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News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A Mayo Clinic study has shown evidence linking the biology of aging with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that impairs lung function and causes shortness of breath, fatigue, declining quality of life, and, ultimately, death. Researchers believe that these findings, which appear today in Nature Communications, are the next step toward a possible therapy for individuals suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. "Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a poorly understood disease, and its effects are devastating," says Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., director, Healthy Aging and Independent Living program, Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and senior author of this study. "Individuals with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis express difficulty completing routine activities. There are currently no effective treatment options, and the disease leads to a dramatic decrease in health span and life span, with life expectancy after diagnosis between three to five years." Dr. LeBrasseur and his team, which included experts across several departments at Mayo Clinic, as well as Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and The Scripps Research Institute, studied the lung tissue of healthy individuals and of persons with mild, moderate and severe idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The tissue samples were made available from the Lung Tissue Research Consortium, a resource program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Researchers found that the markers of cellular senescence, a process triggered by damage to cells and linked to aging, were higher in individuals with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and senescent cell burden increased with the progression of the disease. Then, they demonstrated that factors secreted by senescent cells could drive inflammation and aberrant tissue remodeling and fibrosis, which are hallmarks of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. "We discovered that senescent cells, which accumulate in the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lung, are a viable source of multiple factors that drive fibrotic activation," explains Marissa Schafer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. LeBrasseur's lab and lead author of the study. According to Dr. LeBrasseur, the findings represent a conceptual shift in the way they think about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. "Up to this point, research efforts have largely focused on understanding the unique elements that contribute to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Here, we are considering whether the biology of aging is accelerated in this aggressive disease. What we've found is that senescent cells are prevalent, secreting toxic molecules that affect healthy cells in that environment and are essentially promoting tissue fibrosis." Equipped with the findings from their studies of human lung tissue, researchers then replicated the process in mice. They found that, much like in humans, mice with clinical features of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis also demonstrated increased amounts of senescent cells. Researchers used a genetic model programmed to make senescent cells self-destruct and a drug combination of dasatinib and quercetin which, in previous studies conducted by Mayo Clinic, was shown to eliminate senescent cells. Results showed that clearing senescent cells from unhealthy mice improved measures of lung function and physical health, such as exercise capacity on a treadmill. While further research is needed, Drs. LeBrasseur and Schafer hope that targeting senescent cells could be a viable treatment option for individuals who suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. "Previous work from the Center on Aging has shown in a number of models how senescent cells contribute to aging and aging-related conditions," says Dr. LeBrasseur. "We are exploring whether senolytic drugs, or drugs that can selectively kill senescent cells, can be used for the treatment of aging-associated conditions, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. More research is needed to validate this, and our goal is to move quickly from discovery to translation to application, and, ultimately, meet the unmet needs of our patients." The research was supported by a Team Science Award from the Mayo Clinic Clinical and Translational Science Award grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, National Institutes of Health, a generous gift from the John E. and Virginia H. Kunkel Family, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the American Federation for Aging Research, the Connor Group, Noaber Foundation, the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, a David Phillips Fellowship funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant. Others on the research team are: Mayo Clinic and Drs. Kirkland, Pirtskhalava, Tchkonia and Zhu have a financial interest related to this research. Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www. or http://newsnetwork. .


