Research Update

A faster test for antibiotics against UTIs?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) plague millions of Americans each year. Now, researchers say they've developed a test that can tell in minutes whether or not a particular antibiotic can clear up the problem. The issue is an important one, doctors say, since many of the bacteria behind UTIs have grown resistant to certain antibiotics. And, left untreated, these infections can have serious effects, especially in the frail and elderly. "We live in an era of multidrug-resistant bacteria, so-called 'superbugs' that can cause life-threatening infections," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Sunil Sood, who reviewed the new study. "Modern molecular techniques to distinguish bacteria that are resistant from those that are susceptible to common antibiotics could be lifesaving," said Sood. He is chair of pediatrics at Northwell Health's Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. According to the study authors, current urine tests can rapidly spot a UTI, but it can still take days for the exact germs – and the proper antibiotic to use against them -- to be identified. In the new study, researchers led by Nathan Schoepp, of the California Institute of Technology, developed a new way of analyzing germs in urine samples. Instead of isolating germs and waiting for them to grow, the researchers used a "DNA amplification" technique to analyze the bacteria's genome, or "genetic blueprint." The investigators tested the new screen out on 51 urine samples containing either antibiotic-resistant or antibiotic-susceptible strains of bacteria.

Researchers reduce over-prescription of antibiotics by using computer alerts to inform doctors

Physicians in Southern California reduced the odds of prescribing an antibiotic for sinusitis by 22 percent using computer alerts to inform doctors when antibiotics may not be the best course of treatment. The research was published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The work is a continuation of research to better understand what drives over-prescription of antibiotics and determine best approaches to improving physician prescribing practices, said study.

Can aspirin stop Liver Cancer in Hepatitis B patients?

 Daily aspirin may reduce the risk of liver cancer for people with hepatitis B infection, a new study suggests. Hepatitis B virus attacks the liver and can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer. Previous research suggests daily low-dose aspirin therapy may prevent cancer, but there is little clinical evidence on whether regular aspirin use can prevent liver cancer in people with hepatitis B. Researchers from Taiwan analyzed data from close to 205,000 patients with chronic hepatitis B. They found that those on daily aspirin were much less likely to develop liver cancer over five years than those who did not take aspirin. It's important to note, however, that the study only found these associations, but did not establish a cause-and-effect link.

Tree cover linked to fewer asthma cases in polluted urban neighborhoods

People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighborhood, a recent study has found. The study into the impact of urban greenery on asthma suggests that respiratory health can be improved by the expansion of tree cover in very polluted urban neighborhoods. The study, published in the journal Environment International, looked at more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a 15 year period.

Swings in Blood Pressure can pose long-term dangers

Everyone knows that sustained high blood pressure does not favor for your heart or life span. But new research suggests that up-and-down shifts in blood pressure may be equally hazardous to your health. "The takeaway from the study is, if you allow your blood pressure to be uncontrolled for any period of time, or notice big changes in your blood pressure between doctor visits, you increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney or heart failure or even death," said study author Dr. Brian Clements. He's an internal medicine specialist at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. One cardiologist who reviewed the findings wasn't surprised. "Swings in blood pressure cause more stress to the arteries of the heart and brain than a consistent blood pressure," said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He said the study supports the notion that high blood pressure medications should be taken continuously, not just when pressure seems to spike. "All too often patients take their blood pressure medications 'as needed,' "Bhusri said. "It is up to their doctor to reinforce that blood pressure medications are not 'as needed' meds, and that in fact the 'as needed' use of such meds can cause more harm than not taking them at all."

Is low-dose Aspirin right for you after Surgery?

Each year, millions of American heart patients go "under the knife" for various kinds of surgery. Often they're told to take a low-dose aspirin, to help lower their odds for a post-op blood clot. But does that practice reduce the risk of additional heart problems? A new study says yes. Giving low-dose aspirin after surgeries unrelated to heart problems -- things like knee replacements, cancer surgeries or a myriad of other operations -- reduces the risk of heart attack and death in people who've previously had artery-opening angioplasty. The new study was led by Dr. P.J. Devereaux, of McMaster University in London, Ontario, Canada.

