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1.  Ghost Authorship in Industry-Initiated Randomised Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(1):e19.
Background
Ghost authorship, the failure to name, as an author, an individual who has made substantial contributions to an article, may result in lack of accountability. The prevalence and nature of ghost authorship in industry-initiated randomised trials is not known.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cohort study comparing protocols and corresponding publications for industry-initiated trials approved by the Scientific-Ethical Committees for Copenhagen and Frederiksberg in 1994–1995. We defined ghost authorship as present if individuals who wrote the trial protocol, performed the statistical analyses, or wrote the manuscript, were not listed as authors of the publication, or as members of a study group or writing committee, or in an acknowledgment. We identified 44 industry-initiated trials. We did not find any trial protocol or publication that stated explicitly that the clinical study report or the manuscript was to be written or was written by the clinical investigators, and none of the protocols stated that clinical investigators were to be involved with data analysis. We found evidence of ghost authorship for 33 trials (75%; 95% confidence interval 60%–87%). The prevalence of ghost authorship was increased to 91% (40 of 44 articles; 95% confidence interval 78%–98%) when we included cases where a person qualifying for authorship was acknowledged rather than appearing as an author. In 31 trials, the ghost authors we identified were statisticians. It is likely that we have overlooked some ghost authors, as we had very limited information to identify the possible omission of other individuals who would have qualified as authors.
Conclusions
Ghost authorship in industry-initiated trials is very common. Its prevalence could be considerably reduced, and transparency improved, if existing guidelines were followed, and if protocols were publicly available.
Of 44 industry-initiated trials, there was evidence of ghost authorship in 33, increasing to 40 when a person qualifying for authorship was acknowledged rather than appearing as an author.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Original scientific findings are usually published in the form of a “paper”, whether it is actually distributed on paper, or circulated via the internet, as this one is. Papers are normally prepared by a group of researchers who did the research and are then listed at the top of the article. These authors therefore take responsibility for the integrity of the results and interpretation of them. However, many people are worried that sometimes the author list on the paper does not tell the true story of who was involved. In particular, for clinical research, case histories and previous research has suggested that “ghost authorship” is commonplace. Ghost authors are people who were involved in some way in the research study, or writing the paper, but who have been left off the final author list. This might happen because the study “looks” more credible if the true authors (for example, company employees or freelance medical writers) are not revealed. This practice might hide competing interests that readers should be aware of, and has therefore been condemned by academics, groups of editors, and some pharmaceutical companies.
Why Was This Study Done?
This group of researchers wanted to get an idea of how often ghost authorship happened in medical research done by companies. Previous studies looking into this used surveys, whereby the researchers would write to one author on each of a group of papers to ask whether anyone else had been involved in the work but who was not listed on the paper. These sorts of studies typically underestimate the rate of ghost authorship, because the main author might not want to admit what had been going on. However, the researchers here managed to get access to trial protocols (documents setting out the plans for future research studies), which gave them a way to investigate ghost authorship.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In order to investigate the frequency and type of ghost authorship, these researchers identified every trial which was approved between 1994 and 1995 by the ethics committees of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg in Denmark. Then they winnowed this group down to include only the trials that were sponsored by industry (pharmaceutical companies and others), and only those trials that were finished and published. The protocols for each trial were obtained from the ethics committees and the researchers then matched up each protocol with its corresponding paper. Then, they compared names which appeared in the protocol against names appearing on the eventual paper, either on the author list or acknowledged elsewhere in the paper as being involved. The researchers ended up studying 44 trials. For 31 of these (75% of them) they found some evidence of ghost authorship, in that people were identified as having written the protocol or who had been involved in doing statistical analyses or writing the manuscript, but did not end up listed in the manuscript. If the definition of authorship was made narrower, and “ghost authorship” included people qualifying for authorship who were mentioned in the acknowledgements but not the author list, the researchers' estimate went up to 91%, that is 40 of the 44 trials. For most of the trials with missing authors, the ghost was a statistician (the person who analyzes the trial data).
What Do These Findings Mean?
In this study, the researchers found that ghost authorship was very common in papers published in medical journals (this study covered a broad range of peer-reviewed journals in many medical disciplines). The method used in this paper seems more reliable than using surveys to work out how often ghost authorship happens. The researchers aimed to define authorship using the policies set out by a group called the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and the findings here suggest that the ICMJE's standards for authorship are very often ignored. This means that people who read the published paper cannot always accurately judge or trust the information presented within it, and competing interests may be hidden. The researchers here suggest that protocols should be made publicly available so that everyone can see what trials are planned and who is involved in conducting them. The findings also suggest that journals should not only list the authors of each paper but describe what each author has done, so that the published information accurately reflects what has been carried out.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040019.
Read the Perspective by Liz Wager, which discusses these findings in more depth
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) is a group of general medical journal editors who have produced general guidelines for biomedical manuscripts; their definition of authorship is also described
The Committee on Publication Ethics is a forum for editors of peer-reviewed journals to discuss issues related to the integrity of the scientific record; the Web site lists anonymized problems and the committee's advice, not just regarding authorship, but other types of problems as well
Good Publication Practice for Pharmaceutical Companies outlines common standards for publication of industry-sponsored medical research, and some pharmaceutical companies have agreed to these
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040019
PMCID: PMC1769411  PMID: 17227134
2.  United States Private-Sector Physicians and Pharmaceutical Contract Research: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001271.
Jill Fisher and Corey Kalbaugh describe their findings from a qualitative research study evaluating the motivations of private-sector physicians conducting contract research for the pharmaceutical industry.
Background
There have been dramatic increases over the past 20 years in the number of nonacademic, private-sector physicians who serve as principal investigators on US clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. However, there has been little research on the implications of these investigators' role in clinical investigation. Our objective was to study private-sector clinics involved in US pharmaceutical clinical trials to understand the contract research arrangements supporting drug development, and specifically how private-sector physicians engaged in contract research describe their professional identities.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study in 2003–2004 combining observation at 25 private-sector research organizations in the southwestern United States and 63 semi-structured interviews with physicians, research staff, and research participants at those clinics. We used grounded theory to analyze and interpret our data. The 11 private-sector physicians who participated in our study reported becoming principal investigators on industry clinical trials primarily because contract research provides an additional revenue stream. The physicians reported that they saw themselves as trial practitioners and as businesspeople rather than as scientists or researchers.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that in addition to having financial motivation to participate in contract research, these US private-sector physicians have a professional identity aligned with an industry-based approach to research ethics. The generalizability of these findings and whether they have changed in the intervening years should be addressed in future studies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Before a new drug can be used routinely by physicians, it must be investigated in clinical trials—studies that test the drug's safety and effectiveness in people. In the past, clinical trials were usually undertaken in academic medical centers (institutes where physicians provide clinical care, do research, and teach), but increasingly, clinical trials are being conducted in the private sector as part of a growing contract research system. In the US, for example, most clinical trials completed in the 1980s took place in academic medical centers, but nowadays, more than 70% of trials are conducted by nonacademic (community) physicians working under contract to pharmaceutical companies. The number of private-sector nonacademic physicians serving as principal investigators (PIs) for US clinical trials (the PI takes direct responsibility for completion of the trial) increased from 4,000 in 1990 to 20,250 in 2010, and research contracts for clinical trials are now worth more than USṩ11 billion annually.
Why Was This Study Done?
To date, there has been little research on the implications of this change in the conduct of clinical trials. Academic PIs are often involved in both laboratory and clinical research and are therefore likely to identify closely with the science of trials. By contrast, nonacademic PIs may see clinical trials more as a business opportunity—pharmaceutical contract research is profitable to US physicians because they get paid for every step of the trial process. As a result, pharmaceutical companies may now have more control over clinical trial data and more opportunities to suppress negative data through selective publication of study results than previously. In this qualitative study, the researchers explore the outsourcing of clinical trials to private-sector research clinics through observations of, and in-depth interviews with, physicians and other research staff involved in the US clinical trials industry. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as how physicians feel about doing contract research and about their responsibilities to their patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between October 2003 and September 2004, the researchers observed the interactions between PIs, trial coordinators (individuals who undertake many of the trial activities such as blood collection), and trial participants at 25 US research organizations in the southwestern US and interviewed 63 informants (including 12 PIs) about the trials they were involved in and their reasons for becoming involved. The researchers found that private-sector physicians became PIs on industry-sponsored clinical trials primarily because contract research was financially lucrative. The physicians perceived their roles in terms of business rather than science and claimed that they offered something to the pharmaceutical industry that academics do not—the ability to carry out a diverse range of trials quickly and effectively, regardless of their medical specialty. Finally, the physicians saw their primary ethical responsibility as providing accurate data to the companies that hired them and did not explicitly refer to their ethical responsibility to trial participants. One possible reason for this shift in ethical concerns is the belief among private-sector physicians that pharmaceutical companies must be making scientifically and ethically sound decisions when designing trials because of the amount of money they invest in them.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that private-sector physicians participate as PIs in pharmaceutical clinical trials primarily for financial reasons and see themselves as trial practitioners and businesspeople rather than as scientists. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be limited by the small number of PIs interviewed and by the time that has elapsed since the researchers collected their qualitative data. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other regions of the US or to other countries. Nevertheless, they have potentially troubling implications for drug development. By hiring private-sector physicians who see themselves as involved more with the business than the science of contract research, pharmaceutical companies may be able to exert more control over the conduct of clinical trials and the publication of trial results than previously. Compared to the traditional investigatorinitiated system of clinical research, this new system of contract research means that clinical trials now lack the independence that is at the heart of best science practices, a development that casts doubt on the robustness of the knowledge being produced about the safety and effectiveness of new drugs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001271.
The ClinicalTrials.gov website is a searchable register of federally and privately supported clinical trials in the US; it provides information about all aspects of clinical trials
The US National Institutes of Health provides information about clinical trials, including personal stories about clinical trials from patients and researchers
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information for patients about clinical trials and medical research, including personal stories about participating in clinical trials
The UK Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit also provides information for patients about clinical trials and links to information on clinical trials provided by other organizations
MedlinePlus has links to further resources on clinical trials (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001271
PMCID: PMC3404112  PMID: 22911055
3.  Strategies to improve retention in randomised trials 
Background
Loss to follow-up from randomised trials can introduce bias and reduce study power, affecting the generalisability, validity and reliability of results. Many strategies are used to reduce loss to follow-up and improve retention but few have been formally evaluated.
Objectives
To quantify the effect of strategies to improve retention on the proportion of participants retained in randomised trials and to investigate if the effect varied by trial strategy and trial setting.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, DARE, CINAHL, Campbell Collaboration's Social, Psychological, Educational and Criminological Trials Register, and ERIC. We handsearched conference proceedings and publication reference lists for eligible retention trials. We also surveyed all UK Clinical Trials Units to identify further studies.
Selection criteria
We included eligible retention trials of randomised or quasi-randomised evaluations of strategies to increase retention that were embedded in 'host' randomised trials from all disease areas and healthcare settings. We excluded studies aiming to increase treatment compliance.
Data collection and analysis
We contacted authors to supplement or confirm data that we had extracted. For retention trials, we recorded data on the method of randomisation, type of strategy evaluated, comparator, primary outcome, planned sample size, numbers randomised and numbers retained. We used risk ratios (RR) to evaluate the effectiveness of the addition of strategies to improve retention. We assessed heterogeneity between trials using the Chi2 and I2 statistics. For main trials that hosted retention trials, we extracted data on disease area, intervention, population, healthcare setting, sequence generation and allocation concealment.
