Category: Internal Medicine

Hot Topics: Severe Epilepsy Eased by Compound in Cannabis

Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome

Devinsky O, Cross JH, Laux L, et al. Trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the dravet syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(21):2011-2020. http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1611618.

BACKGROUND

The Dravet syndrome is a complex childhood epilepsy disorder that is associated with drug-resistant seizures and a high mortality rate. We studied cannabidiol for the treatment of drug-resistant seizures in the Dravet syndrome.

METHODS

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned 120 children and young adults with the Dravet syndrome and drug-resistant seizures to receive either cannabidiol oral solution at a dose of 20 mg per kilogram of body weight per day or placebo, in addition to standard antiepileptic treatment. The primary end point was the change in convulsive-seizure frequency over a 14-week treatment period, as compared with a 4-week baseline period.

RESULTS

The median frequency of convulsive seizures per month decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 with cannabidiol, as compared with a decrease from 14.9 to 14.1 with placebo (adjusted median difference between the cannabidiol group and the placebo group in change in seizure frequency, −22.8 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], −41.1 to −5.4; P=0.01). The percentage of patients who had at least a 50% reduction in convulsiveseizure frequency was 43% with cannabidiol and 27% with placebo (odds ratio, 2.00; 95% CI, 0.93 to 4.30; P=0.08). The patient’s overall condition improved by at least one category on the seven-category Caregiver Global Impression of Change scale in 62% of the cannabidiol group as compared with 34% of the placebo group (P=0.02). The frequency of total seizures of all types was significantly reduced with cannabidiol (P=0.03), but there was no significant reduction in nonconvulsive seizures. The percentage of patients who became seizure-free was 5% with cannabidiol and 0% with placebo (P=0.08). Adverse events that occurred more frequently in the cannabidiol group than in the placebo group included diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, pyrexia, somnolence, and abnormal results on liver-function tests. There were more withdrawals from the trial in the cannabidiol group.

CONCLUSIONS

Among patients with the Dravet syndrome, cannabidiol resulted in a greater reduction in convulsive-seizure frequency than placebo and was associated with higher rates of adverse events. (Funded by GW Pharmaceuticals; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02091375.)

Posted in Front Page, Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

Hot Topics: Steroid Shots Ineffective For Arthritic Knee Pain

Effect of Intra-articular Triamcinolone vs Saline on Knee Cartilage Volume and Pain in Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Clinical Trial

McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Harvey WF, et al. Effect of intra-articular triamcinolone vs saline on knee cartilage volume and pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2017;317(19):1967-1975.

Importance  Synovitis is common and is associated with progression of structural characteristics of knee osteoarthritis. Intra-articular corticosteroids could reduce cartilage damage associated with synovitis but might have adverse effects on cartilage and periarticular bone.

Objective  To determine the effects of intra-articular injection of 40 mg of triamcinolone acetonide every 3 months on progression of cartilage loss and knee pain.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of intra-articular triamcinolone vs saline for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis with ultrasonic features of synovitis in 140 patients. Mixed-effects regression models with a random intercept were used to analyze the longitudinal repeated outcome measures. Patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology criteria for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, Kellgren-Lawrence grades 2 or 3, were enrolled at Tufts Medical Center beginning February 11, 2013; all patients completed the study by January 1, 2015.

Interventions  Intra-articular triamcinolone (n = 70) or saline (n = 70) every 12 weeks for 2 years.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Annual knee magnetic resonance imaging for quantitative evaluation of cartilage volume (minimal clinically important difference not yet defined), and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index collected every 3 months (Likert pain subscale range, 0 [no pain] to 20 [extreme pain]; minimal clinically important improvement, 3.94).

