security Act passed in 1972 made it so nearly every person who develops end-stage renal disease – or ESRD – in the U.S. becomes eligible for Medicare, regardless of their age. At the time the law was passed, the bill’s supporters argued that access to life-sustaining dialysis therapy would enable patients to continue being productive members of society through work and activities at home. While the law has succeeded in providing access to dialysis therapy for many patients who would have otherwise died from kidney failure, it has been less successful at helping patients to continue working. The rate of employment among patients with ESRD who are receiving dialysis in the U.S. is low and has continued to decrease over time, despite both financial benefits from employment and evidence suggesting that patients who are employed experience improved quality of life and sense of wellbeing. We used a national ESRD registry to examine trends in employment between 1996 and 2013 among patients starting dialysis in the U.S. and in the six months before ESRD. Our goal was to determine whether difficulties that patients face when trying to work begin even before they develop ESRD. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Kidney Disease, Transplantation / 23.01.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tanjala S. Purnell, PhD MPH Assistant Professor of Surgery, Epidemiology, and Health Behavior and Society Core Faculty, Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation Johns Hopkins University Associate Director for Education and Training, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity Member, OPTN/UNOS Minority Affairs Committee MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
  • Our study was motivated by the fact that we know live donor kidney transplants are associated with longer life expectancy and higher quality of life than deceased donor kidney transplants or long-term dialysis treatment. We also know that Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to have end-stage kidney disease but are less likely than White patients to receive live donor kidney transplants.
  • Over the last 2 decades, there have been several transplant education programs implemented within transplant centers and dialysis centers, and legislative policies enacted to improve overall access to live donor kidney transplants for patients. We wanted to see whether these programs and policies resulted in narrowed racial and ethnic disparities in access to live donor kidney transplants in the United States.
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Author Interviews, CDC, Diabetes, Kidney Disease / 08.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nilka Ríos Burrows, MPH, MT (ASCP) Lead, Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative CDC Division of Diabetes Translation. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Kidney failure treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is a costly and disabling condition often resulting in premature death. During 2000–2014, kidney failure from diabetes among U.S. adults with diabetes decreased by 33%, and it declined significantly in most states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. No state experienced an increase in kidney failure from diabetes. Continued awareness and interventions to reduce risk factors for kidney failure, improve diabetes care, and prevent type 2 diabetes might sustain these positive trends. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Kidney Disease, Microbiome, Supplements / 19.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ron Walborn Jr. Prebiotin CEO MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The product Prebiotin™ Prebiotic Fiber was brought to market in 2007 by Dr. Frank Jackson, a gastroenterologist out of Harrisburg, PA. He found through 40 years of experience with his patients that a variety of digestive issues benefitted from daily supplementation with a soluble prebiotic fiber, specifically, oligofructose-enriched inulin (OEI) derived from chicory root. In the late summer of 2012, Prebiotin caught the attention of Dr. Dominic Raj at the Internal Medicine Department of George Washington University. Dr. Raj’s laboratory showed that patients with kidney disease may have a higher level of release of endotoxins like p-Cresol sulfate and indole from the bacteria in the gut, which can move into the bloodstream and promote inflammation. This early work was the basis of a successful grant application. Researchers were interested in investigating the therapeutic potential of altering the composition and/or function of the gut microbiome in this patient population, based on the understanding that by building up the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, undesirable bacteria is eventually crowded out, thereby reducing the release of harmful endotoxins into the system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Kidney Disease / 06.06.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kathy Aebel-Groesch, MSW,LCSW Manager, Social Work Services DaVita Inc. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Chronic pain and depression can impact quality of life and adherence to treatment regimen among patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Previous research has demonstrated that patients with ESRD experience pain and depression more frequently than the general population. From 2016, CMS has required that all eligible ESRD patients are evaluated regularly for pain and depressive symptoms. We assessed pain and depression symptom scores among patients of a large dialysis organization (LDO) over the period Mar-Oct 2016. Pain was assessed monthly by LDO nurses using the Wong-Baker pain scale (0-10). Depression screenings were conducted biannually by LDO social workers using the PHQ-2 (scale 0-6) and excluded patients with existing diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder, cognitive impairment or language barrier, and those who were hospitalized or refused screening. A total of 688,346 pain responses from 160,626 individual patients and 223,421 depression screening responses from 158,172 patients were considered. A score of 0 (no pain) was reported for 83.5% of pain responses and 65.7% of patients had a 0 score in all pain assessments. A score of 10 (most severe pain) was reported at least once during the study period by 3.0% of patients. Patients with a pain score of 10 were more frequently female (55%) and patients on peritoneal dialysis were less likely to have a pain score of 10 than those on other modalities. A depression score of 0 (patient answered "Not at all" to both “Little interest or pleasure in doing things” and “Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless”) was reported for 69.1% of all responses and 62.6% of patients had a 0 score in all assessments; 1.8% of patients had at least one score of 6 (patient responded “Nearly every day” to both questions) and 9.7% had at least one score of 3 or more. Patients with a score of 0 were more likely to be male vs. female, HHD vs. PD or ICHD, ≥ age 70 years. The majority of ESRD patients did not report pain symptoms and, among those not excluded from screening due to an existing diagnosis of depression or other reason, the majority did not report symptoms of depression. However, routine assessment of pain and depression enables the timely identification of new or increased symptoms, thus allowing earlier implementation of interventions that may improve patient experience. The LDO has since revised its depression screening policy to remove diagnosis of depression from exclusion criteria and to administer the PHQ-9 to patients with a PHQ-2 score ≥ 3. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Social Issues / 03.05.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wendy Tan Senior Medical Social Worker Medical Social Work The National Kidney Foundation MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients experience significant changes to their daily routine and lifestyle. Their time and attention were often centred solely on their sickness whilst receiving treatment accentuating the employment isolation. This study determined the need for extra support to assist patients adjust (e.g. learning about their psychological wellbeing, change of role and mindset, suitable work conditions and employment support) in returning to work. It also sheds light on how individuals perceive the particular situations they are facing, how they are making sense of their health conditions and the society at large in relations to seeking continued employment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, UCSF / 21.11.2016

Tanushree Banerjee, PhD Research Specialist in the Department of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine UCSF MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tanushree Banerjee, PhD Research Specialist in the Department of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine UCSF MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Acidosis is usually noted in advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) while it is relatively unexplored whether changes in the undetermined anions, as measured by anion gap occur earlier in the course of CKD. Consumption of animal-sourced protein is acid-inducing and therefore such diet presumably increases undetermined anions. Since higher dietary acid load is associated with progression of CKD, we wanted to explore whether the increase in undetermined anions in moderate CKD is associated with CKD progression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Kidney Disease / 28.02.2015

Nisha Bansal MD MAS Assistant Professor Associate Program Director for Research Kidney Research Institute Division of Nephrology University of Washington MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nisha Bansal MD MAS Assistant Professor Associate Program Director for Research Kidney Research Institute Division of Nephrology University of Washington Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bansal: We pursued this study to develop a prediction equation for death among elderly patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a high-risk patient population that is often difficult to manage given competing risks of end stage renal disease (ESRD) vs. death. In this paper, we developed and validated a simple prediction equation using variables that are readily available to all clinicians. (more…)