Buzz about a Zika vaccine
We may be close to one, according to a report in Nature. Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University in Nashville showed that a monoclonal antibody (ZIKV-177) isolated from humans previously infected with the virus markedly reduced the pathology of the virus in pregnant mice and their offspring, and in non-pregnant mice. On a second front, scientists from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have started a Phase 1 study of a Zika purified inactivated virus (ZPIV) vaccine.
Advances in Alzheimer’s disease
Scientists from Merck Research Laboratories published findings in Science Translational Medicine showing that the investigational drug verubecestat (MK-8931) reduces beta-amyloid deposits in animals, and by up to 90% in Phase 1 studies in healthy humans and Alzheimer’s patients. The agent is a “beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1” (BACE1) but, unlike others that have been studied, does not appear to have their side effects of liver toxicity and nerve damage.
Women and cancer
Source: National Cancer Institute, Rhoda Baer (photographer)
The Lancet (online first) has a number of research articles and commentaries on this topic, many from the point of view of it as a health inequity and how to better address it.
EMA publishes clinical trial data online
RAPS reported that, to promote greater clinical data transparency, the European Medicines Agency has begun publishing results of trials submitted to the agency (as part of companies’ marketing authorization applications) via an online database. EMA expects to publish 4,500 clinical reports a year. One of EMA’s biggest challenges is protecting patient and commercially confidential data and information. Sponsors of applications must also submit a proposal to EMA detailing what they want to have redacted before the data are published on the site.
Medical journal publisher retracts nearly 60 articles
The Scientist reported that Springer and BioMed Central, subsidiaries of Springer Nature, are retracting 58 articles across seven journals and affecting more than 200 authors. The publisher stated that the retractions are because some of the authors manipulated the peer-review process, and some of the reports contained plagiarism.
Health care and the election
NEJM had an interesting and informative analysis on this topic, published as a Special Report just before the election. The authors’ conclusion: “…future changes in health policy are related more to the extent of political polarization between the parties on health care issues than to the importance of the issue itself in deciding the 2016 election.” A good read, and it’s free!
Rock & roll, or roll & lose the rock?
Get rid of kidney stones…by riding a roller coaster? The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reported that researchers from Michigan State University wanted to study this based on patient reports of losing kidney stones after a roller coaster ride – specifically, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World. So, they conducted a study there (any sacrifice for science!) using 3-D silicone replicas of a kidney and actual kidney stones. Sure enough, about 64% cleared after a ride in the rear car (though only 17% after a ride in the front car). So, if you have ever get a kidney stone (I’ve had a couple and wouldn’t wish them on anyone. Well…), have your doctor prescribe a trip to Orlando and a few rides on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – hopefully your insurance will cover it – and go to the back of the train!