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Killexams : RES PowerFuse study - BingNews Search results Killexams : RES PowerFuse study - BingNews Killexams : New study: Pig kidneys — for the first time — demonstrate “life-sustaining kidney function” in a human

This study, performed in a pre-clinical human model, is the first time xenotransplanted pig kidneys have shown clearance of creatinine and shown a standard immunosuppression regimen may be sufficient.

Click here to view the full press kit that includes photos, video interviews and infographics.

Learn more about UAB's Xenotransplant program here.

1205242490414014.LlHDVrfOnh9iKsn8mMzp height640UAB Registered Nurse Loren Brook Eichelberger measures the urine output (175 cc) from the transplanted genetically modified pig kidney as part of the 2023 JAMA Surgery study.
Photography: Steve Wood
For the first time in a human, genetically modified pig kidneys provided “life-sustaining kidney function” during the course of a planned seven-day study — all while using current standard-of-care immunosuppression drugs.

The peer-reviewed findings from a study conducted in Feb. 2023, published today in JAMA Surgery, extend another pioneering University of Alabama at Birmingham pre-clinical human research model study in a recipient experiencing brain death. It also advances the science and promise of xenotransplantation as a therapy to potentially cure end-stage kidney disease — just as a human-to-human allotransplant can — and addresses the critical worldwide kidney organ shortage crisis.

“It has been truly extraordinary to see the first-ever preclinical demonstration that appropriately modified pig kidneys can provide normal, life-sustaining kidney function in a human safely and be achieved using a standard immunosuppression regimen,” said UAB transplant surgeon scientist Jayme Locke, M.D., director of UAB’s Comprehensive Transplant Institute in the Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine and lead author of the JAMA Surgery paper. “The kidneys functioned remarkably over the course of this seven-day study. We were able to gather additional safety and scientific information critical to our efforts to seek FDA clearance of a Phase I clinical trial in living humans and hopefully add a new, desperately needed solution to address an organ shortage crisis responsible for tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year.”

1205242490414016.45KwLNiR21VuQnCXGVeG height640Jayme Locke, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute and lead author of the JAMA study
Photography: Steve Wood
The published findings are another major xenotransplant achievement by Locke and her Heersink School of Medicine team. They come 19 months after last year’s groundbreaking peer reviewed, published UAB xenotransplant research study in which genetically modified pig kidneys were successfully transplanted into a recipient after brain death.

Now, the research has taken another significant step forward.

The study was conducted using the Parsons Model, a pre-clinical human brain death model developed at UAB to evaluate the safety and feasibility of pig-to-human kidney xenografts, or transplants, without risk to a living human. It is named for transplant pioneer Jim Parsons, an organ donor whose family generously donated his body to advance xenotransplant kidney research. Parsons’ gift led to the first clinical grade pig kidney xenograft transplant into a human and helped pave the way for future pig kidney-to-living human transplantation.

The current research also was conducted in a person who indicated to his family that he wanted his body donated for research upon his death.

Study details

The 52-year-old study subject for this research, not named at the request of his family, lived with hypertension and stage 2 chronic kidney disease, which affects more than one in seven U.S. adults, or an estimated 37 million Americans. As part of this study, the subject had both of his native kidneys removed and dialysis stopped, followed by a crossmatch-compatible xenotransplants with 10 gene-edited pig kidneys, or UKidney™.

The transplanted pig kidneys made urine within four minutes of reperfusion and produced more than 37 liters of urine in the first 24 hours. The pig kidneys continued to function as they would in a living human for the entirety of the seven-day study. Also, the kidneys were still viable at the time the study was concluded with a final serum creatinine of 0.9mg/dL and a creatinine clearance of 200 milliliters per minute. Creatinine clearance is the volume of blood plasma cleared of creatinine per unit. Creatinine is a waste product that comes from the normal wear and tear on muscles of the body. By comparison, when the study began and before the pig kidneys were transplanted, the study subject’s creatinine measured at 3.9 mg/dL when his native kidneys were removed, and dialysis was stopped. Healthy creatinine levels are 0.7-1.2 mg/dL.

The pig kidneys were serially biopsied throughout the course of the study. Biopsies showed normal histology by light microscopy without evidence of any destruction of red blood cells, low platelets or organ damage due to the formation of microscopic blood clots in capillaries or small arteries.

  • This close-up photo shows UAB Dr. Paige Porrett (green gloves) placing a piece of a biopsied, genetically engineered pig kidney into a vial held by UAB Transplant Researcher Gavin Baker.

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • UAB Dr. Paige Porrett, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery and Dr. Jayme Locke, MD, Director, UAB Division of Transplantation, work through a volumetric equation to measure the kidney growth as part of the 2023 JAMA Surgery study.  

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • From left to right: Sandi Minor, RN, Registered Nurse, Perioperative Services; Dr. Jayme Locke, MD, Director, UAB Division of Transplantation; and Natalie Budd, RN, Registered Nurse, Perioperative Services, transplant a genetically modified pig kidney in a pre-clinical human brain death model developed at UAB. The transplant was part of UAB’s 2023 JAMA Surgery study. 

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • Dr. Jayme Locke, M.D., Director, UAB Division of Transplantation, takes a biopsy of the transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys as part of the 2023 JAMA Surgery study.  

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • UAB's Xenotransplant team. (From left) Andrew "Drew" Shunk, Director of Clinical Services, Legacy of Hope; Dr. Jayme Locke, MD, Director, UAB Division of Transplantation; and Dr. Vineeta Kumar, MD, Professor, Nephrology, review and discuss xenotransplant patient biopsy lab results for the 2023 JAMA Surgery study.  

