Fatigue during treatment for hepatitis C virus: results of self-reported fatigue severity in two Phase IIb studies of simeprevir treatment in patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection
Donna M. Evon
- Background: Fatigue is a common symptom of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and a frequent side-effect of peginterferon/ribavirin (PR) therapy for HCV. This study evaluated the impact of adding the oral HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor simeprevir to PR on patient-reported fatigue and health status among patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection enrolled in the Phase IIb PILLAR and ASPIRE trials [NCT00882908; NCT00980330].
Methods: Treatment-naïve patients (PILLAR, n = 386) and treatment-experienced patients (ASPIRE, n = 462) were randomized to simeprevir plus PR (simeprevir/PR) or placebo plus PR (placebo/PR). In PILLAR, duration of PR treatment in the simeprevir/PR groups was determined using response-guided therapy (RGT) criteria. PR could be terminated at Week 24, instead of Week 48, if HCV RNA was <25 IU/mL by Week 4 and then undetectable at Weeks 12, 16, and 20. In both studies, patients completed the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and EQ-5D quality-of-life questionnaire in their native language at baseline and throughout the studies up until Week 72.
Results: During the first 24 weeks of treatment, mean FSS total score was increased to a similar degree compared with baseline among patients receiving simeprevir/PR or placebo/PR in both studies indicating increased fatigue severity. Mean FSS scores returned to values comparable with baseline among patients receiving simeprevir/PR after Week 24 in PILLAR (after treatment completion for the majority of patients) and in ASPIRE (after Week 48), consistent with RGT enabling early termination of all treatment at Week 24 in 82.2% of simeprevir/PR-treated patients in the PILLAR study. Similar results were observed for EQ-5D, with simeprevir/PR-treated patients experiencing less time with worse health problems according to EQ-5D scores compared with placebo/PR groups in both studies, and more rapid improvement in health status associated with shorter treatment duration in the PILLAR study.
Conclusions: Combination of simeprevir with PR did not increase patient-reported fatigue severity or health status impairments beyond that reported by patients treated with PR alone. Many patients treated with simeprevir/PR returned to pretreatment fatigue and health status levels sooner due to increased treatment efficacy that enabled shorter duration of all therapy, compared with PR alone.
Treatment of unresectable stage IV metastatic melanoma with aviscumine after anti-neoplastic treatment failure: a phase II, multi-centre study
Katharina C. Kähler
- Background: Aviscumine, a recombinant plant protein, is an immune modulator that induces ribotoxic stress at the 28S ribosomal RNA subunit. In this way cytokine release and T-cell responses are enhanced. This phase II trial was conducted to test the efficacy and safety of aviscumine in patients with systemically pre-treated metastatic melanoma stage IV.
Methods: A total of 32 patients with progressive stage IV melanoma after failure of standard therapy were enrolled onto a single-arm, multi-centre, open-label, phase II trial. All patients had an ECOG performance status of 0 or 1. Patients received 350 ng aviscumine twice weekly by subcutaneous injection until progression. The primary end points were progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Safety was assessed as adverse events (AEs). Tumor response was assessed every eight weeks and survival of patients was followed up to one year after the end of therapy. Thirty one patients (intent-to-treat population (ITT)) were assessed for efficacy; safety was assessed in the whole population.
Results: One patient achieved a partial response (PR) and 10 patients showed stable disease/no change (SD). The median progression-free survival (mPFS) was 63 days (95% CI 57–85) and median overall survival (mOS) was 335 days (95% CI 210–604). In total 210 treatment-emergent adverse events were recorded. Grade 1 or 2 AEs occurred in 72% of patients and were mostly application-site effects such as pruritus Grade 3–4 treatment-emergent drug-related adverse events occurred in 9% of patients.
Conclusion: These results suggest that aviscumine may have a clinical impact in patients with previously treated metastatic melanoma and provide rationale for further clinical evaluation of this agent. In the light of effective new immune checkpoint blockers it might be a candidate for combinations with these agents.
Burden of carbapenem-resistant organisms in the Frankfurt/Main Metropolitan Area in Germany 2012/2013 – first results and experiences after the introduction of legally mandated reporting
Volkhard A.J. Kempf
- Background: The federal state of Hesse, Germany, introduced a laboratory-based reporting scheme for carbapenem-resistant organisms (CROs).
