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1.  Meta-analysis of clinical efficacy and bleeding risk with intravenous glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists for percutaneous coronary intervention 
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology  2007;23(12):963-970.
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) has become the most common mode of coronary revascularization. Inhibition of platelet aggregation via glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor blockade significantly reduces the acute ischemic complications associated with PCI, but the risk of bleeding may also be increased with these agents. The purpose of the present study was to provide an up-to-date meta-analysis on the clinical efficacy and safety of intravenous GP IIb/IIIa antagonists in patients undergoing PCI.
A comprehensive search was undertaken to identify all randomized trials of GP IIb/IIIa antagonists versus control in patients intended to undergo PCI. Medline, Embase, Biosis, HealthStar and hand searches were performed. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes included myocardial infarction (MI), repeat revascularization, thrombocytopenia and bleeding. OR and their 95% CI were calculated using the random effects model.
Twenty-one randomized trials were identified, which together included 23,941 patients. The mortality rate at seven days was 0.33% in the GP IIb/IIa group compared with 0.50% in the control group (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.68); at 30 days, the mortality rate was 0.83% versus 1.21%, respectively (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.94); at six months, the mortality rate was 1.92% versus 2.33%, respectively (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.07); and at one year, the mortality rate was 2.61% versus 3.32%, respectively (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.64 to 1.00). The number needed to treat at 30 days to save one life was 296. The mortality benefit appeared to dissipate by six months and was of borderline significance at one year. The incidence of MI in the treatment group compared with the control group was reduced at seven days (4.31% versus 6.97%, respectively; OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.75), at 30 days (4.54% versus 6.46% respectively; OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.54 to 0.74) and at six months (5.73% versus 8.29%; OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.55 to 0.77). Repeat revascularization procedures were also significantly lower in the GP IIb/IIIa group compared with the control group at seven days (2.47% versus 4.44%, respectively; OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.84), at 30 days (3.44% versus 5.19%, respectively; OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.77) and at six months (15.21% versus 17.40%, respectively; OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.78 to 0.94). Overall, the composite of death, MI and repeat revascularization was reduced at all time points. An assessment of risk revealed that the incidence of thrombocytopenia (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.81) and minor bleeding (OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.47 to 2.21), but not major bleeding (OR 1.29, 95 CI 0.98 to 1.68), was significantly increased in the GP IIb/IIIa group versus the control group.
Treatment with GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors in the setting of PCI significantly reduces the rates of 30-day mortality, MI and repeat revascularization procedures. These beneficial effects are achieved at an increased risk of thrombocytopenia and minor bleeding, but not major bleeding.
PMCID: PMC2651419  PMID: 17932572
Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists; Meta-analysis; Percutaneous coronary intervention
2.  Discontinuation of treatment of schizophrenic patients is driven by poor symptom response: a pooled post-hoc analysis of four atypical antipsychotic drugs 
BMC Medicine  2005;3:21.
Stopping antipsychotic treatment can interrupt improvement and exacerbate the illness. The reasons for discontinuing treatment during controlled clinical trials were analyzed to explore this phenomenon.
A post-hoc, pooled analysis was made of 4 randomized, double-blind clinical trials, 24–28 weeks in duration, involving 1627 patients with schizophrenia or a related disorder. Analyses combined all the atypical antipsychotic treatment groups in the studies.
The majority of patients (53%) stopped their treatment at an early stage. Poor psychiatric response along with worsening symptoms was the most frequently given reason for discontinuing the course (36%), which was substantially more common than discontinuation due to poor tolerability of the medication (12%). This phenomenon was corroborated by less improvement in patients who discontinued treatment compared with those who completed, based on the PANSS total scores. Discontinuation due to poor response was, apparently, more predominantly linked to patient perception than to physicians' conclusions alone (80% vs. 20%). Discontinuation due to patient perception of poor response appeared to occur particularly early in the course of treatment. Patients who discontinued due to poor toleration of the medication responded in a more comparable manner with completers.
Discontinuing treatment may lead to exacerbation of symptoms, undermining therapeutic progress. In these studies, poor response to treatment and worsening of underlying psychiatric symptoms, and to a lesser extent, intolerability to medication were the primary contributors to treatment being discontinued. Our findings suggest that adherence may be enhanced by effective symptom control, as objectively measured and as subjectively perceived. Such strategies may improve patients' willingness to undertake long-term therapy and increase the likelihood of a better prognosis.
