Could Statins Protect Against ALS?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alastair J. Noyce MD, PhD  Preventive Neurology Unit,  Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine Queen Mary University of London,  Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, University College London, Institute of Neurology,  London UK

Dr. Noyce

Alastair J. Noyce MD, PhD
Preventive Neurology Unit,
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine
Queen Mary University of London,
Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences,
University College London, Institute of Neurology,
London UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or motor neurone disease (MND) is a relentlessly progressive disorder that affects nerves which supply muscles. Over time the nerves die, leading to limb weakness, speech and swallowing problems, and ultimately breathing problems. Patients die on average 3-5 after diagnosis. There is no cure and the underlying disease processes are only understood in part.

In this study, we adopted a large-scale approach to exploring causal risk factors for ALS. Causality is important because it implies that if one could modify or induce a change in a risk factor, one would observe a change in the risk of ALS. Observational studies struggle to prove causality definitely. Associations in observational studies can arise because:

1) the risk factor truly changes risk of ALS; or

2) something about ALS changes one’s exposure to the risk factor; or

3) the presence of another factor, which may or may not be known, can induce an association between a risk factor and ALS. Unless scenario 1 represents the truth, then changing the risk factor will not have any effect on risk of ALS.

We used a proxy-based approach, known as Mendelian randomisation, to assess hundreds of possible risk factors for ALS for evidence of causality. What emerged from this was a very clear signal linking LDL cholesterol to risk of ALS. Continue reading

Vitamin D May Speed Recovery From Resistant Tuberculosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Adrian Martineau, B Med Sci DTM&H MRCP PhD FRSB Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity Queen Mary University of London

Prof. Martineau

Professor Adrian Martineau, B Med Sci DTM&H MRCP PhD FRSB
Clinical Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity
Queen Mary
University of London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The World Health Organisation estimates that 10.0 million people developed active tuberculosis in 2017, and that 1.6 million people died of this disease. Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs, causing around 500,000 cases and 150,000 deaths per year worldwide. Existing antibiotic treatments for MDR TB are lengthy, costly and often toxic due to their serious side effects.

One novel approach to treating MDR TB is to complement antibiotic treatment by using therapies that boost the immune system’s ability to kill TB bacteria. Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – is known to help white blood cells to make natural antibiotic substances (antimicrobial peptides) that can punch holes in the cell membranes of TB bacteria. Several clinical trials have investigated the effects of adding vitamin D to antibiotic treatment for TB.

In this study we pooled data from 8 of these studies (1850 participants) and analysed them to see if some TB patients benefited more from adding vitamin D to their treatment regimen than others. We found that vitamin D accelerated clearance of TB bacteria from the lungs of patients who had MDR TB; this benefit was not seen in patients who had ‘standard’ drug-sensitive TB. Continue reading