PCOM Library / Hot Topics in Research / Archive for "Internal Medicine"

Category: Internal Medicine

Hot Topics: Social Distancing + PPE Prevent Covid Transmission

Jackie Werner Covid-19, Hot Topics in Research

Chu DK, Akl EA, Duda S, et al. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2020;395(10242):1973-1987. https://doi.org/S0140-6736(20)31142-9.

Altmetrics: Who’s talking about this?

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19 and is spread personto-person through close contact. We aimed to investigate the effects of physical distance, face masks, and eye
protection on virus transmission in health-care and non-health-care (eg, community) settings.

Methods We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the optimum distance for avoiding person-toperson virus transmission and to assess the use of face masks and eye protection to prevent transmission of viruses. We obtained data for SARS-CoV-2 and the betacoronaviruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, and Middle East respiratory syndrome from 21 standard WHO-specific and COVID-19-specific sources. We searched these data sources from database inception to May 3, 2020, with no restriction by language, for comparative studies and for contextual factors of acceptability, feasibility, resource use, and equity. We screened records, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias in duplicate. We did frequentist and Bayesian meta-analyses and random-effects metaregressions. We rated the certainty of evidence according to Cochrane methods and the GRADE approach. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42020177047.

Findings Our search identified 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, with no randomised controlled trials and 44 relevant comparative studies in health-care and non-health-care settings (n=25697 patients). Transmission of viruses was lower with physical distancing of 1 m or more, compared with a distance of less than 1 m
(n=10736, pooled adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0·18, 95% CI 0·09 to 0·38; risk difference [RD] –10·2%, 95% CI –11·5 to –7·5; moderate certainty); protection was increased as distance was lengthened (change in relative risk
[RR] 2·02 per m; pinteraction=0·041; moderate certainty). Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection (n=2647; aOR 0·15, 95% CI 0·07 to 0·34, RD –14·3%, –15·9 to –10·7; low certainty), with stronger
associations with N95 or similar respirators compared with disposable surgical masks or similar (eg, reusable 12–16-layer cotton masks; pinteraction=0·090; posterior probability >95%, low certainty). Eye protection also was associated with less infection (n=3713; aOR 0·22, 95% CI 0·12 to 0·39, RD –10·6%, 95% CI –12·5 to –7·7; low certainty). Unadjusted studies and subgroup and sensitivity analyses showed similar findings.

Interpretation The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis support physical distancing of 1 m or more and provide quantitative estimates for models and contact tracing to inform policy. Optimum use of face masks, respirators, and eye protection in public and health-care settings should be informed by these findings and contextual
factors. Robust randomised trials are needed to better inform the evidence for these interventions, but this systematic appraisal of currently best available evidence might inform interim guidance.

Hot Topics: Covid-19 Outbreak Linked to Air Conditioning

Jackie Werner Covid-19, Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020

Lu J, Gu J, Li K, Xu C, Su W, Lai Z, et al. COVID-19 outbreak associated with air conditioning in restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Jul. Accessed 2020 June 3. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200764

During January 26–February 10, 2020, an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease in an air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China, involved 3 family clusters. The airflow direction was consistent with droplet transmission. To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation.

Hot Topics: Reports of Drug Side Effects Inconsistent

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Lung, Oncology, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Variation in toxicity reporting methods for early phase lung cancer treatment trials at oncology conferences

Simons EA, Smith DE, Gao D, Camidge DR. Variation in toxicity reporting methods for early phase lung cancer treatment trials at oncology conferences. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2020.04.020.


Phase I and II trials provide the initial human safety and tolerability data for new drugs. However, the methods for presenting toxicity data are not standardized. Clinicians often first encounter these data at professional conferences. We sought to characterize how the burden of adverse events (AE) is reported at the largest professional conference in clinical oncology.


We collected toxicity data from all lung cancer-associated phase I and II trial presentations and posters at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meetings 2017-2019. We captured AE features including the minimum incidence utilized for reporting; whether AEs shown were treatment-emergent or treatment-related, grouped by organ system or separated by individual descriptors; whether combined or separated across dose levels when a dose escalation component was included; and whether dose-limiting toxicities, serious AE, dose reduction rules and denominators for laboratory tests were described.


209 trials were analyzed. There was wide variability in toxicity reporting practices. Six different thresholds for reporting AE of any grade were used. Treatment-related AEs were reported twice as frequently as treatment-emergent AEs. Toxicities were as likely to be reported across dose level as by dose level. Terms such as dose-limiting toxicity and serious AE were rarely defined. Dose reduction rules and denominators for laboratory tests were never defined.