PMCID: PMC1327673  PMID: 16375765
3.  Anticoagulant therapy during primary percutaneous coronary intervention for acute myocardial infarction: a meta-analysis of randomized trials in the era of stents and P2Y12 inhibitors 
Objectives To investigate the relative benefits of unfractionated heparin, low molecular weight heparin(LMWH), fondaparinux, and bivalirudin as treatment options for patients with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
Design Mixed treatment comparison and direct comparison meta-analysis of randomized trials in the era of stents and P2Y12 inhibitors.
Data sources and study selection A search of Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) for randomized trials comparing unfractionated heparin plus glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor(GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor), unfractionated heparin, bivalirudin, fondaparinux, or LMWH plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor for patients undergoing primary PCI.
Outcomes The primary efficacy outcome was short term (in hospital or within 30 days) major adverse cardiovascular event; the primary safety outcome was short term major bleeding.
Results We identified 22 randomized trials that enrolled 22 434 patients. In the mixed treatment comparison models, when compared with unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor, unfractionated heparin was associated with a higher risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (relative risk 1.49 (95% confidence interval 1.21 to 1.84), as were bivalirudin (relative risk 1.34 (1.01 to 1.78)) and fondaparinux (1.78 (1.01 to 3.14)). LMWH plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor showed highest treatment efficacy, followed (in order) by unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor, bivalirudin, unfractionated heparin, and fondaparinux. Bivalirudin was associated with lower major bleeding risk compared with unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor (relative risk 0.47 (0.30 to 0.74)) or unfractionated heparin (0.58 (0.37 to 0.90)). Bivalirudin, followed by unfractionated heparin, LMWH plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor, unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor, and fondaparinux were the hierarchy for treatment safety. Results were similar in direct comparison meta-analyses: bivalirudin was associated with a 39%, 44%, and 65% higher risk of myocardial infarction, urgent revascularization, and stent thrombosis respectively when compared with unfractionated heparin with or without GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor. However, bivalirudin was associated with a 48% lower risk of major bleeding compared with unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor and 32% lower compared with unfractionated heparin alone.
Conclusions In patients undergoing primary PCI, unfractionated heparin plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor and LMWH plus GpIIb/IIIa inhibitor were most efficacious, with the lowest rate of major adverse cardiovascular events, whereas bivalirudin was safest, with the lowest bleeding. These relationships should be considered in selecting anticoagulant therapies in patients undergoing primary PCI.
PMCID: PMC4227311  PMID: 25389143
4.  Rationale and design of PROSPECT-CONKO 004: a prospective, randomized trial of simultaneous pancreatic cancer treatment with enoxaparin and chemotherapy) 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:361.
Advanced pancreatic cancer, in addition to its high mortality, is characterized by one of the highest rates of venous thromboembolic events (VTE) as compared to other types of cancer. Enoxaparin, a low molecular weight heparin (LMWH), has proven to be effective for the prevention and treatment of VTE in surgical and general medical patients. Results of some small studies suggest that this benefit might extend to patients with cancer, however, enoxaparin is not currently indicated for this use. This phase IIb study was designed to analyze the efficacy of enoxaparin in patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer undergoing systemic chemotherapy.
The aim of this prospective multicenter trial is to compare concomitant treatment with enoxaparin to no anticoagulation in 540 patients. Primary endpoint is the incidence of clinically relevant VTE (symptomatic deep venous thrombosis (DVT) of the leg and/or pelvic and/or pulmonary embolism (PE)) within the first 3 months. Secondary endpoints include the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic VTE after 6, 9 and 12 months as well as remission at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months, overall survival and bleeding. Trial registration: identifier CCT-NAPN-16752, identifier: ISRCTN02140505.
An interim analysis for safety performed after inclusion of 152 patients revealed no increased risk of bleeding (5 pts vs. 6 pts, Chi2: 0.763).
PROSPECT is a pivotal study in elucidating the role of low molecular weight heparins in advanced pancreatic cancer. Its results will lead to a new understanding of the role of heparins in the prevention of venous thromboembolism and of their effect on survival, remission rates and toxicity of chemotherapeutic regimens.
PMCID: PMC2613915  PMID: 19055847
5.  A feasible strategy for preventing blood clots in critically ill patients with acute kidney injury (FBI): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:226.