Main results
We identified 38 eligible retention trials. Included trials evaluated six broad types of strategies to improve retention. These were incentives, communication strategies, new questionnaire format, participant case management, behavioural and methodological interventions. For 34 of the included trials, retention was response to postal and electronic questionnaires with or without medical test kits. For four trials, retention was the number of participants remaining in the trial. Included trials were conducted across a spectrum of disease areas, countries, healthcare and community settings. Strategies that improved trial retention were addition of monetary incentives compared with no incentive for return of trial-related postal questionnaires (RR 1.18; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.28, P value < 0.0001), addition of an offer of monetary incentive compared with no offer for return of electronic questionnaires (RR 1.25; 95% CI 1.14 to 1.38, P value < 0.00001) and an offer of a GBP20 voucher compared with GBP10 for return of postal questionnaires and biomedical test kits (RR 1.12; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.22, P value < 0.005). The evidence that shorter questionnaires are better than longer questionnaires was unclear (RR 1.04; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.08, P value = 0.07) and the evidence for questionnaires relevant to the disease/condition was also unclear (RR 1.07; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.14). Although each was based on the results of a single trial, recorded delivery of questionnaires seemed to be more effective than telephone reminders (RR 2.08; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.87, P value = 0.02) and a 'package' of postal communication strategies with reminder letters appeared to be better than standard procedures (RR 1.43; 95% CI 1.22 to 1.67, P value < 0.0001). An open trial design also appeared more effective than a blind trial design for return of questionnaires in one fracture prevention trial (RR 1.37; 95% CI 1.16 to 1.63, P value = 0.0003).
There was no good evidence that the addition of a non-monetary incentive, an offer of a non-monetary incentive, 'enhanced' letters, letters delivered by priority post, additional reminders, or questionnaire question order either increased or decreased trial questionnaire response/retention. There was also no evidence that a telephone survey was either more or less effective than a monetary incentive and a questionnaire. As our analyses are based on single trials, the effect on questionnaire response of using offers of charity donations, sending reminders to trial sites and when a questionnaire is sent, may need further evaluation. Case management and behavioural strategies used for trial retention may also warrant further evaluation.
Authors' conclusions
Most of the retention trials that we identified evaluated questionnaire response. There were few evaluations of ways to improve participants returning to trial sites for trial follow-up. Monetary incentives and offers of monetary incentives increased postal and electronic questionnaire response. Some other strategies evaluated in single trials looked promising but need further evaluation. Application of the findings of this review would depend on trial setting, population, disease area, data collection and follow-up procedures.
PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY
Methods that might help to keep people in randomised trials
Background
Most trials follow people up to collect data through personal contact after they have been recruited. Some trials get data from other sources, such as routine collected data or disease registers. There are many ways to collect data from people in trials, and these include using letters, the internet, telephone calls, text messaging, face-to-face meetings or the return of medical test kits. Most trials have missing data, for example, because people are too busy to reply, are unable to attend a clinic, have moved or no longer want to participate. Sometimes data has not been recorded at study sites, or are not sent to the trial co-ordinating centre. Researchers call this 'loss to follow-up', 'drop out' or 'attrition' and it can affect the trial's results. For example, if the people with the most or least severe symptoms do not return questionnaires or attend a follow-up visit, this will bias the findings of the trial. Many methods are used by researchers to keep people in trials. These encourage people to send back data by questionnaire, return to a clinic or hospital for trial-related tests, or be seen by a health or community care worker.
Study characteristics
This review identified methods that encouraged people to stay in trials. We searched scientific databases for randomised studies (where people are allocated to one of two or more possible treatments in a random manner) or quasi-randomised studies (where allocation is not really random, e.g. based on date of birth, order in which they attended clinic) that compared methods of increasing retention in trials. We included trials of participants from any age, gender, ethnic, cultural, language and geographic groups.
Key results
The methods that appeared to work were offering or giving a small amount of money for return of a completed questionnaire and enclosing a small amount of money with a questionnaire with the promise of a further small amount of money for return of a filled in questionnaire. The effect of other ways to keep people in trials is still not clear and more research is needed to see if these really do work. Such methods are shorter questionnaires, sending questionnaires by recorded delivery, using a trial design where people know which treatment they will receive, sending specially designed letters with a reply self addressed stamped envelope followed by a number of reminders, offering a donation to charity or entry into a prize draw, sending a reminder to the study site about participants to follow-up, sending questionnaires close to the time the patient was last followed-up, managing peoples' follow-up, conducting follow-up by telephone and changing the order of questionnaire questions.
Quality of evidence
The methods that we identified were tested in trials run in many different disease areas and settings and, in some cases, were tested in only one trial. Therefore, more studies are needed to help decide whether our findings could be used in other research fields.
doi:10.1002/14651858.MR000032.pub2
PMCID: PMC4470347  PMID: 24297482
4.  Differences in Reporting of Analyses in Internal Company Documents Versus Published Trial Reports: Comparisons in Industry-Sponsored Trials in Off-Label Uses of Gabapentin 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001378.
Using documents obtained through litigation, S. Swaroop Vedula and colleagues compared internal company documents regarding industry-sponsored trials of off-label uses of gabapentin with the published trial reports and find discrepancies in reporting of analyses.
Background
Details about the type of analysis (e.g., intent to treat [ITT]) and definitions (i.e., criteria for including participants in the analysis) are necessary for interpreting a clinical trial's findings. Our objective was to compare the description of types of analyses and criteria for including participants in the publication (i.e., what was reported) with descriptions in the corresponding internal company documents (i.e., what was planned and what was done). Trials were for off-label uses of gabapentin sponsored by Pfizer and Parke-Davis, and documents were obtained through litigation.
Methods and Findings
For each trial, we compared internal company documents (protocols, statistical analysis plans, and research reports, all unpublished), with publications. One author extracted data and another verified, with a third person verifying discordant items and a sample of the rest. Extracted data included the number of participants randomized and analyzed for efficacy, and types of analyses for efficacy and safety and their definitions (i.e., criteria for including participants in each type of analysis). We identified 21 trials, 11 of which were published randomized controlled trials, and that provided the documents needed for planned comparisons. For three trials, there was disagreement on the number of randomized participants between the research report and publication. Seven types of efficacy analyses were described in the protocols, statistical analysis plans, and publications, including ITT and six others. The protocol or publication described ITT using six different definitions, resulting in frequent disagreements between the two documents (i.e., different numbers of participants were included in the analyses).
Conclusions
Descriptions of analyses conducted did not agree between internal company documents and what was publicly reported. Internal company documents provide extensive documentation of methods planned and used, and trial findings, and should be publicly accessible. Reporting standards for randomized controlled trials should recommend transparent descriptions and definitions of analyses performed and which study participants are excluded.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
To be credible, published research must present an unbiased, transparent, and accurate description of the study methods and findings so that readers can assess all relevant information to make informed decisions about the impact of any conclusions. Therefore, research publications should conform to universally adopted guidelines and checklists. Studies to establish whether a treatment is effective, termed randomized controlled trials (RCTs), are checked against a comprehensive set of guidelines: The robustness of trial protocols are measured through the Standard Protocol Items for Randomized Trials (SPIRIT), and the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement (which was constructed and agreed by a meeting of journal editors in 1996, and has been updated over the years) includes a 25-point checklist that covers all of the key points in reporting RCTs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the CONSORT statement has helped improve transparency in the reporting of the methods and findings from RCTs, the statement does not define how certain types of analyses should be conducted and which patients should be included in the analyses, for example, in an intention-to-treat analysis (in which all participants are included in the data analysis of the group to which they were assigned, whether or not they completed the intervention given to the group). So in this study, the researchers used internal company documents released in the course of litigation against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer regarding the drug gabapentin, to compare between the internal and published reports the reporting of the numbers of participants, the description of the types of analyses, and the definitions of each type of analysis. The reports involved studies of gabapentin used for medical reasons not approved for marketing by the US Food and Drug Administration, known as “off-label” uses.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified trials sponsored by Pfizer relating to four off-label uses of gabapentin and examined the internal company protocols, statistical analysis plans, research reports, and the main publications related to each trial. The researchers then compared the numbers of participants randomized and analyzed for the main (primary) outcome and the type of analysis for efficacy and safety in both the internal research report and the trial publication. The researchers identified 21 trials, 11 of which were published RCTs that had the associated documents necessary for comparison.
The researchers found that in three out of ten trials there were differences in the internal research report and the main publication regarding the number of randomized participants. Furthermore, in six out of ten trials, the researchers were unable to compare the internal research report with the main publication for the number of participants analyzed for efficacy, because the research report either did not describe the primary outcome or did not describe the type of analysis. Overall, the researchers found that seven different types of efficacy analyses were described in the protocols, statistical analysis plans, and publications, including intention-to-treat analysis. However, the protocol or publication used six different descriptions for the intention-to-treat analysis, resulting in several important differences between the internal and published documents about the number of patients included in the analysis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings from a sample of industry-sponsored trials on the off-label use of gabapentin suggest that when compared to the internal research reports, the trial publications did not always accurately reflect what was actually done in the trial. Therefore, the trial publication could not be considered to be an accurate and transparent record of the numbers of participants randomized and analyzed for efficacy. These findings support the need for further revisions of the CONSORT statement, such as including explicit statements about the criteria used to define each type of analysis and the numbers of participants excluded from each type of analysis. Further guidance is also needed to ensure consistent terminology for types of analysis. Of course, these revisions will improve reporting only if authors and journals adhere to them. These findings also highlight the need for all individual patient data to be made accessible to readers of the published article.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001378.
For more information, see the CONSORT statement website
The EQUATOR Network website is a resource center for the good reporting of health research studies and has more information about the SPIRIT initiative and the CONSORT statement
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001378
PMCID: PMC3558476  PMID: 23382656
5.  The hyperimmunoglobulin E syndrome - clinical manifestation diversity in primary immune deficiency 
The hyper-IgE syndromes are rare, complex primary immunodeficiencies characterized by clinical manifestation diversity, by particular susceptibility to staphylococcal and mycotic infections as well as by a heterogeneous genetic origin. Two distinct entities - the classical hyper-IgE syndrome which is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern and the autosomal recessive hyper-IgE syndrome have been recognized. The autosomal dominant hyper-IgE syndrome is associated with a cluster of facial, dental, skeletal, and connective tissue abnormalities which are not observable in the recessive type. In the majority of affected patients with autosomal dominant hyper-IgE syndrome a mutation in the signal transducer and the activator of the transcription 3 gene has been identified, leading to an impaired Th17 cells differentiation and to a downregulation of an antimicrobial response. A mutation in the dedicator of the cytokinesis 8 gene has been identified as the cause of many cases with autosomal recessive hyper-IgE syndrome and, in one patient, a mutation in tyrosine kinase 2 gene has been demonstrated. In this paper, the authors provide a review of the clinical manifestations in the hyper-IgE syndromes with particular emphasis on the diversity of their phenotypic expression and present current diagnostic guidelines for these diseases.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-6-76
PMCID: PMC3226432  PMID: 22085750
6.  Autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease: a review and proposal for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease 
Autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease has provided significant understanding of the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease. The present review summarizes clinical, pathological, imaging, biochemical, and molecular studies of autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease, highlighting the similarities and differences between the dominantly inherited form of Alzheimer's disease and the more common sporadic form of Alzheimer's disease. Current developments in autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease are presented, including the international Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network and this network's initiative for clinical trials. Clinical trials in autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease may test the amyloid hypothesis, determine the timing of treatment, and lead the way to Alzheimer's disease prevention.
doi:10.1186/alzrt59
PMCID: PMC3109410  PMID: 21211070
7.  Spastic paraplegia gene 7 in patients with spasticity and/or optic neuropathy 
Brain  2012;135(10):2980-2993.
