2013: a year in clinical research
Less aggressive treatment for fractures
The current trend in orthopaedic medicine is to use operative treatments for upper extremity fractures. It has been accepted knowledge for some time that the use of pins and other operative procedures helps upper extremity fractures heal more effectively, but recent clinical research is hoping to challenge this trend. A report on the practice undertaken by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has taken two decades to come to fruition, but finally, the data is beginning to bear fruit. Interestingly enough, data analysis has suggested that less aggressive treatments may well be more effective means of treating upper extremity fractures, potentially changing the way such injuries are treated in future.
Predicting Alzheimer’s and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia blight millions of lives every year – not just for the sufferers, but for their families, too. A new clinical research project, however, is helping us to better predict the risk of Alzheimer’s disease early in life. The study, conducted by the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Centre, has identified a number of cognitive complaints in adults that can suggest a risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in later life. The results of this clinical research project may help us to better prepare for, or even prevent, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
Explaining persistent measles
In 2011 measles killed 150,000 children worldwide, despite the fact that cheap and effective vaccines are now widely available. The problem is caused by the population rather than the disease, with many individuals unaware of the risks and thus less likely to take steps to vaccinate their children and loved ones. A new clinical research study conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico has looked at the epidemiological existence of measles in populations where it should be extinct, helping to explain why so-called ‘metapopulations’ persist to this day. The researchers’ work may help us to combat measles deaths in future, and better understand the behaviour of disease vectors in urban populations.
The cause of kidney complaints in lupus patients
The autoimmune disease lupus attacks the central nervous system, joints, skin and vital organs of sufferers, although individual patients will suffer the various symptoms in varying degrees of severity. Between 50% and 75% of patients, for example, will experience kidney involvement, with 30% of those going on to suffer kidney failures. Until now, healthcare professionals had no way of knowing why that was, but a report from researchers at the University of Louisville School of Medicine has successfully identified a number of gene variants that help to determine lupus nephritis susceptibility. The researchers hope that their work will help to improve lupus therapy in future.
Treatments for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are highly debilitating and destructive bowel diseases that affect more than 4 million people worldwide between them. Treatments already exist for both diseases, although none provide guaranteed success. A new clinical research project, however, has revealed that the investigational antibody vedolizumab can provide hope where other treatments have failed. The study was undertaken by the Takeda Pharmaceutical company in Japan, and the results conclude fifteen years of clinical research work. While clinical trials can be arduous and time-consuming, the results prove that the effort is more than worthwhile.
Clinical research projects such as those mentioned above are extremely encouraging for the healthcare industry, but there’s still work to be done.