    Photography: Steve Wood

These studies are supported by biotechnology pioneer United Therapeutics Corporation, which awarded a grant to UAB to launch the innovative xenotransplantation program. Revivicor, Inc., a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, provided the genetically modified pig that was the source of the investigational xenotransplant kidneys called UKidney™. The pigs are raised in a secure, pathogen-free facility by UAB animal care experts and are regularly tested for porcine cytomegalovirus (CMV) and porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV), including PERV-C. The pig used in this study tested negative for PERV-C and CMV.

“We are grateful for our partners at Revivicor and United Therapeutics and their tireless efforts on this project,” said UAB Heersink School of Medicine Dean and Senior Vice President of Medicine Anupam Agarwal, M.D. “There is still important work to do, but we have made tremendous progress together.”

UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., says partnerships and sacrifices inside and outside of UAB have been critical.

“Xenotransplantation is a pioneering treatment that has the potential to provide a sustainable supply of life-saving organs and save tens of thousands of lives of people around the world, and it takes a village,” Watts said. “We are proud of Dr. Jayme Locke and our expert teams who have been so thorough in designing and carrying out these studies in a way that advances science. We also remain in awe and eternally grateful for the individuals and families who have given of themselves and their loved ones to participate in these studies that will Boost and save lives.”

Parsons Model studies advance field

Click image to enlarge.
Graphic by: Jody Potter
This is the third study in UAB’s Parsons Model program, and the second one to be peer-reviewed and published (Locke’s team is in the process of publishing results from another Parsons Model study). Locke and her research team demonstrated in an initial study last year the model’s significant potential to propel the xenotransplantation field forward and help solve the kidney shortage crisis.

Each of the model’s studies have built upon the other and answered critical questions on the viability of pig kidney xenotransplantation. Specifically, for the two peer-reviewed, published studies: 

  • The original American Journal of Transplantation study from 2022, named after Parsons, marked the first time a pig-to-human cross match was developed and validated. That step was important because federal requirements for human-to-human allotransplantation include a crossmatch and tissue compatibility prior to proceeding with a transplant.
  • In today’s study published in JAMA Surgery, the decedent was stable when he presented for the study which allowed Locke’s team to follow the investigation for seven days. Because the study subject was stable, and the kidneys were in a favorable environment, there was no delay of kidney function — something that wasn’t the case in the first two studies. “In this third study, we were able to demonstrate urine output within four minutes of the kidneys being re-perfused,” Locke said. “In fact, in the first 24 hours these kidneys made over 37 liters of urine. It was really a remarkable thing to see.”

As in the two previous studies, each stage of this third decedent xenotransplant study approximated the steps that would be taken in a Phase I clinical trial of xenotransplantation in living humans.

“In each instance, we have been able to test our operations,” said Locke, director of transplantation at the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute. “The pig kidneys came from a pig maintained in a pathogen-free facility. They were flushed and packaged using the same standard operating procedures we use in human-to-human transplantation. They were transported to our transplant center and transplanted in the exact same way you would in a living person.

“At each of those steps, we were able to test that we do have the correct standard operating procedures in place and that we’re able to operationalize this in a meaningful, safe way. That’s the ultimate goal. We want to achieve xenotransplant in a safe and efficacious way. We’re very hopeful that these data will provide further evidence that xenotransplantation is a viable and achievable solution to the organ shortage crisis that causes thousands of preventable deaths each year. The gap between supply and demand is that vast.”

Gene editing in pigs to reduce immune rejection has made organ transplants from pigs to humans possible, an advancement that could offer help to thousands of people who face organ failure, disease or injury. The pig kidneys used in the UAB studies come from pigs with 10 specific genetic modifications, each of which is intended to make the organs suitable for transplant into the human body. 

The natural lifespan of a pig is 30 years, they are easily bred, and they have organs of similar size to humans. Genetically modified pig kidneys have been extensively tested in non-human primates. The addition of UAB’s preclinical human research model— the Parsons Model — now provides important information about the potential safety and efficacy of kidneys in human transplant recipients, including in clinical trials.

“Non-human primate research cannot answer whether the humanized pig kidneys will serve as a destination or bridge therapy,” Locke said. “Only human xenotransplantation can fully test this.”

The critical need

Kidney disease kills more people each year than breast or prostate cancer, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Although transplantation is the gold standard treatment for end-stage kidney disease, fewer than 25,000 kidney transplants are performed each year in the United States and more than 90,000 people are on the transplant waiting list. More than 800,000 Americans are living with kidney failure and 240 Americans on dialysis die every day. Most never make it to the waiting list, and far too few human organs are available to put a dent in that number.

Click image to enlarge.
Graphic by: Jody Potter
The wait for a deceased donor kidney can be as long as five years, and in many states, it is closer to 10 years. Almost 5,000 people per year die waiting on a kidney transplant.

Many of these deaths could be prevented if an unlimited supply of kidneys were available for transplant. 

Decades of human-to-human kidney transplants have shown that a kidney recipient has a greater longevity and quality of life than a kidney-disease person on chronic dialysis. About 5 to 15 percent of dialysis patients die yearly, and the eight-year survival rate is only about 35 percent.

All of this shows a radical solution is needed for the organ supply crisis, Locke says. If many people are compatible for a xenograft from a pig, those xenotransplants — paired with human-to-human allotransplantation — could potentially eliminate the wait for a kidney.

“The concept of being able to have an organ imminently available, waiting for the person who needs it, is the type of radical solution that we’ve needed for a long time in transplantation — it’s just remarkable to think about,” Locke said. “These families have made this possible. In each of these studies we have completed at UAB, these families have made the brave decision to allow their loved one to be considered as a donor for the purposes of both transplantation and research. To have the courage to say we want our loved one to have this legacy and move things forward for countless others is just extraordinary. Without question, their loved one’s legacies are sealed. And it is very clear to me that this work is going to be pivotal. It is going to be what gets us across that finish line to move this into living humans.”

“UAB has long been a global leader in kidney transplantation, and we have invested resources very strategically in addressing the organ shortage crisis,” Watts said. “With yet another historic breakthrough, the Heersink School of Medicine and our partners have dramatically advanced the field of xenotransplantation and have demonstrated there is the very real possibility of a future with a sustainable supply of life-saving organs and brings hope to patients worldwide.”

