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Selected Abstracts

Serum TRACP 5b Is a Useful Marker for Monitoring Alendronate Treatment: Comparison With Other Markers of Bone Turnover,

Arja Nenonen MSc
Abstract We studied clinical performance of serum TRACP 5b and other bone turnover markers, including S-CTX, U-DPD, S-PINP, S-BALP, and S-OC, for monitoring alendronate treatment. TRACP 5b had higher clinical sensitivity, area under the ROC curve, and signal-to-noise ratio than the other markers. Introduction: The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical performance of serum TRACP 5b (S-TRACP5b) with that of other markers of bone turnover in the monitoring of alendronate treatment. Materials and Methods: This double-blinded study included 148 healthy postmenopausal women that were randomly assigned into two groups: one receiving 5 mg alendronate daily (n = 75) and the other receiving placebo (n = 73) for 12 months. All individuals in both groups received calcium and vitamin D daily. The bone resorption markers S-TRACP5b, serum C-terminal cross-linked telopeptides of type I collagen (S-CTX), and total urinary deoxypyridinoline (U-DPD), and the serum markers of bone formation procollagen I N-terminal propeptide (S-PINP), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (S-BALP), and total osteocalcin (S-OC) were assessed at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months after initiation of treatment. Lumbar spine BMD (LBMD) was measured at baseline and 12 months. Results: Compared with the placebo group, LBMD increased, and all bone markers decreased significantly more in the alendronate group (p < 0.001 for each parameter). The decrease of S-TRACP5b after first 3 months of alendronate treatment correlated significantly with the changes of all other markers except S-OC, the best correlation being with S-CTX (r = 0.60, p < 0.0001). The changes of LBMD at 12 months only correlated significantly with the changes of S-TRACP5b (r = ,0.32, p = 0.005) and S-CTX (r = ,0.24, p = 0.037) at 3 months. Based on clinical sensitivity, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, and signal-to-noise ratio, S-TRACP5b, S-CTX, and S-PINP were the best markers for monitoring alendronate treatment. Clinical sensitivity, area under the ROC curve, and signal-to-noise ratio were higher for S-TRACP5b than for the other markers. Conclusion: These results show that S-TRACP5b, S-CTX, and S-PINP are useful markers for monitoring alendronate treatment. [source]

Treatment of Refractory, Chronic Low Back Pain with Botulinum Neurotoxin A: An Open-Label, Pilot Study

PAIN MEDICINE, Issue 3 2006
Bahman Jabbari MD
ABSTRACT Objective., To study the short- and long-term effects of botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT-A, Botox®, Allergan Inc.) on refractory chronic low back pain. Design., The effect of botulinum neurotoxin A on chronic low back pain was prospectively studied in 75 patients with repeated treatments over a period of 14 months. Pain intensity (visual analog scale [VAS]), pain frequency (pain days), and perceived functional status (Oswestry scale) were assessed at baseline, 3 weeks, and at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 months. BoNT-A was injected into para-spinal muscles at 4,5 levels (between L1 and S1) unilaterally or bilaterally. The dose per site varied from 40 to 50 units. The total dose per session ranged from 200 to 500 units. Reinjections were performed at 4 months only when pain returned. Results., At 3 weeks, 40 patients (53%) and at 2 months, 39 patients (52%) reported significant pain relief. The change in VAS, Oswestry score, and pain days was significant compared with baseline at 2 months after each injection period (P < 0.005) and remained so over subsequent treatments. Among initial responders, 91% continued responsiveness over the length of the study. Three patients (4%), after the first treatment, had a mild flulike reaction that lasted 2,5 days. Conclusion., Botulinum neurotoxin A may be beneficial in patients with chronic low back pain. A favorable initial response predicts subsequent responsiveness. The treatment is well tolerated, and side effects are mild and transient. [source]