HORSHOLM, Denmark, Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- ALK (ALKB: DC / OMX: ALK B / AKABY / AKBLF) today announced that for the first time, allergy immunotherapy is now recommended as a treatment option in the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) report: Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. This global strategy is a widely recognised practical resource developed to guide healthcare professionals and policy makers, and represents the latest clinical evidence and medical practice for the treatment and management of asthma. The strategy is updated annually based on review of recent scientific literature by an international panel of experts on the GINA Science Committee. The 2017 update, which includes new information regarding the use of allergy immunotherapy, has just been released and features the following addition to steps 3 and 4 of GINA's recommended stepwise treatment of asthma in adult house dust mite (HDM) sensitive patients: Consider adding SLIT (sublingual allergy immunotherapy) in adult HDM sensitive patients with allergic rhinitis who have exacerbations despite ICS (inhaled corticosteroids), provided FEV is > 70% of predicted lung function.[1] This change draws upon recently published results from ALK's Phase III clinical trial evaluating the treatment of HDM allergic asthma with the HDM SLIT-tablet, ACARIZAX® in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) [2] Henrik Jacobi, Executive Vice President of Research & Development at ALK, said: "We are extremely pleased to see the recognition of ACARIZAX® clinical evidence in the management of asthma. This confirms our long-held conviction that allergy immunotherapy has an important role to play in the treatment of allergic asthma, a belief confirmed by the unprecedented clinical development programme for ACARIZAX®, currently the only HDM SLIT-tablet indicated for use in patients with house dust mite allergic asthma that is not well controlled." House dust mite allergy and asthma often coexist. More than half of asthmatic patients have been reported to have house dust mite sensitisation. He continued: "ALK is committed to gathering further evidence to support the wider recognition of allergy immunotherapy as a treatment option for asthma, and to investigating the potential role for allergy immunotherapy in preventing the onset of asthma." Professor J. Christian Virchow, of the University of Rostock and lead author of the recently published paper in JAMA says: "This is very encouraging. I am pleased to see findings from this important trial translated into clinical guidelines. This underlines the importance of performing robust evidence based trials in allergy immunotherapy." ACARIZAX® is currently approved for the treatment in HDM allergic asthma in 12 European countries and Australia. ALK is a research-driven global pharmaceutical company focusing on allergy prevention, diagnosis and treatment. ALK is a world leader in allergy immunotherapy - a treatment of the underlying cause of allergy. The company has approximately 2,300 employees, with subsidiaries, production facilities and distributors worldwide. ALK has entered into partnership agreements with Torii, Abbott, and Seqirus to commercialise sublingual allergy immunotherapy tablets in Japan, Russia, and South-East Asia, and Australia and New Zealand, respectively. The company is headquartered in Hørsholm, Denmark, and listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen. Find more information at http://www.alk.net. House dust mites (HDM) are the most common cause of allergy in the world. HDM allergy is estimated to affect around 90 million people in Europe, North America and Japan, and more than 100 million in China. It is estimated that one in 10 adults with allergic rhinitis are poorly controlled with current standard therapies. The condition appears early in life, is present all year round and patients face an elevated risk of developing asthma and other allergies. For some of these patients, the HDM SLIT-tablet is a relevant treatment option which can improve their quality of life and potentially modify the underlying cause of their disease. ALK's HDM SLIT-tablet is a treatment for house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis (AR) with or without conjunctivitis and allergic asthma (AA) that is not well controlled by symptomatic medication. In Europe, where it is marketed as ACARIZAX®, the product has been approved in 14 countries for the treatment of AR, 12 of which also include the HDM AA indication. It is also approved in Japan for AR, where it is licensed by ALK to Torii and marketed under the trade name MITICURE[TM] and in Australia for HDM AR and AA, where it is licensed by ALK to Seqirus. The product is also being developed for a number of other markets around the world, including China, North America and countries in Southeast Asia. Altogether, clinical development activities for the HDM SLIT-tablet have involved more than 6,000 patients worldwide. In the 12 European countries where ACARIZAX® has been approved for HDM AR and AA, ACARIZAX® is indicated in adult patients (18-65 years) diagnosed by a clinical history and by a positive test for HDM sensitisation with at least one of the following conditions: Treating physicians should refer to full summary of product characteristics before considering ACARIZAX® for treatment in patients with house dust mite allergic asthma.[3] GINA was launched in 1993 in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA, and the World Health Organization. GINA's programme is determined and its strategies for asthma care are shaped by committees made up of leading asthma experts from around the world. The GINA Scientific Committee prepares updates to their reports and guidelines each year, which are made available on the GINA Website as they are completed. The Scientific Committee has developed a sophisticated set of procedures to review the world's literature with regards to asthma management and to update the GINA documents to reflect this state-of-the-art information.