Mutations in the spastic paraplegia 7 (SPG7) gene encoding paraplegin are responsible for autosomal recessive hereditary spasticity. We screened 135 unrelated index cases, selected in five different settings: SPG7-positive patients detected during SPG31 analysis using SPG31/SPG7 multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (n = 7); previously reported ambiguous SPG7 cases (n = 5); patients carefully selected on the basis of their phenotype (spasticity of the lower limbs with cerebellar signs and/or cerebellar atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging/computer tomography scan and/or optic neuropathy and without other signs) (n = 24); patients with hereditary spastic paraparesis referred consecutively from attending neurologists and the national reference centre in a diagnostic setting (n = 98); and the index case of a four-generation family with autosomal dominant optic neuropathy but no spasticity linked to the SPG7 locus. We identified two SPG7 mutations in 23/134 spastic patients, 21% of the patients selected according to phenotype but only 8% of those referred directly. Our results confirm the pathogenicity of Ala510Val, which was the most frequent mutation in our series (65%) and segregated at the homozygous state with spastic paraparesis in a large family with autosomal recessive inheritance. All SPG7-positive patients tested had optic neuropathy or abnormalities revealed by optical coherence tomography, indicating that abnormalities in optical coherence tomography could be a clinical biomarker for SPG7 testing. In addition, the presence of late-onset very slowly progressive spastic gait (median age 39 years, range 18–52 years) associated with cerebellar ataxia (39%) or cerebellar atrophy (47%) constitute, with abnormal optical coherence tomography, key features pointing towards SPG7-testing. Interestingly, three relatives of patients with heterozygote SPG7 mutations had cerebellar signs and atrophy, or peripheral neuropathy, but no spasticity of the lower limbs, suggesting that SPG7 mutations at the heterozygous state might predispose to late-onset neurodegenerative disorders, mimicking autosomal dominant inheritance. Finally, a novel missense SPG7 mutation at the heterozygous state (Asp411Ala) was identified as the cause of autosomal dominant optic neuropathy in a large family, indicating that some SPG7 mutations can occasionally be dominantly inherited and be an uncommon cause of isolated optic neuropathy. Altogether, these results emphasize the clinical variability associated with SPG7 mutations, ranging from optic neuropathy to spastic paraplegia, and support the view that SPG7 screening should be carried out in both conditions.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws240
PMCID: PMC3470714  PMID: 23065789
SPG7; hereditary spastic paraparesis; optic neuropathy; cerebellar atrophy, optical coherence tomography
8.  Predicting Mendelian Disease-Causing Non-Synonymous Single Nucleotide Variants in Exome Sequencing Studies 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003143.
Exome sequencing is becoming a standard tool for mapping Mendelian disease-causing (or pathogenic) non-synonymous single nucleotide variants (nsSNVs). Minor allele frequency (MAF) filtering approach and functional prediction methods are commonly used to identify candidate pathogenic mutations in these studies. Combining multiple functional prediction methods may increase accuracy in prediction. Here, we propose to use a logit model to combine multiple prediction methods and compute an unbiased probability of a rare variant being pathogenic. Also, for the first time we assess the predictive power of seven prediction methods (including SIFT, PolyPhen2, CONDEL, and logit) in predicting pathogenic nsSNVs from other rare variants, which reflects the situation after MAF filtering is done in exome-sequencing studies. We found that a logit model combining all or some original prediction methods outperforms other methods examined, but is unable to discriminate between autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive disease mutations. Finally, based on the predictions of the logit model, we estimate that an individual has around 5% of rare nsSNVs that are pathogenic and carries ∼22 pathogenic derived alleles at least, which if made homozygous by consanguineous marriages may lead to recessive diseases.
Author Summary
Sequencing the coding regions of the human genome is becoming a standard approach in identifying causal genes for human Mendelian diseases. Researchers often rely on multiple functional prediction methods/tools to separate the candidate causal mutation(s) from other rare mutations in these studies. In this paper, we propose the use of a statistical model to combine prediction scores from multiple methods and to estimate the chance of a rare mutation being Mendelian disease-causing (or pathogenic). We found that our model using all or some individual prediction methods consistently outperforms other prediction methods examined and could exclude more than 55% of rare non-pathogenic mutations in an individual genome. Unfortunately, no method was able to discriminate between autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive disease mutations. In addition, based on the predictions of our model, we estimated that a person can carry ∼22 pathogenic derived alleles at least, which if present at the same position in the genome may lead to Mendelian diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003143
PMCID: PMC3547823  PMID: 23341771
9.  The Impact of the Availability of Prevention Studies on the Desire to Undergo Predictive Testing in Persons at-risk for Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease 
Contemporary clinical trials  2013;36(1):10.1016/j.cct.2013.07.006.
Persons at-risk for autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases provide the opportunity to efficiently test preventive interventions. Only a minority of such persons, however, choose to undergo revealing genetic testing, presenting a challenge to enrollment. Thirty-four preclinical Latinos (n = 26) and non-Latinos at-risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD) unaware of their genetic status were administered a questionnaire exploring their interest in undergoing revealing genetic testing at baseline and in the context of eligibility for four prevention trials of increasing invasiveness. Forty-four percent of subjects expressed a baseline interest in undergoing revealing testing which increased to 85% in order to be eligible for a study of an oral drug "felt to be very safe.” If there were a 50% chance of receiving placebo, this number dropped to 62% (p = 0.02). For those not interested in a study involving a 50% chance of receiving placebo, a range of 5% to 40% chance of receiving placebo was given as acceptable. For more invasive studies, living in the U.S. (as opposed to Mexico) positively influenced the likelihood of participating. Our data suggests that clinical trial designs in which persons must confront their genetic status prior to enrollment are feasible. Study designs to minimize the likelihood of being placed on placebo or provide the eventual administration of the drug through open-label extensions should be considered.
doi:10.1016/j.cct.2013.07.006
PMCID: PMC3858206  PMID: 23876673
FAD; pre-symptomatic; genetic; testing; trials; prevention
10.  MYH9 Genetic Variants Associated With Glomerular Disease: What Is the Role for Genetic Testing? 
Seminars in nephrology  2010;30(4):409-417.
Summary
Genetic variation in MYH9, encoding nonmuscle myosin IIA heavy chain, has been associated recently with increased risk for kidney disease. Previously, MYH9 missense mutations have been shown to cause the autosomal-dominant MYH9 (ADM9) spectrum, characterized by large platelets, leukocyte Döhle bodies, and, variably, sensorineural deafness, cataracts, and glomerulopathy. Genetic testing is indicated for familial and sporadic cases that fit this spectrum. By contrast, the MYH9 kidney risk variant is characterized by multiple intronic single nucleotide polymorphisms, but the causative variant has not been identified. Disease associations include human immunodeficiency virus-associated collapsing glomerulopathy, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, hypertension-attributed end-stage kidney disease, and diabetes-attributed end-stage kidney disease. One plausible hypothesis is that the MYH9 kidney risk variant confers a fragile podocyte phenotype. In the case of hypertension-attributed kidney disease, it remains unclear if the hypertension is a contributing cause or a consequence of glomerular injury. The MYH9 kidney risk variant is strikingly more common among individuals of African descent, but only some will develop clinical kidney disease in their lifetime. Thus, it is likely that additional genes and/or environmental factors interact with the MYH9 kidney risk variant to trigger glomerular injury. A preliminary genetic risk stratification scheme, using 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms, may estimate lifetime risk for kidney disease. Nevertheless, at present, no role has been established for genetic testing as part of personalized medicine, but testing should be considered in clinical studies of glomerular diseases among populations of African descent. Such studies will address critical questions pertaining to MYH9-associated kidney disease, including mechanism, course, and response to therapy.
doi:10.1016/j.semnephrol.2010.06.007
PMCID: PMC3097395  PMID: 20807613
Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis; HIV-associated nephropathy; hypertensive nephrosclerosis; chronic kidney disease; end-stage kidney disease; African American
11.  Van der Woude Syndrome with Short Review of the Literature 
Case Reports in Dentistry  2014;2014:871460.
Van der Woude syndrome (VWS) is a rare autosomal dominant condition with high penetrance and variable expression. Clinical manifestation of this autosomal dominant clefting syndrome includes bilateral midline lower lip pits, cleft lip, and cleft palate along with hypodontia. These congenital lip pits appear as a malformation in the vermilion border of the lip, with or without excretion. Discomfort caused by spontaneous or induced drainage of saliva/mucus when pressure is applied or during a meal as well as poor aesthetic match is one of the main complaints of patients with congenital lip fistula. The pits are treated by surgical resection. Dentists should be aware of the congenital lip pits as in Van der Woude syndrome because they have been reported to be associated with a variety of malformations or other congenital disorders. Here, the authors report a rare case of Van der Woude syndrome with short review of the literature.
doi:10.1155/2014/871460
PMCID: PMC4090536  PMID: 25050184
12.  Hereditary angioedema: epidemiology, management, and role of icatibant 
Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is an autosomal dominant, potentially life-threatening condition, manifesting as recurrent and self-limiting episodes of facial, laryngeal, genital, or peripheral swelling with abdominal pain secondary to intra-abdominal edema. The estimated prevalence of HAE in the general population is one individual per 50,000, with reported ranges from 1:10,000 to 1:150,000, without major sex or ethnic differences. Various treatment options for acute attacks and prophylaxis of HAE are authorized and available in the market, including plasma-derived (Berinert®, Cinryze®, and Cetor®) and recombinant (Rhucin® and Ruconest™) C1 inhibitors, kallikrein inhibitor-ecallantide (Kalbitor®), and bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist-icatibant (Firazyr®). Some of these drugs are used only to treat HAE attacks, whereas others are only approved for prophylactic therapies and all of them have improved disease outcomes due to their different mechanisms of action. Bradykinin and its binding to B2 receptor have been demonstrated to be responsible for most of the symptoms of HAE. Thus icatibant (Firazyr®), a bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist, has proven to be an effective and more targeted treatment option and has been approved for the treatment of acute attacks of HAE. Rapid and stable relief from symptoms of cutaneous, abdominal, or laryngeal HAE attacks has been demonstrated by 30 mg of icatibant in Phase III clinical trials. Self-resolving mild to moderate local site reactions after subcutaneous injection of icatibant were observed. Icatibant is a new, safe, and effective treatment for acute attacks of HAE. HAE has been reported to result in enormous humanistic burden to patients, affecting both physical and mental health, with a negative impact on education, career, and work productivity, and with substantial economic burdens. The timely and proper use of disease-specific treatments could improve patients’ quality of life, reduce the disease-specific morbidity and mortality, and, last but not least, reduce costs associated with hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Therefore, the paradigm of HAE treatment has the potential to evolve significantly, thereby exponentially improving a patient’s quality of life.
doi:10.2147/BTT.S27566
PMCID: PMC3647445  PMID: 23662043
hereditary angioedema; icatibant; C1 inhibitor; bradykinin
13.  Timing and Completeness of Trial Results Posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and Published in Journals 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001566.
