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- Safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab therapy in patients with different autoimmune diseases: experience from a national registry (GRAID) (2011)
- Introduction Evidence from a number of open-label, uncontrolled studies has suggested that rituximab may benefit patients with autoimmune diseases who are refractory to standard of care. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and clinical outcomes of rituximab in several standard of care-refractory autoimmune diseases (within rheumatology, nephrology, dermatology and neurology) other than rheumatoid arthritis or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in a real-life clinical setting. Methods Patients who received rituximab having shown an inadequate response to standard of care had their safety and clinical outcomes data retrospectively analysed as part of the German Registry of Autoimmune Diseases. The main outcome measures were safety and clinical response, as judged at the discretion of the investigators. Results A total of 370 patients (299 patient-years) with various autoimmune diseases (23.0% with systemic lupus erythematosus, 15.7% antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitides, 15.1% multiple sclerosis and 10.0% pemphigus) from 42 centres received a mean dose of 2440 mg of rituximab over a median (range) of 194 (180 to 1407) days. The overall rate of serious infections was 5.3 per 100 patient-years during rituximab therapy. Opportunistic infections were infrequent across the whole study population, and mostly occurred in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. There were 11 deaths (3.0% of patients) after rituximab treatment (mean 11.6 months after first infusion, range 0.8 to 31.3 months), with most of the deaths caused by infections. Overall (n = 293), 13.3% of patients showed no response, 45.1% showed a partial response and 41.6% showed a complete response. Responses were also reflected by reduced use of glucocorticoids and various immunosuppressives during rituximab therapy and follow-up compared with before rituximab. Rituximab generally had a positive effect on patient well-being (physician's visual analogue scale; mean improvement from baseline of 12.1 mm). Conclusions Data from this registry indicate that rituximab is a commonly employed, well-tolerated therapy with potential beneficial effects in standard of care-refractory autoimmune diseases, and support the results from other open-label, uncontrolled studies. Additional file 1: Supplemental tables. Table A1. Duration of follow-up from first rituximab infusion to last control visit by diagnosis. Table A2. Number of rituximab infusions by diagnosis.
- SchussenAktivplus: Reduction of micropollutants and of potentially pathogenic bacteria for further water quality improvement of the river Schussen, a tributary of Lake Constance, Germany (2013)
- The project focuses on the efficiency of combined technologies to reduce the release of micropollutants and bacteria into surface waters via sewage treatment plants of different size and via stormwater overflow basins of different types. As a model river in a highly populated catchment area, the river Schussen and, as a control, the river Argen, two tributaries of Lake Constance, Southern Germany, are under investigation in this project. The efficiency of the different cleaning technologies is monitored by a wide range of exposure and effect analyses including chemical and microbiological techniques as well as effect studies ranging from molecules to communities.
- Twisted mass QCD at finite temperature (2007)
- We discuss the use of Wilson fermions with twisted mass for simulations of QCD thermodynamics. As a prerequisite for a future analysis of the finite-temperature transition making use of automatic O(a) improvement, we investigate the phase structure in the space spanned by the hopping parameter k , the coupling b , and the twisted mass parameter m. We present results for Nf = 2 degenerate quarks on a 163×8 lattice, for which we investigate the possibility of an Aoki phase existing at strong coupling and vanishing m, as well as of a thermal phase transition at moderate gauge couplings and non-vanishing m.
- The finite-temperature phase structure of lattice QCD with twisted-mass Wilson fermions (2008)
- We report progress in our exploration of the finite-temperature phase structure of two-flavour lattice QCD with twisted-mass Wilson fermions and a tree-level Symanzik-improved gauge action for a temporal lattice size Nt = 8. Extending our investigations to a wider region of parameter space we gain a global view of the rich phase structure. We identify the finite temperature transition/ crossover for a non-vanishing twisted-mass parameter in the neighbourhood of the zerotemperature critical line at sufficiently high b . Our findings are consistent with Creutz’s conjecture of a conical shape of the finite temperature transition surface. Comparing with NLO lattice cPT we achieve an improved understanding of this shape.
- Thermal transition temperature from twisted mass QCD (2010)
- We present the current status of lattice simulations with Nf = 2 maximally twisted mass Wilson fermions at finite temperature. In particular, the determination of the thermal transition tempera- ture is discussed.
- Pseudo-Critical Temperature and Thermal Equation of State from Nf = 2 Twisted Mass Lattice QCD (2012)
- We report about the current status of our ongoing study of the chiral limit of two-flavor QCD at finite temperature with twisted mass quarks. We estimate the pseudo-critical temperature Tc for three values of the pion mass in the range of mPS ~ 300 and 500 MeV and discuss different chiral scenarios. Furthermore, we present first preliminary results for the trace anomaly, pressure and energy density. We have studied several discretizations of Euclidean time up to Nt = 12 in order to assess the continuum limit of the trace anomaly. From its interpolation we evaluate the pressure and energy density employing the integral method. Here, we have focussed on two pion masses with mPS ~ 400 and 700 MeV.