ALK (ALKB:DC / OMX: ALK B / AKABY / AKBLF) today announced that for the first time, allergy immunotherapy is now recommended as a treatment option in the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) report: Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. This global strategy is a widely recognised practical resource developed to guide healthcare professionals and policy makers, and represents the latest clinical evidence and medical practice for the treatment and management of asthma. The strategy is updated annually based on review of recent scientific literature by an international panel of experts on the GINA Science Committee. The 2017 update, which includes new information regarding the use of allergy immunotherapy, has just been released and features the following addition to steps 3 and 4 of GINA’s recommended stepwise treatment of asthma in adult house dust mite (HDM) sensitive patients: Consider adding SLIT (sublingual allergy immunotherapy) in adult HDM sensitive patients with allergic rhinitis who have exacerbations despite ICS (inhaled corticosteroids), provided FEV1 is > 70% of predicted lung function.1) This change draws upon recently published results from ALK’s Phase III clinical trial evaluating the treatment of HDM allergic asthma with the HDM SLIT-tablet, ACARIZAX® in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).2) Henrik Jacobi, Executive Vice President of Research & Development at ALK, said: “We are extremely pleased to see the recognition of ACARIZAX® clinical evidence in the management of asthma. This confirms our long-held conviction that allergy immunotherapy has an important role to play in the treatment of allergic asthma, a belief confirmed by the unprecedented clinical development programme for ACARIZAX®, currently the only HDM SLIT-tablet indicated for use in patients with house dust mite allergic asthma that is not well controlled.” House dust mite allergy and asthma often coexist. More than half of asthmatic patients have been reported to have house dust mite sensitisation. He continued: “ALK is committed to gathering further evidence to support the wider recognition of allergy immunotherapy as a treatment option for asthma, and to investigating the potential role for allergy immunotherapy in preventing the onset of asthma.” Professor J. Christian Virchow, of the University of Rostock and lead author of the recently published paper in JAMA says: “This is very encouraging. I am pleased to see findings from this important trial translated into clinical guidelines. This underlines the importance of performing robust evidence based trials in allergy immunotherapy.” ACARIZAX® is currently approved for the treatment in HDM allergic asthma in 12 European countries and Australia. For further information please contact: Media: Jeppe Ilkjær, tel. +45 7877 4532, mobile +45 3050 2014 Investor Relations: Per Plotnikof, tel. +45 4574 7527, mobile +45 2261 2525 About ALK ALK is a research-driven global pharmaceutical company focusing on allergy prevention, diagnosis and treatment. ALK is a world leader in allergy immunotherapy – a treatment of the underlying cause of allergy. The company has approximately 2,300 employees, with subsidiaries, production facilities and distributors worldwide. ALK has entered into partnership agreements with Torii, Abbott, and Seqirus to commercialise sublingual allergy immunotherapy tablets in Japan, Russia, and South-East Asia, and Australia and New Zealand, respectively. The company is headquartered in Hørsholm, Denmark, and listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen. Find more information at www.alk.net. About house dust mite allergy and ACARIZAX®   House dust mites (HDM) are the most common cause of allergy in the world. HDM allergy is estimated to affect around 90 million people in Europe, North America and Japan, and more than 100 million in China. It is estimated that one in 10 adults with allergic rhinitis are poorly controlled with current standard therapies. The condition appears early in life, is present all year round and patients face an elevated risk of developing asthma and other allergies. For some of these patients, the HDM SLIT-tablet is a relevant treatment option which can improve their quality of life and potentially modify the underlying cause of their disease. ALK’s HDM SLIT-tablet is a treatment for house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis (AR) with or without conjunctivitis and allergic asthma (AA) that is not well controlled by symptomatic medication. In Europe, where it is marketed as ACARIZAX®, the product has been approved in 14 countries for the treatment of AR, 12 of which also include the HDM AA indication. It is also approved in Japan for AR, where it is licensed by ALK to Torii and marketed under the trade name MITICURETM and in Australia for HDM AR and AA, where it is licensed by ALK to Seqirus. The product is also being developed for a number of other markets around the world, including China, North America and countries in Southeast Asia. Altogether, clinical development activities for the HDM SLIT-tablet have involved more than 6,000 patients worldwide. In the 12 European countries where ACARIZAX® has been approved for HDM AR and AA, ACARIZAX® is indicated in adult patients (18-65 years) diagnosed by a clinical history and by a positive test for HDM sensitisation with at least one of the following conditions: Treating physicians should refer to full summary of product characteristics before considering ACARIZAX® for treatment in patients with house dust mite allergic asthma.3) About GINA4) GINA was launched in 1993 in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA, and the World Health Organization. GINA’s programme is determined and its strategies for asthma care are shaped by committees made up of leading asthma experts from around the world. The GINA Scientific Committee prepares updates to their reports and guidelines each year, which are made available on the GINA Website as they are completed. The Scientific Committee has developed a sophisticated set of procedures to review the world’s literature with regards to asthma management and to update the GINA documents to reflect this state-of-the-art information.