Agnes Dechartres and colleagues searched ClinicalTrials.gov for completed drug RCTs with results reported and then searched for corresponding studies in PubMed to evaluate timeliness and completeness of reporting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires results from clinical trials of Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs to be posted at ClinicalTrials.gov within 1 y after trial completion. We compared the timing and completeness of results of drug trials posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and published in journals.
Methods and Findings
We searched ClinicalTrials.gov on March 27, 2012, for randomized controlled trials of drugs with posted results. For a random sample of these trials, we searched PubMed for corresponding publications. Data were extracted independently from ClinicalTrials.gov and from the published articles for trials with results both posted and published. We assessed the time to first public posting or publishing of results and compared the completeness of results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov versus published in journal articles. Completeness was defined as the reporting of all key elements, according to three experts, for the flow of participants, efficacy results, adverse events, and serious adverse events (e.g., for adverse events, reporting of the number of adverse events per arm, without restriction to statistically significant differences between arms for all randomized patients or for those who received at least one treatment dose).
From the 600 trials with results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, we randomly sampled 50% (n = 297) had no corresponding published article. For trials with both posted and published results (n = 202), the median time between primary completion date and first results publicly posted was 19 mo (first quartile = 14, third quartile = 30 mo), and the median time between primary completion date and journal publication was 21 mo (first quartile = 14, third quartile = 28 mo). Reporting was significantly more complete at ClinicalTrials.gov than in the published article for the flow of participants (64% versus 48% of trials, p<0.001), efficacy results (79% versus 69%, p = 0.02), adverse events (73% versus 45%, p<0.001), and serious adverse events (99% versus 63%, p<0.001).
The main study limitation was that we considered only the publication describing the results for the primary outcomes.
Conclusions
Our results highlight the need to search ClinicalTrials.gov for both unpublished and published trials. Trial results, especially serious adverse events, are more completely reported at ClinicalTrials.gov than in the published article.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
When patients consult a doctor, they expect to be recommended what their doctor believes is the most effective treatment with the fewest adverse effects. To determine which treatment to recommend, clinicians rely on sources that include research studies. Among studies, the best evidence is generally agreed to come from systematic reviews and randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs), studies that test the efficacy and safety of medical interventions by comparing clinical outcomes in groups of patients randomly chosen to receive different interventions. Decision-making based on the best available evidence is called evidence-based medicine. However, evidence-based medicine can only guide clinicians if trial results are published in a timely and complete manner. Unfortunately, underreporting of trials is common. For example, an RCT in which a new drug performs better than existing drugs is more likely to be published than one in which the new drug performs badly or has unwanted adverse effects (publication bias). There can also be a delay in publishing the results of negative trials (time-lag bias) or a failure to publish complete results for all the prespecified outcomes of a trial (reporting bias). All three types of bias threaten informed medical decision-making and the health of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
One initiative that aims to prevent these biases was included in the 2007 US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving drugs and devices that are marketed in the US. The FDAAA requires that results from clinical trials of FDA-approved drugs and devices conducted in the United States be made publicly available at ClinicalTrials.gov within one year of trial completion. ClinicalTrials.gov—a web-based registry that includes US and international clinical trials—was established in 2000 in response to the 1997 FDA Modernization Act, which required mandatory registration of trial titles and designs and of the conditions and interventions under study. The FDAAA expanded these mandatory requirements by requiring researchers studying FDA-approved drugs and devices to report additional information such as the baseline characteristics of the participants in each arm of the trial and the results of primary and secondary outcome measures (the effects of the intervention on predefined clinical measurements) and their statistical significance (an indication of whether differences in outcomes might have happened by chance). Researchers of other trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov are welcome to post trial results as well. Here, the researchers compare the timing and completeness (i.e., whether all relevant information was fully reported) of results of drug trials posted at ClinicalTrials.gov with those published in medical journals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched ClinicalTrials.gov for reports of completed phase III and IV (late-stage) RCTs of drugs with posted results. For a random sample of 600 eligible trials, they searched PubMed (a database of biomedical publications) for corresponding publications. Only 50% of trials with results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov had a matching published article. For 202 trials with both posted and published results, the researchers compared the timing and completeness of the results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and of results reported in the corresponding journal publication. The median time between the study completion date and the first results being publicly posted at ClinicalTrials.gov was 19 months, whereas the time between completion and publication in a journal was 21 months. The flow of participants through trials was completely reported in 64% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings but in only 48% of the corresponding publications. Results for the primary outcome measure were completely reported in 79% and 69% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings and corresponding publications, respectively. Finally, adverse events were completely reported in 73% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings but in only 45% of the corresponding publications, and serious adverse events were reported in 99% and 63% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings and corresponding publications, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the reporting of trial results is significantly more complete at ClinicalTrials.gov than in published journal articles reporting the main trial results. Certain aspects of this study may affect the accuracy of this conclusion. For example, the researchers compared the results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov only with the results in the publication that described the primary outcome of each trial, even though some trials had multiple publications. Importantly, these findings suggest that, to enable patients and physicians to make informed treatment decisions, experts undertaking assessments of drugs should consider seeking efficacy and safety data posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, both for trials whose results are not published yet and for trials whose results are published. Moreover, they suggest that the use of templates to guide standardized reporting of trial results in journals and broader mandatory posting of results may help to improve the reporting and transparency of clinical trials and, consequently, the evidence available to inform treatment of patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001566.
Wikipedia has pages on evidence-based medicine and on publication bias (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information about drug approval in the US for consumers and health-care professionals, plus detailed information on the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
ClinicalTrials.gov provides information about the US National Institutes of Health clinical trial registry, including background information about clinical trials, and a fact sheet detailing the requirements of the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
PLOS Medicine recently launched a Reporting Guidelines Collection, an open access collection of reporting guidelines, commentary, and related research on guidelines from across PLOS journals that aims to help advance the efficiency, effectiveness, and equitability of the dissemination of biomedical information; a 2008 PLOS Medicine editorial discusses the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001566
PMCID: PMC3849189  PMID: 24311990
14.  Phenotypic Characterization of 3 Families With Autosomal Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa Due to Mutations in KLHL7 
Archives of ophthalmology  2011;129(11):1475-1482.
Objective
To characterize the visual phenotype caused by mutations in the BTB-Kelch protein, KLHL7, responsible for the RP42 form of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
Methods
Comprehensive ophthalmic testing included visual acuity, static visual field, kinetic visual field, dark adaptometry, full-field electroretinography, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, and fundus photography. Longitudinal visual function data (range, 15–27 years) were available for some of the affected individuals.
Results
We report a phenotypic assessment of 3 unrelated families, each harboring different KLHL7 mutations (c.458C>T, c.449G>A, and c.457G>A). The fundi showed classic signs of RP. Best-corrected visual acuity was 20/50 or better in at least one eye up to age 65 years Static and kinetic visual fields showed concentric constriction to central 10° to 20° by age 65 years; 2 patients with Goldmann perimetry exhibited bilateral visual field retention in the far periphery. Both rod and cone full-field electroretinographic amplitudes were substantially lower than normal, with a decline rate of 3% per year in cone 31-Hz flicker response. Rod and cone activation and inactivation variables were abnormal. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography indicated retention of foveal inner segment-outer segment junction through age 65 years.
Conclusions
Mutations in KLHL7 are associated with a late-onset form of autosomal dominant retinal degeneration that preferentially affects the rod photoreceptors. Full-field electroretinographic findings, including recovery kinetics, are consistent with those observed in other forms of autosomal dominant RP.
Clinical Relevance
The phenotypes are similar among patients with 3 types of KLHL7 mutations (c.458C>T, c.449G>A, and c.457G>A). Strong retention of foveal function and bilateral concentric constriction of visual fields with far periphery sparing may guide mutation screening in autosomal dominant RP.
doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.307
PMCID: PMC4106140  PMID: 22084217
15.  Loss-of-Function Mutations in PTPN11 Cause Metachondromatosis, but Not Ollier Disease or Maffucci Syndrome 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002050.
Metachondromatosis (MC) is a rare, autosomal dominant, incompletely penetrant combined exostosis and enchondromatosis tumor syndrome. MC is clinically distinct from other multiple exostosis or multiple enchondromatosis syndromes and is unlinked to EXT1 and EXT2, the genes responsible for autosomal dominant multiple osteochondromas (MO). To identify a gene for MC, we performed linkage analysis with high-density SNP arrays in a single family, used a targeted array to capture exons and promoter sequences from the linked interval in 16 participants from 11 MC families, and sequenced the captured DNA using high-throughput parallel sequencing technologies. DNA capture and parallel sequencing identified heterozygous putative loss-of-function mutations in PTPN11 in 4 of the 11 families. Sanger sequence analysis of PTPN11 coding regions in a total of 17 MC families identified mutations in 10 of them (5 frameshift, 2 nonsense, and 3 splice-site mutations). Copy number analysis of sequencing reads from a second targeted capture that included the entire PTPN11 gene identified an additional family with a 15 kb deletion spanning exon 7 of PTPN11. Microdissected MC lesions from two patients with PTPN11 mutations demonstrated loss-of-heterozygosity for the wild-type allele. We next sequenced PTPN11 in DNA samples from 54 patients with the multiple enchondromatosis disorders Ollier disease or Maffucci syndrome, but found no coding sequence PTPN11 mutations. We conclude that heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in PTPN11 are a frequent cause of MC, that lesions in patients with MC appear to arise following a “second hit,” that MC may be locus heterogeneous since 1 familial and 5 sporadically occurring cases lacked obvious disease-causing PTPN11 mutations, and that PTPN11 mutations are not a common cause of Ollier disease or Maffucci syndrome.
Author Summary
Children with cartilage tumor syndromes form multiple tumors of cartilage next to joints. These tumors can occur inside the bones, as with Ollier disease and Maffuci syndrome, or on the surface of bones, as in the Multiple Osteochondroma syndrome (MO). In a hybrid syndrome, called metachondromatosis (MC), patients develop tumors both on and within bones. Only the genes causing MO are known. Since MC is inherited, we studied genetic markers in an affected family and found a region of the genome, encompassing 100 genes, always passed on to affected members. Using a recently developed method, we captured and sequenced all 100 genes in multiple families and found mutations in one gene, PTPN11, in 11 of 17 families. Patients with MC have one mutant copy of PTPN11 from their affected parent and one normal copy from their unaffected parent in all cells. We found that the normal copy is additionally lost in cartilage cells that form tumors, giving rise to cells without PTPN11. Mutations in PTPN11 were not found in other cartilage tumor syndromes, including Ollier disease and Maffucci syndrome. We are currently working to understand how loss of PTPN11 in cartilage cells causes tumors to form.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002050
PMCID: PMC3077396  PMID: 21533187
16.  Trial Publication after Registration in ClinicalTrials.Gov: A Cross-Sectional Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000144.
Joseph Ross and colleagues examine publication rates of clinical trials and find low rates of publication even following registration in Clinicaltrials.gov.
Background
ClinicalTrials.gov is a publicly accessible, Internet-based registry of clinical trials managed by the US National Library of Medicine that has the potential to address selective trial publication. Our objectives were to examine completeness of registration within ClinicalTrials.gov and to determine the extent and correlates of selective publication.