New 'Patch' may repair damaged hearts

A patch that might one day help repair heart attack damage has been developed by researchers. The patch, which consists of fully functioning artificial human heart muscle, is large enough to cover damage typically caused by a heart attack, according to biomedical engineers at Duke University. The Duke team described the development, which was tested in rodents, as a significant advance in efforts to repair dead heart muscle.

Breathing trouble may follow preemies to adulthood

People who were born prematurely may have smaller-than-normal airways in adulthood, which can cause respiratory problems, researchers say. Premature birth is associated with poorer heart and lung function, but the reasons why have not been fully understood. In a new study, investigators compared adults who were born eight weeks or more early with people who were born at full-term. Both groups were the same age and height. The researchers used lung function tests to calculate the airway size of each study participant, and concluded that airway size in the premature group was smaller than in the full-term group.

Hypertension during pregnancy may affect women's long-term cardiovascular health

Women who experience hypertension during pregnancy face an increased risk of heart disease and hypertension later in life, according to a new study. "The study highlights the need for long-term follow-up of women with a history of hypertension during pregnancy to provide early management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease".

Can an Aspirin a day keep a pregnancy complication away?

Something as simple as taking a low-dose aspirin every day may protect pregnant women from the life-threatening condition known as preeclampsia, new research suggests. "Preeclampsia is one of the most serious complications of pregnancy, with a high risk of death for the mother and baby," said the study. The new study looked at an aspirin dose of 150 milligrams (mg) per day because some past studies with smaller daily doses of aspirin have produced conflicting results, according to the study. A baby aspirin dose is 81 milligrams. In those studies using smaller doses, the reduction in preeclampsia risk hovered around 10 percent, he said, but the higher dose in this latest study was linked to a 62 percent reduction in risk. Preeclampsia is a serious high blood pressure disorder. It can affect all of the organs in a woman's body, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Painkiller prescriptions more prone to errors if handwritten

Mistakes are much more likely to occur with handwritten prescriptions for opioid painkillers than with electronic ones, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed prescriptions for opioids – such as oxycodone (OxycontinPercocet) and hydrocodone (Vicoprofen). The investigators found that 42 percent of the prescriptions contained an error.

Blood Pressure Fluctuations tied to Dementia risk

If your blood pressure varies from day-to-day, you may be at higher risk for dementia or Alzheimer's disease, new research from Japan suggests. People whose systolic blood pressure (the top reading) fluctuated from day-to-day were more than twice as likely to develop any type of dementia or Alzheimer's disease compared to those with more stable day-to-day blood pressure, the researchers found. And the study – which was based on home-monitorings -- also reported that the participants were nearly three times more likely to develop vascular dementia, caused by hardening of the arteries.

Kidney Disease may boost risk of abnormal Heartbeat

People with failing kidneys are at increased risk of developing a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm, a new report suggests. Chronic kidney disease can as much as double a patient's risk of atrial fibrillation, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke or heart failure, said a study. The risk of atrial fibrillation increases as kidney function declines, said researcher. A poorly functioning kidney can alter blood levels of a number of nutrients needed to maintain proper heart function, such as potassium, vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, said the study. The kidneys also are responsible for maintaining a steady volume of blood in your body, removing excess fluid by way of urination.

Doctor-Patient dialogue may boost use of blood pressure drugs

Doctors can help boost use of high blood pressure medications by their poor patients simply by talking to them, a new study suggests. Many people fail to take their blood pressure-lowering drugs, putting them at higher risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association says. But by communicating more effectively and talking to patients about their specific challenges, physicians may improve medication use, researchers found. If important issues go undiscussed, doctors may never figure out why patients are not taking their medications.

New 'Biologic' drug may help severe Asthma

A "biologic" drug in development to treat severe asthma reduces the rate of serious attacks by about two-thirds compared to a placebo drug, according to preliminary research findings. If approved, the drug, tezepelumab, could join a group of costly medications that appear to offer relief when nothing else curbs respiratory distress. The new research was funded by the drug's developers, Amgen and MedImmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca. Asthma is a chronic lung disease. Study said an estimated 15 percent of asthma patients can't control the disease with current inhaled medications. Tezepelumab, an injectable drug, is a monoclonal antibody – a term that refers to how it's made.