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Ching-Ling (Ellen) Lien, PhD, an investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has been awarded nearly $1.7 million, over a four year period, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the heart's circulatory system. The research will lead to a better understanding of development and heart regeneration after injury. Heart disease is among the leading causes of death for both adults and children. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) occurs when the heart is deprived of oxygen due to blockage of a coronary artery. Coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with oxygenated blood. Yet, the mechanisms that regulate coronary vascularization of the myocardium (the middle and thickest muscle layer of the heart wall) remain unknown. Using zebrafish as a model system to study developmental and regenerative processes of the heart, Lien's goal is to determine the molecular and cellular mechanisms of myocardial vascularization during heart development. Zebrafish have become an important vertebrate model for cardiovascular research not only because of their natural ability to regenerate, but also because of their transparency which allow researchers to observe the internal processes like blood vessel development. "Our long-term goal is to use the mechanisms of zebrafish heart regeneration as a blueprint to design potential therapeutic approaches to enhance heart repair in humans," said Lien, principal investigator and an assistant professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. The investigators expect that their research can lead to findings that will shed light on potential developmental causes of coronary heart disease and may enhance neovascularization (new blood vessel formation in abnormal tissue) in diseased human hearts in the future. Co-investigators on the team include: Scott Fraser, PhD, and Megan McCain, PhD, both of the University of Southern California. Other collaborators include Mark Frey, PhD, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Henry Sucov, PhD of USC. Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children's hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children's Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children's Hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. For more information, visit CHLA.org. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, or visit our blog at http://researchlablog. .


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

A new study with rats shows it is possible to reverse high blood pressure in offspring born to hypertensive mothers. Scientists say the results, though preliminary, may offer promise toward addressing “fetal programming,” or the in utero transfer of certain health risks from mothers to children. In humans, gestational hypertension affects up to 15 percent of pregnancies. That percentage may rise because high blood pressure generally increases as we age—and American women are waiting longer to have children. Further, multiple studies have documented that offspring born to hypertensive mothers have higher blood pressure in childhood and are at higher risk of being hypertensive and contracting heart disease as adults. For the study in the journal Hypertension, researchers wanted to understand if gestational hypertension would affect blood pressure in baby rats and, if so, how the rats’ brains might be involved. They induced hypertension in mother rats during the perinatal period (three weeks before and after birth) and measured the blood pressure response in the offspring at 10 weeks, the rat equivalent of adulthood. Offspring were then given a hormone that elevates blood pressure to determine how they would respond. “What you see is enhanced, that is, a sensitized hypertensive response in animals where mothers had been hypertensive during pregnancy,” says Alan Kim Johnson, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa. The researchers then administered a drug called Captopril, which is commonly used to treat high blood pressure in human adults, to the rats born to hypertensive mothers and that had also been given the blood-pressure hormone. The rats that received Captopril from three to nine weeks of age were then tested for hypertension at 10 weeks and showed no signs of enhanced high blood pressure. “That means we can, in effect, deprogram them,” Johnson says. Whether this would translate to humans is far from clear. But it opens a path for further study of the neural and chemical changes that occur in the brains of offspring born to hypertensive mothers—or mothers with other health issues—and how those conditions ultimately are passed on. Johnson and colleagues have begun to document that transfer by tracking how the brain and central nervous system react to high blood pressure stressors. One, caused by a hormone called angiotensin II, appears to activate pathways from the brain that trigger a “sympathetic” response from the central nervous system. In other words, the central nervous system becomes more prone to elevate blood pressure when it senses the hormone. Researchers hypothesize the sympathetic response may become more conditioned, or overly responsive, in humans due to natural causes, such as with the children of mothers who had high blood pressure during their pregnancy. Johnson compares the process to a memory being made. In this case, the brain is establishing a “memory” of high blood pressure that’s passed on to the offspring. But, importantly, researchers showed in the rat experiments that the memory can be altered, even erased. “We’ve changed the information that was laid down in the brain,” Johnson says. “This study on rats sheds some light on how maternal health during pregnancy impacts long-term cardiovascular health of the offspring,” says Christine Maric-Bilkan, program officer of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “These findings suggest a potential therapeutic strategy for prevention of elevated blood pressure in adults who were born to mothers that themselves had elevated blood pressure during pregnancy.” The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