- Reconciliation of essential process parameters for an enhanced predictability of Arctic stratospheric ozone loss and its climate interactions (2012)
- Significant reductions in stratospheric ozone occur inside the polar vortices each spring when chlorine radicals produced by heterogeneous reactions on cold particle surfaces in winter destroy ozone mainly in two catalytic cycles, the ClO dimer cycle and the ClO/BrO cycle. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are responsible for most of the chlorine currently present in the stratosphere, have been banned by the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, and the ozone layer is predicted to recover to 1980 levels within the next few decades. During the same period, however, climate change is expected to alter the temperature, circulation patterns and chemical composition in the stratosphere, and possible geo-engineering ventures to mitigate climate change may lead to additional changes. To realistically predict the response of the ozone layer to such influences requires the correct representation of all relevant processes. The European project RECONCILE has comprehensively addressed remaining questions in the context of polar ozone depletion, with the objective to quantify the rates of some of the most relevant, yet still uncertain physical and chemical processes. To this end RECONCILE used a broad approach of laboratory experiments, two field missions in the Arctic winter 2009/10 employing the high altitude research aircraft M55-Geophysica and an extensive match ozone sonde campaign, as well as microphysical and chemical transport modelling and data assimilation. Some of the main outcomes of RECONCILE are as follows: (1) vortex meteorology: the 2009/10 Arctic winter was unusually cold at stratospheric levels during the six-week period from mid-December 2009 until the end of January 2010, with reduced transport and mixing across the polar vortex edge; polar vortex stability and how it is influenced by dynamic processes in the troposphere has led to unprecedented, synoptic-scale stratospheric regions with temperatures below the frost point; in these regions stratospheric ice clouds have been observed, extending over >106km2 during more than 3 weeks. (2) Particle microphysics: heterogeneous nucleation of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT) particles in the absence of ice has been unambiguously demonstrated; conversely, the synoptic scale ice clouds also appear to nucleate heterogeneously; a variety of possible heterogeneous nuclei has been characterised by chemical analysis of the non-volatile fraction of the background aerosol; substantial formation of solid particles and denitrification via their sedimentation has been observed and model parameterizations have been improved. (3) Chemistry: strong evidence has been found for significant chlorine activation not only on polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) but also on cold binary aerosol; laboratory experiments and field data on the ClOOCl photolysis rate and other kinetic parameters have been shown to be consistent with an adequate degree of certainty; no evidence has been found that would support the existence of yet unknown chemical mechanisms making a significant contribution to polar ozone loss. (4) Global modelling: results from process studies have been implemented in a prognostic chemistry climate model (CCM); simulations with improved parameterisations of processes relevant for polar ozone depletion are evaluated against satellite data and other long term records using data assimilation and detrended fluctuation analysis. Finally, measurements and process studies within RECONCILE were also applied to the winter 2010/11, when special meteorological conditions led to the highest chemical ozone loss ever observed in the Arctic. In addition to quantifying the 2010/11 ozone loss and to understand its causes including possible connections to climate change, its impacts were addressed, such as changes in surface ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the densely populated northern mid-latitudes.
- Evaluating frequency, diagnostic quality, and cost of Lyme borreliosis testing in Germany: a retrospective model analysis (2011)
- Background. Data on the economic impact of Lyme borreliosis (LB) on European health care systems is scarce. This project focused on the epidemiology and costs for laboratory testing in LB patients in Germany. Materials and Methods. We performed a sentinel analysis of epidemiological and medicoeconomic data for 2007 and 2008. Data was provided by a German statutory health insurance (DAK) company covering approx. 6.04 million members. In addition, the quality of diagnostic testing for LB in Germany was studied. Results. In 2007 and 2008, the incident diagnosis LB was coded on average for 15,742 out of 6.04 million insured members (0.26%). 20,986 EIAs and 12,558 immunoblots were ordered annually for these patients. For all insured members in the outpatient sector, a total of 174,820 EIAs and 52,280 immunoblots were reimbursed annually to health care providers (cost: 2,600,850€). For Germany, the overall expected cost is estimated at 51,215,105€. However, proficiency testing data questioned test quality and standardization of diagnostic assays used. Conclusion. Findings from this study suggest ongoing issues related to care for LB and may help to improve future LB disease management.
- Thermodynamic characterization of an engineered tetracycline-binding riboswitch (2006)
- Riboswitches reflect a novel concept in gene regulation that is particularly suited for technological adaptation. Therefore, we characterized thermodynamically the ligand binding properties of a synthetic, tetracycline (tc)-binding RNA aptamer, which regulates gene expression in a dose-dependent manner when inserted into the untranslated region of an mRNA. In vitro, one molecule of tc is bound by one molecule of partially pre-structured and conformationally homogeneous apo-RNA. The dissociation constant of 770 pM, as determined by fluorimetry, is the lowest reported so far for a small molecule-binding RNA aptamer. Additional calorimetric analysis of RNA point mutants and tc derivatives identifies functional groups crucial for the interaction and including their respective enthalpic and entropic contributions we can propose detailed structural and functional roles for certain groups. The conclusions are consistent with mutational analyses in vivo and support the hypothesis that tc-binding reinforces the structure of the RNA aptamer, preventing the scanning ribosome from melting it efficiently.
- Quantification of transport across the boundary of the lower stratospheric vortex during Arctic winter 2002/2003 (2007)
- Strong perturbations of the Arctic stratosphere during the winter 2002/2003 by planetary waves led to enhanced stretching and folding of the vortex. On two occasions the vortex in the lower stratosphere split into two secondary vortices that re-merged after some days. As a result of these strong disturbances the role of transport in and out of the vortex was stronger than usual. An advection and mixing simulation with the Chemical Lagrangian Model of the Stratosphere (CLaMS) utilising a suite of inert tracers tagging the original position of the air masses has been carried out. The results show a variety of synoptic and small scale features in the vicinity of the vortex boundary, especially long filaments peeling off the vortex edge and being slowly mixed into the mid latitude environment. The vortex folding events, followed by re-merging of different parts of the vortex led to strong filamentation of the vortex interior. During January, February, and March 2003 flights of the Russian high-altitude aircraft Geophysica were performed in order to probe the vortex, filaments and in one case the merging zone between the secondary vortices. Comparisons between CLaMS results and observations obtained from the Geophysica flights show in general good agreement.