Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research / 14.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We are interested in understanding how the brain regulates social behaviors and aggression, both in healthy individuals and individuals with psychiatric disorders. In our recent publication in Molecular Psychiatry, we investigated the impact of an alteration in a gene, St8sia2, that plays important roles during early brain development. Alterations in this gene have been linked with schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder, and individuals with these disorders frequently present high aggressiveness. In addition, expression of this gene in the brain can be altered by stressful insults during very early life and development. Our study shows that genetic and environmental conditions linked to a reduction in the expression of this neuroplasticity gene during early life can lead to impaired fear learning and associated pathological aggression. We could further reveal that deficits in St8sia2 expression lead to a dysfunction in a receptor in the amygdala (a brain region critically involved in emotionality and fear learning), the GluN2B subunit of NMDA Receptors. This allowed us to target this receptor with D-cycloserine, a drug that facilitates NMDA receptor function. This treatment, when given acutely, ameliorated the capacity to learn from adversity and reduced individuals’ aggressiveness.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Columbia, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 09.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Priya Wickramaratne PhD Associate Professor of Clinical Biostatistics (in Psychiatry) Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University New York State Psychiatric Institute New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Approximately 12% of adolescents in the United States report having thoughts about attempting suicide. Moreover, suicide is a primary cause of death among females 15 to 19 years of age. Religious and spiritual beliefs have received little attention in previous research examining risk and protective factors of child and adolescent suicide. This study used data from a three-generation study of 214 children and adolescents from 112 nuclear families whose parents were at high or low risk for major depressive disorder to study the association of children and parent’s religious beliefs with risk of suicidal behavior in the children. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard Keefe PhD Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Duke Institute for Brains Sciences MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A lot of studies have shown that cognitive deficits are present in young people at risk for psychosis. There have been calls for investigations of the idea that cognition declines over time in the young people who are at highest risk, but longitudinal studies are hard to conduct so not much work has been done to address this question. The main finding from our study is that the cognitive architecture – the way the various aspects of cognitive functioning appear to be organized in each individual’s brain based upon their pattern of performance – changes over time in those young people who are in the midst of developing psychosis. Interestingly, cognitive architecture also becomes more disorganized in those whose high-risk symptoms do not remit over a two year period, and is related to the functional difficulties they may be having. The young people whose high risk symptoms were present at the beginning of the study but remitted later actually improved cognitively over the two year period of the study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, OBGYNE / 15.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rebecca Pearson, PhD Lecturer in Psychiatric Epidemiology Centre for Academic Mental Health School of Social & Community Medicine University of Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: We know depression and anxiety are common in young women and during pregnancy when there are also implications for the developing child. It is therefore important to investigate whether symptoms are rising given the pressures of modern life. We found that compared to their mothers generation in the 1990s young pregnancy women today are more likely to be depressed. This was driven largely by symptoms of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed rather than feeling down.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Schizophrenia, Technology / 13.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bo Cao, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry University of Alberta Edmonton MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that comes with delusions, hallucinations, poor motivation, cognitive impairments. The economic burden of schizophrenia was estimated at $155.7 billion in 2013 alone in the United States. Schizophrenia usually emerges early in life and can potentially become a lifetime burden for some patients. Repeated untreated psychotic episodes may be associated with irreversible alterations of the brain. Thus, it is crucial to identify schizophrenia early and provide effective treatment. However, identifying biomarkers in schizophrenia during the first episode without the confounding effects of treatment has been challenging. Limited progress has been made in leveraging these biomarkers to establish diagnosis and make individualized predictions of future treatment responses to antipsychotics. In a recent study by Dr. Cao and his colleagues, they successfully identified the first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenia patients (accuracy 78.6%) and predict their responses to antipsychotic treatment (accuracy 82.5%) at an individual level by using a machine learning algorithm and the functional connections of a brain region called the superior temporal cortex.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders / 07.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Woman sleeping” by Timothy Krause is licensed under CC BY 2.0Nathan E. Cross PhD, first author School of Psychology. Sharon L. Naismith, PhD, senior author Leonard P Ullman Chair in Psychology Brain and Mind Centre Neurosleep, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence The University of Sydney, Australia  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Between 30 to 50% of the risk for dementia is due to modifiable risk factors such depression, hypertension, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and smoking. In recent years, multiple longitudinal cohort studies have observed a link between sleep apnoea and a greater risk (1.85 to 2.6 times more likely) of developing cognitive decline and dementia.  