Previous pharmacokinetic trials suggested that 40 mg subcutaneous enoxaparin once daily provided inadequate thromboprophylaxis for intensive care unit patients. Critically ill patients with acute kidney injury are at increased risk of venous thromboembolism and yet are often excluded from these trials. We hypothesized that for critically ill patients with acute kidney injury receiving continuous renal replacement therapy, a dose of 1 mg/kg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily would improve thromboprophylaxis without increasing the risk of bleeding. In addition, we seek to utilize urine output prior to discontinuing dialysis, and low neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin in dialysis-free intervals, as markers of renal recovery.
In a multicenter, double-blind randomized controlled trial in progress at three intensive care units across Denmark, we randomly assign eligible critically ill adults with acute kidney injury into a treatment (1 mg/kg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily) or control arm (40 mg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily) upon commencement of continuous renal replacement therapy.
We calculated that with 133 patients in each group, the study would have 80% power to show a 40% reduction in the relative risk of venous thromboembolism with 1 mg/kg enoxaparin, at a two-sided alpha level of 0.05. An interim analysis will be conducted after the first 67 patients have been included in each group.
Enrolment began in March 2013, and will continue for two years. The primary outcome is the occurrence of venous thromboembolism. Secondary outcomes include anti-factor Xa activity, bleeding, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, filter lifespan, length of stay, ventilator free days, and mortality. We will also monitor neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and urine volume to determine whether they can be used as prognostic factors for renal recovery.
Critically ill unit patients with acute kidney injury present a particular challenge in the provision of thromboprophylaxis. This study hopes to add to the growing evidence that the existing recommendation of 40 mg enoxaparin is inadequate and that 1 mg/kg is both safe and effective for thromboprophylaxis.
In addition, the study seeks to identify predictors of renal recovery allowing for the proper utilization of resources.
Trial Registration
EU Clinical Trials Register: EudraCT number: 2012-004368-23, 25 September 2012.
PMCID: PMC4061539  PMID: 24925372
Enoxaparin; Thromboprophylaxis; Critically ill patients; Anti-factor Xa activity; Deep vein thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Acute kidney injury; Continuous renal replacement therapy; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin; Renal recovery
6.  Clinical and economic studies of eptifibatide in coronary stenting 
Platelet adhesion and aggregation at the site of coronary stenting can have catastrophic clinical and economic consequences. Therefore, effective platelet inhibition is vital during and after percutaneous coronary intervention. Eptifibatide is an intravenous antiplatelet agent that blocks the final common pathway of platelet aggregation and thrombus formation by binding to glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptors on the surface of platelets. In clinical studies, eptifibatide was associated with a significant reduction of mortality, myocardial infarction, or target vessel revascularization in patients with acute coronary syndrome undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. However, recent trials conducted in the era of dual antiplatelet therapy and newer anticoagulants failed to demonstrate similar results. The previously seen favorable benefit of eptifibatide was mainly offset by the increased risk of bleeding. Current American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend its use as an adjunct in high-risk patients who are undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention with traditional anticoagulants (heparin or enoxaparin), who are not otherwise at high risk of bleeding. In patients receiving bivalirudin (a newer safer anticoagulant), routine use of eptifibatide is discouraged except in select situations (eg, angiographic complications). Although older pharmacoeconomic studies favor eptifibatide, in the current era of P2Y12 inhibitors and newer safer anticoagulants, the increased costs associated with bleeding make the routine use of eptifibatide an economically nonviable option. The cost-effectiveness of eptifibatide with the use of strategies that decrease the bleeding risk (eg, transradial access) is unknown. This review provides an overview of key clinical and economic studies of eptifibatide well into the current era of potent antiplatelet agents, novel safer anticoagulants, and contemporary percutaneous coronary intervention.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4128842  PMID: 25120366
eptifibatide; Integrilin®; glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors; percutaneous coronary intervention; acute coronary syndrome; coronary artery disease; cost-effectiveness
7.  Predictors of Aromatase Inhibitor Discontinuation as a Result of Treatment-Emergent Symptoms in Early-Stage Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(9):936-942.
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are effective for treatment of hormone receptor–positive breast cancer, but adherence and persistence with therapy are poor. Predictors of treatment discontinuation are not clearly defined. It is unknown whether patients with intolerable toxicity from one AI are able to tolerate another.
