Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Radiation Therapy, University of Pennsylvania / 09.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Keith A. Cengel, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: FLASH radiotherapy involves delivering the treatment dose at a rate that is 1000s of times faster than standard radiotherapy.  Scientists have studied the differential biological effects of various dose rates for dose rates for the past ~80 years, but the unique effects of FLASH dose rates have only been appreciated in the last few years. While the mechanism(s) and applications of FLASH radiotherapy remain an area of active investigation,  t is clear so far that FLASH dose rates can provide similar levels of tumor control with less toxicity to normal tissues when compared to the same dose of radiotherapy delivered at a standard dose rate. (more…)
Author Interviews, Herpes Viruses, Science, University of Pennsylvania, Vaccine Studies / 23.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Harvey M. Friedman, MD Professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104-6073  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response:  Mice and guinea pigs are the animal models used to evaluate candidate vaccines for preventing genital herpes. My lab has been working on such a vaccine. Our candidate vaccine contains 3 immunogens. One immunogen is a protein on the virus that is required for the virus to enter cells (viruses need to enter cells to replicate). The other two immunogens are proteins on the virus that help the virus escape immune attack. Our intent is to produce antibodies to these 3 proteins by immunization and that the antibodies will bind to the proteins on the virus and block the protein functions. The virus then will not be able to enter cells and will not be able to use its evasion strategies to avoid the immune responses generated by the vaccine. Our vaccine aimed at preventing immune evasion is novel as a component of a genital herpes vaccine.  (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, University of Pennsylvania / 09.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In the June 18, 2019 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, we published a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the cardiovascular risks of white coat hypertension (WCH; i.e. elevated office blood pressure and normal out-of-office blood pressure). The goal of the meta-analysis was to clarify previous mixed results regarding the risks of untreated WCH and treated WCH. The meta-analysis examined 27 studies – including 64,273 patients – and demonstrated that untreated WCH is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events (36%), all-cause mortality (33%), and cardiovascular mortality (109%) compared to normotension. This risk was strongest in studies with a mean age ≥55 years or that included participants with cardiac risk factors, such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease. We found no increased cardiovascular risk associated with treated white coat hypertension. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Primary Care, University of Pennsylvania / 11.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Molly Candon PhD Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Lecturer, Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Co-Instructor, Health Services and Policy Research Methods II, MS in Health Policy Research Program, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: A team of researchers (led by Karin Rhodes, MD and Dan Polsky, PhD) conducted a secret shopper study of thousands of primary care practices across 10 states, with trained callers simulating patients with Medicaid and requesting appointments. One of the outcome measures was whether an appointment was scheduled with a physician or Advanced Practitioner. Between 2012 and 2016, the share of appointments scheduled with Advanced Practitioners increased by five percentage points.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania / 08.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John Barbieri, MD, MBA Hospital & Health Care University of Pennsylvania  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly describe the type of acne treated with Isotretinoin? Response: Isotretinoin is often used to treat moderate to severe acne or acne that has been unresponsive to other treatments. It is also used for patients with scarring acne. While highly effective for acne, due to concerns about medication related side-effects, patients are often monitoring with frequent blood tests, sometimes up to once per month. However, there have been several studies over the past two decades questioning the value of these frequent blood tests for patients on isotretinoin for acne. The purpose of this study was to examine whether blood test monitoring has been decreasing over time in response to these studies. We also evaluated the frequency of blood test abnormalities for patients being treated with isotretinoin. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA, Neurology, Outcomes & Safety, University of Pennsylvania / 20.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sameed Khatana, MD Fellow, Cardiovascular Medicine, Perleman School of Medicine Associate Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There has been a growing use of quality metrics and indices in the US healthcare system. Much attention has been paid to quality measurement programs used by public payors, however, the use of such programs by commercial payors is much less studied. "Centers of excellence" are one type of quality designation program that is growing in use by commercial payors where certain hospitals are determined to be "high quality" for a certain disease state or procedure based on meeting certain criteria. For some people, this is even impacting the choice of providers and hospitals they can use by payors. We evaluated centers of excellence programs from three large commercial payors, Aetna, Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, targeted at cardiovascular diseases and interventions and examined publicly reported outcomes for all hospitals performing percutaneous coronary interventions (cardiac stenting) in New York State.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Neurological Disorders, Neurology, University of Pennsylvania / 08.