Heart Screening For Teens May Cause More Problems Than It Solves Dozens of not-for-profit organizations have formed in the past decade to promote free or low-cost heart screenings for teens. The groups often claim such tests save lives by finding abnormalities that might pose a risk of sudden cardiac death. But the efforts are raising concerns. There's no evidence that screening adolescents with electrocardiograms prevents deaths. Sudden cardiac death is rare in young people, and some physicians worry screening kids with no symptoms or family history of disease could do more harm than good. The tests can set off false alarms that can lead to follow-up tests and risky interventions or force some kids to quit sports unnecessarily. "There are harms that I don't think a lot of people realize," said Dr. Kristin Burns, who oversees a two-year-old registry at the National Institutes of Health of sudden deaths in people under 20. It's one of several efforts aimed at gathering better data about cardiac abnormalities in kids. Studies using limited data have found that between 1 and 4 sudden cardiac deaths occur annually per 100,000 kids between ages 1 and 18. By comparison, 22 in 100,000 U.S. teens are killed each year in accidents, including those involving motor vehicles; 9 in 100,000 commit suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some screening advocates believe sudden cardiac deaths are underreported and that not enough is being done to spare families from the fate of losing a child. "We have to acknowledge that every kid who drops dead, they've been failed by the current system," said Darren Sudman, who founded Simon's Fund, a screening effort in greater Philadelphia in memory of his infant son, who died of an arrhythmia. Screening programs say they're educating parents about the risks. "What we want to emphasize is, make sure your kid is heart-safe," said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a sports and family medicine specialist at UW Medicine and medical director of the Seattle-area Nick of Time Foundation. Enthusiasm for EKGs, which measure the electrical activity in the heart to detect abnormalities, grew after a 2006 study showed they lowered death rates among athletes in Italy. But research in other countries hasn't yielded similar results, and the Italian researchers recently were accused of refusing to share their data so they could be evaluated independently. Some 60,000 to 70,000 U.S. teens were screened with EKGs in 2016, most by foundations created by families who lost a child to sudden cardiac death, said Sudman, who runs the online directory Screen Across America. It's unclear whether high school athletes face higher risk than nonathletes, so screening programs usually invite everybody. Screenings typically are held in high schools and overseen by volunteer cardiologists, with funding from individuals and businesses including hospitals. A handful of hospitals and for-profit companies also run screenings. It may be presumptuous to claim EKGs save lives, but parents often believe they do, said Sudman. "If I find a heart condition, I promise you there are parents who are thanking me for savings their kid's life," he said. That perception is stoked by tragic stories in the media of children who died suddenly after never reporting a symptom. Meanwhile, the drawbacks of EKGs are seldom depicted. As many as 1 in 10 EKGs detects a potential abnormality, and the emotional and financial toll of such a finding can be significant — especially when it turns out to be wrong. Following a screening EKG and echocardiogram last fall, Daniel Garza, 16, a talented sophomore basketball player in San Antonio, was told he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle and the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people. He was advised to quit all exercise, at least temporarily. "We were shocked, just shocked," said his mother, Denise. She said her son became depressed when he couldn't play the sport he enjoyed and excelled at. "He came home and cried himself to sleep. He said, 'Mom, why did God give me this gift to take it away?' " The Garzas traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where further tests indicated his enlarged heart was a benign condition known as athletic heart, a result of intense training. His mother estimates that correcting the misdiagnosis cost more than $20,000, including medical costs, travel and lost work. Daniel has returned to the basketball court. Still, Denise Garza said the emotional toll was rough: "It was one of the hardest things my family has ever endured." Several cardiologists said they often see cases like this — or worse. Even after follow-up testing, it can be unclear which cases are life-threatening, so kids with low risk could be restricted from exercise or given life-altering interventions such as implantable defibrillators, surgery or anti-arrhythmic medications. Medical groups have wrestled with the issue. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommended in 2014 against mass EKG screening, noting that sudden cardiac death is rare in teens and false positives generate "excessive and costly second-tier testing." EKGs also miss at least 1 in 10 cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and more than 9 in 10 cases of congenital anomalies, the second-most-common cause. But the medical panel accepted voluntary screening "in relatively small cohorts," if there's physician involvement, quality control and a recognition of unreliable results and ancillary costs. Efforts are underway to improve the accuracy of the screening programs. Some are adding echocardiograms, which use ultrasound to produce images of the heart, to assess potential abnormalities. Advocates say false positives have dropped as a result of better interpretation guidelines, known as the Seattle Criteria, which are expected to soon be endorsed by cardiology societies in revised form. But the criteria aren't perfect, and there's a "giant gap" in training cardiologists to use them, said Drezner, one of the developers. He's also a medical adviser for Parent Heart Watch, a consortium of foundations. "If I was a parent, I'd want to know about the experience of the [cardiologists] and what they're going to do to help my kid if they have a positive screen." One problem with EKGs is a lack of good data. "There's no evidence we have that [EKG] screening saves lives," said Dr. Jonathan Kaltman of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "There's never been a controlled clinical trial, which is the only way to answer that question." At the urging of screening advocates, the