Furthermore, one study in over 8000 people also indicated that the presence of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in older adults was associated with an earlier age of cognitive decline, and that treatment of OSA may delay the onset of cognitive impairment. This study reveals important insights into how sleep disorders such as OSA may impact the brain in older adults, as it is associated with widespread structural alterations in diverse brain regions. We found that reduced blood oxygen levels during sleep are related to reduced thickness of the brain's cortex in both the left and right temporal areas - regions that are important in memory and are early sites of injury in Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, reduced thickness in these regions was associated with poorer ability to learn new information, thereby being the first to link this structural change to memory decline. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 05.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joshua L. Roffman, MD Department of Psychiatry Mass General Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism, schizophrenia, and other serious mental illness affecting young people are chronic, debilitating, and incurable at present.  Recent public health studies have associated prenatal exposure to folic acid, a B-vitamin, with reduced subsequent risk of these illnesses.  However, until this point, biological evidence supporting a causal relationship between prenatal folic acid exposure and reduced psychiatric risk has remained elusive. We leveraged the rollout of government-mandated folic acid fortification of grain products in the U.S. from 1996-98 as a "natural experiment" to determine whether increased prenatal folic acid exposure influenced subsequent brain development.  This intervention, implemented to reduce risk of spina bifida and other disabling neural tube defects in infants, rapidly doubled blood folate levels among women of childbearing age in surveillance studies. Across two large, independent cohorts of youths age 8 to 18 who received MRI scans, we observed increased cortical thickness, and a delay in age-related cortical thinning, in brain regions associated with schizophrenia risk among individuals who were born during or after the fortification rollout, compared to those born just before it.  Further, delayed cortical thinning also predicted reduced risk of psychosis spectrum symptoms, a finding that suggests biological plausibility in light of previous work demonstrating early and accelerated cortical thinning among school-aged individuals with autism or psychosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science / 13.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Divine Piano” by François Philipp is licensed under CC BY 2.0Zachary Wallmark, Ph.D Assistant Professor of Musicology Directo MuSci Lab SMU Meadows School of the Art Music Division Dallas, TX 75275 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Music making and listening is an intensely social behavior. Individual differences in trait empathy are associated with preferential engagement of social cognitive neural circuitry, including regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, cingulate, and insula, during the perception of socially relevant information. In our study, we used fMRI to explore the degree to which differences in trait empathy modulate music processing in the brain. We found that higher empathy people experience greater activation of social circuitry as well as the reward system while listening to familiar music, compared to lower empathy people.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Eating Disorders, Weight Research / 04.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tomoko Udo, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior School of Public Health University at Albany, State University of New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III (NESARC III) was the largest epidemiological study on psychiatric disorders in US non-institutionalized adults that was conducted by the National Institution on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the first one sinceDSM-5 came out. The last population-based study with US adults that examined eating disorders was the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication Study conducted by Hudson and his colleagues and published in 2007. We felt that it was important to obtain new prevalence estimates in a larger and representative sample especially because the DSM-5 included several changes to the criteria for eating disorders from the earlier DSM-IV. Thus, we thought it was important to provide updated and new prevalence estimates for eating disorders as well as how they are distributed across sex, ethnicity/race, and age.  Many  researchers and clinicians expected higher estimates than earlier studies as a result of “loosening” of diagnostic criteria for eating disorders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Duke, Mental Health Research / 21.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maxwell Elliott Clinical psychology PhD student Working with Ahmad Hariri and the Moffitt & Caspi lab Duke University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The traditional clinical science model identifies individuals who meet specific criteria for mental illness diagnoses (e.g. Depression, Anxiety) and compares them to “healthy” controls to find brain correlates of mental illness.  However, this approach often overlooks the high rates of comorbidity and shared symptamatology across mental illnesses. Emerging research has identified a general factor of psychopathology that accounts for shared risk among internalizing, externalizing, and thought disorders across diverse samples. This general factor of psychopathology has been called the p-factor. In our study we investigate the brain correlates of the p-factor using a data-driven analysis of resting state functional connectivity. We find that higher p-factor scores and associated risk for common mental illness maps onto hyper-connectivity between visual association cortex and both frontoparietal and default mode networks. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 17.