This xenotransplantation study was led by the Division of Transplantation in the Department of Surgery, in close partnership with Legacy of Hope. Other key contributors to this work have included members of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine; the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine; and the Department of Pathology. In addition to these specific contributors, the xenotransplantation program at UAB encompasses multiple departments and divisions of the Heersink School of Medicine and is also supported by numerous administrative and regulatory departments.

Tue, 15 Aug 2023 12:00:00 -0500 by Tyler Greer en-US text/html
Killexams : 20-year-long U study shows link between artificial sweeteners, increased body fat

Good Question: What is aspartame?

Good Question: What is aspartame? 02:48

MINNEAPOLIS – A decades-long research study from the University of Minnesota has linked the long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners to increased body fat.

The study, from the U's Medical School and School of Public Health, set out to study the relationship between the intake of sweeteners, like aspartame and saccharin, and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: Artificial sweetener erythritol linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds

Research showed that artificial sweeteners, with the exception of sucralose, were connected to "increase fat stores in the abdomen and fat within muscle," according to the U.

"This was found even after accounting for other factors, including how much a person eats or the quality of one's diet," said Brian Steffen, PhD, MSCR.


These findings came after recent recommendations from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association to use artificial sweeteners as an alternative to added sugars – as well as the warning about aspartame's potential risks released by the World Health Organization.

RELATED: How concerned should we be about aspartame?

"These findings underscore the importance of finding alternatives to artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages, especially since these added sweeteners may have negative health consequences," said Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH.

U researchers hope this study leads to more research on artificial sweeteners, and a better understanding of the impact of eating habits on the metabolic system.

NOTE: The video above is from July 13, 2023.

Thu, 03 Aug 2023 11:08:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Yet another study shows the dangers associated with marijuana

Numerous studies have shown the detrimental effects of regular marijuana use. It can cause permanent IQ loss, decline in cognitive functions, brain abnormalities, and problems with emotional development. Other studies revealed links between cannabis use and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and psychotic episodes. Yet, despite these dangerous ramifications, marijuana’s ill effects are regularly ignored. Instead, the drug gets hailed as a whimsical herb that should be legalized. It’s the marijuana paradox.

But as more states continue to push for its legalization, another study was published last month that showed even more problems that come with using marijuana. Research from Northwestern Medicine revealed that “recent and long-term marijuana use” is linked to “changes in the human epigenome.” It’s the latest discovery in a long line of problematic developments associated with using the drug.


“Despite its growing popularity, as well as recent legalization by several states, the effect of marijuana on epigenetic factors has not been well studied,” said Lifang Hou, senior author of the report and chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. “We previously identified associations between marijuana use and the aging process as captured through DNA methylation. We wanted to further explore whether specific epigenetic factors were associated with marijuana and whether these factors are related to health outcomes.”

Epigenetics is the study of how behavior and environment can affect the workings of human genes.

The study consisted of data from more than 900 adults, Northwestern Medicine’s news center reported. Scientists examined “blood samples taken five years apart” of people who participated in a previous study, Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. Participants were then surveyed for “recent marijuana use and estimated cumulative use and then performed DNA methylation profiling on their blood samples to reveal epigenetic changes associated with marijuana use.” Scientists were then able to link marijuana use to human epigenome changes through further analysis, according to the news center. The details of the research can be read here.

“In our study, we observed associations between cumulative marijuana use and multiple epigenetic markers across time,” Hou said. “Interestingly, we consistently identified one marker that has previously been associated with tobacco use, suggesting a potential shared epigenetic regulation between tobacco and marijuana use. The observed marijuana markers were also associated with cell proliferation, infection, and psychiatric disorders, however, additional studies are needed to replicate and verify these findings.”

It’s a harrowing revelation that should have implications on why marijuana must be considered a destructive narcotic. And while the study stipulated that it did not “establish a causal relationship between marijuana use and epigenetic changes, nor between those epigenetic changes and observed health outcomes,” it could pave the way for future studies regarding the dangers associated with using marijuana. The data obtained in this lab work provided invaluable information for the foundation of future research.

“This research has provided novel insights into the association between marijuana use and epigenetic factors,” said Drew Nannini, first author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Hou lab. “Additional studies are needed to determine whether these associations are consistently observed in different populations. Moreover, studies examining the effect of marijuana on age-related health outcomes may provide further insight into the long-term effect of marijuana on health.”


This isn’t the first study by Northwestern Medicine that found a link between marijuana and its calamitous effects on people. In 2013, it discovered the link between regular use of marijuana and abnormal changes in brain structure “related to working memory.” It revealed that such irregularities correlate with “a poor working memory performance” that resembles “schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities.” Additionally, these problems contribute to poor performance “on memory tasks,” which, in turn, can lead to “poor academic performance and everyday functioning.” The study was another example of why any push to legalize marijuana is ill-advised.

It’s time to stop positively portraying marijuana in society. Too many studies have revealed its dangers. Through relentless propaganda campaigns that span decades, much of the population has been indoctrinated to believe that it’s a benevolent drug instead of the infectious drain on society it is. Our country doesn’t deserve the bad ideas and poor legislative decisions of the push for national marijuana legalization. People deserve to be protected from drugs and bad policies, not poisoned by them.

Tue, 08 Aug 2023 06:26:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : A new study finds a strong link between depression and dementia

CNN  — 

Sign up for CNN’s Stress, But Less newsletter. Our six-part mindfulness guide will inform and inspire you to reduce stress while learning how to harness it.

A diagnosis of depression in adulthood could more than double your risk of developing dementia in older age, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology, used data from more than 1.4 million Danish citizens who were followed from 1977 to 2018, said lead study author Dr. Holly Elser, epidemiologist and resident physician in neurology at the University of Pennsylvania.