Could folic acid fight a cause of Autism

By taking folic acid around the time of conception, mothers-to-be may reduce their child's risk of pesticide-related autism, a new study suggests. "We found that if the mom was taking folic acid during the window around conception, the risk associated with pesticides seemed to be attenuated," said study author. Autism risk was higher among children whose mothers were repeatedly exposed to pesticides or whose mothers had low folic acid intake and exposure to agricultural pesticides between three months preconception and three months afterward, the findings showed. Those two factors combined were associated with higher risk of autism than either low folic acid intake or pesticide exposure alone.

Statins may help people with COPD live longer

Drugs known as statins may have benefits beyond lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. A new study suggests people with chronic lung disease who take these drugs may extend their survival. The study included nearly 40,000 people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). One in five patients was taking a statin, and those individuals had a 21 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, and a 45 percent reduced risk of dying from lung-related issues, the researchers found. This study comes on the heels of a separate large-scale investigation that found no link between statin use and the number of COPD exacerbations people experienced.

High blood pressure: Sodium may not be the culprit

Salt has long been vilified as the harbinger of hypertension. However, as research into the condition has delved deeper, it is becoming clear that the story is more complex. The latest study in this arena goes some way toward absolving sodium. Following a raft of large-scale studies showing that a high salt intake leads to high blood pressure, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set the recommended sodium intake at 2,300 milligrams per day. However, a new batch of studies are bringing this guideline into question, and researchers are now asking whether the relationship between hypertension and salt is so clear cut.

Certain high blood pressure drugs block cancer invasion

Researchers have identified a new way of blocking the spread of cancer. Calcium channel blockers, which are used to lower blood pressure, block breast and pancreatic cancer invasion by inhibiting cellular structures.By screening already approved drugs, the team in University of Turku has discovered that calcium channel blockers can efficiently stop cancer cell invasion in vitro. Cancer kills because of its ability to spread throughout the body and form metastases. Therefore, developing drugs that block the ability of cancer cells to disseminate is a major anti-cancer therapeutic avenue. Identification of anti-hypertension drugs as potential therapeutics against breast and pancreatic cancer metastasis was a big surprise. The targets of these drugs were not know to be present in cancer cells and therefore no one had considered the possibility that these drugs might be effective against aggressive cancer types.

Lowering cholesterol to 'levels of a new-born baby' cuts heart attack risk

Reducing our cholesterol levels to those of a new-born baby significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new research. The scientists found that dropping cholesterol to the lowest level possible,to levels similar to those we were born with, reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke or fatal heart disease by around one third.In the paper, the scientists examined levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is considered to be 'bad' cholesterol, as it is responsible for clogging arteries.LDL carries cholesterol to cells, but when there is too much cholesterol for cells to use, LDL deposits the cholesterol in the artery walls.Official advice suggests most people should aim to keep their LDL cholesterol at 100 mg/dL or below, though this number can vary depending on a person's risk of cardiovascular disease.

Genetic carbohydrate digestion defects Linked to irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. People with IBS often connect their symptoms to certain foods, particularly fermentable carbohydrates. Now an international research team led by scientists from KarolinskaInstitutet in Sweden have identified defective sucrase-isomaltase gene variants that increase the risk of IBS. The researchers studied DNA variants in the gene encoding the enzyme sucrase-isomaltase (SI), due to the observation that SI mutations are often found in hereditary forms of sucrose intolerance, whose main characteristics diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating are also common in IBS. “Significant decrease in the enzymatic activity of sucrase-isomaltase would be compatible with poor carbohydrate digestion in the intestine, possibly leading to malabsorption and bowel symptoms" says co-senior author. The results provide rationale for novel nutrigenetic studies in IBS, with potential for personalizing treatment options based on SI genotype.

Novel HCV Drug Combo Shines in CKD Patients

An investigational combination of antiviral agents was almost universally successful in curing hepatitis C (HCV) patients with severe kidney disease, according to a new study. The combination, glecaprevir/pibrentasvir cleared HCV in 98% of patients after 12 weeks of treatment. Patients all had stage 4 or 5 kidney disease and 82% were on dialysis, a population of people at high risk for HCV and regarded as difficult to treat. Also, current recommended therapies for people with HCV and chronic kidney disease are only aimed at a few of the HCV genotypes. So there is an "unmet medical need" that is satisfied by the new combination. The drug is co-formulated so that both medications are in a single pill; patients take three of them together once a day. The most common adverse events were pruritus, fatigue, and, nausea. Grade 3 or higher lab abnormalities were rare. The study, known as EXPEDITION-4, is one of several in drugmakerAbbVie's series of trials leading up to marketing applications.