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tobias Kaufmann PhD Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past years, a lot of work has pointed toward impaired brain networks in schizophrenia. With this work we assessed brain network stability across different loads of a cognitive task using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Based on our earlier work on adolescents with pre-clinical signs of mental illness who showed decreased stability of networks across different tasks and conditions, we hypothesized that brain networks in adults with schizophrenia show similar properties of decreased stability. Our results confirmed this hypothesis. Stability was reduced in several large-scale brain networks across the sampled age range from early adulthood to the sixties. Further, network stability was associated with polygenic risk for schizophrenia as well as cognitive task performance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Lancet, Mental Health Research / 16.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Laura Lyall MA; MSc; PhD Research Associate Institute of Health and Wellbeing University of Glasgow MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous studies have suggested a link between disturbed circadian rhythms and depression and bipolar disorder. These studies have however usually used small samples, subjective measures of circadian disruption, or have not accounted for potential confounding factors like sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics. The UK Biobank cohort has accelerometry (activity monitor) data as well as mental health, lifestyle, BMI and sociodemographic data for over 91,000 individuals, and means we can address this question using objective measures of circadian rhythmicity on a large scale. We derived a measure of relative amplitude from the UK Biobank’s accelerometry data, which was recorded for 7 days between 2013-2014 from around 100,000 participants. Relative amplitude reflects the distinction, in terms of activity levels, between an individual’s most active 10 hours and least active 5 hours, in an average day. If an individual is inactive during the day, or has disturbed sleep at night, the will show low relative amplitude, consistent with disturbed circadian rest-activity patterns. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Personalized Medicine, University of Pennsylvania / 15.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David A. Wolk, MD Associate Professor Department of Neurology Co-Director, Penn Memory Center Associate Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a state when individuals have mild memory problems, but not enough to impact day-to-day function.  Many patients with MCI are on the trajectory to developing Alzheimer’s Disease dementia, but about half will not and remain stable.  As such, patients with MCI are often uncertain about the likelihood they should expect to decline in the future which obviously may be associated with considerable anxiety and this may delay opportunities for them to plan for the future or begin therapeutic interventions. This study examined the degree to which amyloid PET, which detects the amyloid pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease, a measure of shrinkage of the hippocampus with MRI, and cognitive measures predicted development of dementia over 3 years.  We found that each of these measures enhances prediction of whether an individual will or will not develop dementia in the future.  If all of these measures are positive, one has a very high risk of progression whereas if amyloid PET and the MRI measurement are normal, there is very little risk of progression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Mental Health Research / 10.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Open Space Yoga Hawaii” by Open Space Yoga Hawaii is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michael Christopher Melnychuk PhD candidate Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience Trinity, Dublin  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus. We chose to focus on the locus coeruleus because this area and the chemical it produces play intimate roles in both attention and respiration. The locus coeruleus produces noradrenaline and releases it to the entire brain. This neurotransmitter functions as an all-purpose action system. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can't focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 08.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christoph U. Correll, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Medicine The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Hempstead, NY Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Medical Director, Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Department of Psychiatry   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are still all to often chronic and recurring mental health conditions that not uncommonly take a course during which individuals have varying degrees of significantly impaired personal, social and educational/vocational functioning. Prior individual studies examining early specialty intervention services, which integrate multiple different and complementary treatment components, had shown that this treatment approach can yield superior outcomes for people with early-phase schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders compared to usual care given to all people with psychotic disorders. However, we were lacking a broad overview of the type and results of treatment programs that had been conducted across different countries, continents and mental health service delivery systems. Moreover, we did not yet have a synthesis across all important outcomes that had been examined across these individual studies. This first comprehensive meta-analysis on this topic provides previously missing information on the different early intervention programs and their components as well as on all relevant outcomes for people who did or did not receiving early integrated care, also recently called ‘coordinated specialty care.’ (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Depression, Pediatrics / 04.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rebecca H. Bitsko, PhD National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities(https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/index.html) (NCBDDD) is committed to helping children who have mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Anxiety and depression are both internalizing mental disorders that often start during childhood, and that frequently occur together. In this study, we show that more than 1 in 20, or 2.6 million, US children aged 6-17 had a current diagnosis of anxiety or depression, by parent report, in 2011-12. We also found an increase of diagnosed anxiety in these children from 1 in 28 in 2007 to 1 in 24 in 2011-12. Further, in 2011-12, approximately 1 in 5 children with current anxiety or depression did not receive mental health treatment in the past year. Children with current anxiety or depression were more likely than those without to have:
  • Another mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder such as ADHD, learning disability, or speech or language problems
  • School problems
  • Parents who report high levels of stress and frustration with parenting
  • Unmet medical and mental health service needs
(more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 02.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “dog” by Neil Mullins is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Stefan O. Reber Laboratory for Molecular Psychosomatics Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy University Clinic Ulm Ulm, Germany  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our hypothesis was that people who grew up in cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants  and without pets will show a more pronounced immune activation towards psychosocial stressors compared with people raised in rural areas in the presence of farm animals. This hypothesis is based on the fact that stress-associated psychiatric disorders, which are linked to or even promoted by an over(re)active immune system and chronic low grade inflammation,  are more prevalent in urban compared with rural areas. One possible explanation for a hyper(re)active immune system in people raised in urban relative to rural environments might be a reduced contact to immunoregulatory microorganisms (the so called “old friends”), which is significantly increased in rural people with regular contact with farm animals compared with urban people in the absence of pets. Our results show that a standardized laboratory psychosocial stressor causes a greater inflammatory response in young healthy participants with an urban upbringing in the absence of pets, relative to young healthy participants with a rural upbringing in the presence of farm animals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Primary Care / 15.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna Scandinaro Medical student Penn State College of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Dr. Usman Hameed, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and Dr. Dellasega wrote a previous paper called "What is irritability?" which examined the idea and concept of what irritability in school aged children can encompass. After considering possible definitions of irritability, we wanted to see how the concept manifested in clinical practice, especially with the controversy around the new diagnosis of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) in the DSM 5. The main findings of this study are that primary care providers (PCP)​identified a need for more training and education in how to assess irritability in pediatric and adolescent populations. In contrast, the child and adolescent psychiatrists we interviewed thought more triage from PCPs who care for school aged children with irritability would be helpful.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 09.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Claudia I. Lugo-Candelas, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Columbia University Medical Center/ New York State Psychiatric Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have seen, in the last decade, an increase in the amount of mothers being prescribed SSRIs during pregnancy. While we know that untreated prenatal maternal depression has adverse consequences for both the mother and child, it’s not really clear what, if any, are the consequences of prenatal SSRI exposure on infant’s brain development. There have been some studies finding increased depression and anxiety in children prenatally exposed to SSRIs, but not all studies find these associations. We thus looked at 2-4 week old infants’ brains, using neuroimaging.  We found increased gray matter volume within the amygdala and insula, and increased white matter connectivity between these two structures in infants prenatally exposed to SSRIs. Of note, the statistical significance and the size of the effects we detected are quite large, even greater than the brain changes that we usually observe in our studies of children and adults with psychiatric disorders. Further, because these structures are involved in emotion processing, and alterations in volume and connectivity are sometimes seen in clinical populations, or in people at risk for anxiety, it important to learn more about what these volume and connectivity differences could mean for these infants. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 07.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Aideen Maguire Centre of Excellence for Public Health Queen's University Belfast Institute of Clinical Sciences B Royal Hospitals Site, Belfast MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Consanguineous Marriage is the marriage between second or first cousins. Although not common practice in the Western world approximately 1 in 10 children worldwide are born to consanguineous parents. It is legal in all countries worldwide except the United States of America, North Korea and China. Cousin-marriage is associated with an increased risk of autosomal recessive genetic disorders in offspring but the association between cousin-marriage and the mental health of offspring has not been extensively studied. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Response: Children of consanguineous parents are over 3 times more likley to be in receipt of medications for common mood disorders (antidepressant and/or anxioltyic medication) compared to children of non-related parents and over twice as likley to be in receipt of antipsychotic medication compared to children of non-related parents.  (more…)