NIH partnered with the CDC to rigorously track cardiac deaths as part of a Sudden Death in the Young Case Registry. So far a handful of states and counties have joined the effort, which helps local health departments collect better data. The goal is to standardize death investigations and get a firm handle on how often kids die from heart abnormalities as well as the role of factors such as genetics. Initial findings are expected to be available in about two years. The NIH is also funding three university-based research groups to answer key questions about sudden cardiac death in the young. Some screening organizations are getting behind a nascent initiative with the Cardiac Safety Research Consortium to harness their own screening data for research. It would require standardizing their practices and tracking outcomes, which organizations aren't now equipped to do. "Screening is happening. We can't avoid that," said Dr. Salim Idriss, director of pediatric electrophysiology at Duke University and co-chair of the initiative. "We have a really good opportunity to get the data we need to make it better." Separately, the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas recently began a four-year pilot study involving athletes and band members at eight high schools to determine the feasibility of a full-scale randomized controlled trial. A valid finding on the overarching question of whether EKG screening saves lives could require at least 800,000 participants and a cost of $15 million, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, a cardiologist and the lead researcher. The pilot is partly a response to legislation that would mandate EKGs for student athletes in Texas. A similar bill was also introduced in South Carolina. Both bills failed, but it's expected there will be more attempts to mandate EKGs, leaving state legislators looking for better guidance. "We're not going to solve this by having more debates, but by having more data," Levine said. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Mary Chris Jaklevic is a freelance health and environment writer based in Chicago. She's on Twitter: @mcjaklevic


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CINCINNATI - Genomic testing of biopsies from patients with deadly, treatment-resistant cancerous blood syndromes called histiocytoses allowed doctors to identify genes fueling the ailments and use targeted molecular drugs to successfully treat them. Researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute report their data in Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight (JCI Insight). They recommend the regular use of comprehensive genomic profiling at diagnosis to positively impact clinical care, as well as rigorous clinical trials to verify and extend the diagnostic and treatment conclusions in their study. Histiocytoses are a group of disorders in which abnormal accumulations of white blood cells form tumors on vital organs, leading to systemic organ damage or death. About half of the patients can be treated successfully with chemotherapy, but others are treatment resistant. Study authors conducted genomic profiling of biopsies from 72 child and adult patients with a variety of treatment-resistant histiocytoses, including the most common one in children, Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), according to the lead investigator, Ashish Kumar, MD, PhD. Twenty-six patients with treatment-resistant disease had gene mutations involving either BRAF or MAP2K1 that directly activate the MAP-kinase cancer pathway. Researchers determined such patients would benefit from the targeted molecular therapies dabrafenib or trametinib, which block the MAP kinase pathway. The approved cancer drugs were prescribed off label to the histiocytosis patients. "In the last year, three patients we treated were infants with disease that was resistant to several rounds of intense chemotherapy. In the past, these children either would have suffered serious complications including death or would have had to endure more intensive treatments and the ensuing toxicities, including the risk of death," Kumar said. "All three are thriving now on one oral medication that put their disease into remission." In their JCI Insight paper, the researchers also offer detailed case summaries involving four histiocytosis patients between the ages of 9 months and 36 years. In one case a 22-month-old child was referred to Cincinnati Children's for treatment-resistant LCH that was complicated by a secondary diagnosis of HLH (hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis). HLH is a difficult-to-treat and often-fatal autoimmune disorder in which an overheated immune system causes uncontrolled inflammation and organ damage. The little girl, whose condition was worsening with organ failure, had a mutation in the BRAF gene. Two days after starting targeted treatment with oral dabrafenib (which blocks the MAP-kinase pathway) the little girl's fever disappeared and a week later her organ function returned to normal, according to study authors. For their JCI Insight research project, in addition to their own laboratory tests, study authors drew from data in previous research papers by a number of institutions, which examined genetic and molecular processes affecting white blood cell expansion in different types of histiocytosis. As Kumar and his colleagues continue their research, they plan to test methodologies that could expand the use of genomic profiling of patient biopsies and targeted molecular therapies in more patients with recurrent, treatment-resistant disease. "It's important for physicians and patients to know that LCH and other forms of histiocytosis are not that mysterious anymore," Kumar said. "We now have new treatments that dramatically improve outcomes for these patients." The JCI Insight study is a collaborative effort of investigators in several divisions at Cincinnati Children's, including first author and oncologist Lynn H. Lee, MD. Kumar is a member of the Division of Bone Marrow Transplant and Immune Deficiency and director of the Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis Center at Cincinnati Children's. Funding support for the research came from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01-HL111192) and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (TRP-6076-14).


