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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.


Mutation linked to TB drug resistance
The antibiotic pyrazinamide is used to treat tuberculosis (TB), but some strains develop resistance to the drug. A new mutation in the bacterial gene panD has been identified in pyrazinamide-resistant TB, suggesting the PanD protein is a target of pyrazinamide and could be exploited to overcome drug resistance.
Zhang et al. Emerging Microbes and Infections

Heart trouble: Predicting prognosis with progenitors
In patients with angina, different populations of endothelial progenitor cells have been linked to adverse outcomes including stroke, heart attack and death. These cells can be measured from blood samples, so could represent a new, non-invasive way of predicting long-term prognosis in patients with angina.
Pelliccia et al. Circulation Journal


Should healthy people take calcium supplements?
Calcium is essential to maintain healthy bones, and some people take supplements to increase their intake. There have been concerns over the benefits of taking supplements, however, and some studies have reported supplements may actually be harmful. The US Preventive Services Task Force has distilled the evidence in a guideline article, recommending that supplements should only be taken if people cannot get enough calcium through their diet.
Robin Dore. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine


Gender inequalities in urological cancer diagnosis
Prompt diagnosis is important for all cancer types, so that patients can be given the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. New research from the UK shows that women are more likely to experience delayed diagnosis of bladder and renal cancer than men, and doctors are less likely to suspect urinary cancers in women presenting with blood in their urine. The authors emphasize that new approaches are needed to narrow the gender gap and optimize prompt diagnosis for all patients.
Lyratzopoulos et al. BMJ Open


Antibiotics increase the risk of kidney injury
Fluoroquinolones are widely used to treat hospital-acquired infections, but a new study finds that taking these antibiotics approximately doubles the risk of acute kidney injury in men. No association was found with other antibiotics, suggesting that physicians should consider prescribing other treatments in those at risk of developing kidney problems.
Bird et al. CMAJ



Small increases in BMI linked to heart disease
We all know that being obese increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and death, but a new study has found that a BMI increase of just one unit makes people 17 percent more likely to develop heart failure. These findings show that even small amounts of weight loss are beneficial in those who are overweight, and global efforts to reduce obesity are essential to lower the incidence of heart problems.
Fall et al. PLOS Medicine


Severe asthma can worsen during pregnancy
In women suffering from asthma the effect of pregnancy is unpredictable, with around a third of women experiencing a worsening of their asthma. A review by Zarqa Ali and Charlotte Suppli Ulrik brings together recent findings on asthma exacerbations during pregnancy, describing how infections, obesity, ethnicity and non-adherence to therapy all affect the severity of asthma, whereas the sex of the fetus does not  have an impact. The authors conclude that pregnant women with asthma should be considered at high risk for complications, and should be seen regularly by asthma specialists as well as obstetricians.
Ali and Ulrik. Journal of Asthma and Allergy


The dynamics of combination cancer therapy
Drug resistance is a major problem in cancer treatment, and new strategies are urgently needed to overcome this. A mathematical model has now been developed that maps the evolution of treatment resistance in patients with melanoma. It demonstrates that dual therapy is effective in patients lacking mutations that cause simultaneous resistance to both drugs. The model also shows that taking two drugs in combination is more effective than taking one after the other. The results were validated in patients with colon and pancreatic cancer, suggesting they can be broadly applied and could inform the future development of targeted agents for cancer treatment.
Bozic et al. eLife


Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.


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