People were identified as having a depression diagnosis or not and followed throughout the years to see who developed dementia later in life, the study said. Researchers adjusted for factors like education, income, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, substance use disorder and bipolar disorder.

The large dataset and numerous analyses researchers used made their findings strong and reliable, but the study is limited by the unavailability of information like genetic data, said Dr. Natalie Marchant, associate professor in the division of psychiatry at University College London. Marchant was not involved in the research.

Depression in late adulthood is often thought to be an early symptom of dementia, and many previous studies have connected the two, Elser said. But the latest study shows a connection between dementia risk and depression diagnoses in early and mid-life as well.

“Our results therefore provide strong evidence that depression is not only an early symptom of dementia, but also that depression increases dementia risk,” she said.

Although the association between depression and dementia was shown to be strong, there are still questions the study does not answer.

“For example, there may be shared common risk factors for depression and dementia that occur earlier in the lifecourse, depression may increase dementia risk through alterations in levels of key neurotransmitters, or depression may lead to changes in health behaviors that in turn increase risk for dementia,” she added in an email.

“There is a clear need for future research that examines potential mechanisms that relate depression earlier in adulthood to subsequent onset of dementia,” Elser said.

Another piece of the results that could use further exploration is the stronger association found in men than women, Marchant said.

“This is an interesting finding, which I hope will be further explored,” she added in an email. “It lends support to the idea that we need to routinely consider risk factors for dementia in men and women separately because there may be different mechanisms involved.”

The double hit of depression and dementia may be scary, and you may be wondering – will getting treatment reduce my risk?

That isn’t yet clear.

The latest study looked at treatment with anti-depressant medication within six months of diagnosis and did not see a difference in risk between the treated and untreated groups, Elser said.

More research into if medication and cognitive behavioral therapy with different timing and duration is effective for lowering risk will be important moving forward, she added.

Preliminary findings from other observational studies show older adults who took part in therapy that reduced their symptoms of depression and/or anxiety also had a reduced risk of future dementia, Marchant added.

Because the studies were observational, however, researchers cannot say if the therapy caused there to be less cases of dementia, she added.

“Nevertheless, looking after your mental health is definitely still important for your well-being in the present,” Marchant said.

Regardless of dementia risk, treating depression should be a priority, Elser agreed.

“Because depression is extremely prevalent and is associated with significant individual and societal costs, effective treatment of depressive symptoms should be a priority regardless of whether they confer risk for dementia later in life,” she said.

Mon, 24 Jul 2023 05:35:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : The NIH halts a research project. Is it self-censorship?

Many Americans don't understand a lot about their health. Whether due to people believing conspiracy theories or simply walking out of their doctor's offices without a good idea of what was said, communicating what scientists know has been a long-standing challenge.

The problem has gotten particularly acute with a recent wave of misinformation. And when Francis Collins led the National Institutes of Health, the world's premier medical research agency, he thought he had a solution: to study health communications broadly. "We basically have seen the accurate medical information overtaken, all too often, by the inaccurate conspiracies and false information on social media. It's a whole other world out there," he said in 2021 as part of a farewell media tour.

"I do think we need to understand better how — in the current climate — people make decisions," he concluded.

But Collins' hopes appear dashed. In a sudden reversal, the NIH's acting director, Larry Tabak, has paused — some say killed — the planned initiative, Advancing Health Communication Science and Practice. Its advocates fear the agency has, for political reasons, censored itself — and the science that would've sprung out of this funding stream.

Lawrence Tabak, Acting Director of National Institutes of Health, testifies at a House budget hearing
Lawrence Tabak, acting cirector of National Institutes of Health, testifies at a House budget hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 11, 2022. / Getty Images

The agency has offered shifting and inconsistent explanations, sometimes outright contradicting itself in the space of days. Sources familiar with the project insist that whatever the agency's official story, it has acted unusually, contrary to its normal procedures in deciding what science to fund.

The officials, both in and outside of NIH, believe the agency is acting in response to political pressures over misinformation and is effectively censoring itself. Efforts to study or push back on inaccurate information have become contentious. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives repeatedly has plunged into the issue by investigating social media firms and government agencies for their efforts to regulate online speech. They've even targeted academics who merely study information flows online. Meanwhile, in July, a federal court in Louisiana issued a decision on a long-simmering lawsuit brought by a group of Republican attorneys general and anti-vaccine groups to block government officials from communicating with social media companies, with certain exceptions for national security and criminal matters. That ruling has since been stayed.

Even though the NIH has had to navigate political rapids for decades, including enduring controversy over stem cell research and surveys on the sexual behavior of teens, this is a particularly fraught moment. "It is caught up in a larger debate about who gets to decide what is truthful information these days," said Alta Charo, a professor emerita of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has advised the NIH in the past.

For researchers interested in the topic, however, it's a major loss. The program was deemed potentially so important that it would be supported through the agency's Common Fund: a designation for high-priority programs that cut across normal institutional boundaries. In theory, it would study how health communication works, not merely at an individual doctor-to-patient level, but also how mass communication affects Americans' health. Researchers could examine how, for example, testimonials affect patients' use of vaccines or other therapies.

Serious money was on the table. The agency was prepared to spend more than $150 million over five years on the endeavor.

For researchers, it's a necessary complement to the agency's pioneering work in basic research. The NIH has "done a remarkable job discovering the way cells communicate with each other," said Dean Schillinger, a researcher at the University of California-San Francisco. "When it comes to how people communicate to each other — doctors to patients, or doctors with each other — the NIH has been missing in action." Now, he said, the tentative efforts to reverse that are met with a "chilling effect." (Schillinger co-authored an opinion piece in JAMA on these developments.)

After favorable reports from an agency's advisory body last fall, advocates were anticipating more encouraging developments. Indeed, the NIH's budget had touted the concept as recently as March. And participants expected the grant application process would begin toward the end of the year.