Method: The results of the first year of mandated reporting of CROs from April 2012 through March 2013 to the Public Health Authority of Frankfurt/Main, responsible for a population of 700,000 inhabitants, are described.
Results: Within a period of 12 months 243 CROs were notified to the health authority. Of these 213 isolates had been reported from 16 of the 17 hospitals in Frankfurt/Main, 6 from ambulatory settings and 24 from clinics outside of Frankfurt/Main. Mean incidence rate per 1,000 patient days in hospitals was 0.138 (range 0.02-0.28).
Conclusion: In Frankfurt/Main almost all hospitals have reported CROs in the study period though the frequency of isolation varies strongly and many facilities only report CROs sporadically. Molecular data indicate a high diversity of different carbapenemases. Autochthonous transmission must be assumed despite the absence of major outbreaks. Rapid and coordinated efforts by clinicians and health departments are crucial to control the spread of CRO infections. The mandatory reporting scheme provides important data to guide the implementation of preventive measures.
Effects of flavonoid-induced oxidative stress on anti-H5N1 influenza a virus activity exerted by baicalein and biochanin A
Jindrich Cinatl Jr
- Background: Different flavonoids are known to interfere with influenza A virus replication. Recently, we showed that the structurally similar flavonoids baicalein and biochanin A inhibit highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza A virus replication by different mechanisms in A549 lung cells. Here, we investigated the effects of both compounds on H5N1-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and the role of ROS formation during H5N1 replication.
Findings: Baicalein and biochanin A enhanced H5N1-induced ROS formation in A549 cells and primary human monocyte-derived macrophages. Suppression of ROS formation induced by baicalein and biochanin A using the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine strongly increased the anti-H5N1 activity of both compounds in A549 cells but not in macrophages.
Conclusions: These findings emphasise that flavonoids induce complex pharmacological actions some of which may interfere with H5N1 replication while others may support H5N1 replication. A more detailed understanding of these actions and the underlying structure-activity relationships is needed to design agents with optimised anti-H5N1 activity.
Sympathoactivation and rho-kinase-dependent baroreflex function in experimental renovascular hypertension with reduced kidney mass
Rainer U. Pliquett
Ralf P. Brandes
- Background: Dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system is frequent in subjects with cardiovascular disease. The contribution of different forms of renovascular hypertension and the mechanisms contributing to autonomic dysfunction in hypertension are incompletely understood. Here, murine models of renovascular hypertension with preserved (2-kidneys-1 clip, 2K1C) and reduced (1-kidney-1 clip, 1K1C) kidney mass were studied with regard to autonomic nervous system regulation (sympathetic tone: power-spectral analysis of systolic blood pressure; parasympathetic tone: power-spectral analysis of heart rate) and baroreflex sensitivity of heart rate by spontaneous, concomitant changes of systolic blood pressure and pulse interval. Involvement of the renin-angiotensin system and the rho-kinase pathway were determined by application of inhibitors.
Results: C57BL6N mice (6 to 11) with reduced kidney mass (1K1C) or with preserved kidney mass (2K1C) developed a similar degree of hypertension. In comparison to control mice, both models presented with a significantly increased sympathetic tone and lower baroreflex sensitivity of heart rate. However, only 2K1C animals had a lower parasympathetic tone, whereas urinary norepinephrine excretion was reduced in the 1K1C model. Rho kinase inhibition given to a subset of 1K1C and 2K1C animals improved baroreflex sensitivity of heart rate selectively in the 1K1C model. Rho kinase inhibition had no additional effects on autonomic nervous system in either model of renovascular hypertension and did not change the blood pressure. Blockade of AT1 receptors (in 2K1C animals) normalized the sympathetic tone, decreased resting heart rate, improved baroreflex sensitivity of heart rate and parasympathetic tone.
Conclusions: Regardless of residual renal mass, blood pressure and sympathetic tone are increased, whereas baroreflex sensitivity is depressed in murine models of renovascular hypertension. Reduced norepinephrine excretion and/or degradation might contribute to sympathoactivation in renovascular hypertension with reduced renal mass (1K1C). Overall, the study helps to direct research to optimize medical therapy of hypertension.
Early assessment of high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment of benign thyroid nodules by scintigraphic means
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) allows to inflict intracorporal thermal lesions without penetrating the skin or damaging the surrounding tissue. This analysis intends to assess the magnitude of HIFU-induced ablations within benign thyroid nodules using scintigraphic imaging with 99mTc.