Standardization of methods for reporting toxicities could improve the quality and ease of comparability of data on adverse effects in early phase therapeutic trials. A minimal AE data disclosure template is proposed.

Hot Topics: Loss of Smell May Mean Less Severe COVID-19

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Self‐reported olfactory loss associates with outpatient clinical course in Covid‐19

Yan CH, Faraji F, Prajapati DP, Ostrander BT, DeConde AS. Self-reported olfactory loss associates with outpatient clinical course in covid-19. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/alr.22592.


Rapid spread of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus has left many health systems around the world overwhelmed, forcing triaging of scarce medical resources. Identifying indicators of hospital admission for Covid‐19 patients early in the disease course could aid the efficient allocation of medical interventions. Self‐reported olfactory impairment has recently been recognized as a hallmark of Covid‐19 and may be an important predictor of clinical outcome.


A retrospective review of all patients presenting to a San Diego Hospital system with laboratory‐confirmed positive Covid‐19 infection was conducted with evaluation of olfactory and gustatory function and clinical disease course. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression were performed to identify risk factors for hospital admission and anosmia.


A total of 169 patients tested positive for Covid‐19 disease between March 3 and April 8, 2020. Olfactory and gustatory data were obtained for 128/169 (75.7%) subjects of which 26/128 (20.1%) required hospitalization. Admission for Covid‐19 was associated with intact sense of smell and taste, increased age, diabetes, as well as subjective and objective parameters associated with respiratory failure. On adjusted analysis, anosmia was strongly and independently associated with outpatient care (aOR 0.09 95% CI: 0.01‐0.74) while positive findings of pulmonary infiltrates and/or pleural effusion on chest radiograph (aOR 8.01 95% CI: 1.12‐57.49) was strongly and independently associated with admission.


Normosmia is an independent predictor of admission in Covid‐19 cases. Smell loss in Covid‐19 may associate with a milder clinical course.

Hot Topics: Race and Class Affect COVID-19 Risk

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease, Public Health

Disparities in the Population at Risk of Severe Illness From COVID-19 by Race/Ethnicity and Income

Raifman M, Raifman J. Disparities in the population at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 by race/ethnicity and income. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.04.003.

Identifying those at heightened risk of severe illness from novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is essential for modeling disease, designing return-to-work criteria, allocating economic assistance, advancing health equity, and limiting morbidity and mortality. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified criteria associated with risk of severe complications from COVID-19 infection. Structural inequities have shaped racial, ethnic, and income disparities for many of these criteria. To date, there has been limited analysis of the proportion of the population at risk in the U.S. based on these criteria, or risk factors by race/ethnicity or income. Preliminary national data on cases by race/ethnicity suggest that disparities in hospitalization are already developing. Quantifying disparities in risk is important for allocating resources to prevent, identify, and treat COVID-19-related severe illness and limit diverging outcomes for already vulnerable subgroups.

Hot Topics: Hearing Aids Could Delay Cognitive Decline

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Otolaryngology

The Effect of Hearing Aid Use on Cognition in Older Adults: Can We Delay Decline or Even Improve Cognitive Function?

Sarant J, Harris D, Busby P, et al. The effect of hearing aid use on cognition in older adults: Can we delay decline or even improve cognitive function? J Clin Med. 2020;9(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9010254

Hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for dementia in older adults. Whether hearing aid use can delay the onset of cognitive decline is unknown. Participants in this study (aged 62-82 years) were assessed before and 18 months after hearing aid fitting on hearing, cognitive function, speech perception, quality of life, physical activity, loneliness, isolation, mood, and medical health. At baseline, multiple linear regression showed hearing loss and age predicted significantly poorer executive function performance, while tertiary education predicted significantly higher executive function and visual learning performance. At 18 months after hearing aid fitting, speech perception in quiet, self-reported listening disability and quality of life had significantly improved. Group mean scores across the cognitive test battery showed no significant decline, and executive function significantly improved. Reliable Change Index scores also showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function for 97.3% of participants, and for females for working memory, visual attention and visual learning. Relative stability and clinically and statistically significant improvement in cognition were seen in this participant group after 18 months of hearing aid use, suggesting that treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids may delay cognitive decline. Given the small sample size, further follow up is required.