Patients and Methods
Women with early-stage breast cancer initiating AI therapy were enrolled onto a multicenter, prospective, open-label randomized trial of exemestane versus letrozole. Patients completed symptom questionnaires at baseline and serially during therapy. Patients who developed AI-associated intolerable symptoms and discontinued treatment were given the option to switch to the other study AI after a 2- to 8-week washout period.
Of the 503 enrolled women, 32.4% discontinued initial AI therapy within 2 years because of adverse effects; 24.3% discontinued specifically because of musculoskeletal symptoms. Median time to treatment discontinuation as a result of any symptom was 6.1 months (range, 0.1 to 21.2 months) and was significantly shorter in patients randomly assigned to exemestane (hazard ratio [HR], 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.1; P = .02). Younger age and taxane-based chemotherapy were associated with higher likelihood of treatment discontinuation (HR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.9; P = .04; and HR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.00 to 3.6; P = .048, respectively). Of the 83 patients who chose to switch to the second AI, 38.6% continued the alternate AI for a median of 13.7 months.
Premature discontinuation of initial AI therapy as a result of symptoms is common, although more than one third of patients may be able to tolerate a different AI medication. Additional research is needed to identify predictive tools and interventions for AI-associated treatment-emergent symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3341106  PMID: 22331951
8.  Primary Angioplasty for the Treatment of Acute ST-Segment Elevated Myocardial Infarction 
Executive Summary
One of the longest running debates in cardiology is about the best reperfusion therapy for patients with evolving acute myocardial infarction (MI). Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (ANGIOPLASTY) is a surgical treatment to reopen a blocked coronary artery to restore blood flow. It is a type of percutaneous (through-the-skin) coronary intervention (PCI) also known as balloon angioplasty. When performed on patients with acute myocardial infarction, it is called primary angioplasty. Primary angioplasty is an alternative to thrombolysis, clot-dissolving drug therapy, for patients with acute MI associated with ST-segment elevation (STEMI), a change recorded with an electrocardiogram (ECG) during chest pain.
This review of the clinical benefits and policy implications of primary angioplasty was requested by the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee and prompted by the recent publication of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the New England Journal of Medicine (1) that compared referred primary angioplasty with on-site thrombolysis. The Medical Advisory Secretariat reviewed the literature comparing primary angioplasty with thrombolysis and other therapies (pre-hospital thrombolysis and facilitated angioplasty, the latter approach consisting of thrombolysis followed by primary angioplasty irrespective of response to thrombolysis) for acute STEMI.
There have been many RCTs and meta-analyses of these RCTs comparing primary angioplasty with thrombolysis and these were the subject of this analysis. Results showed a statistically significant reduction in mortality, reinfarction, and stroke for patients receiving primary angioplasty. Although the individual trials did not show significant improvements in mortality alone, they did show it for the outcomes of nonfatal reinfarction and stroke, and for an end point combining mortality, reinfarction, and stroke. However, researchers have raised concerns about these studies.
A main concern with the large RCTs is that they lack consistency in methods. Furthermore, there is some question as to their generalizability to practice in Ontario. Across the RCTs, there were differences in the type of thrombolytic drug, the use of stenting versus balloon-only angioplasty, and the use of the newer antiplatelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa. The largest trial did not offer routine follow-up angioplasty for patients receiving thrombolysis, which is the practice in Ontario, and the meta-analysis included trials with streptokinase, an agent seldom used in hospitals in Ontario. Thus, the true magnitude of mortality benefit can only be surmised from head-to-head comparisons of current standard therapies for primary angioplasty and for thrombolysis.
By taking a more restrictive sample of the available studies, the Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a review that was more consistent with patterns of practice in Ontario and selected trials that used accelerated alteplase as the thrombolytic agent.
Results from this meta-analysis suggest that the rates for primary angioplasty are significantly better for mortality, reinfarction, and stroke, in the short term (30 days), and for mortality, reinfarction, and the combined end point at 6 months. When primary angioplasty was compared with in-hospital thrombolysis, results showed a significant reduction in adverse event rates associated with primary angioplasty. However, 1 large RCT of pre-hospital thrombolysis (i.e., thrombolysis given by paramedics before arriving at the hospital) compared with primary angioplasty documented that pre-hospital thrombolysis is an equivalent intervention to primary thrombolysis in terms of survival. Furthermore, a meta-analysis of studies that compared pre-hospital thrombolysis with in-hospital thrombolysis showed a reduction in all hospital mortality rates in favour of pre-hospital thrombolysis, supporting the findings of the pre-hospital thrombolysis study. (2)
Clinical trials to date have reported that hospital stay is often reduced for patients who receive primary angioplasty compared with thrombolysis. Using a cost-analysis performed alongside the only study from Ontario, the Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that there might be savings associated with primary angioplasty. These savings may partly offset the investment the provincial government would have to make to increase access to this technology. These savings should also be shown outside of a clinical trial protocol if the overall efficiencies of primary angioplasty are to be verified.