Results  Among 140 randomized patients (mean age, 58 [SD, 8] years, 75 women [54%]), 119 (85%) completed the study. Intra-articular triamcinolone resulted in significantly greater cartilage volume loss than did saline for a mean change in index compartment cartilage thickness of −0.21 mm vs −0.10 mm (between-group difference, −0.11 mm; 95% CI, −0.20 to −0.03 mm); and no significant difference in pain (−1.2 vs −1.9; between-group difference, −0.6; 95% CI, −1.6 to 0.3). The saline group had 3 treatment-related adverse events compared with 5 in the triamcinolone group and had a small increase in hemoglobin A1c levels (between-group difference, −0.2%; 95% CI, −0.5% to −0.007%).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, 2 years of intra-articular triamcinolone, compared with intra-articular saline, resulted in significantly greater cartilage volume loss and no significant difference in knee pain. These findings do not support this treatment for patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

Posted in Geriatrics, Hot Topics in Research, Rheumatology

Hot Topics: Most Pediatric Flu Deaths Could Be Prevented With Flu Shot

Influenza vaccine effectiveness against pediatric deaths: 2010–2014

Flannery B, Reynolds SB, Blanton L, et al. Influenza vaccine effectiveness against pediatric deaths: 2010–2014. Pediatrics. 2017;139(5). doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-4244.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths since 2004 has shown that most deaths occur in unvaccinated children. We assessed whether influenza vaccination reduced the risk of influenza-associated death in children and adolescents.

METHODS: We conducted a case–cohort analysis comparing vaccination uptake among laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths with estimated vaccination coverage among pediatric cohorts in the United States. Case vaccination and high-risk status were determined by case investigation. Influenza vaccination coverage estimates were obtained from national survey data or a national insurance claims database. We estimated odds ratios from logistic regression comparing odds of vaccination among cases with odds of vaccination in comparison cohorts. We used Bayesian methods to compute 95% credible intervals (CIs) for vaccine effectiveness (VE), calculated as (1 − odds ratio) × 100.

RESULTS: From July 2010 through June 2014, 358 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported among children aged 6 months through 17 years. Vaccination status was determined for 291 deaths; 75 (26%) received vaccine before illness onset. Average vaccination coverage in survey cohorts was 48%. Overall VE against death was 65% (95% CI, 54% to 74%). Among 153 deaths in children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, 47 (31%) were vaccinated. VE among children with high-risk conditions was 51% (95% CI, 31% to 67%), compared with 65% (95% CI, 47% to 78%) among children without high-risk conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: Influenza vaccination was associated with reduced risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric death. Increasing influenza vaccination could prevent influenza-associated deaths among children and adolescents.

Posted in Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Hot Topics: First Tardive Dyskinesia Drug Approved by FDA

FDA approves first drug to treat tardive dyskinesia

Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). FDA approves first drug to treat tardive dyskinesia. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm552418.htm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today [April 11, 2017] approved Ingrezza (valbenazine) capsules to treat adults with tardive dyskinesia. This is the first drug approved by the FDA for this condition.

Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive involuntary movements, usually of the jaw, lips and tongue, such as grimacing, sticking out the tongue and smacking the lips. Some affected people also experience involuntary movement of the extremities or difficulty breathing.

Posted in Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Psychology and Psychiatry

Hot Topics: FDA Approves First Drug For Severe Multiple Sclerosis

FDA approves new drug to treat multiple sclerosis

Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). FDA approves new drug to treat multiple sclerosis. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm549325.htm.

On March 28, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). This is the first drug approved by the FDA for PPMS. Ocrevus is an intravenous infusion given by a health care professional.

“Multiple sclerosis can have a profound impact on a person’s life,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This therapy not only provides another treatment option for those with relapsing MS, but for the first time provides an approved therapy for those with primary progressive MS.”

Posted in Central Nervous System Disorders, Hot Topics in Research

Hot Topics: Cardiologists Weigh In On Nutrition Facts and Fads

Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies

Freeman AM, Morris PB, Barnard N, et al. Trending cardiovascular nutrition controversies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017;69(9):1172-1187. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2016.10.086.