Hot Topics: Existing Drugs May Fight Coronavirus

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Discovery and development of safe-in-man broad-spectrum antiviral agents

Andersen PI, Ianevski A, Lysvand H, et al. Discovery and development of safe-in-man broad-spectrum antiviral agents. Int J Infect Dis. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.02.018

Viral diseases are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. Virus-specific vaccines and antiviral drugs are the most powerful tools to combat viral diseases. However, broad-spectrum antiviral agents (BSAAs, i.e. compounds targeting viruses belonging to two or more viral families) could provide additional protection of general population from emerging and re-emerging viral diseases reinforcing the arsenal of available antiviral options. Here, we reviewed discovery and development of BSAAs and summarized the information on 119 safe-in-man agents in freely accessible database (https://drugvirus.info/). Future and ongoing pre-clinical and clinical studies will increase the number of BSAAs, expand spectrum of their indications, and identify drug combinations for treatment of emerging and re-emerging viral infections as well as co-infections.

Hot Topics: Color-Changing Bandages Treat Infection

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Infectious Disease

Colorimetric Band-aids for Point-of-Care Sensing and Treating Bacterial Infection

Sun Y, Zhao C, Niu J, Ren J, Qu X. Colorimetric band-aids for point-of-care sensing and treating bacterial infection. ACS Cent Sci. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.9b01104.

Sensing bacterial infections and monitoring drug resistance are very important for the selection of treatment options. However, the common methods of sensing resistance are limited by time-consuming, the requirement for professional personnel, and expensive instruments. Moreover, the abuse of antibiotics causes the accelerated process of bacterial resistance. Herein, we construct a portable paper-based band-aid (PBA) which implements a selective antibacterial strategy after sensing of drug resistance. The colors of PBA indicate bacterial infection (yellow) and drug resistance (red), just like a bacterial resistance colorimetric card. On the basis of color, antibiotic-based chemotherapy and Zr-MOF PCN-224-based photodynamic therapy (PDT) are used on site to treat sensitive and resistant strains, respectively. Eventually, it takes 4 h to sense, and the limit of detection is 104 CFU/mL for drug-resistant E. coli. Compared with traditional PDT-based antibacterial strategies, our design can alleviate off-target side effects, maximize therapeutic efficacy, and track the drug resistance in real time with the naked eye. This work develops a new way for the rational use of antibiotics. Given the low cost and easy operation of this point-of-care device, it can be developed for practical applications.

Hot Topics: Stroke Care Affected by Traffic

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Public Health

Rubber Meeting the Road: Access to Comprehensive Stroke Care in the Face of Traffic

Dworkis DA, Axeen S, Arora S. Rubber meeting the road: Access to comprehensive stroke care in the face of traffic. Acad Emerg Med. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/acem.13909.

Acute stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with an estimated annual cost of $34 billion and a death from stroke occurring approximately every 4 minutes. Early access to specialized stroke care is critically important in the treatment of suspected acute stroke, but access to dedicated stroke centers is unequal and varies geographically. Among the different levels of hospitals providing stroke care, the comprehensive stroke center (CSC) is the highest designation: CSCs utilize multidisciplinary stroke teams to provide the most advanced stroke care, including therapies like endovascular clot retrieval that are not available at most non‐CSC hospitals.

Hot Topics: Novel Target for Addiction Treatment

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Neurology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Substance Use Disorders

Dopamine-Evoked Synaptic Regulation in the Nucleus Accumbens Requires Astrocyte Activity

Corkrum M, Covelo A, Lines J, et al. Dopamine-evoked synaptic regulation in the nucleus accumbens requires astrocyte activity. Neuron. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.12.026.

Dopamine is involved in physiological processes like learning and memory, motor control and reward, and pathological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and addiction. In contrast to the extensive studies on neurons, astrocyte involvement in dopaminergic signaling remains largely unknown. Using transgenic mice, optogenetics, and pharmacogenetics, we studied the role of astrocytes on the dopaminergic system. We show that in freely behaving mice, astrocytes in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key reward center in the brain, respond with Ca2+ elevations to synaptically released dopamine, a phenomenon enhanced by amphetamine. In brain slices, synaptically released dopamine increases astrocyte Ca2+, stimulates ATP/adenosine release, and depresses excitatory synaptic transmission through activation of presynaptic A1 receptors. Amphetamine depresses neurotransmission through stimulation of astrocytes and the consequent A1 receptor activation. Furthermore, astrocytes modulate the acute behavioral psychomotor effects of amphetamine. Therefore, astrocytes mediate the dopamine- and amphetamine-induced synaptic regulation, revealing a novel cellular pathway in the brain reward system.