Allergan, Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Mental Health Research / 05.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. C. David Nicholson, PhD Chief R&D Officer Allergan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this data milestone?  Response: Bipolar I depression refers to the depressive episodes of bipolar I disorder, the overarching brain and behavioral disorder. People with bipolar I disorder can have manic and depressive episodes, as well as mixed episodes that feature both manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. Bipolar I depression typically lasts at least two weeks, and can be difficult to differentiate from major depression during diagnosis. Once diagnosed, treating bipolar depression can be difficult given the few therapies available to manage these symptoms of bipolar I disorder. Additionally, patients with bipolar disorder may experience shifts from depression to mania or mania to depression as well as mixed states. More treatment options are needed so that physicians can find a therapy that will treat bipolar depression effectively, while also addressing the myriad of other symptoms that patients can experience. Cariprazine is already approved for the treatment of mania and mixed episodes. With this new data, we have the potential to also treat bipolar depression, effectively addressing the full spectrum of symptoms associated with bipolar I disorder with just one medication. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 29.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Silvana Galderisi MD President of the European Psychiatric Association Professor of Psychiatry University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Italy MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The goal of schizophrenia treatment has gradually shifted from reduction of symptoms and prevention of relapse to improvement of real-life functioning. In fact, these outcomes not always coincide and, in spite of progress in treatments reducing symptoms and preventing relapses, people with schizophrenia live 15-20 years less than the general population, are often unemployed, and show severe disabilities. Enhanced understanding of factors associated with real-life functioning is instrumental to design effective integrated and personalized treatment plans for persons with schizophrenia. To this aim, the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses, including 26 twenty-six Italian university psychiatric clinics and/or mental health departments, has focused on the identification of variables influencing real-life functioning, in particular on the interrelationships among illness-related variables, personal resources, context-related variables and real-life functioning. The number of variables and subjects included in the study was larger than in any other study on this topic, and for the first time the network analysis was used to model the interplay among cognitive, psychopathological and psychosocial variables in a large sample of community dwelling subjects with schizophrenia. The network analysis is a data-driven approach; it does not rely on an a priori model of relationships among variables, provides quantitative measures of variable centrality within the network, thus indicating which variables play a key role in the network, and which ones are instead more peripheral. In addition, by inspecting the network, it is possible to understand the extent to which variables belonging to the same construct are connected, and how different constructs are mutually interacting and reinforcing each other.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, Infections, Mental Health Research, Primary Care, Roche / 14.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: James W. Antoon, MD, PhD, FAAP Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics University of Illinois at Chicago Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Inpatient Unit Children's Hospital, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Chicago, IL 60612  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Oseltamivir, commonly known as Tamiflu, is the only commercially available medication FDA approved to treat the flu.  Since the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic pediatric prescriptions for Tamiflu have soared.  In the United States, about 40% of Tamiflu prescriptions are given to children less than 16 years of age.  Following reports of abnormal behavior, such as hallucinations, self-injury and suicide attempts in adolescents on Tamiflu, the FDA placed a new warning about these neuropsychiatric symptoms on the drug label.  Whenever the FDA puts out label warning about a drug, doctors and the public take notice. Whether Tamiflu truly causes these side effects is unclear.  For this study we chose to focus on the most consequential of those reports: suicide. The potential link between a drug and suicide is a particularly difficult topic to study for a number of reasons. There are things that happen together or at the same time that can influence someone to attempt suicide and it is very difficult to know which thing is actually having an affect. In our study, other things that can influence suicide are socioeconomic status, mental health, trauma, abuse, among others.  Separating the effects of these confounders can be difficult. It is also possible that the disease itself, which in this case is the flu, causes the effect of suicide. Finally, and luckily, suicide is rare. Our database had 12 million children per year and over five year 21,000 attempted suicide. Of those, only 251 were taking Tamiflu. To get past these issues, we took advantage of a growing drug safety research collaboration between the Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacy at our institution.  Previous studies have compared those on Tamiflu to those not on Tamiflu to see if there are more side effects in the Tamiflu group.  Our team utilized a novel study method called a case-crossover design. What’s different about this study is that we used each patient as their own comparison.  In other words, we compared each patient to themselves rather than a different group of people.  We essentially studied how patients behaved when the Tamiflu was in their system compared to other l periods where they were not on Tamiflu.  This allowed use to account for the personal differences noted above like mental health and socioeconomic status.   We also compared those children with flu who got Tamiflu and those with flu who did not get Tamiflu to see if the infection itself could be associated with increased suicide. After accounting for all these variables, we did not find any an association between Tamiflu exposure and suicide. Our findings suggest that Tamiflu does NOT increase the risk of suicide in children or teenagers. (more…)