Instead, researchers have heard nothing through official channels. "Investigators have been asking, 'What's the plan?'" said Schillinger. Officially, "it's been the sound of silence, really."

That has been a puzzling anticlimax for a program that seemed to have all the momentum. "Given the urgency of misinformation, you would expect — within a year — a formal announcement," said Bruce Y. Lee, the executive director of the City University of New York's Center for Advanced Technology and Communication in Health.

Advocates and sources involved with the process had been pleased with its progress leading up to Tabak's sudden reversal. After Collins publicly floated the concept in late 2021, the agency took some public steps while defining the project, including holding a workshop in May 2022, keynoted by Collins.

Later that year, the project's leaders presented the concept to the agency's Council of Councils, a group of outside researchers who provide feedback on policy initiatives and projects. It got a warm reception.

Edith Mitchell, an oncologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, said the agency had a "major task, but one that is much needed, one that is innovative." The council gave the proposal a 19-1 seal of approval.

Researchers were happy. "As far as I was concerned, this program had been funded, accepted, and approved," Schillinger said. (The agency says that it is "not unusual" for programs not to move forward but that it does not track how frequently programs get affirmative votes from the council and later don't move forward.)

That smooth sailing continued into the new year. In March, the program was mentioned in the NIH budget as one of the agency's potential projects for the coming years. Then, say sources in NIH and elsewhere in government, came Tabak's sudden decision in April, which was not communicated to some researchers until June.

Early that month, Schillinger said, he received a call from an NIH official saying, "The program has been killed." Program officers were reaching out to academics who had made prior inquiries about the initiative and potential research efforts that could garner grants. Schillinger said researchers were told, "You're not getting an email" from the agency.

A former White House staffer and two current NIH officials — who were granted anonymity because they didn't have permission to speak on sensitive matters — said the decision, which came as researchers and agency officials were preparing to open grant applications in the last quarter of the year, was made by Tabak. KFF Health News asked Tabak for an interview but instead got an answer from agency spokespeople.

The agency disputes any final decision about this research funding that has been made. Spokesperson Amanda Fine told KFF Health News the project was "still in concept phase" and is "being paused to consider its scope and aims."

But the agency lists the health communications proposal on the "former programs" part of its website, and sources inside and outside of government disagree with this company line. They point to political fears on NIH's part as driving the change, which reflects the growing political controversy over studying anything related to misinformation, even though the proposal was set up to examine health communications broadly, not solely misinformation.

A hint of this reasoning is contained in the rest of Fine's statement, which notes the "regulatory and legal landscape around communication platforms." When pressed, the agency later cited unnamed "lawsuits."

That's likely a reference to the Louisiana case, which was decided weeks after the agency decided to pause or kill the Common Fund initiative.

Fine later offered a new explanation: budgetary concerns. "We must also balance priorities in view of the current budgetary projections for fiscal years 2024 and 2025," she wrote.

That explanation wasn't part of a June 6 note on the program page, and one NIH official confirmed it wasn't part of previous discussions. When pressed further about the agency's budgetary position — which analysts with TD Cowen's Washington Research Group think will be flat — spokesperson Emily Ritter said, "The NIH does not have a budget projection."

KFF Health News, formerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF — the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.

Sat, 05 Aug 2023 03:15:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Blood pressure is best lowered by 2 exercises, study finds

Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.

CNN  — 

When it comes to lowering blood pressure, studies have typically shown that aerobic or cardio exercises are best.

Now, new research suggests another type of physical activity is worth including as an effective tool to prevent and treat hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Exercises that engage muscles without movement — such as wall squats and planks — may be best for lowering blood pressure, according to a large study published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

This type of training is known as isometric, or static, exercise, according to the Mayo Clinic. Isometric muscle action happens when muscles contract but do not visibly change length, and the joints involved don’t move, facilitating stability of the body.

Isometric exercises can be done with weights or without, just relying on the body’s own weight.

“Overall, isometric exercise training is the most effective mode in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” said study coauthor Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll in a news release. He is a reader in cardiovascular physiology at Canterbury Christ Church University’s School of Psychology and Life Sciences in England.

“These findings provide a comprehensive data-driven framework to support the development of new exercise guideline recommendations for the prevention and treatment of arterial hypertension.”

Existing guidelines on exercise for blood pressure management — which emphasize aerobic or cardio exercises such as running or cycling — are effective but also based on old research that excludes more recently adopted exercise protocols such as high-intensity interval training and isometric training, the authors said.

The researchers felt the guidelines were outdated and in need of review, so they looked into randomized controlled trials that had reported the effects of exercise interventions, lasting two or more weeks, on systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure between 1990 and February 2023.

Systolic blood pressure measures the maximum pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and relaxes, while diastolic blood pressure denotes what the arterial pressure is when the heart rests between beats, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors defined healthy resting blood pressure as a memorizing below 130 over 85 millimeters of mercury — a measurement of pressure known as mmHg — pre-high blood pressure as ranging from 130/85 mmHg to 139/89 mmHG, and high blood pressure as 140/90 mmHG or greater. The top numbers of these figures are the systolic pressure; the bottom numbers are diastolic pressure.

From a review of 270 trials with 15,827 participants — which is known as a meta-analysis — the authors found that among HIIT, isometric exercise, aerobic exercise, dynamic resistance training and a combination of the latter two, isometric exercise led to the greatest reductions in blood pressure.

“The reductions in blood pressure after aerobic exercise training amounted to 4.49/2.53 mmHg; 4.55/3.04 mmHg after dynamic resistance training; 6.04/2.54 mmHg after combined training; 4.08/2.50 mmHg after HIIT; and 8.24/4 mmHg after isometric exercise training,” according to a news release.

Performing wall squats (isometric exercise) was most effective for reducing systolic pressure, and running (aerobic exercise) was most beneficial for decreasing diastolic pressure, but isometric exercise overall was best for lowering both pressure elements.

