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Rapid Testing for TB Aims to Reduce Drug Resistance, Lower Mortality Rate

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have documented the accuracy of three new tests for more rapidly diagnosing drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB), which are much harder and more expensive to treat and which, experts say, represent a major threat to global public health.


The study is published online in the current issue of PLOS ONE.

 

“Our study shows that TB testing that once took two to three months can now be done in as little as a day,” said co-author Richard Garfein, PhD, professor in the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This means we can put people on the right medications sooner, spare them the toxic effects of drugs that are ineffective and prevent the development of drug resistant forms of TB that can occur when the wrong medications are given.”

 

Although rates of TB are declining in the United States due to effective control measures, it  remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, causing (or contributing to) an estimated 1.5 million deaths in 2013, according to the World Health Organization. TB is also the leading killer of people who have HIV.

 

For the study, sputum (a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the lungs) from 1,128 study participants at TB clinics in India, Moldova and South Africa were examined using three rapid tests for detecting drug-resistant forms of TB. Two of these tests use molecular techniques to look for genetic mutations in the pathogen’s DNA that confer resistance to antibiotics. The third test employs a low-cost and easy-to-use version of the standard bacterial culture technique, making it suitable for resource-limited community clinics and hospitals. An estimated 95 percent of TB deaths globally occur in low- and middle-income countries.

 

Results from the rapid tests were then compared to the reference standard technique for detecting resistance to seven of the most important anti-TB drugs. These comparisons showed that all three rapid assays accurately identified resistance to first- and second-line oral antibiotic treatments (isoniazid, rifampin, moxifloxacin and ofloxacin). They were less accurate but still very good at detecting resistance to injectable antibiotics (amikacin and capreomycin) typically administered to those with multi-drug resistant TB. The rapid tests performed poorly in detecting resistance to only one drug, the injectable antibiotic kanamycin, which is also used to treat multi-drug resistant TB.

 

The study also documented the time it took to obtain results. The molecular techniques showed themselves to be superior, with a mean time of 1.1 days for both DNA testing methods; 14.3 days for the rapid culture method; and 24.7 days for the reference standard test.

 

“The results from this international collaboration take us one step closer to achieving the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing deaths due to TB by 95 percent by 2050,” said lead author Antonino Catanzaro, MD, Professor Emeritus in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. “Rapid, accurate drug susceptibility tests are critical for physicians. They help us ensure that patients receive the appropriate anti-TB drugs to combat their specific form of tuberculosis. When patients receive the proper drug treatment, we see a large reduction in TB mortality.”

 

Source: University of California – San Diego.

 

Published on  9th  September  2015

Sex and violence may not really sell products

If there’s one thing advertisers think they know, it is that sex and violence sell.


A new analysis, however, provides some of the best evidence to date that this widely accepted adage just isn’t true.

 

Researchers analyzed the results of 53 different experiments (a so-called meta-analysis) involving nearly 8,500 people, done over 44 years. All of these experiments examined some facet of the question of whether sexual or violent media content could help sell advertised products.

 

When all the results are considered together, the overall conclusion, with some caveats, is that programs featuring violence and sex aren’t the ideal context for effective advertising, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

 

It’s not that people don’t pay attention to sex and violence in the media, Bushman said. In fact, an evolutionary perspective would say it is just the opposite.

 

“People are so focused on the sex and violence they see in the media that they pay less attention to the advertising messages that appear along with it,” Bushman said.

 

“Advertisers shouldn’t be so sure that sex and violence can help them sell their products.”

 

 

Bushman conducted the study with Robert Lull, who just earned his Ph.D. in communication at Ohio State. The results were published online yesterday in the journal Psychological Bulletin and will be featured in a future print edition.

 

Their analysis included studies involving a variety of types of media, including print, TV, movies and even a few video games. They examined studies in which the ads themselves contained sex or violence and studies in which only the media surrounding the ads contained such content.

 

In all cases, the researchers had studied whether sex and violence affected brand memory, brand attitudes and people’s intention to buy the products advertised.

 

 

They found that memory for brands and ads was significantly impaired in programs containing sex, violence, or both sex and violence.

 

Overall, people had less favorable attitudes toward brands that advertised in violent media compared to neutral media. Only one study examined attitudes toward brands in sexual media and that pointed toward less favorable attitudes as well.

 

And people reported less intention to buy brands that were advertised in media containing violence, sex or both, compared to the same brands in media containing no sex or violence.

 

But what about ads that themselves featured sex and violence? Here, the findings were not as clear-cut. Overall, memory for brands that featured sex and violence was not impaired.