The potential cardiovascular benefits of several trending foods and dietary patterns are still incompletely understood, and nutritional science continues to evolve. However, in the meantime, a number of controversial dietary patterns, foods, and nutrients have received significant media exposure and are mired by hype. This review addresses some of the more popular foods and dietary patterns that are promoted for cardiovascular health to provide clinicians with accurate information for patient discussions in the clinical setting.

Posted in Cardiology, Hot Topics in Research, Nutrition

Hot Topics: More Species of Mosquitos Than Previously Thought May Transmit Zika

Data-driven identification of potential Zika virus vectors

Evans MV, Dallas TA, Han BA, Murdock CC, Drake JM. Data-driven identification of potential zika virus vectors. eLife. 2017;6:e22053. https://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.22053.

Zika is an emerging virus whose rapid spread is of great public health concern. Knowledge about transmission remains incomplete, especially concerning potential transmission in geographic areas in which it has not yet been introduced. To identify unknown vectors of Zika, we developed a data-driven model linking vector species and the Zika virus via vector-virus trait combinations that confer a propensity toward associations in an ecological network connecting flaviviruses and their mosquito vectors. Our model predicts that thirty-five species may be able to transmit the virus, seven of which are found in the continental United States, including Culex quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens. We suggest that empirical studies prioritize these species to confirm predictions of vector competence, enabling the correct identification of populations at risk for transmission within the United States.

Posted in Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Hot Topics: Gum Disease a Warning Sign for Diabetes

Teeuw WJ, Kosho MXF, Poland DCW, Gerdes VEA, Loos BG. Periodontitis as a possible early sign of diabetes mellitus. BMJ Open Diab Res Care. 2017;5(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjdrc-2016-000326.

Objective The early diagnosis of (pre)diabetes mellitus is essential for the prevention of diabetes complications. It has been suggested that gum disease (periodontitis) might be an early complication of diabetes and may be a useful risk indicator for diabetes screening. Therefore, a dental office could be a good location for screening for (pre)diabetes in patients with periodontitis using a validated glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) dry spot analysis.

Research design and methods A total of 313 individuals from a university dental clinic participated. From 126 patients with mild/moderate periodontitis, 78 patients with severe periodontitis and 109 subjects without periodontitis, HbA1c values were obtained by the analysis of dry blood spots. Differences in mean HbA1c values and the prevalence of (pre)diabetes between the groups were analyzed.

Results The mild/moderate and severe periodontitis groups showed significantly higher HbA1c values (6.1%±1.4% (43 mmol/mol±15 mmol/mol) and 6.3%±1.3% (45 mmol/mol±15 mmol/mol), respectively) compared with the control group (5.7%±0.7% (39 mmol/mol±8 mmol/mol), p=0.003). In addition, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines for diagnosis, there was a significant over-representation of subjects with suspected diabetes (23% and 14%) and pre-diabetes (47% and 46%) in the severe periodontitis group and mild/moderate periodontitis groups, respectively, compared with the control group (10% and 37%, p=0.010). Notably, 18.1% of patients with suspected new diabetes were found among subjects with severe periodontitis compared with 9.9% and 8.5% among subjects with mild/moderate periodontitis and controls, respectively (p=0.024).

Conclusions The dental office, with particular focus on patients with severe periodontitis, proved to be a suitable location for screening for (pre)diabetes; a considerable number of suspected new diabetes cases were identified. The early diagnosis and treatment of (pre)diabetes help to prevent more severe complications and benefit the treatment of periodontitis.

Posted in Diabetes, Hot Topics in Research

Hot Topics: Stem Cell Transplants May Slow Progression of Multiple Sclerosis

Long-term Outcomes After Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Multiple Sclerosis

Muraro PA, Pasquini M, Atkins HL,et al. Long-term outcomes after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for multiple sclerosis. JAMA Neurology. 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.5867.

Importance  Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) may be effective in aggressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) that fail to respond to standard therapies.