“It’s encouraging to see other forms of exercise explored in this research as we know that those who take on exercise they enjoy tend to carry on for longer, which is key in maintaining lower blood pressure,” said Joanne Whitmore, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, via email. Whitmore wasn’t involved in the study.

“However, it’s important to note that there are other lifestyle changes as well as exercise that can benefit your blood pressure,” she added. “These include keeping to a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, cutting down on salt, not drinking too much alcohol and ensuring that you continue to take any prescribed medication.”

More research is needed to determine exactly why isometric exercises might be better for lowering blood pressure than other types of training, the authors said.

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The authors said their findings should inform future guidelines about exercise for blood pressure.

Guidelines by the World Health Organization say people should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, which includes two strength-based training sessions.

“This research fits very nicely into those guidelines,” said Jim Pate, senior exercise physiologist at Marylebone Health Group in London, who wasn’t involved in the study.

QUIZ: Does your workout routine match your goals?

You can do a wall squat or sit by standing with your back flat against a wall, then walking your feet about 1½ feet (0.5 meter) out from the wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With your back flat against the wall and your abs tight, inhale and then exhale as you squat as low as you can comfortably go without your butt going lower than your knees. Remain squatting until you feel pain, then inhale as you stand, pushing up from your heels. The Arthritis Foundation recommends doing 10 wall squats three times weekly.

Isometric training programs usually involve four two-minute contractions, separated by one- to four-minute rest intervals, done three times per week, according to the study.

If you have a heart condition, talk with your doctor about the best exercise for you, Whitmore said.

“People with health conditions should not be afraid to exercise in safe ways,” Pate said via email. “But seeking a professional who has experience with clinical exercise, like a sport and exercise medicine doctor, physiotherapist or clinical exercise physiologist, can help provide the structure and reassurance to make it achievable.”

Sign up for CNN’s Fitness, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide will help you ease into a healthy routine, backed by experts.

Thu, 27 Jul 2023 10:39:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Education

Denver’s schools are more segregated than they were 50 years ago when the district was forced to bus students to integrate its campuses, according to a study released Monday.

Segregation reemerged in Denver Public Schools after busing ended 28 years ago, with Latino students — which make up more than half of the district’s students — and English learners — about a third of all DPS students — more likely to attend schools where the student population is mostly made up of students of color and those living in poverty, researchers found.

DPS campuses that mostly serve students of color and those from low-income families also have fewer resources and graduation rates, according to the study, which was commissioned by the Latino Education Coalition.

“While the results of this study are painful, I am not surprised,” Superintendent Alex Marrero said in a statement, adding, “It is vitally important that we leave no stone unturned in finding the root causes, even if the findings make us uncomfortable.”

DPS and the coalition issued a joint press release, saying that both organizations are working on another study to examine the factors that contributed to the resegregation.

The study was conducted by Kim Carrazco Strong of The Bueno Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Colorado Boulder and Craig Peña, a DPS employee and member of the coalition.

Representatives with the coalition could not immediately be reached for comment. Marrero was not available for an interview Monday.

The study considered a school segregated if a racial or socioeconomic student group was 20% above or below the district average.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court found that at DPS there was “a policy of intentional segregation,” a ruling that led the district to integrate schools via busing. In 1995, another judge ruled that DPS had “complied in good faith” and eliminated segregation “to the extent practicable.”

“As a named plaintiff in the landmark Keyes vs. District One desegregation case, I am extremely disheartened with the level of segregation this study has identified in the Denver Public Schools,” Peña said in a statement. “The segregation of Latino students is profound and pervasive.”

Youngsters leave their bus to enter Barrett School on Sept. 2, 1969, to integrate the school. Pupils from Lowry Air Force Base area, who previously attended three other elementary schools, were bused to integrate Barrett. (Photo By John Prieto/The Denver Post)
Youngsters leave their bus to enter Barrett School on Sept. 2, 1969, to integrate the school. Pupils from the Lowry Air Force Base area, who previously attended three other elementary schools, were bused to integrate Barrett. (Photo By John Prieto/The Denver Post)

Today DPS campuses are also what researchers called “double or triple segregated” – meaning that they aren’t just divided by race but also by language and socioeconomic class, according to the study.

White children – which make up about 25% of DPS’s overall students – are more likely to attend schools where pupils are largely white and come from higher-income families, according to the research. Students at these schools are also more than twice as likely to be considered gifted and talented, according to the study.

Schools predominately made up of students of color had a lower percentage of Black students, meaning the majority of pupils on these campuses were Latino, according to the study. Black students make up almost 14% of the district’s student population, according to DPS.

Latino pupils were also overrepresented in schools where most of the students lived in poverty, and on average made up about 72% of those campuses’ student body, the study found.

Schools with mostly students of color and those from low-income families also had graduation rates that were between 2.1 and 16 percentage points lower than the district averages across all groups, according to the study.

Schools with students from higher socioeconomic classes had higher graduation rates than the districtwide average across all student groups, according to the study.

Get more Colorado news by signing up for our Mile High Roundup email newsletter.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 22: Jessica Seaman - Staff portraits at the Denver Post studio. (Photo by Eric Lutzens/The Denver Post)

Jessica joined the Post as a health reporter in 2018 and became the K-12 education reporter in 2021.

Mon, 31 Jul 2023 20:31:00 -0500 Jessica Seaman en-US text/html
Killexams : Cannabis poisonings rise with marijuana legalization, study says

In recent years, the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana has become the new normal across much of North America.

The problem: New research finds that as legalization has spread, so have cases of cannabis poisoning.

"We did a systematic review of published studies reporting on what happened to the rates of poisoning after legalization or decriminalization," said study author Nicholas Buckley, a professor of clinical pharmacology, biomedical informatics and digital health at the University of Sydney in Australia.

