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.
Is there a new malaria vaccine on the horizon?
New evidence suggests that the world’s first malaria vaccine could soon be approved for use. In a large clinical trial involving several African countries, infants aged 6-12 weeks and children aged 5-17 months were randomized to receive the RTS,S vaccine or a control vaccine. After 18 months of follow-up, the vaccine almost halved the number of malaria cases in young children, and reduced the incidence by a quarter in infants. The impact of vaccination was highest in areas with the greatest incidence of malaria. Although the protective effect of the vaccine waned over time, these findings suggest that the RTS,S vaccine, now submitted to the European Medicines Agency for approval for global use, could prevent a substantial number of malaria cases, having a major public health impact in sub-Saharan Africa.
The RTS,S Clinical Trials Partnership. PLOS Medicine
Alzheimer’s disease: the burden on caregivers
With the growing number of older people in Western countries comes an increase in age-related disorders. Among these, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has a tremendous impact on patients and their families. In Italy, families are the main source of care for AD patients, with 80 percent living at home. Research has been carried out to assess the burden experienced by those caring for someone with AD, and the effectiveness of coping strategies. AD was shown to be associated with high distress burden among caregivers, which is greater in women and strongly correlated with dementia severity. The majority of caregivers were found to rely on emotion-focused coping strategies, which are linked to higher levels of distress. These findings emphasize the great need for providing tailored support strategies to those caring for AD patients, and more work is needed to identify the most effective coping strategies.
Iavarone et al. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
Weight loss interventions: how to motivate treatment adherence?
Many strategies to promote weight loss – from lifestyle education to appetite suppressors and even surgery – are being explored as anti-obesity treatments. For lifestyle intervention programs, patient dropout can lead to treatment failure, and it is important to identify predictors of treatment adherence to improve the success of these programs. Now, research has been carried out to explore which measures of obesity are linked to the greatest success in treatment programs. Researchers found that in overweight and obese patients who did not drop out of the treatment program, there were significant improvements in weight loss and waist-to-hip ratios, while no significant differences in hip circumference and waist loss were seen. Based on these anthropometric outcomes and patients’ perception of their body image, the authors conclude that waist circumference loss is effective in retaining obese patients in weight-loss programs. Waist circumference measurements should therefore be taken into account when designing successful obesity interventions that motivate participants to continue treatment.
Kuzmar et al. PeerJ
Exploring breast cancer differences by ethnicity
The subtype, severity and outcome of breast cancer can vary across different ethnic groups, and Hispanic women are reported to have an increased mortality risk compared with those of a different ethnicity. New research carried out in Hispanic women from Costa Rica has revealed that the median age at diagnosis is younger compared with previous findings in Australian and non-Hispanic European women, and a greater proportion of Costa Rican women have more advanced cancer at diagnosis. The number of women with triple negative breast cancer – cancers not expressing HER2 or hormonal receptors – was also found to be higher in women from Costa Rica than previously reported in non-Hispanic populations. These insights suggest that the higher proportion of triple negative tumors and advanced stage at diagnosis may contribute to poor prognosis in Hispanic women, highlighting the need for effective screening approaches to facilitate early detection and prompt treatment.
Srur-Rivero and Cartin-Brenes. Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research
Fruit and veg: is five-a-day enough?
Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day is recommended to prevent chronic diseases and reduce mortality risk. The ‘five-a-day’ quota has been recommended for many years, but recent research suggested that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day could have more beneficial effects. A systematic review and meta-analysis has now been carried out to analyze whether eating more than five portions a day is linked to better health. The meta-analysis, including 16 studies, confirmed that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is linked to lower risk of mortality, with the average risk of death falling by around five percent for every extra serving consumed. However, the researchers found no further significant drop in mortality risk when fruit and vegetable consumption was raised to more than five portions a day. The results of this meta-analysis suggest that there is no additional benefit in consuming more than five portions a day, but emphasize the importance of consuming the recommended five-a-day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Wang et al. BMJ
Elevator buttons as a source of bacterial colonization
Hospital-acquired infections are a major cause of illness and death. A variety of objects, including stethoscopes, white coats, telephones and radiographic equipment, have been shown to harbor bacteria in hospitals, and surface contamination has been implicated in the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Now, elevator buttons have been identified as a previously-unrecognized source of bacterial colonization. Researchers swabbed elevator buttons and toilet surfaces across three hospitals in Canada, finding that the prevalence of colonization on elevator buttons was 61 percent. Elevator buttons had higher rates of colonization than toilet surfaces, but pathogenic species were relatively uncommon on elevator buttons. The authors suggest that frequent sanitation of elevator buttons, along with positioning hand sanitizers outside elevators, could help to improve hand hygiene and decrease the transmission of hospital-acquired infections.
Kandel et al. Open Medicine
Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.