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.
Children with HIV: improving retention in care
There are approximately 3.3 million children living with HIV worldwide, and the vast majority live in low- and middle-income countries. Treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) substantially reduces mortality rates in children with HIV, but recent estimates suggest that only 20 percent of children requiring ART receive it. To address this disparity, research has been carried out in India to identify the factors associated with retention in care and effective HIV treatment in children. The study identified increased attrition rates in more socially deprived communities, as well as in those living more than 90 minutes from a hospital. Additionally, children older than ten years and with more advanced disease had increased mortality rates. These results highlight that interventions to improve engagement in care should be targeted to specific vulnerable groups in order to reduce mortality risk in HIV-infected children.
New insights into breast cancer metastasis
Research carried out in mice has identified new extracellular matrix biomarkers of breast cancer progression. Using proteomics techniques, the researchers showed that some extracellular matrix proteins are only expressed in mouse mammary tumors with high metastatic potential, and several proteins present in metastatic tumors have a causal role in cancer progression. Importantly, two of these proteins, LTBP3 and SNED1, correlated with poor outcome in patients with breast cancer. Following further validation in patients, these findings could help distinguish metastatic from non-metastatic breast cancer in the clinic, and extracellular matrix proteins could represent therapeutic targets in metastatic disease.
Naba et al. eLife
WASH practices reduce helminth infection rates
Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections – intestinal worms that cause diarrhea, bleeding and malnutrition – affect more than a billion people worldwide, particularly in developing countries with poor hygiene. Deworming medications are effective for short-term treatment of STH infection, but rapid re-infection is common. Improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are therefore required to reduce the number of STH infections in resource-poor settings. Evidence for the effectiveness of WASH strategies, including improved water access, sewerage and hand washing, has been distilled in a systematic review and meta-analysis, showing that people with access to WASH strategies are approximately half as likely to be infected with a STH. These findings emphasize the importance of expanding access to WASH programs to prevent STH infection, in addition to short-term chemotherapy in those already infected.
Strunz et al. PLOS Medicine
Childhood obesity on the rise in China
Previous studies have reported low incidence of childhood obesity in mainland China, but new evidence suggests that rates are rising. A study of over 4000 children attending school in China has revealed that obesity occurs in around 5 percent of seven and 11 year olds, and rates of overweight are 9.5 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively. Body mass index and metabolic abnormalities were positively correlated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and carotid intima-media thickness in these children, indicating that interventions to improved metabolic health in Chinese children are urgently required.
Wang et al. Journal of Clinical Medicine
Epigenetics: the link between older paternal age and schizophrenia risk?
The causes of schizophrenia are poorly understood, with family history thought to contribute a small amount of disease risk. Evidence suggests that advanced paternal age is linked to schizophrenia risk, possibly through mutations that arise with paternal aging. To explore this association further, researchers have looked at whether leukocyte telomere length (LTL) – known to be longer with increasing paternal age – has an effect on schizophrenia risk. In 53 patients, family risk of schizophrenia was associated with longer LTL, and older paternal age was related to longer LTL in male schizophrenia patients but shorter LTL in female patients. These findings are consistent with more severe illness in female patients with older fathers, and suggest that epigenetic changes play a role in mediating the link between older paternal age and increased risk of schizophrenia.
Malaspina et al. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine
Weekend sitting time linked to CVD risk
Being physically active is linked to many health benefits, from reducing cancer risk to improving cardiovascular health. Now, new research has shown that spending less time sitting at the weekend is good for the heart. The study showed that sitting time per weekend day, but not per weekday, is correlated with arterial stiffness – a measure of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk – and development of metabolic syndrome. The authors suggest that measuring sitting time at the weekend, rather than during the week, better reflects people’s preference for inactivity, and conclude that weekend sitting time could be an indicator of CVD risk.
Huynh et al. BMJ Open
Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.