Sunday November 17, 2019

To Treat Brain Cancer Scientists Taking Polio’s Help

The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned

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A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient. In a small study, patients with brain tumors were given genetically modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack the cancer. VOA

There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned. All had glioblastoma, an aggressive and lethal type of brain cancer. Of the 61 patients in the study, 21 percent who got this new treatment had were alive three years later.

While that number is low, the survival rate for glioblastoma is normally even lower, usually, a year and a half after diagnosis. The researchers compared the study group to a group of patients drawn from historical cases at Duke. Only four percent of these patients survived three years after treatment.

Dr. Annick Desjardins, one of the authors, said not all patients respond, but if they do, they often become long-term survivors. Desjardins said, “The big question is, how can we make sure that everybody responds?”

Stephanie Hopper was the first patient in the Duke study. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma eight years ago. She had the tumor removed, but two years later, it returned. The modified virus is directly injected into the brain during surgery. After treatment, Hopper’s tumor shrunk to the point where it’s barely noticeable in her brain scans, and the tumor is continuing to shrink.

Dr. Darell Bigner is the senior author of the study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He explained that by modifying the virus, it destroyed its ability to infect nerve cells and cause polio, but the virus retained the ability to kill cancer cells. In fact, the modified virus targeted the tumor cells.

Prior to the study, the researchers decided they needed a different approach to treating glioblastomas which is why they looked at experimenting with the polio virus.

There's an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies
There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. Flickr

One of the goals of a phase one trial is to find a dose that is safe. In some patients, the therapy caused their brains to swell and they experienced seizures and other bad side effects so the dose was lowered. Study participants were selected according to the size of their recurring tumor, its location in the brain and other factors designed for patient protection.

For five of the 61 patients in the trial, the cancer returned. They were treated a second time and Bigner says, “Those that we’ve been able to follow long enough have responded to the treatment the second time. That’s extremely important.” Combining the polio virus with other approved therapies is one approach already being tested at Duke to improve survival.

Also read: A One-Shot Nanoparticle Vaccine for Polio is Developed by MIT scientists

The researchers are continuing their work on treating glioblastomas and planning other studies as well. They want to test the therapy on children’s brain tumors. The therapy may also expand beyond brain tumors to include breast cancer and melanoma patient as well. (VOA)

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This AI Tool Can Predict Mortality Of Heart Failure Patients

Researchers develop a tool that can predict mortality of heart failure patients

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This artificial intelligence (AI) tool can predict life expectancy in heart failure patients. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to predict life expectancy in heart failure patients.

The machine learning algorithm based on de-identified electronic health, records data of 5,822 hospitalised or ambulatory patients with heart failure at UC San Diego Health in the US.

“We wanted to develop a tool that predicted life expectancy in heart failure patients, there are apps where algorithms are finding out all kinds of things, like products you want to purchase,” said Avi Yagil, Professor at University of California.

“We needed a similar tool to make medical decisions. Predicting mortality is important in patients with heart failure. Current strategies for predicting risk, however, are only modestly successful and can be subjective,” Yagil added.

From this model, a risk score was derived that determined low and high risk of death by identifying eight readily available variables collected for the majority of patients with heart failure:Diastolic blood pressure, Creatinine, Blood urea nitrogen, White blood cell count, Platelets, Albumin and Red blood cell distribution.

Yagil said the newly developed model was able to accurately predict life expectancy 88 per cent of the time and performed substantially better than other popular published models.

“This tool gives us insight, for example, on the probability that a given patient will die from heart failure in the next three months or a year,” said researcher Eric Adler.

Heart failure patients
The mortality of a heart failure patient can be predicted. Pixabay

“This is incredibly valuable. It allows us to make informed decisions based on a proven methodology and not have to look into a crystal ball,” he added.

The tool was additionally tested using de-identified patient data from the University of California San Francisco and a data base derived from 11 European medical centers.

“It was successful in those cohorts as well,” said Yagil.

“Being able to repurpose our findings in independent populations is of utmost importance, thus validating our methodology and its results,” Yagil added.

Also Read-Therapy Dogs Befriend Patients in ICU

Researchers said the partnership between physicists and cardiologists was critical to developing a reliable tool and extensive knowledge and experiences from both sides proved synergetic.

The study was published in the European Journal of Heart Failure. (IANS)