Methods and Findings
We examined reporting of registration information among a cross-section of trials that had been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov after December 31, 1999 and updated as having been completed by June 8, 2007, excluding phase I trials. We then determined publication status among a random 10% subsample by searching MEDLINE using a systematic protocol, after excluding trials completed after December 31, 2005 to allow at least 2 y for publication following completion. Among the full sample of completed trials (n = 7,515), nearly 100% reported all data elements mandated by ClinicalTrials.gov, such as intervention and sponsorship. Optional data element reporting varied, with 53% reporting trial end date, 66% reporting primary outcome, and 87% reporting trial start date. Among the 10% subsample, less than half (311 of 677, 46%) of trials were published, among which 96 (31%) provided a citation within ClinicalTrials.gov of a publication describing trial results. Trials primarily sponsored by industry (40%, 144 of 357) were less likely to be published when compared with nonindustry/nongovernment sponsored trials (56%, 110 of 198; p<0.001), but there was no significant difference when compared with government sponsored trials (47%, 57 of 122; p = 0.22). Among trials that reported an end date, 75 of 123 (61%) completed prior to 2004, 50 of 96 (52%) completed during 2004, and 62 of 149 (42%) completed during 2005 were published (p = 0.006).
Conclusions
Reporting of optional data elements varied and publication rates among completed trials registered within ClinicalTrials.gov were low. Without greater attention to reporting of all data elements, the potential for ClinicalTrials.gov to address selective publication of clinical trials will be limited.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People assume that whenever they are ill, health care professionals will make sure they get the best available treatment. But how do clinicians know which treatment is most appropriate? In the past, clinicians used their own experience to make treatment decisions. Nowadays, they rely on evidence-based medicine—the systematic review and appraisal of the results of clinical trials, studies that investigate the efficacy and safety of medical interventions in people. However, evidence-based medicine can only be effective if all the results from clinical trials are published promptly in medical journals. Unfortunately, the results of trials in which a new drug did not perform better than existing drugs or in which it had unwanted side effects often remain unpublished or only appear in the public domain many years after the drug has been approved for clinical use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other governmental bodies.
Why Was This Study Done?
The extent of this “selective” publication, which can impair evidence-based clinical practice, remains unclear but is thought to be substantial. In this study, the researchers investigate the problem of selective publication by systematically examining the extent of publication of the results of trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov, a Web-based registry of US and international clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov was established in 2000 by the US National Library of Medicine in response to the 1997 FDA Modernization Act. This act required preregistration of all trials of new drugs to provide the public with information about trials in which they might be able to participate. Mandatory data elements for registration in ClinicalTrials.gov initially included the trial's title, the condition studied in the trial, the trial design, and the intervention studied. In September 2007, the FDA Amendments Act expanded the mandatory requirements for registration in ClinicalTrials.gov by making it necessary, for example, to report the trial start date and to report primary and secondary outcomes (the effect of the intervention on predefined clinical measurements) in the registry within 2 years of trial completion.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 7,515 trials that were registered within ClinicalTrials.gov after December 31, 1999 (excluding phase I, safety trials), and whose record indicated trial completion by June 8, 2007. Most of these trials reported all the mandatory data elements that were required by ClinicalTrials.gov before the FDA Amendments Act but reporting of optional data elements was less complete. For example, only two-thirds of the trials reported their primary outcome. Next, the researchers randomly selected 10% of the trials and, after excluding trials whose completion date was after December 31, 2005 (to allow at least two years for publication), determined the publication status of this subsample by systematically searching MEDLINE (an online database of articles published in selected medical and scientific journals). Fewer than half of the trials in the subsample had been published, and the citation for only a third of these publications had been entered into ClinicalTrials.gov. Only 40% of industry-sponsored trials had been published compared to 56% of nonindustry/nongovernment-sponsored trials, a difference that is unlikely to have occurred by chance. Finally, 61% of trials with a completion date before 2004 had been published, but only 42% of trials completed during 2005 had been published.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, over the period studied, critical trial information was not included in the ClinicalTrials.gov registry. The FDA Amendments Act should remedy some of these shortcomings but only if the accuracy and completeness of the information in ClinicalTrials.gov is carefully monitored. These findings also reveal that registration in ClinicalTrials.gov does not guarantee that trial results will appear in a timely manner in the scientific literature. However, they do not address the reasons for selective publication (which may be, in part, because it is harder to publish negative results than positive results), and they are potentially limited by the methods used to discover whether trial results had been published. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the FDA, trial sponsors, and the scientific community all need to make a firm commitment to minimize the selective publication of trial results to ensure that patients and clinicians have access to the information they need to make fully informed treatment decisions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000144.
PLoS Medicine recently published two related articles on selected publication by Ida Sim and colleagues and by Lisa Bero and colleagues and an editorial discussing the FDA Amendments Act
ClinicalTrials.gov provides information about the US National Institutes of Health clinical trial registry, including background information about clinical trials, and a fact sheet detailing the requirements of the FDA Amendments Act 2007 for trial registration
The US Food and Drug Administration provides further information about drug approval in the US for consumers and health care professionals
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000144
PMCID: PMC2728480  PMID: 19901971
17.  Surgery Versus Epilation for the Treatment of Minor Trichiasis in Ethiopia: A Randomised Controlled Noninferiority Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(12):e1001136.
In this randomized, non-inferiority trial, Saul Rajak et al compare epilation and surgery for the management of minor trichiasis in Ethiopia, the country with the most cases of trachomatous trichiasis.
Background
Trachomatous trichiasis can cause corneal damage and visual impairment. WHO recommends surgery for all cases. However, in many regions surgical provision is inadequate and patients frequently decline. Self-epilation is common and was associated with comparable outcomes to surgery in nonrandomised studies for minor trichiasis (
Methods and Findings
1,300 individuals with minor trichiasis from Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia were recruited and randomly assigned (1∶1) to receive trichiasis surgery or epilation. The epilation group were given new forceps and epilation training. The surgical group received trichiasis surgery. Participants were examined every 6 months for 2 years by clinicians masked to allocation, with 93.5% follow-up at 24 months. The primary outcome measure (“failure”) was ≥five lashes touching the eye or receiving trichiasis surgery during 24 months of follow-up, and was assessed for noninferiority with a 10% prespecified noninferiority margin. Secondary outcomes included number of lashes touching, time to failure, and changes in visual acuity and corneal opacity.
Cumulative risk of failure over 24 months was 13.2% in the epilation group and 2.2% in the surgical group (risk difference = 11%). The 95% confidence interval (8.1%–13.9%) includes the 10% noninferiority margin. Mean number of lashes touching the eye was greater in the epilation group than the surgery group (at 24 months 0.95 versus 0.09, respectively; p<0.001); there was no difference in change in visual acuity or corneal opacity between the two groups.
Conclusions
This trial was inconclusive regarding inferiority of epilation to surgery for the treatment of minor trichiasis, relative to the prespecified margin. Epilation had a comparable effect to surgery on visual acuity and corneal outcomes. We suggest that surgery be performed whenever possible but epilation be used for treatment of minor trichiasis patients without access to or declining surgery.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00522912
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 40 million people are affected at any one time by active trachoma, an infectious eye disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Trachoma, which is responsible for more than 3% of the world's blindness, mostly affects people living in rural areas in developing countries where there are water shortages, poor personal hygiene, and crowded living conditions. C. trachomatis is spread through contact with infected eye secretions or with contaminated towels or clothes, and by flies. Recurrent infections with C. trachomatis during childhood cause inflammation of the lining of the eye lid (chronic conjunctival inflammation), which can lead to conjunctival scarring. If this scarring is severe, the eyelids turn inwards and the eye lashes rub across the eye's surface (the cornea). This condition—trachomatous trichiasis—is extremely painful. Patients describe the pain like having thorns scraping their eyes when they blink. If left untreated, trichiasis can lead to irreversible corneal opacities and visual impairment.
Why Was This Study Done?
The SAFE strategy—surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics for infection, and facial cleanliness and environmental improvements to reduce transmission—aims to control trachoma in countries where it is common. Unfortunately, current surgical activity is only keeping up with new cases of trichiasis; it is not clearing the backlog. The reasons for this treatment gap are complex but in many regions surgical provision is inadequate. Moreover, although the World Health Organization recommends surgery for all cases of trachomatous trichiasis, people with minor trichiasis (only a few eyelashes touching the cornea) often decline surgery, preferring to pull out their eyelashes (epilation), an intervention that has to be repeated when the eyelashes regrow. In this randomized, noninferiority trial, the researchers compare epilation and surgery for the management of minor trichiasis in Ethiopia, the country with the most cases of trachomatous trichiasis. In a randomized trial, randomly chosen groups of patients are given different treatments for a disease and then followed to compare the outcomes of these interventions. A noninferiority trial investigates whether one treatment is not worse than another treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 1,300 Ethiopians with minor trichiasis to receive surgery or to be given epilation training and good quality epilation forceps. The primary trial outcome was “failure”—five or more lashes touching the eye or receiving trichiasis surgery during the 24-month follow-up period. The researchers decided in advance that epilation would be deemed noninferior to surgery if its failure rate was less than 10% greater than that of surgery (a noninferiority margin of 10%). Secondary outcomes included the number of lashes touching the eye and changes in visual acuity and corneal opacity. The cumulative risk of failure over 24 months was 13.2% in the epilation group and 2.2% in the surgical group, a difference of 11%. The 95% confidence interval for this difference was 8.1%–13.9%. That is, there was a 95% probability that the true failure rate lay within this range. The mean number of lashes touching the eye at 24 months was 0.95 and 0.09 in the epilation and surgery groups, respectively, a significant difference (that is, a difference unlikely to have occurred by chance). Finally, the changes in visual acuity or corneal opacity during the trial were similar in the two groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because the 95% confidence interval for the difference in failure rate of the two interventions included the preset inferiority margin, these findings provide no evidence that epilation is noninferior to surgery for the management of minor trichiasis. That is, statistically speaking, this trial is inconclusive. Thus, if one were to consider only the primary clinical outcome when deciding whether to include epilation in the management of mild trichiasis, one would reject it because this trial indicates that surgery is better than epilation at preventing lashes touching the eye. However, epilation had a comparable effect to surgery on visual acuity and corneal opacity changes and, importantly, in real life, surgical services are likely to remain unacceptable, unavailable, inaccessible, or prohibitively expensive for many people with trachomatous trichiasis in the medium term. The researchers suggest, therefore, that surgery should be performed for minor trachomatous trichiasis whenever possible but that epilation should be considered when surgery is not available or is declined by the patient.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001136.
An accompanying PLoS Medicine Research Article by Saul Rajak et al. describes another randomized trial undertaken by these researchers that compares the use of absorbable and silk sutures for the surgical treatment of trachomatous trichiasis in Ethiopia
The World Health Organization has information on trachoma (in several languages), including details of the Alliance for Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET 2020) and a personal story about blinding trachoma
The UK National Health Service Choices web site also provides information on trachoma
Orbis, an international nonprofit organization devoted to blindness prevention and treatment in developing countries, provides information about trachoma
The International Trachoma Initiative provides detailed personal story about trichiasis surgery in Ethiopia information about trachoma and a personal story about trichiasis surgery in Ethiopia
The Global Atlas of Trachoma is an open-access resource on the geographical distribution of trachoma
Light for the World is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities in developing countries, including people in Ethiopia with trachoma
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001136
PMCID: PMC3236738  PMID: 22180731
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(25):2407-2418.
