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.

Unbranded cigarette packs help smokers to quit

Much-awaited new research shows that plain cigarette packaging reduces the appeal of smoking and encourages smokers to quit. The study was carried out in Australia, the only country in the world where cigarettes are sold in unbranded packaging, and participants were interviewed before and after the time when selling branded cigarettes became illegal. Those using cigarettes in plain packaging were more likely to prioritize quitting and found smoking less satisfying, suggesting that unbranded smoking legislation is effective and should be used in other countries to reduce the appeal of smoking.

Wakefield et al. BMJ Open


Cancer prehabilitation: a window of opportunity to optimize recovery
Cancer prehabilitation – the interventions given between the time of diagnosis and treatment – is increasingly being recognized as an important step to improve patients’ response to therapy and quality of life. In a review article, experts in physical medicine and rehabilitation discuss the different prehabilitation interventions, which include traditional approaches to improve stamina such as aerobic exercise, as well as more targeted interventions such as pelvic floor exercises in those with prostate cancer. The authors explain how these treatments can help to optimize patients’ health before they start cancer treatment, and emphasize that prehabilitation should follow an individualized approach.

Silver & Baima. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


Eat breakfast for a healthier heart
Breakfast is described by many as the most important meal of the day; those who eat a healthy breakfast tend to snack less throughout the morningand are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Now, new evidence suggests that eating breakfast is also linked to a healthy heart. A study of almost 27 000 men in America found that eating breakfast is associated with significantly reduced risk of heart disease, providing more evidence for the importance of eating a healthy breakfast every day.

Cahill et al. Circulation


Monitoring MRSA: the importance of antibiotic type
When treating hospitalized patients with infections, it is important to monitor the occurrence of resistant strains of bacteria to avoid antibiotic resistance developing. New research has assessed the impact of different antibiotics on the density of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in bacterial cultures. The authors found that the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics increases MRSA development, and resistance rates were highest in respiratory care wards, indicating that antibiotic type and ward must be taken into account in MRSA surveillance.

Yoshida et al. Infection and Drug Resistance


Action required to reduce the global burden of sickle cell anemia

Sickle cell anemia (SCA), an inherited birth defect causing red blood cells to develop a crescent shape, can cause infections and severe organ damage if it’s not diagnosed and treated early. New research has estimated how the global burden of SCA will change in the next 40 years, calculating that the number of newborns with SCA will increase to around 400 000. The authors showed that implementing screening programs, vaccinations and antibiotic interventions will reduce premature deaths from approximately 90 percent to 50 percent in low- and middle-income countries, concluding that while SCA is on the increase, implementing new policies could have an enormous impact in reducing the global burden of this disease.

Piel et al. PLoS Medicine


Managing diarrhea in HIV patients 
Earlier this year, crofelemer was the first drug to be approved by the FDA for treating diarrhea in patients with HIV. Chronic diarrhea is a common side effect of antiretroviral therapy used to treat HIV, and can affect treatment outcome. In a review article, Kevin Garey and colleagues discuss the clinical development of crofelemer, and explain that it is a reliable treatment option for HIV-associated diarrhea, so could increase adherence to HIV treatment in those suffering from side effects.

Pate et al. HIV/AIDS- Research and Palliative Care


Treating lupus: targeting B cells with belimumab
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, is an autoimmune disease that can affect any of the body’s organs or tissues. Antibody-based therapies are increasingly being investigated to treat lupus, in order to overcome the resistance and toxicity problems associated with commonly-used therapies. A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials has now been carried out to assess the clinical benefits of belimumab, an antibody therapy targeting B cells in the immune system. The authors found that when the results of clinical trials are combined, belimumab is effective in the treatment of lupus. While more work is required to verify these findings, the results of this meta-analysis indicate that belimumab could be a promising new therapy to target the overactive immune system and treat lupus.

Kandala et al. BMJ Open

Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.


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