Objective  To evaluate the long-term outcomes in patients who underwent AHSCT for the treatment of MS in a large multicenter cohort.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Data were obtained in a multicenter, observational, retrospective cohort study. Eligibility criteria were receipt of AHSCT for the treatment of MS between January 1995 and December 2006 and the availability of a prespecified minimum data set comprising the disease subtype at baseline; the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score at baseline; information on the administered conditioning regimen and graft manipulation; and at least 1 follow-up visit or report after transplant. The last patient visit was on July 1, 2012. To avoid bias, all eligible patients were included in the analysis regardless of their duration of follow-up. Data analysis was conducted from September 1, 2014 to April 27, 2015.

Exposures  Demographic, disease-related, and treatment-related exposures were considered variables of interest, including age, disease subtype, baseline EDSS score, number of previous disease-modifying treatments, and intensity of the conditioning regimen.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcomes were MS progression-free survival and overall survival. The probabilities of progression-free survival and overall survival were calculated using Kaplan-Meier survival curves and multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analysis models.

Results  Valid data were obtained from 25 centers in 13 countries for 281 evaluable patients, with median follow-up of 6.6 years (range, 0.2-16 years). Seventy-eight percent (218 of 281) of patients had progressive forms of MS. The median EDSS score before mobilization of peripheral blood stem cells was 6.5 (range, 1.5-9). Eight deaths (2.8%; 95% CI, 1.0%-4.9%) were reported within 100 days of transplant and were considered transplant-related mortality. The 5-year probability of progression-free survival as assessed by the EDSS score was 46% (95% CI, 42%-54%), and overall survival was 93% (95% CI, 89%-96%) at 5 years. Factors associated with neurological progression after transplant were older age (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03; 95% CI, 1.00-1.05), progressive vs relapsing form of MS (HR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.27-4.28), and more than 2 previous disease-modifying therapies (HR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.10-2.47). Higher baseline EDSS score was associated with worse overall survival (HR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.40-2.95).

Conclusions and Relevance  In this observational study of patients with MS treated with AHSCT, almost half of them remained free from neurological progression for 5 years after transplant. Younger age, relapsing form of MS, fewer prior immunotherapies, and lower baseline EDSS score were factors associated with better outcomes. The results support the rationale for further randomized clinical trials of AHSCT for the treatment of MS.

Posted in Hot Topics in Research, Neurology

Hot Topics: Financial Concerns Hinder Younger Cancer Survivors’ Treatment Compliance

Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States

Zheng Z, Han X, Guy GP, et al. Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States. Cancer. 2017:n/a-n/a. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.30560.

BACKGROUND
There is limited evidence from nationally representative samples about changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons among cancer survivors in the United States.
METHODS
The 2011 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey was used to identify adults who reported ever having been told they had cancer (cancer survivors; n = 8931) and individuals without a cancer history (n = 126,287). Measures of changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons included: 1) skipping medication doses, 2) taking less medicine, 3) delaying filling a prescription, 4) asking a doctor for lower cost medication, 5) buying prescription drugs from another country, and 6) using alternative therapies. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were controlled for demographic characteristics, number of comorbid conditions, interactions between cancer history and number of comorbid conditions, and health insurance coverage. Main analyses were stratified by age (nonelderly, ages 18-64 years; elderly, ages ≥65 years) and time since diagnosis (recently diagnosed, <2 years; previously diagnosed, ≥2 years).
RESULTS
Among nonelderly individuals, both recently diagnosed (31.6%) and previously diagnosed (27.9%) cancer survivors were more likely to report any change in prescription drug use for financial reasons than those without a cancer history (21.4%), with the excess percentage changes for individual measures ranging from 3.5% to 9.9% among previously diagnosed survivors and from 2.6% to 2.7% among recently diagnosed survivors (P < .01). Elderly cancer survivors and those without a cancer history had comparable rates of changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons.
CONCLUSIONS
Nonelderly cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons, suggesting that targeted efforts are needed. Cancer 2017. © 2017 American Cancer Society.
Posted in Hot Topics in Research, Oncology