BACKGROUND
The course of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is often associated with pain, hypertension, and kidney failure. Preclinical studies indicated that vasopressin V2-receptor antagonists inhibit cyst growth and slow the decline of kidney function.
METHODS
In this phase 3, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 3-year trial, we randomly assigned 1445 patients, 18 to 50 years of age, who had ADPKD with a total kidney volume of 750 ml or more and an estimated creatinine clearance of 60 ml per minute or more, in a 2:1 ratio to receive tolvaptan, a V2-receptor antagonist, at the highest of three twice-daily dose regimens that the patient found tolerable, or placebo. The primary outcome was the annual rate of change in the total kidney volume. Sequential secondary end points included a composite of time to clinical progression (defined as worsening kidney function, kidney pain, hypertension, and albuminuria) and rate of kidney-function decline.
RESULTS
Over a 3-year period, the increase in total kidney volume in the tolvaptan group was 2.8% per year (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5 to 3.1), versus 5.5% per year in the placebo group (95% CI, 5.1 to 6.0; P<0.001). The composite end point favored tolvaptan over placebo (44 vs. 50 events per 100 follow-up-years, P = 0.01), with lower rates of worsening kidney function (2 vs. 5 events per 100 person-years of follow-up, P<0.001) and kidney pain (5 vs. 7 events per 100 person-years of follow-up, P = 0.007). Tolvaptan was associated with a slower decline in kidney function (reciprocal of the serum creatinine level, −2.61 [mg per milliliter]−1 per year vs. −3.81 [mg per milliliter]−1 per year; P<0.001). There were fewer ADPKD-related adverse events in the tolvaptan group but more events related to aquaresis (excretion of electrolyte-free water) and hepatic adverse events unrelated to ADPKD, contributing to a higher discontinuation rate (23%, vs. 14% in the placebo group).
CONCLUSIONS
Tolvaptan, as compared with placebo, slowed the increase in total kidney volume and the decline in kidney function over a 3-year period in patients with ADPKD but was associated with a higher discontinuation rate, owing to adverse events. (Funded by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization; TEMPO 3:4 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00428948.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1205511
PMCID: PMC3760207  PMID: 23121377
Current Oncology  2007;14(5):195-208.
Question
What is the optimal chemotherapy treatment for women with recurrent ovarian cancer who have previously received platinum-based chemotherapy?
Perspectives
Currently, standard primary therapy for advanced disease involves a combination of maximal cytoreductive surgery and chemotherapy with carboplatin plus paclitaxel or with carboplatin alone. Despite initial high response rates, a large proportion of patients relapse, resulting in a therapeutic challenge. Because these patients are not curable, the goal of therapy becomes improvement in both quality and length of life. The search has therefore been to find active agents for women with recurrent disease following platinum-based chemotherapy.
Outcomes
Outcomes of interest included any combination of tumour response rate, progression-free survival, overall survival, adverse events, and quality of life.
Methodology
The medline, embase, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched for primary articles and practice guidelines. The resulting evidence informed the development of clinical practice recommendations. The systematic review and recommendations were approved by the Report Approval Panel of the Program in Evidence-Based Care, and by the Gynecology Cancer Disease Site Group (dsg). The practice guideline was externally reviewed by a sample of practitioners from Ontario, Canada.
Results
Thirteen randomized trials compared various chemotherapy regimens for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer.
In five of the thirteen trials in which 100% of patients were considered sensitive to platinum-containing chemotherapy, further platinum-based combination chemotherapy significantly improved response rates (two trials), progression-free survival (four trials), and overall survival (three trials) when compared with single-agent chemotherapy involving carboplatin or paclitaxel. Only two of these randomized trials compared the same chemotherapy regimens: carboplatin alone versus the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel. Both trials were consistent in reporting improved survival outcomes with the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel. In one trial, the combination of carboplatin and gemcitabine resulted in significantly higher response rates and improved progression-free survival when compared with carboplatin alone. Median survival with carboplatin alone ranged from 17 months to 24 months in four trials.
In eight of the thirteen trials in which 35%–100% of patients had platinum-refractory or -resistant disease, one trial reported a statistically significant 2-month improvement in overall survival with liposomal doxorubicin as compared with topotecan (15 months vs. 13 months, p = 0.038; hazard ratio: 1.23; 95% confidence interval: 1.01 to 1.50). In that trial, because of the limited clinical benefit and the unusual finding that a survival difference emerged only after a year of treatment with no corresponding improvement in the rate of response or of progression-free survival, the authors concluded that further confirmation by results from randomized trials were needed to establish the superiority of one agent over another in their trial. In one trial, topotecan was superior to treosulphan in patient progression-free survival by a span of approximately 2 months (5.4 months vs. 3.0 months, p < 0.001).
Toxicity was reported in all of the randomized trials, and although data on adverse events varied by treatment regimen, the observed adverse events correlated with known toxicity profiles. As expected, combination chemotherapy was associated with higher rates of adverse events.
Practice Guideline
Target Population
This clinical recommendation applies to women with recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer who have previously received platinum-based chemotherapy. Of specific interest are women who have previously shown sensitivity to platinum therapy and those who previously were refractory or resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy. As a general categorization within what is actually a continuum, “platinum sensitivity” refers to disease recurrence 6 months or more after prior platinum-containing chemotherapy, and “platinum resistance” refers to a response to platinum-based chemotherapy followed by relapse less than 6 months after chemotherapy is stopped. “Platinum-refractory disease” refers to a lack of response or to progression while on platinum-based chemotherapy.
Recommendations
Although the body of evidence that informs the clinical recommendations is based on randomized trial data, those data are incomplete. Based on the available data and expert consensus opinion, the Gynecology Cancer dsg makes these recommendations:
Systemic therapy for recurrent ovarian cancer is not curative. It is therefore recognized that each patient must be individually assessed to determine optimal therapy in terms of recurrence, sensitivity to platinum, toxicity, ease of administration, and patient preference. All suitable patients should be offered the opportunity to participate in randomized trials, if available.
In the absence of contraindications, combination platinum-based chemotherapy should be considered for patients with prior sensitivity to platinum-containing chemotherapy. As compared with carboplatin alone, the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel significantly improved both progression-free and overall survival.
If combination platinum-based chemotherapy is not indicated, then a single platinum agent should be considered. Carboplatin has demonstrated efficacy across trials and has a manageable toxicity profile.
If a single platinum agent is not being considered, then monotherapy with paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin are seen as reasonable treatment options.
Some patients may be repeatedly sensitive to treatment and may benefit from multiple lines of chemotherapy.
For patients with platinum-refractory or platinum-resistant disease, the goals of treatment should be to improve quality of life by extending the symptom-free interval, by reducing symptom intensity, and by increasing progression-free interval, and, if possible, to prolong life.
With non-platinum agents, monotherapy should be considered because no advantage appears to accrue to the use of non-platinum-containing combination chemotherapy in this group of patients. Single-agent paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin have demonstrated activity in this patient population and are reasonable treatment options.
No evidence either supports or refutes the use of more than one line of chemotherapy in patients with platinum-refractory or platinum-resistant recurrence. Many treatment options have shown modest response rates, but their benefits over best supportive care have not been studied in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2002482  PMID: 17938703
Chemotherapy; drug therapy; ovarian cancer; ovarian neoplasms; practice guideline; systematic review
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003690.
Evolutionary theory predicts that sexually antagonistic mutations accumulate differentially on the X chromosome and autosomes in species with an XY sex-determination system, with effects (masculinization or feminization of the X) depending on the dominance of mutations. Organisms with alternative modes of inheritance of sex chromosomes offer interesting opportunities for studying sexual conflicts and their resolution, because expectations for the preferred genomic location of sexually antagonistic alleles may differ from standard systems. Aphids display an XX/X0 system and combine an unusual inheritance of the X chromosome with the alternation of sexual and asexual reproduction. In this study, we first investigated theoretically the accumulation of sexually antagonistic mutations on the aphid X chromosome. Our results show that i) the X is always more favourable to the spread of male-beneficial alleles than autosomes, and should thus be enriched in sexually antagonistic alleles beneficial for males, ii) sexually antagonistic mutations beneficial for asexual females accumulate preferentially on autosomes, iii) in contrast to predictions for standard systems, these qualitative results are not affected by the dominance of mutations. Under the assumption that sex-biased gene expression evolves to solve conflicts raised by the spread of sexually antagonistic alleles, one expects that male-biased genes should be enriched on the X while asexual female-biased genes should be enriched on autosomes. Using gene expression data (RNA-Seq) in males, sexual females and asexual females of the pea aphid, we confirm these theoretical predictions. Although other mechanisms than the resolution of sexual antagonism may lead to sex-biased gene expression, we argue that they could hardly explain the observed difference between X and autosomes. On top of reporting a strong masculinization of the aphid X chromosome, our study highlights the relevance of organisms displaying an alternative mode of sex chromosome inheritance to understanding the forces shaping chromosome evolution.
Author Summary
Males and females differ in their optimal values for most phenotypic traits, which makes intra-locus genetic conflicts among sexes common. Sex chromosomes have a sex-biased transmission, a pattern which might create favourable conditions for the spread of sexually antagonistic alleles (i.e. alleles beneficial for one sex but deleterious for the other). Yet, expectations for genetic systems with unusual inheritance of sex chromosomes may differ from those derived from standard systems (e.g. XY). Here we demonstrate theoretically that in organisms such as aphids, which alternate sexual and asexual reproduction and display an unusual inheritance of the X chromosome, male-beneficial sexually antagonistic alleles accumulate preferentially on that chromosome, while asexual female-beneficial alleles accumulate on autosomes. Theoretical models suggest that the evolution of sex-biased gene expression may solve such sexual conflicts, by restricting the product of a sexually antagonistic allele to the sex it benefits. We show that in the pea aphid, the genomic location (X versus autosomes) of genes with a sex-biased expression fits predictions derived from this hypothesis. On top of reporting a strong masculinization of the aphid X chromosome, our study highlights the relevance of organisms with an alternative mode of sex chromosome inheritance to understanding the evolutionary forces shaping chromosome evolution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003690
PMCID: PMC3738461  PMID: 23950732
Allergo Journal International  2014;23(8):282-319.
Summary
The present guideline (S2k) on allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) was established by the German, Austrian and Swiss professional associations for allergy in consensus with the scientific specialist societies and professional associations in the fields of otolaryngology, dermatology and venereology, pediatric and adolescent medicine, pneumology as well as a German patient organization (German Allergy and Asthma Association; Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund, DAAB) according to the criteria of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschaftlichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften, AWMF).
AIT is a therapy with disease-modifying effects. By administering allergen extracts, specific blocking antibodies, toler-ance-inducing cells and mediators are activated. These prevent further exacerbation of the allergen-triggered immune response, block the specific immune response and attenuate the inflammatory response in tissue.
Products for SCIT or SLIT cannot be compared at present due to their heterogeneous composition, nor can allergen concentrations given by different manufacturers be compared meaningfully due to the varying methods used to measure their active ingredients. Non-modified allergens are used for SCIT in the form of aqueous or physically adsorbed (depot) extracts, as well as chemically modified allergens (allergoids) as depot extracts. Allergen extracts for SLIT are used in the form of aqueous solutions or tablets.