"With either, the rate generally went up," Buckley noted. "The extent to which it did was quite variable. But on average [poisoning risk] went up three to four times. The rises in children were even more dramatic."

The researchers noted that cannabis poisoning stems from ingesting too much marijuana in one go.

When it occurs, it can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including sleepiness, dizziness, high blood pressure, palpitations, feelings of lethargy, a fast heart rate, nausea, vomiting, agitation and irritability. Children are particularly vulnerable, with extreme cases having the potential to send some patients into a coma.

In all, the team reviewed 30 published studies. Most (23) were conducted in the United States. Another six had been run in Canada. Only one focused on a jurisdiction outside North America: Thailand. Nearly two-thirds (19) of the studies focused on the risk for marijuana poisoning among children.

In all, 24 studies indicated that when legalization took hold, poisoning risk went up.

Still, when legalization involved recreational use, the degree to which poisoning risk rose varied greatly depending on the particular study at hand.

By contrast, where legalization involved medical marijuana use, rises in poisoning risk were both consistently higher (compared with recreational use), and relatively similar across jurisdictions.

Because nearly all the studies were conducted in North America, the review team cautioned that it's hard to say if the apparent association between legalization and poisoning risk would also play out in other countries or cultural contexts.

But in North America, the study team suggested that with legalization fueling a growing perception that marijuana is safe, the link between the two could just be a simple function of more is more: more legalization driving more marijuana use, which in turn drives up the risk for poisoning.

At the same time, added Buckley, "there are also likely changes in patterns of use, with a common shift to more use of "edibles," meaning marijuana products that are chewed and eaten, rather than smoked.

Growing edible use is a potentially big driver of poisonings, he noted, given that "the largest rise and most concerning rise is in accidental poisonings in young children."

And this is because "edibles are often made to look and taste like sweets," said Buckley, who is also with the Australia New South Wales Poisons Information Centre in Sydney. Those sweets, he said, are then marketed in forms -- such as lollipops -- that are particularly attractive to young people.

Buckley's suggestion: Halt both the production and advertising of marijuana products that are explicitly designed to draw in young users.

"Governments should anticipate the problem and take some simple precautions when they introduce legislation," said Buckley. "For example, we don't generally allow manufacturers to make and package medication or potentially toxic products that look like lollies or food. Why should this be an exception?"

The findings were published Thursday in the journal Addiction.

Paul Armentano is deputy director of NORML, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana legalization advocacy organization. Though not involved in the analysis, Armentano was not opposed to the idea of legal guard rails that could reduce cannabis-related health risks.

"The imposition of sensible regulations on the cannabis industry -- coupled with better public safety information and greater consumer responsibility and accountability -- are the best strategies to address cannabis-specific health concerns due to the inadvertent ingestion or over-ingestion of these products," he said.

Armentano noted, for example, that on the one hand consumers should be clearly "informed that cannabis-infused oral products possess delayed onset, greater variability and prolonged duration of effect compared to inhaled marijuana.

"Furthermore," he added, "these products ought to be uniquely and distinctly labeled in a manner that makes it readily clear that they contain cannabis and they ought to be sold in child-resistant packaging, so as to better discourage inadvertent consumption."

At the same time, Armentano argued against overdramatizing health risks linked to legalization.

"The constant referring to these events as 'poisonings' seems sensational," he said. "Many of these events are due to the inadvertent exposure of cannabis-infused products. Others are due to use by naïve users who may become uncomfortable with the effects of cannabis and experience a panic episode. Some of these events are the results of overconsumption."

But Armentano stressed that unlike the sometimes fatal risks posed by other legal products such as laundry detergent pods and alcohol, "the overwhelming majority of inadvertent or overindulgent cannabis exposures --including those resulting in ER visits -- result in nominal health interventions."

In fact, he said, most adults who seek medical care linked to marijuana use "are discharged within a few hours."

More information

There's more on marijuana and safety risks at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Copyright © 2023 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Thu, 27 Jul 2023 03:58:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : POLAR research study

Physiotherapy for sciatica - is earlier better?

Context and challenges

Sciatica is the name used for the condition where you can experience pain, pins and needles, numbness and/or weakness in one or both legs.  Sciatica often lasts only a few months but can last a lifetime.

What causes it?

Sciatica is caused by nerves in the lower back being squashed or irritated. The most common cause of the compression is a disc prolapse in the lower back.

How does this affect people?

Some people have terrible pain and difficulties with everyday living, including work, hobbies and life. Other people have no problems whatsoever.

Treatment - surgery or physiotherapy?

Surgery helps people get better quicker than physiotherapy but research has shown that people who have either surgery or physiotherapy have the same results at about a year after.  Surgery has some risks associated with it that physiotherapy doesn't. 

When should treatment start?

We know early treatment for back pain is better than delayed treatment but this hasn't been studied in people with sciatica.  It seems logical that if you treat the problem early then this would be better, but it may be that it gets better on its own.

The current problem

We don't know if having physiotherapy early after sciatica starts is better than waiting for a few weeks or months before starting treatment.

The solution?

The study aims to recruit 80 patients with sciatica who will be split into two groups.  Both groups will receive up to six sessions of physiotherapy, one group within two weeks of seeing their doctor and the other group will wait for six weeks before receiving their treatment.

  1. Patient sees their GP with sciatica
  2. Invited and agrees to take part in the study
    1. 40 patients have physiotherapy at two weeks after GP referral
    2. 40 patients have physiotherapy at six weeks after GP referral
  3. 3 x 12 week blocks of recruiting and treating patients
  4. Interviews with patients, physios, GPS and other people involved in the study
  5. Three cycles of refinements made to the study following review of the results of interviews
  6. Results


Treatment is based on the individuals goal, guided by these 7 areas:

  • Nerve health
  • Fitness and strength
  • Back stiffness
  • Pain
  • Controlling movement
  • Understanding the problem
  • Psychological health problems

Targeted physiotherapy will be individually tailored to meet the goals of the participant. 