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Mental Health Research / 04.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yoanna Skrobik MD FRCP(c) MSc McGill University Health Centre Canada MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: My clinical research interests revolve around critical care analgesia, sedation, and delirium. I validated the first delirium screening tool in mechanically ventilated ICU patients (published in 2001), described ICU delirium risk factors, associated outcomes, compared treatment modalities and described pharmacological exposure for the disorder. I was invited to participate in the 2013 Society of Critical Care Medicine Pain, Anxiety, and Delirium management guidelines, and served as the vice-chair for the recently completed Pain, Agitation, Delirium, Early Mobility and Sleep upcoming guidelines. Until this study, no pharmacological prevention or intervention could convincingly be considered effective in ICU delirium. Although Haloperidol and other antipsychotics are frequently used in practice, their lack of efficacy and possible disadvantages are increasingly being understood. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Occupational Health, PTSD / 02.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Lori Davis, MD Research and Development Service, Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, Alabama MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) interfere with a person’s ability to function at work, making it harder to stay employed and establish oneself in a career.  Veterans with PTSD are uniquely challenged given their motivation to serve others, be leaders and not be generally receptive to reaching out for help. Conventional wisdom about PTSD and employment has traditionally been to first commit to treatment, learn coping skills, manage one’s symptoms and then reintegrate into mainstream employment. However, this view is being transformed by our research that suggests a more assertive recovery-oriented approach to the treatment of PTSD that involves returning to meaningful competitive employment as soon as possible. This study compared Evidence-based Supported Employment (also known as Individual Placement and Support or IPS) integrated within PTSD treatment teams to the treatment as usual Transitional Work model offered within the VA. This multisite trial demonstrated significantly greater effectiveness of the IPS-supported employment over stepwise, transitional work vocational rehabilitation for Veterans living with chronic PTSD. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, Kidney Disease, Salt-Sodium / 11.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain. We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Psychological Science / 11.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Homes for Pets - Doggie Dash” by Homes For Pets is licensed under CC BY 2.0Helen Louise Brooks BSc, MRes, PhD Psychology of Healthcare Research Group Department of Psychological Sciences, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: It is increasingly being acknowledged that companion animals can have a positive impact on mental health. However, there has been no systematic review of the evidence related to how pets might benefit people living with mental health problems. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Dermatology / 09.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Young man with acne” by Sergey Sudeykin (Russian, Smolensk 1882–1946 Nyack) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0Isabelle Vallerand, Ph.D. Epidemiologist, MD Student Dept. of Community Health Sciences Cumming School of Medicine University of Calgary MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports that an acne drug called isotretinoin (Accutane) has been linked to psychiatric disorders. We recently published a systematic review on this topic and did not find an increased risk of psychiatric disorders among people treated with isotretinoin, so we wondered if acne itself may be contributing to mental illness. While it is well known that acne can have negative effects on mood, we wanted to assess if there was an increased risk of true clinical depression using medical records data. Therefore, we conducted the current study and found that acne increased the risk of developing clinical depression by 63% in the first year following an acne diagnosis and that this risk remained elevated for 5 years after the initial acne diagnosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pharmacology, Schizophrenia / 04.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hsien-Yuan Lane, MD,PhD Distinguished Professor, Director, Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan Director, Brain Diseases Research Center (BDRC), Addiction Research Center, and Department of Psychiatry, China Medical University and Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan PI, Taiwan Clinical Trial Consortium for Mental Disorders  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness affecting more than 21 million people worldwide. Clozapine has been regarded as the last-line antipsychotic agent for patients with refractory schizophrenia. However, an estimated 40–70% of patients with refractory schizophrenia fail to improve even with clozapine , referred to as “clozapine-resistant”. To date, there is no convincing evidence for augmentation on clozapine. Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, including inhibition of D-amino acid oxidase (DAAO) that may metabolize D-amino acids, has been reported to be beneficial for patients receiving antipsychotics other than clozapine. Sodium benzoate is a DAAO inhibitor. A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that add-on sodium benzoate improved the clinical symptoms in patients with clozapine-resistant schizophrenia, possibly through DAAO inhibition and antioxidation as well. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia, Yale / 01.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Josephine Mollon PhD Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience King’s College London, London, England Currently with the Department of Psychiatry Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Connecticut MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are severe mental disorders that cause a range of abnormalities in perception and thinking. Individuals with psychotic disorders also experience severe impairments in IQ and there is evidence that these impairments begin many years before hallucinations and delusions first appear. Understanding how and when individuals with psychotic disorder experience a drop in IQ scores will help us better predict and treat poor cognition in these individuals, and perhaps even the disorder itself. (more…)