Open reading frame: epigenetic therapies, adverse drug effects & polio eradication

Posted by Biome on 18th October 2013 - 1 Comment

Open Reading Frame brings together a selection of recent publication highlights from elsewhere in  the open access ecosystem. This week we take a look at the past few weeks in medicine.


Attitudes towards sharing genetic information
As we move towards an era of personalized medicine, genomic sequencing technologies have advanced and the costs declined, meaning that the incidence of direct-to-consumer genetic testing has increased. While many barriers to genetic testing have now been overcome, concerns remain about sharing genetic data and retaining an individuals’ privacy. In an exploratory study, participants who had purchased genetic information from a genomics company were questioned about the privacy of their results, and 45 percent reported that they shared their data on social networking websites. Over 70 percent said they used the internet to help them interpret their results, and 52 percent believed the privacy of their genetic information could be breached in the future. These results indicate that people frequently turn to online resources to share their information and interpret results, and careful regulation of data sharing is required.
Lee et al. Journal of Personalized Medicine


Exploiting the epigenome in lung cancer
In the last few years, a wealth of information has been gathered on the role of epigenetic changes in cancer initiation and progression. In a review article, Susan Bates and colleagues discuss the role of epigenetics in lung cancer, and explore how combination therapies targeting DNA methylation could be used to treat lung cancer. The authors also discuss the challenges of exploiting the epigenome, and explore the possibility of combining epigenetic therapies with chemotherapy and biological treatments in a multi-targeted approach to lung cancer therapy.
Jakopovic et al. Frontiers in Oncology


Minimizing side effects: prescribers should be aware of potentially interacting drugs
The simultaneous use of many medications is becoming more common, which raises concerns about drug-related adverse effects. A retrospective analysis of prescriptions has been carried out by researchers in Italy to identify potentially interacting drugs (PIDs) that are prescribed to patients. PIDs were typically prescribed in older patients receiving 10 or more drugs, and clinically important interactions were found more frequently in those taking warfarin. These findings suggest that practitioners should be more aware of the most prevalent drug interactions, in order to prevent their concomitant use and reduce adverse events.
Tragni et al. PLOS One


VEGF is a marker of metastasis in gastric cancer
In patients with gastric cancer, peritoneal metastasis is associated with poor prognosis, and markers of metastasis need to be identified in order to prioritize these patients for early treatment. New research has found that high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in peritoneal ascites are associated with reduced overall survival. This suggests that VEGF could be used as a clinical biomarker for peritoneal metastasis, and that anti-VEGF targeted therapies are a promising strategy for metastatic gastric cancer.
Fushida et al. OncoTargets and Therapy


Moving towards global polio eradication
Polio has been eradicated in most parts of the world, but remains endemic in three countries: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In a policy forum article, Seye Abimbola and colleagues explore the reasons why Polio eradication has not yet been successful in these areas. The authors highlight country-specific problems, including terrorist attacks on vaccination workers and censorship of discussions about the polio vaccine. In light of terrorist activity, the authors recommend minimizing publicity surrounding vaccination campaigns, and emphasize that that governments should prioritize polio eradication as part of routine healthcare.
Abimbola et al. PLOS Medicine


Asthma linked to non-respiratory infections
It is well known that asthmatics are at increased risk of airway infections such as flu and pneumococcal disease, but the link between asthma and other infections is not so clear. Now, a population-based study has been carried out in Minnesota, USA to assess whether asthma affects the risk of non-airway related infections. The researchers found that those with asthma have a slightly elevated risk of E.coli bloodstream infection, independent of age, ethnicity and comorbid conditions. These results suggest that the impact of asthma could go beyond the airways, and non-respiratory infection risk in asthmatics warrants further investigation.
Bang et al. BMJ Open


Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.