Latest news and product developments

PRESCRIBER, Issue 22 2007
Article first published online: 28 DEC 200
Glitazones: benefits outweigh the risks Following a review of the safety of rosiglitazone and pioglitazone, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has concluded that their benefits outweigh their risks in the approved indications. The review was prompted by reports of an increased risk of fractures in women and, in patients taking rosiglitazone, ischaemic heart disease. The EMEA concluded that prescribing information for rosiglitazone should now include a warning that, in patients with ischaemic heart disease, it should only be used after careful evaluation of each patient's individual risk, and the combination of rosiglitazone and insulin should only be used in exceptional cases and under close supervision. No change was considered necessary to the prescribing information for pioglitazone. Modern dressings no better? A systematic review has found only weak evidence that modern dressings are better than saline gauze or paraffin gauze for healing acute and chronic wounds (Arch Dermatol 2007;143: 1297-304). The analysis, which included 99 studies, found that only hydrocolloids were demonstrably better than older dressings for healing chronic wounds, and alginates were superior to other modern dressings for debriding necrotic wounds. There was no evidence that modern dressings offered superior overall performance to the older alternatives. Hospital inflation twice primary care level The cost of drugs prescribed in secondary care but dispensed in the community increased by 6.4 per cent in 2006 - twice the rate of inflation in primary care - according to the latest statistics on hospital prescribing in England. The increase follows a reduction in costs in 2005 after the introduction of the new PPRS scheme. Data from The Information Centre ( show that hospital medicines make up about 24 per cent of the NHS drugs budget. Secondary care has a consistently better record than primary care in prescribing lower-cost alternatives within therapeutic categories, eg simvastatin and pravastatin among the statins, omeprazole and lansoprazole among PPIs, and ACE inhibitors among drugs acting on the renin angiotensin system. The most expensive drug prescribed by hospital specialists and dispensed in the community is interferon beta. MHRA limits the use of fibrates The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has advised that fibrates should now be reserved for the treatment of isolated severe hypertriglyceridaemia. They should be considered for hypercholesterolaemia only when a statin or other treatment is contraindicated or not tolerated. In the latest Drug Safety Update, the MHRA says there is insufficient evidence of long-term benefits from fibrates, and first-line use is no longer justified because the evidence for the benefits of statins is robust. The MHRA also warns that some breastfeeding infants have increased susceptibility to the adverse effects of codeine taken by their mother, and that St John's wort may affect the hepatic metabolism of any anticonvulsant. Annual zoledronic acid infusion cuts mortality after hip fracture Once-yearly infusion of zoledronic acid (Aclasta) after hip fracture reduces deaths over a two-year period by 28 per cent compared with placebo, US investigators say (N Engl J Med 2007;357:1799-809). The HORIZON Recurrent Fracture Trial randomised 2127 men and women (mean age 75) within 90 days of surgery for hip fracture to zoledronic acid 5mg yearly or placebo. Mortality over 1.9 years of follow-up was 9.6 per cent with zoledronic acid and 13.3 per cent with placebo. Zoledronic acid also significantly reduced the rate of any new clinical fractures (by 35 per cent) and new clinical vertebral fractures(by 45 per cent),but the lower rate of hip fracture (2.0 vs 3.5 per cent with placebo) was not statistically significant. Rivastigmine patch for mild to moderate AD Rivastigmine (Exelon) is now available as a transdermal patch for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Applied once daily, the patch delivers 9.5mg per 24 hours and, says manufacturer Novartis, is associated with a lower incidence of nausea and vomiting than a comparable oral dose. The patch is available in two strengths: 4.6mg per 24hr is equivalent to oral doses of 3 or 6mg per day, and the 9.5mg per 24hr patch is equivalent to 9 or 12mg per day orally. The recommended dose of the patch is 9.5mg per day; both strengths cost £83.84 for 30 patches. Women more aspirin resistant than men? The cardioprotective effect of low-dose aspirin may be lower in women than men, say Canadian investigators (BMC Medicine 2007;5:29 doi: 10.1186/1741-70155-29). Their meta-analysis of 23 randomised trials involving a total of 113 494 participants found that aspirin significantly reduced the risk of nonfatal but not fatal myocardial infarction (MI). About one-quarter of the variation in its effects on nonfatal MI was accounted for by the sex mix of the trial population. Separating the results by sex showed the reduction in risk with aspirin use was statistically significant in men (relative risk, RR, 0.62) but not in women (RR 0.87). Look after physical health of mentally ill GPs and other primary care workers should take more responsibility for the physical health of their mentally ill patients, say advocacy groups. Mind and Body: Preventing and Improving Physical Health Problems in Patients With Schizophrenia points out that the mental health needs of patients with schizophrenia are met in secondary care, but their physical health needs should be met in primary care. In particular, the metabolic effects of antipsychotics may lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and weight gain in particular is a frequent reason for nonadherence to treatment. The Mind and Body Manifesto was developed by SANE, The Mental Health Nurses Association, The National Obesity Forum and The Disability Rights Commission and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Limited and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (UK) Ltd. Copies are available from Health eCard costs Some costs quoted in our article on the Health eCard (The Health eCard: the way ahead for medical records?,5 October issue, pages 28-9) have been revised: the card and initial download will cost patients £39.50, and GPs will be entitled to charge patients £10 per annum for subsequent downloads. NICE appraisals of cytokine inhibitors in RA NICE has endorsed the use of the anti-TNF agents adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), normally in conjunction with methotrexate, for the treatment of active RA when methotrexate and another DMARD have failed (also see New from NICE below). NICE has provisionally concluded, subject to consultation, that abatacept (Orencia) should not be recommended for the treatment of RA. Boots and BMJ launch health advice site is a new website providing information about health and medicines for the public produced by Boots using information provided by the BMJ Publishing Group. The website covers many of the topics already available from NHSDirect, with perhaps more information about available treatments. Diabetes care shows small improvement The third National Diabetes Audit in England and Wales has found that more people with diabetes were achieving the targets set by NICE for cholesterol levels, glycaemic control and blood pressure in 2005/06 - but younger patients were doing less well. Overall, the HbA1C target of ,7.5 per cent was achieved in 60 per cent of people with diabetes compared with 58 per cent in 2004/05. However, HbA1C was >9.5 per cent in 30 per cent of children and young people, of whom 9 per cent experienced at least one episode of ketoacidosis. More topics for NICE New topics referred to NICE include clinical guidelines on ovarian cancer, coeliac disease and stable angina, public health guidance on preventing cardiovascular disease, and technology appraisals on insulin detemir (Levemir) for type 1 diabetes, several treatments for cancer and hepatic and haematological disorders, and biological therapies for juvenile arthritis. New from NICE NICE appraisal on anti-TNFs for RA Since NICE published its first appraisal of agents acting against tumour necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNFs) for the treatment of RA in 2002, the product licences for etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) have changed and a new agent, adalimumab (Humira), has been introduced. The anti-TNFs act in different ways. Infliximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody that binds to TNF-alpha, neutralising its activity. Etanercept, a recombinant human TNF-alpha receptor fusion protein, and adalimumab, a human-sequence antibody, both bind to TNF-alpha and block its interaction with cell surface receptors. Adalimumab also modulates some biological responses induced or regulated by TNF-alpha. These agents are recommended for adults with severe active RA (defined as a disease activity score - DAS28 - greater than 5.1) who have already tried two disease-modifying drugs, including methotrexate (if not contraindicated). Prior treatment should have been of at least six months' duration, including two months at the standard dose (unless limited by toxicity). Anti-TNFs should normally be prescribed with methotrexate; when this is not appropriate, etanercept and adalimumab may be prescribed as monotherapy. Treatment with an anti-TNF should be continued beyond six months only if there is an adequate response (defined as an improvement in DAS28 of at least 1.2). Data from the British Rheumatology Society Biologics register show that, after six months, 67 per cent of patients met NICE criteria for an adequate response; this declined to 55 per cent at 18 months. The basic annual cost of treatment is £9295 for adalimumab 40mg on alternate weeks or etanercept 25mg twice weekly; infliximab costs £3777 for a loading dose, then £7553-£8812 depending on dose. Assuming no progression of disability, the incremental costs per QALY (compared with sequential DMARDs) were £30 200 for adalimumab, £24 600 for etanercept and £39 400 for infliximab. There are no direct comparative trials of the anti-TNFs, and their clinical trial findings are not directly comparable. Unless other factors determine treatment choice, NICE therefore recommends the least expensive. If the first anti-TNF is withdrawn within six months due to an adverse event, a second may be tried. [source]