Modified virus could turn immune system on liver cancer

A modified form of Reoviruscould be used to launch an immune attack on liver cancer cells, a new study has revealed.The studyalso found that the virus can stop the hepatitis C virus, which is a cause of liver cancer, from growing.The researchers suggest that the virus’ double blow may be a more effective treatment than what is currently available for liver cancer.The team also found that the modified virus works as a type of immunotherapy, kick–starting the immune system into action against the cancer. This causes the release of an immune molecule called interferon, which activates natural killer cell. The natural killer cells then recognise and destroy the tumour cells, while interferon blocks hepatitis C virus growth. Studying mice with liver cancer, treatment with the modified Reovirus caused the tumour cells to die. And those that had liver cancer caused by the hepatitis C virus, the viral treatment stopped the harmful virus from reproducing.

Breath test could diagnose irritable bowel syndrome

Researchers have identified a combination of 16 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the breath that, when measured together, can accurately identify patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).The authors express that this study can be considered an important first step forward in the design and development of reliable non-invasive biomarkers for IBS. The investigators reasoned that because exhaled human breath contains hundreds of VOCs, metabolic differences may indicate certain states of disease, in this case, IBS.After analyzing the collected breath samples with gas chromatography, the researchers found a pattern of 16 VOCs that indicated IBS, with a sensitivity of 89.4% and specificity of 73.3%.The researchers also found that the VOCs moderately correlated with severity of GI symptoms—the worse the results of the breath test, the worse the patient’s symptoms. This finding could not only help identify disease severity, but could also be used to monitor the effects of treatment, the researchers predicted.

Groundbreaking research finds fungus plays a central role in Crohn's disease

Researchers reported for the first time that the fungus Candida tropicalis appears to play a critical role— along with elevated levels of Serratiamarcescens and Escherichia coli bacteria in the intestinal tracts of patients with Crohn’s disease, which suggested that these organisms interact. This is the first study to find that a fungus is associated with Crohn’s disease in humans and also the first to include S. marcescens in theanalysis of the intestinal bacteriome of Crohn’s patients.The researchers also discovered that E. coli cells fused to C. tropicalis cells, while S. marcescens used bridge-like fimbriae to link to the two other microbes. “Interestingly, in biofilms formed by the three organisms, S. marcescens cells interacted with both C. tropicalis and E. coli through these fimbriae,” the authors wrote. “Specific interkingdom microbial interactions may be key determinants in Crohn’s disease.”

Benefits of daily aspirin outweigh risk to stomach

Stomach bleeds caused by aspirin are considerably less serious than the spontaneous bleeds that can occur in people not taking the drug, concludes a study led by Cardiff University. The extensive study of literature on aspirin reveals that while regular use of the drug increases the risk of stomach bleeds by about a half, there is no valid evidence that any of these bleeds are fatal. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death and disability across the world, and research has shown that a small daily dose of aspirin can reduce the occurrence of both diseases by around 20-30%. Recent research has also shown that low-doses of aspirin given to patients with cancer, alongside chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, is an effective additional treatment, reducing the deaths of patients with bowel, and possibly other cancers, by a further 15%.

Sleep loss tied to changes in Gut Bacteria

Getting too little sleep alters the balance of bacteria in the gut, a change that's linked to certain metabolic conditions, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, new research shows. For the study, European researchers limited the sleep of nine healthy men who were a normal weight to examine how sleep loss affects the number of types of bacteria in the gut. For two days in a row, the men slept only four hours a night. The study showed the diversity of gut bacteria didn't change but sleep loss did alter the balance of the existing groups of bacteria. The sleep-deprived participants were also 20 percent less sensitive to the effects of insulin. These changes parallel some of the differences seen when obese people have been compared with normal-weight people in other studies, said the senior study author. The study authors said more research is needed to assess sensitivity to the effects of sleep loss and how it affects brain function and metabolic health

  Dhaka -

Monday 19 Feb 2018

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