The study is being led by Michael Reddington, NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow and Spinal Extended Scope Physiotherapist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is as part of an NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship awarded to Mr Reddington.

Study contact details

Tue, 15 Aug 2023 21:17:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Maybe Facebook's Ruthless Ascent Didn't Make the World More Depressed, Study Says

New academic research analyzing Facebook’s adoption across 72 different countries is trying to challenge the common claim that social media is to blame for negative mental health outcomes. Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) said they found “no evidence” that increased Facebook penetration worldwide was linked to widespread psychological harm. Instead, they claim the research actually shows “positive correlations” between Facebook and well-being indicators in many countries. The study inherently pushes back against past research linking Facebook to depression and anxiety and comes as lawmakers in multiple states debate new legislation that would place more restrictions on tech platforms.

“We examined the best available data carefully – and found they did not support the idea that Facebook membership is related to harm, quite the opposite,” Oxford Professor and paper co-author Andrew Przybylski said in a statement. “In fact, our analysis indicates Facebook is possibly related to positive well-being.”

The peer-reviewed research, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal on Wednesday, analyzed broad trends in three well-being measurements across the different countries between 2008 and 2019 and compared that to data showing the adoption of Facebook users in those same countries. Though people signing up for and using Facebook around the world exploded during that time period, measurements of well-being and satisfaction remained relatively stable across the board.

Specifically, the study found counties with greater average daily active Facebook users had higher levels of positive experiences and life satisfaction than countries with lower average daily active users. The researchers acknowledge other factors, like socioeconomic conditions, may also play an important role in those differences in outcomes between countries.

OII researchers also looked at potential changes in well-being for people within a given county. In that case, the study claims increases in average daily active users in a country predicted greater levels of life satisfaction and positive experiences. Still, the researchers note, the magnitude of those associations were small. The research did not include data on Instagram or other social media apps.

“In sum, then, for the average country in our sample, Facebook adoption positively predicted well-being,” the researchers wrote. “This association describes that all else being equal, years with greater Facebook adoption tended to be those with greater levels of positive experiences for the average country.”

The Oxford Institute says Meta provided the Facebook data and “helped ensure the data was accurate” but did not commission or fund the study. OII told Gizmodo the research was “totally independent” of Meta’s influence and that the tech company had no veto power over the findings. Instagram users weren’t included in the study, OII said, because Meta has run the company for a comparatively shorter time. Then Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012. Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs shared the findings on Twitter a few hours after they were published: “Oxford’s independent study is the first of its kind to use internal data from a social media company to examine any link between social media and global trends in well-being. Happy we could support this important work.”

The well-being data, meanwhile, was based on a previous Gallup World Poll Survey that questioned 946,798 people on their positive and negative experiences and life satisfaction.

Researchers, both in the study and an accompanying blog post, didn’t shy away from criticizing past research on social media which they described as “m​​ore speculative than conclusive.” They claimed previous work associating Facebook with negative well-being was limited by “an exclusive focus on demographics in the Global North” and inaccurate self-reports. Overall, the researchers claimed their work did not confirm common “misconceptions” about Facebook.

“We cover the broadest possible geography for the first time, analysing Facebook usage data overlaid with robust wellbeing data, giving a truly global perspective of the impact of Facebook use on wellbeing for the first time,” researcher and co-author Matti Vuorre said.

A Meta spokesperson told Gizmodo, “We hope these findings lead to productive conversation with policymakers, parents, and academics about the positive role social media may play in peoples’ lives, and acknowledge the many other issues that do impact their well-being.”

The research isn’t without its issues though. Gizmodo spoke with multiple academic researchers who’ve analyzed Meta’s effect on society who each expressed skepticism over the merits of linking measures of well-being to Facebook adoption when a host of other variables like rising incomes or internet adoption generally were also occurring congruently. Others expressed skepticism over Meta’s involvement in the research.

Accountable Tech Co-Founder Jesse Lehrich who’s previously led campings calling on Meta to do more to remove harmful content from its platforms, echoed those concerns, calling the OII research as almost comically overbroad.

“The notion that you can just take at a bunch of aggregate about national Facebook adoption over time, overlay it on a couple topline quality-of-life indicators from Gallup, and conclude that there is no link between Facebook usage and people’s well-being is an insult to science, an insult to common sense,” Lehrich said.

Lehrich pointed to “multiple years” worth of internal Facebook studies where the company’s own researchers expressed concerns over the negative effects its recommendation algorithms and other tools may have on teen girls and political polarization. Many of those internal research findings have already been made public by Gizmodo as part of The Facebook Papers.

“We’ve literally seen multiple years’ worth of internal research presentations from this company on this exact syllabu with quotes like, ‘We make body image issues worse for 1-in-3 teen girls’ and ‘Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” Lehrich added.

This new research is not a full-blown repudiation of academic research highlighting the negative effects of prolonged social media use. For years now, researchers have repeatedly provided data and evidence showing a correlation between increased individual screen time and upticks in rates of depression and anxiety, particularly among teens and younger users. And while Meta and other researchers have debated those findings, polling shows the conclusions are nonetheless widely experienced by real-world people. Nearly one-third (32%) of teens polled by Pew Research said social media had a mostly negative effect on people their age. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of US adults polled in earlier research said they thought social media has a mostly negative effect on the ways things are going in the country.

Those and other findings have led to increased attention by some of the biggest health authorities in the US. Earlier this year, The American Psychological Association released its first ever health advisory on social media advising parents to screen their kids for signs of “problematic social media use.” Months later, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a public advisory saying there were “ample indicators” social media poses a “profound risk of harm” to children’s mental health and development. Around a dozen states are now moving to enact legislation that would force tech companies to put in place stronger protections for young users and limit the amount of time they spend on their devices.

Update 8:36 A.M. EST: Added additional information from OII and a statement from Accountable Tech.

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