Based on this health technology policy analysis, the Medical Advisory Secretariat concludes that primary angioplasty has advantages with respect to mortality and combined end points compared with in-hospital thrombolysis (Level 1 evidence). However, pre-hospital thrombolysis improves survival compared with in-hospital thrombolysis (Level 1 evidence) and is equivalent to primary angioplasty (Level 1 evidence).
Results from the literature review raise concerns about the loss of therapeutic advantage due to treatment delays, time lapse from symptom onset to revascularization, time-of-day variations, the hospital volume of procedures, and the ability of hospitals to achieve in practice what RCTs have shown.
Furthermore, questions relevant to applying primary angioplasty widely, involve the diagnosis by paramedics, ambulance diversion protocols, paramedic training, and inter-hospital transfer protocols. These logistical considerations need to be addressed to realise the potential to improve patient outcomes. In its analysis, the Medical Advisory Secretariat concludes that it is unrealistic to reorganise the emergency medical services across Ontario to fully implement a primary angioplasty program.
Finally, it is important to evaluate the potential of this technology in the context of Ontario’s health system. This includes urban and rural considerations, the ability to expand access to primary angioplasty and to minimize symptom-to-assessment time through a diverse strategy including public awareness. Therefore, a measured, evaluative approach to adopting this technology is warranted.
Furthermore, the alternative approach to pre-hospital or early thrombolysis, especially within 120 minutes from onset of symptoms, should be considered when developing the approach to improving outcomes for acute MI. This could include efforts to decrease the symptom-to-thrombolysis time through strategies such as a concerted public education program to expedite presentation to emergency rooms after onset of symptoms, a pre-hospital ECG and thrombolysis checklist in ambulances to reduce door-to-needle time on arrival at emergency rooms, and, especially in remote areas, access to pre-hospital thrombolysis.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat therefore recommends that this analysis of primary angioplasty be viewed in the overall context of all interventions for the management of acute MI and, in particular, of improving access to primary angioplasty and maximising the use of early thrombolysis.
Outcomes for patients with acute MI can be improved if efforts are made to optimise the interval from symptom onset to thrombolysis or angioplasty. This will require concerted efforts, including public awareness through education to reduce the symptom-to-emergency room time, and maximising efficiencies in door-to-intervention times for primary angioplasty and for early thrombolysis.
Primary angioplasty and early thrombolysis cannot be considered in isolation from one another. For example, patients who have persistent STEMI 90 minutes after receiving thrombolysis should be considered for angioplasty (“rescue angioplasty”). Furthermore, for patients with acute MI who are in cardiac shock, primary angioplasty is considered the preferred intervention. The concomitant use of primary angioplasty and thrombolysis (“facilitated angioplasty”) is considered experimental and has no place in routine management of acute MI at this time. In remote parts of the province, consideration should be given to introducing pre-hospital thrombolysis as the preferred intervention through upgrading a select number of paramedics to advanced care status.
PMCID: PMC3387753  PMID: 23074449
9.  Nevirapine- Versus Lopinavir/Ritonavir-Based Initial Therapy for HIV-1 Infection among Women in Africa: A Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001236.
In a randomized control trial, Shahin Lockman and colleagues compare nevirapine-based therapy with lopinavir/ritonavir-based therapy for HIV-infected women without previous exposure to antiretroviral treatment.
Nevirapine (NVP) is widely used in antiretroviral treatment (ART) of HIV-1 globally. The primary objective of the AA5208/OCTANE trial was to compare the efficacy of NVP-based versus lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r)-based initial ART.