Phase I study of dexamethasone, methotrexate, ifosfamide, l -asparaginase, and etoposide (SMILE) chemotherapy for advanced-stage, relapsed or refractory extranodal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma and leukemia

CANCER SCIENCE, Issue 5 2008
Motoko Yamaguchi
Extranodal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type, and aggressive NK-cell leukemia are rare, and their standard therapy has not been established. They are Epstein,Barr virus-associated lymphoid malignancies, and tumor cells express P-glycoprotein leading to multidrug resistance of the disease. Patients with stage IV, relapsed or refractory diseases have a dismal prognosis, with survival measured in months only. To develop an efficacious chemotherapeutic regimen, we conducted a dose-escalation feasibility study of a new chemotherapeutic regimen, SMILE, comprising the steroid dexamethasone, methotrexate, ifosfamide, l -asparaginase, and etoposide. The components of SMILE are multidrug resistance-unrelated agents and etoposide. Etoposide shows both in vitro and in vivo efficacy for Epstein,Barr virus-associated lymphoproliferative disorders. Eligible patients had newly diagnosed stage IV, relapsed or refractory diseases after first-line chemotherapy, were 15,69 years of age, and had satisfactory performance scores (0,2). Four dose levels of methotrexate and etoposide were originally planned to be evaluated. At level 1, six patients with extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type, were enrolled. Their disease status was newly diagnosed stage IV (n = 3), first relapse (n = 2), and primary refractory (n = 1). All of the first three patients developed dose-limiting toxicities, and one of them died of sepsis with grade 4 neutropenia. A protocol revision stipulating early granulocyte colony-stimulating factor administration was made. Two out of three additional patients developed dose-limiting toxicities that were all manageable and transient. For the six enrolled patients, the overall response rate was 67% and the complete response rate was 50%. Although its safety and efficacy require further evaluation, we recommend a SMILE chemotherapy dose level of 1 for further clinical studies. (Cancer Sci 2008; 99: 1016,1020) [source]