The clinical efficacy of AIT is measured using various scores as primary and secondary study endpoints. The EMA stipulates combined symptom and medication scores as primary endpoint. A harmonization of clinical endpoints, e. g., by using the combined symptom and medication scores (CSMS) recommended by the EAACI, is desirable in the future in order to permit the comparison of results from different studies. The current CONSORT recommendations from the ARIA/GA2LEN group specify standards for the evaluation, presentation and publication of study results.
According to the Therapy allergen ordinance (TAV), preparations containing common allergen sources (pollen from grasses, birch, alder, hazel, house dust mites, as well as bee and wasp venom) need a marketing authorization in Germany. During the marketing authorization process, these preparations are examined regarding quality, safety and efficacy. In the opinion of the authors, authorized allergen preparations with documented efficacy and safety, or preparations tradeable under the TAV for which efficacy and safety have already been documented in clinical trials meeting WAO or EMA standards, should be preferentially used. Individual formulations (NPP) enable the prescription of rare allergen sources (e.g., pollen from ash, mugwort or ambrosia, mold Alternaria, animal allergens) for specific immunotherapy. Mixing these allergens with TAV allergens is not permitted.
Allergic rhinitis and its associated co-morbidities (e. g., bronchial asthma) generate substantial direct and indirect costs. Treatment options, in particular AIT, are therefore evaluated using cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses. From a long-term perspective, AIT is considered to be significantly more cost effective in allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma than pharmacotherapy, but is heavily dependent on patient compliance.
Meta-analyses provide unequivocal evidence of the efficacy of SCIT and SLIT for certain allergen sources and age groups. Data from controlled studies differ in terms of scope, quality and dosing regimens and require product-specific evaluation. Therefore, evaluating individual preparations according to clearly defined criteria is recommended. A broad transfer of the efficacy of certain preparations to all preparations administered in the same way is not endorsed. The website of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (www.dgaki.de/leitlinien/s2k-leitlinie-sit; DGAKI: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Allergologie und klinische Immunologie) provides tables with specific information on available products for AIT in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The tables contain the number of clinical studies per product in adults and children, the year of market authorization, underlying scoring systems, number of randomized and analyzed subjects and the method of evaluation (ITT, FAS, PP), separately given for grass pollen, birch pollen and house dust mite allergens, and the status of approval for the conduct of clinical studies with these products.
Strong evidence of the efficacy of SCIT in pollen allergy-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in adulthood is well-documented in numerous trials and, in childhood and adolescence, in a few trials. Efficacy in house dust mite allergy is documented by a number of controlled trials in adults and few controlled trials in children. Only a few controlled trials, independent of age, are available for mold allergy (in particular Alternaria). With regard to animal dander allergies (primarily to cat allergens), only small studies, some with methodological deficiencies are available. Only a moderate and inconsistent therapeutic effect in atopic dermatitis has been observed in the quite heterogeneous studies conducted to date. SCIT has been well investigated for individual preparations in controlled bronchial asthma as defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2007 and intermittent and mild persistent asthma (GINA 2005) and it is recommended as a treatment option, in addition to allergen avoidance and pharmacotherapy, provided there is a clear causal link between respiratory symptoms and the relevant allergen.
The efficacy of SLIT in grass pollen-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis is extensively documented in adults and children, whilst its efficacy in tree pollen allergy has only been shown in adults. New controlled trials (some with high patient numbers) on house dust mite allergy provide evidence of efficacy of SLIT in adults.
Compared with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, there are only few studies on the efficacy of SLIT in allergic asthma. In this context, newer studies show an efficacy for SLIT on asthma symptoms in the subgroup of grass pollen allergic children, adolescents and adults with asthma and efficacy in primary house dust mite allergy-induced asthma in adolescents aged from 14 years and in adults.
Aspects of secondary prevention, in particular the reduction of new sensitizations and reduced asthma risk, are important rationales for choosing to initiate treatment early in childhood and adolescence. In this context, those products for which the appropriate effects have been demonstrated should be considered.
SCIT or SLIT with pollen or mite allergens can be performed in patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis using allergen extracts that have been proven to be effective in at least one double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) study. At present, clinical trials are underway for the indication in asthma due to house dust mite allergy, some of the results of which have already been published, whilst others are still awaited (see the DGAKI table “Approved/potentially completed studies” via www.dgaki.de/Leitlinien/s2k-Leitlinie-sit (according to www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu)). When establishing the indication for AIT, factors that favour clinical efficacy should be taken into consideration. Differences between SCIT and SLIT are to be considered primarily in terms of contraindications. In individual cases, AIT may be justifiably indicated despite the presence of contraindications.
SCIT injections and the initiation of SLIT are performed by a physician experienced in this type of treatment and who is able to administer emergency treatment in the case of an allergic reaction. Patients must be fully informed about the procedure and risks of possible adverse events, and the details of this process must be documented (see “Treatment information sheet”; available as a handout via www.dgaki.de/Leitlinien/s2k-Leitlinie-sit). Treatment should be performed according to the manufacturer‘s product information leaflet. In cases where AIT is to be performed or continued by a different physician to the one who established the indication, close cooperation is required in order to ensure that treatment is implemented consistently and at low risk. In general, it is recommended that SCIT and SLIT should only be performed using preparations for which adequate proof of efficacy is available from clinical trials.
Treatment adherence among AIT patients is lower than assumed by physicians, irrespective of the form of administration. Clearly, adherence is of vital importance for treatment success. Improving AIT adherence is one of the most important future goals, in order to ensure efficacy of the therapy.
Severe, potentially life-threatening systemic reactions during SCIT are possible, but – providing all safety measures are adhered to – these events are very rare. Most adverse events are mild to moderate and can be treated well.
Dose-dependent adverse local reactions occur frequently in the mouth and throat in SLIT. Systemic reactions have been described in SLIT, but are seen far less often than with SCIT. In terms of anaphylaxis and other severe systemic reactions, SLIT has a better safety profile than SCIT.
The risk and effects of adverse systemic reactions in the setting of AIT can be effectively reduced by training of personnel, adhering to safety standards and prompt use of emergency measures, including early administration of i. m. epinephrine. Details on the acute management of anaphylactic reactions can be found in the current S2 guideline on anaphylaxis issued by the AWMF (S2-AWMF-LL Registry Number 061-025).
AIT is undergoing some innovative developments in many areas (e. g., allergen characterization, new administration routes, adjuvants, faster and safer dose escalation protocols), some of which are already being investigated in clinical trials.
Cite this as Pfaar O, Bachert C, Bufe A, Buhl R, Ebner C, Eng P, Friedrichs F, Fuchs T, Hamelmann E, Hartwig-Bade D, Hering T, Huttegger I, Jung K, Klimek L, Kopp MV, Merk H, Rabe U, Saloga J, Schmid-Grendelmeier P, Schuster A, Schwerk N, Sitter H, Umpfenbach U, Wedi B, Wöhrl S, Worm M, Kleine-Tebbe J. Guideline on allergen-specific immunotherapy in IgE-mediated allergic diseases – S2k Guideline of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI), the Society for Pediatric Allergy and Environmental Medicine (GPA), the Medical Association of German Allergologists (AeDA), the Austrian Society for Allergy and Immunology (ÖGAI), the Swiss Society for Allergy and Immunology (SGAI), the German Society of Dermatology (DDG), the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO-KHC), the German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ), the Society for Pediatric Pneumology (GPP), the German Respiratory Society (DGP), the German Association of ENT Surgeons (BV-HNO), the Professional Federation of Paediatricians and Youth Doctors (BVKJ), the Federal Association of Pulmonologists (BDP) and the German Dermatologists Association (BVDD). Allergo J Int 2014;23:282–319
doi:10.1007/s40629-014-0032-2
PMCID: PMC4479478  PMID: 26120539
allergen-specific immunotherapy; AIT; Hyposensitization; guideline; allergen; allergen extract; allergic disease; allergic rhinitis; allergic asthma
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003040.
Heterozygous mutations in the PRPF31 gene cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP), a hereditary disorder leading to progressive blindness. In some cases, such mutations display incomplete penetrance, implying that certain carriers develop retinal degeneration while others have no symptoms at all. Asymptomatic carriers are protected from the disease by a higher than average expression of the PRPF31 allele that is not mutated, mainly through the action of an unknown modifier gene mapping to chromosome 19q13.4. We investigated a large family with adRP segregating an 11-bp deletion in PRPF31. The analysis of cell lines derived from asymptomatic and affected individuals revealed that the expression of only one gene among a number of candidates within the 19q13.4 interval significantly correlated with that of PRPF31, both at the mRNA and protein levels, and according to an inverse relationship. This gene was CNOT3, encoding a subunit of the Ccr4-not transcription complex. In cultured cells, siRNA–mediated silencing of CNOT3 provoked an increase in PRPF31 expression, confirming a repressive nature of CNOT3 on PRPF31. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed that CNOT3 directly binds to a specific PRPF31 promoter sequence, while next-generation sequencing of the CNOT3 genomic region indicated that its variable expression is associated with a common intronic SNP. In conclusion, we identify CNOT3 as the main modifier gene determining penetrance of PRPF31 mutations, via a mechanism of transcriptional repression. In asymptomatic carriers CNOT3 is expressed at low levels, allowing higher amounts of wild-type PRPF31 transcripts to be produced and preventing manifestation of retinal degeneration.
Author Summary
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited disorder of the retina that is caused by mutations in more than 50 genes. Dominant mutations in one of these, PRPF31, can be non-penetrant. That is, some carriers of mutations suffer from the disease while others do not display any symptoms. In these particular individuals, functional PRPF31 transcripts are expressed at higher levels compared to affected persons, thus compensating for the deleterious effects of the mutated allele. Up to now, the nature of such a stochastic and protective effect was unknown. In this work, we identify CNOT3 as the modifier gene responsible for penetrance of PRPF31 mutations. We show that CNOT3 is a negative regulator of PRPF31 expression and modulates PRPF31 transcription by directly binding to its promoter. In asymptomatic carriers of mutations, CNOT3 expression is lower, allowing higher amounts of PRPF31 to be produced and therefore inhibiting the development of symptoms. Finally, we find that a polymorphism within a CNOT3 intronic region is associated with the clinical manifestation of the disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003040
PMCID: PMC3493449  PMID: 23144630
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000354.
Andreas Lundh and colleagues investigated the effect of publication of large industry-supported trials on citations and journal income, through reprint sales, in six general medical journals
Background
Transparency in reporting of conflict of interest is an increasingly important aspect of publication in medical journals. Publication of large industry-supported trials may generate many citations and journal income through reprint sales and thereby be a source of conflicts of interest for journals. We investigated industry-supported trials' influence on journal impact factors and revenue.
Methods and Findings
We sampled six major medical journals (Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, BMJ, JAMA, The Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM]). For each journal, we identified randomised trials published in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006 using PubMed, and categorized the type of financial support. Using Web of Science, we investigated citations of industry-supported trials and the influence on journal impact factors over a ten-year period. We contacted journal editors and retrieved tax information on income from industry sources. The proportion of trials with sole industry support varied between journals, from 7% in BMJ to 32% in NEJM in 2005–2006. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than trials with other types of support, and omitting them from the impact factor calculation decreased journal impact factors. The decrease varied considerably between journals, with 1% for BMJ to 15% for NEJM in 2007. For the two journals disclosing data, income from the sales of reprints contributed to 3% and 41% of the total income for BMJ and The Lancet in 2005–2006.
