The anticancer drug ibrutinib does not appear to inhibit response to the flu vaccine in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), despite an impaired immune system, according to a new study. Researchers gave influenza vaccine to a small group of CLL patients participating in a clinical trial of ibrutinib. More than one-quarter of the patients showed evidence of a positive response to the flu vaccine three months after receiving it. The findings lend support to routine immunization against the flu in patients with CLL, the researchers said. The study, published in JAMA Oncology, was funded by NHLBI.
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Researchers are reporting identification of a large number of genes that they have linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. The researchers analyzed gene-expression data from tissue samples taken from hundreds of patients with coronary artery disease. They identified more than 1,000 genes that appear to be associated with an increased risk for heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. The study, published in Science, was partly funded by NHLBI.
Scientists have identified DNA targets related to human blood genes (HBG1 and HBG2) that could be manipulated using genome editing techniques, according to a study in Nature Medicine. Researchers supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found the potential therapy targets, which in the future could help people who have sickle cell disease as well as thalassemia.
In the quest to eliminate racial health disparities, researchers are reporting that having a well–designed and delivered clinic-based program is important but not enough to fight high blood pressure, particularly among African-Americans. They suggest that another approach may help: take health care to people in the community rather than requiring them to come to the clinic. In a new study, the scientists reached out to a group of patients already diagnosed with uncontrolled blood pressure and asked them to join a special program in the clinic to lower blood pressure. Patients who participated in the program, which involved meeting with dieticians and pharmacists who were part of their doctor’s team, tended to have larger drops in blood pressure than those that did not participate in the program, the researchers note. However, large numbers of patients who were eligible for the program did not participate. This suggests that barriers to engaging in care must be addressed by building linkages between clinics and communities, including community health workers on clinic teams and building relationships with other service providers, the researchers note. Their study, published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease, was funded by NHLBI.
Researchers are reporting that people who have sickle cell trait (in contrast to full-blown sickle cell disease) might not have an increased risk for premature death compared to those without the genetic trait. The finding contradicts a previous study showing a link between sickle cell trait and an increased risk of early death. In the new study, researchers reviewed the health records of nearly 48,000 black soldiers who had served in the U.S. Army between 2011 and 2014 and identified those with sickle cell trait (about 3,500 soldiers). They found that the soldiers with sickle cell trait did not have an increased risk of death when compared to soldiers who lacked the trait. However, the researchers found that those with sickle cell trait were more likely to develop exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle deteriorates due to strenuous exercise. The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was funded by NHLBI.
Researchers are reporting that omega-3 fatty acid supplements, derived from fish oil, may help heal the heart following a heart attack. In a clinical trial, they showed that high doses of omega-3 supplements taken daily for six months helped reduce scarring of heart muscle and improved pumping ability in a group of heart attack survivors. The study, published in the journal Circulation, was funded by NHLBI.
Researchers are reporting discovery of a new brain-cell network that appears to be critical for the control of breathing. The brain-cells appear to control a phase of breathing called postinspiration, which occurs after air is inhaled. Malfunction of these nerve cells could help explain why some people, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, develop deadly lung complications, the researchers said. They believe that these cells may be one of three microcircuits in the brain that coordinate to control the breathing process. Their study, published in Nature, was partly funded by NHLBI.
Researchers are reporting that a newly identified genetic variant is associated with an increased risk of obesity and may help explain why Samoans have among the world’s highest levels of obesity. In the new study, the scientists analyzed genetic data from about 5,000 Samoans and found that the obesity-linked gene is common in this group. It is rare in other populations. The study, published in Nature Genetics, was partly funded by NHLBI.
Researchers have found a substance that shows promise in reversing the effects of anticoagulants, according to a study appearing in Nature Medicine (subscription required). Investigators, supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, found that variant coagulation factor FXaI16L is a potential therapy for controlling serious bleeding in patients who are taking anticoagulants. The work done, in mouse models, will need further work before any treatments are available for humans.
An enzyme known as NOX4 may serve as a therapeutic target for certain metabolic diseases, according to researchers who have published a study in Nature Medicine (subscription required). Supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the research team found that one of NOX4’s functions appears to play a role in the development of some inflammatory diseases.