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

BOSTON (March 1, 2017)--A new systematic review and meta-analysis finds that lowering the cost of healthy foods significantly increases their consumption, while raising the cost of unhealthy items significantly reduces their intake. While everyone has a sense that food prices matter, the magnitude of impact of food taxes and subsidies on dietary intakes, and whether this varies by the food target, has not been clear. For the review, a team of researchers identified and pooled findings from a total of 30 interventional and longitudinal studies, including 11 that assessed the effect of higher prices (taxation) of unhealthy foods and 19 that assessed the effect of lower prices (subsidies) of healthy foods. The findings were published in PLOS ONE on March 1. "To date, evidence on effectiveness of fiscal policies on diet has mostly come from cross-sectional studies, which cannot infer causality. This is why we evaluated studies that examined the relationship between food price and diet over time," said co-first author Ashkan Afshin, M.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and now at the University of Washington. "Our results show how 10 to 50 percent changes in price of foods and beverages at checkout could influence consumers' purchasing behaviors over a relatively short period of time." In the pooled analysis, each 10 percent decrease in price of fruits and vegetables increased their consumption by 14 percent, and each 10 percent decrease in price of other healthy foods increased their consumption by 16 percent. A change in price of fruits and vegetables was also associated with body mass index (BMI): for every 10 percent price decrease, BMI declined by 0.04 kg/m2. Conversely, each 10 percent price increase of sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy fast foods decreased their consumption by 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Every 10 percent price increase in unhealthy foods and drinks was associated with a trend toward lower BMI (per 10 percent price increase: -0.06 kg/m2), but this did not achieve statistical significance. "The global food system is causing a staggering toll on human health. And this is very costly, both in terms of real healthcare expenses and lost productivity," said senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School. "Our findings suggest that subsidies and taxes are a highly effective tool for normalizing the price of foods toward their true societal costs. This will not only prevent disease but also reduce spiraling healthcare costs, which are causing tremendous strain on both private businesses and government budgets." By merging findings from 23 interventional and 7 prospective cohort studies, the researchers evaluated relationships between the change in the price of specific foods or beverages and the change in their intake. Studies evaluated people's reported intake or data on sales of foods and beverages. The study populations included children, adults, or both; and countries included the United States, the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, and South Africa. Price change interventions were conducted in various settings such as cafeterias, vending machines and supermarkets. The findings were centrally pooled in a meta-analysis. Co-first author is Jose Penalvo, Ph.D., M.Sc., Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. Additional authors on this study are Liana Del Gobbo, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; Jose Silva, M.D., Boston Medical Center; Melody Michaelson, M.Sc., Tufts University School of Medicine; Martin O'Flaherty, M.D., Ph.D., University of Liverpool; Simon Capewell, M.D., D.Sc., University of Liverpool; Donna Spiegelman, D.Sc., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Goodarz Danaei, M.D., D.Sc., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This work was supported by awards from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (HL098048, HL115189) and from The New York Academy of Sciences' Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science. For conflicts of interest disclosure, please see the study. Afshin, A., Penalvo, J., Del Gobbo, L., Silva, J., Michaelson, M., O'Flaherty, M., Capewell, S., Spiegelman, D., Danaei, G., Mozaffarian, D. (2017, March 1). The prospective impact of food pricing on improving dietary consumption: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172277 About the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school's eight degree programs - which focus on questions relating to nutrition and chronic diseases, molecular nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, food security, humanitarian assistance, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics - are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