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren McCollum, MDCognitive and Behavioral Neurology FellowPenn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology DivisionLauren McCollum, MD Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Fellow Penn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology Division MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a heterogenous condition, with considerable variability in cognitive symptoms and progression rates. One major reason for this heterogeneity is “mixed pathology,” – i.e., both AD- and non-AD pathology. Examples of non-AD pathology include cerebrovascular disease (CVD), Lewy Bodies, and TDP-43. Pathologically, Alzheimer’s Disease is defined by characteristic amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which can be assessed for in living patients with CSF- or PET-based biomarkers for amyloid and tau, respectively. Classically, amyloid deposition begins years or even decades before pathologic tau accumulation, which is in turn associated with brain atrophy and cognitive decline. The recently developed NIA-AA “ATN” research framework allows for the classification of individuals with regard to 3 binary biomarkers: Amyloid (A), Tau (T), and Neurodegeneration (N). An individual’s ATN biomarker status indicates where along the “Alzheimer’s Disease continuum” they lie. Additionally, some ATN statuses are on the “typical AD” continuum, while others are not. Research has shown that 15-30% of cognitively normal older adults have elevated amyloid. It stands to reason that some portion of cognitively impaired individuals with elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration have something other than AD driving their neuronal injury. Within the context of the ATN research framework, this subset of people is the A+T-N+ group (i.e., people who have elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration, but are tau-negative), as amyloid alone (that is, amyloid without tau) is not thought to cause significant cognitive impairment or brain atrophy. Our hypothesis was that, compared to A+T+N+ (a set of typical-AD biomarkers), A+T-N+ have cognitive and neuroimaging profiles that deviate from a typical Alzheimer’s Disease pattern – i.e., with less memory loss and less atrophy in AD-signature regions – and may have biomarkers suggestive of alternate non-AD pathologies [e.g., white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), a marker of CVD]. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, End of Life Care, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 30.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RN Assistant ProfessorMedical Ethics and Health Policy Perelman School of Medicine Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics University of Pennsylvania  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response:  Public support for aid in dying in the United States is rapidly growing.  As a result, we’re now seeing debates about whether to expand access to aid-in-dying to new populations – such as people with Alzheimer’s disease – who wouldn’t be eligible under current laws. With those debates in mind, we asked currently healthy people who recently learned about their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia (i.e., due to the presence of amyloid, an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker) whether they would be interested in aid-in-dying. Our findings suggest that about 20% of individuals with elevated amyloid may be interested in aid-in-dying if they become cognitively impaired.   (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 14.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Genevieve P. Kanter, PhD Assistant Professor (Research) of Medicine Medical Ethics and Health Policy University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Philadelphia, PA  19104-6021 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Physicians frequently have financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device firms, but only recently has information on these financial ties been made available to the public. The Open Payments program, created by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, has made this industry payments information available through a public website since 2014. Because transparent institutions are believed to engender greater public trust, public disclosure of industry payments could increase public trust in the medical profession, which may have been weakened by physicians' relationships with industry. On the other hand, Open Payments may have decreased public trust because of the focus of media reporting on physicians receiving the largest sums of money. We sought to investigate how Open Payments and the public disclosure of industry payments affected public trust in physicians and in the medical profession. We compared changes in trust among patients who lived in states where payments information had, by state statute, previously been made available, to changes in trust among patients who lived in states where this information became newly available through Open Payments. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Nature, University of Pennsylvania / 05.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henry R. Kranzler, MD Professor of Psychiatry Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are moderately heritable traits.  To date, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have not examined these traits in the same sample, which limits an assessment of the extent to which genetic variation is unique to one or the other or shared. This GWAS examined a large sample (nearly 275,000 individuals) from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) for whom data on both alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder diagnoses were available from an electronic health record.  We identified 18 genetic variants that were significantly associated with either alcohol consumption, AUD, or both. Five of the variants were associated with both traits, eight with consumption only, and five with alcohol use disorder only.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, University of Pennsylvania / 01.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kira L. Ryskina  MD MS Assistant Professor Of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Post-acute care in skilled nursing facilities (SNF or sometimes called subacute rehab) is a very common discharge destination after a hospital stay. Patients discharged to these facilities represent more clinically complex and high-need patients than patients discharged home. We wanted to understand how soon after discharge from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility are patients seen by a physician. We found that first visits by a physician or advanced practitioner (a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) for initial medical assessment occurred within four days of SNF admission in 71.5 percent of the stays. However, there was considerable variation in days to first visit at the regional, facility, and patient levels. One in five initial physician visits occurred more than 4 days after admission to skilled nursing facilities.  In 10.4 percent of stays there was no physician or advanced practitioner visit. Much of the variability in visit timing had to do with SNF characteristics and geography compared to patient clinical or demographic characteristics. Patients who did not receive a physician visit had nearly double the rates of readmissions or deaths compared to patients who were seen.  (more…)