Conclusions
Publication of industry-supported trials was associated with an increase in journal impact factors. Sales of reprints may provide a substantial income. We suggest that journals disclose financial information in the same way that they require them from their authors, so that readers can assess the potential effect of different types of papers on journals' revenue and impact.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Medical journals publish many different types of papers that inform doctors about the latest research advances and the latest treatments for their patients. They publish articles that describe laboratory-based research into the causes of diseases and the identification of potential new drugs. They publish the results of early clinical trials in which a few patients are given a potential new drug to check its safety. Finally and most importantly, they publish the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs are studies in which large numbers of patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or the clinician knowing the allocation and the efficacy of the various treatments compared. RCTs are best way of determining whether a new drug is effective and have to be completed before a drug can be marketed. Because RCTs are very expensive, they are often supported by drug companies. That is, drug companies provide grants or drugs for the trial or assist with data analysis and/or article preparation.
Why Was This Study Done?
Whenever a medical journal publishes an article, the article's authors have to declare any conflicts of interest such as financial gain from the paper's publication. Conflict of interest statements help readers assess papers—an author who owns the patent for a drug, for example, might put an unduly positive spin on his/her results. The experts who review papers for journals before publication provide similar conflict of interest statements. But what about the journal editors who ultimately decide which papers get published? The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which produces medical publishing guidelines, states that: “Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts must have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues that they might judge.” However, the publication of industry-supported RCTs might create “indirect” conflicts of interest for journals by boosting the journal's impact factor (a measure of a journal's importance based on how often its articles are cited) and its income through the sale of reprints to drug companies. In this study, the researchers investigate whether the publication of industry-supported RCTs influences the impact factors and finances of six major medical journals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers determined which RCTs published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet, and three other major medical journals in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006 were supported wholly, partly, or not at all by industry. They then used the online academic citation index Web of Science to calculate an approximate impact factor for each journal for 1998 and 2007 and calculated the effect of the published RCTs on the impact factor. The proportion of RCTs with sole industry support varied between journals. Thus, 32% of the RCTs published in the NEJM during both two-year periods had industry support whereas only 7% of the RCTs published in the BMJ in 2005–2006 had industry support. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than RCTs with other types of support and omitting industry-supported RCTs from impact factor calculations decreased all the approximate journal impact factors. For example, omitting all RCTs with industry or mixed support decreased the 2007 BMJ and NEJM impact factors by 1% and 15%, respectively. Finally, the researchers asked each journal's editor about their journal's income from industry sources. For the BMJ and The Lancet, the only journals that provided this information, income from reprint sales was 3% and 41%, respectively, of total income in 2005–2006.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the publication of industry-supported RCTs was associated with an increase in the approximate impact factors of these six major medical journals. Because these journals publish numerous RCTs, this result may not be generalizable to other journals. These findings also indicate that income from reprint sales can be a substantial proportion of a journal's total income. Importantly, these findings do not imply that the decisions of editors are affected by the possibility that the publication of an industry-supported trial might improve their journal's impact factor or income. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest, journals should live up to the same principles related to conflicts of interest as those that they require from their authors and should routinely disclose information on the source and amount of income that they receive.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Harvey Marcovitch
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors provides information about the publication of medical research, including conflicts of interest
The World Association of Medical Editors also provides information on conflicts of interest in medical journals
Information about impact factors is provided by Thomson Reuters, a provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals; Thomson Reuters also runs Web of Science
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354
PMCID: PMC2964336  PMID: 21048986
Heart  1998;79(1):73-77.
Objective—To assess the frequency, nature, and severity of cardiac abnormalities in limb girdle muscular dystrophy, and its relation to age and weakness in various genotypes.
Design—In 26 autosomal dominant, 38 autosomal recessive, and 33 sporadic strictly defined patients with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, cardiac evaluation included history, physical examination, chest x ray, electrocardiography, 24 hour ECG Holter monitoring, and echocardiography. In 35 of the 71 autosomal recessive and sporadic cases muscle biopsies were available for sarcoglycan analysis.
Main results—Dilated cardiomyopathy was present in one autosomal dominant case and in three advanced autosomal recessive or sporadic patients, of whom two were found to have α sarcoglycan deficiency. Two of these three patients and three other cases showed ECG abnormalities known to be characteristic of the dystrophinopathies. A strong association between the absence of α sarcoglycan and the presence of dilated cardiomyopathy was found (p = 0.04). In six autosomal dominant cases there were atrioventricular (AV) conduction disturbances, increasing in severity with age and in concomitant presence of muscle weakness. Pacemaker implantation was necessary in four.
Conclusions—10% of these patients had clinically relevant cardiac abnormalities. In autosomal dominant limb girdle muscular dystrophy one subtype characterised by muscle weakness and AV conduction disturbances is recognised. In the course of autosomal recessive/sporadic limb girdle muscular dystrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy may develop, probably related to deficiency of dystrophin associated proteins.

 Keywords: limb girdle muscular dystrophy;  cardiomyopathy;  AV conduction block;  sarcoglycan
PMCID: PMC1728583  PMID: 9505924
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000425.
Adriane Fugh-Berman and colleagues analyzed a selection of published opinion pieces on hormone therapy and show that there may be a connection between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the tone of such opinion pieces.
Background
Even after the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) found that the risks of menopausal hormone therapy (hormone therapy) outweighed benefit for asymptomatic women, about half of gynecologists in the United States continued to believe that hormones benefited women's health. The pharmaceutical industry has supported publication of articles in medical journals for marketing purposes. It is unknown whether author relationships with industry affect promotional tone in articles on hormone therapy. The goal of this study was to determine whether promotional tone could be identified in narrative review articles regarding menopausal hormone therapy and whether articles identified as promotional were more likely to have been authored by those with conflicts of interest with manufacturers of menopausal hormone therapy.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed tone in opinion pieces on hormone therapy published in the four years after the estrogen-progestin arm of the WHI was stopped. First, we identified the ten authors with four or more MEDLINE-indexed reviews, editorials, comments, or letters on hormone replacement therapy or menopausal hormone therapy published between July 2002 and June 2006. Next, we conducted an additional search using the names of these authors to identify other relevant articles. Finally, after author names and affiliations were removed, 50 articles were evaluated by three readers for scientific accuracy and for tone. Scientific accuracy was assessed based on whether or not the findings of the WHI were accurately reported using two criteria: (1) Acknowledgment or lack of denial of the risk of breast cancer diagnosis associated with hormone therapy, and (2) acknowledgment that hormone therapy did not benefit cardiovascular disease endpoints. Determination of promotional tone was based on the assessment by each reader of whether the article appeared to promote hormone therapy. Analysis of inter-rater consistency found moderate agreement for scientific accuracy (κ = 0.57) and substantial agreement for promotional tone (κ = 0.65). After discussion, readers found 86% of the articles to be scientifically accurate and 64% to be promotional in tone. Themes that were common in articles considered promotional included attacks on the methodology of the WHI, arguments that clinical trial results should not guide treatment for individuals, and arguments that observational studies are as good as or better than randomized clinical trials for guiding clinical decisions. The promotional articles we identified also implied that the risks associated with hormone therapy have been exaggerated and that the benefits of hormone therapy have been or will be proven. Of the ten authors studied, eight were found to have declared payment for speaking or consulting on behalf of menopausal hormone manufacturers or for research support (seven of these eight were speakers or consultants). Thirty of 32 articles (90%) evaluated as promoting hormone therapy were authored by those with potential financial conflicts of interest, compared to 11 of 18 articles (61%) by those without such conflicts (p = 0.0025). Articles promoting the use of menopausal hormone therapy were 2.41 times (95% confidence interval 1.49–4.93) as likely to have been authored by authors with conflicts of interest as by authors without conflicts of interest. In articles from three authors with conflicts of interest some of the same text was repeated word-for-word in different articles.
Conclusion
There may be a connection between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the publication of promotional opinion pieces on menopausal hormone therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over the past three decades, menopausal hormones have been heavily promoted for preventing disease in women. However, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study—which enrolled more than 26,000 women in the US and which was published in 2004—found that estrogen-progestin and estrogen-only formulations (often prescribed to women around the age of menopause) increased the risk of stroke, deep vein thrombosis, dementia, and incontinence. Furthermore, this study found that the estrogen-progestin therapy increased rates of breast cancer. In fact, the estrogen-progestin arm of the WHI study was stopped in 2002 due to harmful findings, and the estrogen-only arm was stopped in 2004, also because of harmful findings. In addition, the study also found that neither therapy reduced cardiovascular risk or markedly benefited health-related quality of life measures.
Despite these results, two years after the results of WHI study were published, a survey of over 700 practicing gynecologists—the specialists who prescribe the majority of menopausal hormone therapies—in the US found that almost half did not find the findings of the WHI study convincing and that 48% disagreed with the decision to stop the trial early. Furthermore, follow-up surveys found similar results.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear why gynecologists and other physicians continue to prescribe menopausal hormone therapies despite the results of the WHI. Some academics argue that published industry-funded reviews and commentaries may be designed to convey specific, but subtle, marketing messages and several academic analyses have used internal industry documents disclosed in litigation cases. So this study was conducted to investigate whether hormone therapy–promoting tone could be identified in narrative review articles and if so, whether these articles were more likely to have been authored by people who had accepted funding from hormone manufacturers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search that identified 340 relevant articles published between July 2002 and June 2006—the four years following the cessation of the estrogen-progestin arm of the women's health initiative study. Ten authors had published four to six articles, 47 authored two or three articles, and 371 authored one article each. The researchers focused on authors who had published four or more articles in the four-year period under study and, after author names and affiliations were removed, 50 articles were evaluated by three readers for scientific accuracy and for tone. After individually analyzing a batch of articles, the readers met to provide their initial assessments, to discuss them, and to reach consensus on tone and scientific accuracy. Then after the papers were evaluated, each author was identified and the researchers searched for authors' potential financial conflicts of interest, defined as publicly disclosed information that the authors had received payment for research, speaking, or consulting on behalf of a manufacturer of menopausal hormone therapy.
Common themes in the 50 articles included arguments that clinical trial results should not guide treatment for individuals and suggestions that the risks associated with hormone therapy have been exaggerated and that the benefits of hormone therapy have been or will be proven. Furthermore, of the ten authors studied, eight were found to have received payment for research, speaking or consulting on behalf of menopause hormone manufacturers, and 30 of 32 articles evaluated as promoting hormone therapy were authored by those with potential financial conflicts of interest. Articles promoting the use of menopausal hormone therapy were more than twice as likely to have been written by authors with conflicts of interest as by authors without conflicts of interest. Furthermore, Three authors who were identified as having financial conflicts of interest were authors on articles where sections of their previously published articles were repeated word-for-word without citation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study suggest that there may be a link between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the publication of apparently promotional opinion pieces on menopausal hormone therapy. Furthermore, such publications may encourage physicians to continue prescribing these therapies to women of menopausal age. Therefore, physicians and other health care providers should interpret the content of review articles with caution. In addition, medical journals should follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts, which require that all authors submit signed statements of their participation in authorship and full disclosure of any conflicts of interest.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000425.
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more information on the Womens Health Initiative
The US National Institutes of Health provide more information about the effects of menopausal hormone replacement therapy
The Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on menopausal hormone therapy
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts presents Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts published in biomedical journals
The National Womens Health Network, a consumer advocacy group that takes no industry money, has factsheets and articles about menopausal hormone therapy
PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center project, has many resources on pharmaceutical marketing practices
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000425
PMCID: PMC3058057  PMID: 21423581

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