Ten cold, hot, or indifferent nodules were treated using multiple pulses of HIFU to induce temperatures of around 85°C within the ablation zone. Pre- and posttreatment, uptake values of 99mTc pertechnetate or 99mTc-MIBI were recorded. The pre-post reduction of nodular uptake was evaluated to assess ablation magnitude.
Relative nodular uptake in relation to total thyroidal uptake decreased after one session of HIFU in all cases. Median 99mTc-MIBI uptake reduction was 35.5% (ranging from 11% to 57%; p < 0.1), while 99mTc-pertechnetate scintigraphy showed a median uptake reduction of 27% (range 10% to 44%; p < 0.1). No major complications were observed.
HIFU appears to be safe and is an easy to perform means of thermal ablation. This study shows that HIFU treatment in thyroidal nodules can be evaluated by scintigraphic means shortly after the intervention. Due to small sample size, the exact magnitude of HIFU ablation efficiency in thyroidal nodules remains a value to beassessed in a larger study.
Canadian hereditary angioedema guideline
- Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a disease which is associated with random and often unpredictable attacks of painful swelling typically affecting the extremities, bowel mucosa, genitals, face and upper airway. Attacks are associated with significant functional impairment, decreased Health Related Quality of Life, and mortality in the case of laryngeal attacks. Caring for patients with HAE can be challenging due to the complexity of this disease. The care of patients with HAE in Canada is neither optimal nor uniform across the country. It lags behind other countries where there are more organized models for HAE management, and where additional therapeutic options are licensed and available for use. The objective of this guideline is to provide graded recommendations for the management of patients in Canada with HAE. This includes the treatment of attacks, short-term prophylaxis, long-term prophylaxis, and recommendations for self-administration, individualized therapy, quality of life, and comprehensive care. It is anticipated that by providing this guideline to caregivers, policy makers, patients and their advocates, that there will be an improved understanding of the current recommendations regarding management of HAE and the factors that need to be considered when choosing therapies and treatment plans for individual patients. The primary target users of this guideline are healthcare providers who are managing patients with HAE. Other healthcare providers who may use this guideline are emergency physicians, gastroenterologists, dentists and otolaryngologists, who will encounter patients with HAE and need to be aware of this condition. Hospital administrators, insurers and policy makers may also find this guideline helpful.
Malaria control in Nepal 1963–2012: challenges on the path towards elimination
Malaria is still a priority public health problem of Nepal where about 84% of the population are at risk. The aim of this paper is to highlight the past and present malaria situation in this country and its challenges for long-term malaria elimination strategies.
Malariometric indicator data of Nepal recorded through routine surveillance of health facilities for the years between 1963 and 2012 were compiled. Trends and differences in malaria indicator data were analysed.
The trend of confirmed malaria cases in Nepal between 1963 and 2012 shows fluctuation, with a peak in 1985 when the number exceeded 42,321, representing the highest malaria case-load ever recorded in Nepal. This was followed by a steep declining trend of malaria with some major outbreaks. Nepal has made significant progress in controlling malaria transmission over the past decade: total confirmed malaria cases declined by 84% (12,750 in 2002 vs 2,092 in 2012), and there was only one reported death in 2012. Based on the evaluation of the National Malaria Control Programme in 2010, Nepal recently adopted a long-term malaria elimination strategy for the years 2011–2026 with the ambitious vision of a malaria-free Nepal by 2026. However, there has been an increasing trend of Plasmodium falciparum and imported malaria proportions in the last decade. Furthermore, the analysis of malariometric indicators of 31 malaria-risk districts between 2004 and 2012 shows a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of confirmed malaria and of Plasmodium vivax, but not in the incidence of P. falciparum and clinically suspected malaria.
Based on the achievements the country has made over the last decade, Nepal is preparing to move towards malaria elimination by 2026. However, considerable challenges lie ahead. These include especially, the need to improve access to diagnostic facilities to confirm clinically suspected cases and their treatment, the development of resistance in parasites and vectors, climate change, and increasing numbers of imported cases from a porous border with India. Therefore, caution is needed before the country embarks towards malaria elimination.
Phase Ib study evaluating a self-adjuvanted mRNA cancer vaccine (RNActive®) combined with local radiation as consolidation and maintenance treatment for patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer
Sven D. Koch
Altered mucosal immune response after acute lung injury in a murine model of Ataxia Telangiectasia
Su Youn Kim