 

But attitudes toward brands that featured sexual ads were significantly lower than those same brands in neutral ads. Only one study examined attitudes toward brands in violent ads and those results also trended toward less favorable attitudes.

 

Overall, buying intentions did not depend on whether the ad contained sex or violence.

 

While these overall conclusions were clear, Lull and Bushman found several nuances in the studies they examined.

 

Memory for ads and buying intentions were both improved when the ad content and the media content were matching in terms of sex and violence. For example, violent ads worked best when they were paired with violent programs, Lull said.

 

“If a TV program prompts violent or sexual thoughts, an ad that prompts similar thoughts will be better remembered,” Lull said.

 

Sexual ads didn’t hurt brand attitudes and buying intentions overall. But the higher the levels of sexual content in the ads, the more negative the attitude people had toward the brand and the less likely they were to say they would buy the product.

 

Older people in the studies were less likely to say they would buy products featured in violent or sexual ads, compared to younger people.

 

Men’s brand memory was more impaired than women’s when watching media content or ads featuring sexual or violent imagery.

 

“This fits in with evolutionary theory that suggests males pay more attention to violence and sex than women do,” Lull said. “Because they’re paying more attention to this content, they are less likely to remember the ads.”

 

Another interesting finding was that memory impairments and negative attitudes toward brands featured in violent or sexual ads have actually decreased over the past decades.

 

This study can’t say for sure, but one explanation is that people have started to become desensitized to sex and violence in ads, Bushman said

 

“Viewers are so accustomed to seeing violent and sexual media content that they don’t respond as much today to the attention-grabbing impact as they did in previous decades,” he said.

 

Bushman said he is continuing work in his laboratory to examine the effects of violent ads on memory.

 

 

 

 

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

 

 

Published on   24th July 2015

Targeting Newly Discovered Pathway Sensitizes Tumors to Radiation and Chemotherapy

In some patients, aggressive cancers can become resistant to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers identified a pathway that causes the resistance and a new therapeutic drug that targets this pathway.

Biomarker higher in binge drinkers

A biomarker found in the blood of alcohol users is significantly higher in binge drinkers than in those who consume alcohol moderately, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The biomarker, called phosphatidylethanol (PEth), could be used to screen young adults for harmful or heavy drinking such as binge drinking.


 

Having performed extensive research on alcohol and its effects on health throughout her career, Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing, knew PEth is a biomarker associated with alcohol consumption, but it had never been measured in young adults.

 

 

“Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults,” Piano said. “More alarming, though, is the regularity of binge drinking episodes: one in five students report three or more binge drinking episodes in the prior two weeks.”

 

 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above. This typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks in about two hours. For women, it’s consuming four or more drinks in the same time period.

 

 

 

Piano and co-investigator Shane Phillips, associate professor of physical therapy, measured PEth in blood samples from student participants at two large Midwestern university campuses. Participants were part of a larger ongoing study examining the cardiovascular effects of binge drinking.

 

 

Participants completed a 10-question self-assessment survey to determine their drinking patterns. After the questionnaires were reviewed, the subjects were divided into three groups: abstainers, moderate drinkers and binge drinkers.

 

 

Abstainers had not had more than one drink per month in the past two to three years. For men, moderate drinking was defined as consuming three drinks or less per sitting one to two times per week in the past five years. For women, the number of drinks was two. Binge drinkers must have had at least two episodes of heavy drinking in one sitting in the last month.

 

 

The majority of participants were Caucasian females. The majority of moderate and binge drinkers were Caucasian, while abstainers were predominantly Asian.

 

 

Following the self-assessment, blood was drawn from each participant to measure blood alcohol levels and PEth. Five blood spots were placed on cards to be dried and measured against the whole blood samples in an off-site drug testing laboratory.

 

“We discovered a significant correlation between PEth levels in both the whole blood and dried blood samples and the number of times subjects consumed four to five drinks in one sitting within the last 30 days,” Piano said.

 

 

The PEth levels in the blood also positively correlated with the self-assessment survey scores, Piano said. “Using a biomarker of heavy alcohol consumption such as PEth along with self-reporting could provide an objective measure for use in research, screening and treatment of hazardous alcohol use among young adults,” she said.

 

Piano and Phillips were assisted by Stephanie Tiwari, department of biobehavioral health science, and Lauren Nevoral in the department of physical therapy, both of UIC. The research, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, was funded through an Ignite Proposal Development Grant from UIC’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

 

 

 

 

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

 

 

Published on   24th July 2015

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