The first-ever National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day is being celebrated throughout the country today, as organizations, advocates, and individuals join together to increase recognition about the risks of heart valve disease (HVD) and improve detection and treatment access to ultimately save lives. “Today we mark a nationwide movement to raise awareness about a disease that has not received the attention it demands. Considering that heart valve disease affects more than five million Americans, public awareness of the condition is shockingly low. A recent survey from the Alliance for Aging Research found that three out of four adults know little to nothing about valve disease,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance for Aging Research president and CEO. “The good news is that, while heart valve disease can be serious, innovative treatment saves lives and enables most patients to enjoy significant improvements in their quality of life. In this case, education and awareness have the potential to make a tremendous difference.” National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day activities begin with a 12 noon EST briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Expert speakers include: Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, and Joseph E. Bavaria, M.D., former president, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. It will be moderated by Peschin. The briefing will also be live-streamed here. “The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is honored to partner with the Alliance for Aging Research on the first-ever National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day,” says Bavaria. “This collaboration represents an annual opportunity to provide potentially life-saving information to millions of patients with heart valve disease. Educating patients about the signs and symptoms of valve disease—such as persistent shortness of breath or dizziness—will help open new conversations with primary care doctors and lead to earlier treatments.” The briefing also features Dennis and Ann Dobkowski, American Heart Association Heart Valve Ambassadors. They will share their personal experience with the condition. “We are so excited to come out and speak on Capitol Hill about our story,” says Dennis. “National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day offers a forum to encourage people to be aware about the dangers of heart valve disease. People often have symptoms like I had and think it is connected to ‘old age.’ But they can be the warning signs for heart valve disease. We want people to listen to their heart and get it checked out with their doctor. It could be life-saving. In my case, it was, and every new day is a gift for me.” The day’s activities conclude with a Twitter chat on heart valve disease at 4 p.m. EST. The chat can be followed at #ValveDiseaseDay. The campaign was initiated by the Alliance for Aging Research and has been joined by 20 national partners. It is also supported by a resolution (H.Res.146) introduced by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has listed the awareness day on its National Health Observances Calendar. National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day offers a website at ValveDiseaseDay.org, along with a Twitter page, @ValveDiseaseDay. A video news release giving more information about National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day can be viewed and downloaded here. The Alliance’s activities around National Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day were conducted with unrestricted educational support from Edwards Lifesciences Foundation. About the Alliance for Aging Research The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit http://www.agingresearch.org for more information.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

It took quite sometime to acknowledge that women are equally vulnerable to the most common heart disease as much as men are because both sexes differ in symptoms associated with it. In men, for instance, the pain caused by angina is dramatic. The same pain is often overlooked in women. Dr. Alfred Casale, chairman of surgery for the Geisinger Heart Institute, in an article said women also suffer from the hardening of the arteries, but the symptoms are "much subtler and nuanced." It has long been held that women are not prone to the depredation of even the most common heart ailment. The reasons sometimes rely on myth rather than scientific data. One belief involves estrogen or some sort of hormonal factors supposedly protecting the lining of blood vessels in women. Bordering on myth, some even suggest that women do not have as much stress as men, which explains why women are seemingly protected from negative cardiac effects. Things have changed now. Or at least, the long-held unreasonable beliefs finally give way to reason. Women, according to Casale, are also vulnerable the way men are. They also experience heart attacks, or even myocardial infarction, but it happens that the symptoms are just different from those of the opposite sex. Here is advice on how to have a healthy heart: eat better, not much; drink less, if not avoid it altogether; exercise more; and have enough sleep. The rub is that this advice is often ignored by many. Only 3 percent of American adults are found to have met the bar of a healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart, a recent study reveals. The bright side, however, is that major changes in lifestyle, if unattainable, are not necessary. Some small changes may be enough. These little changes, if done consistently, can help, says David Goff, director of the cardiovascular sciences division at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. "Any small change you make in a positive direction is good for you," he said. This means addressing the issue of heart disease is not about deciding between all or nothing. A perfect example is physical activity which, according to researchers from the University of South Carolina: Columbia, could reduce risks of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. The recommended 150 to 300 minutes of exercise per week is ideal, but doing less than that is also fine. The same is true with light exercise, even just a few minutes of standing to interrupt long hours of sitting the whole day. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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