Methods and Findings
In seven African countries (Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), 500 antiretroviral-naïve HIV-infected women with CD4<200 cells/mm3 were enrolled into a two-arm randomized trial to initiate open-label ART with tenofovir (TDF)/emtricitabine (FTC) once/day plus either NVP (n = 249) or LPV/r (n = 251) twice/day, and followed for ≥48 weeks. The primary endpoint was time from randomization to death or confirmed virologic failure ([VF]) (plasma HIV RNA<1 log10 below baseline 12 weeks after treatment initiation, or ≥400 copies/ml at or after 24 weeks), with comparison between treatments based on hazard ratios (HRs) in intention-to-treat analysis. Equivalence of randomized treatments was defined as finding the 95% CI for HR for virological failure or death in the range 0.5 to 2.0. Baseline characteristics were (median): age = 34 years, CD4 = 121 cells/mm3, HIV RNA = 5.2 log10copies/ml. Median follow-up = 118 weeks; 29 (6%) women were lost to follow-up. 42 women (37 VFs, five deaths; 17%) in the NVP and 50 (43 VFs, seven deaths; 20%) in the LPV/r arm reached the primary endpoint (HR 0.85, 95% CI 0.56–1.29). During initial assigned treatment, 14% and 16% of women receiving NVP and LPV/r experienced grade 3/4 signs/symptoms and 26% and 22% experienced grade 3/4 laboratory abnormalities. However, 35 (14%) women discontinued NVP because of adverse events, most in the first 8 weeks, versus none for LPV/r (p<0.001). VF, death, or permanent treatment discontinuation occurred in 80 (32%) of NVP and 54 (22%) of LPV/r arms (HR = 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.4), with the difference primarily due to more treatment discontinuation in the NVP arm. 13 (45%) of 29 women tested in the NVP versus six (15%) of 40 in the LPV/r arm had any drug resistance mutation at time of VF.
Initial ART with NVP+TDF/FTC demonstrated equivalent virologic efficacy but higher rates of treatment discontinuation and new drug resistance compared with LPV/r+TDF/FTC in antiretroviral-naïve women with CD4<200 cells/mm3.
Trial registration NCT00089505
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
About 34 million people (mostly living in low- or middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of infection. Then, in 1996, antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that attack different parts of HIV—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition. But, because ART was expensive, for people living in developing countries, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness. In 2006, the international community set a target of achieving universal access to ART by 2010 and, although this target has not been reached, by the end of 2010, 6.6 million of the estimated 15 million people in need of ART in developing countries were receiving one of the ART regimens recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2010 guidelines.
Why Was This Study Done?
A widely used combination for the initial treatment of HIV-infected people (particularly women) in resource-limited settings is tenofovir and emtricitabine (both nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors; reverse transcriptase is essential for HIV replication) and nevirapine (NVP, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor). However, little is known about the efficacy of this NVP-based ART combination. Moreover, its efficacy and toxicity has not been compared with regimens containing lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r). LPV/r, which inhibits the viral protease that is essential for HIV replication, is available in resource-limited settings but is usually reserved for second-line treatment. LPV/r-based ART is more expensive than NVP-based ART but if it were more effective or better tolerated than NVP-based ART, then first-line treatment with LPV/r-based ART might be cost-effective in resource-limited settings. Conversely, evidence of the clinical equivalence of NVP-based and LPV/r-based ART would provide support for NVP-based ART as an initial therapy. In this randomized equivalence trial, the researchers compare the efficacy and toxicity of NVP-based and LVP/r-based initial therapy for HIV infection among antiretroviral-naïve African women. In a randomized trial, patients are assigned different treatments by the play of chance and followed to compare the effects of these treatments; an equivalence trial asks whether the effects of two treatments are statistically equivalent.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers followed 500 antiretroviral-naïve HIV-infected women with a low CD4 cell count living in seven African countries, half of whom received NVP-based ART and half of whom received LPV/r-based ART, for an average of 118 weeks and recorded the time to virologic failure (the presence of virus in the blood above pre-specified levels) or death among the participants. Forty-two women in the NVP arm reached this primary endpoint (37 virologic failures and five deaths) compared to 50 women in the LPV/r arm (43 virologic failures and seven deaths), a result that indicates equivalent virologic efficacy according to preset statistical criteria. During the initial assigned treatment, similar proportions of women in both treatment arms developed serious drug-related signs and symptoms and laboratory abnormalities. However, whereas 14% of the women in the NVP arm discontinued treatment because of adverse effects, none of the women in the LPV/r arm discontinued treatment. Finally, nearly half of the women tested in the NVP arm but only 15% of the women tested in the LVP/r arm had developed any drug resistance at the time of virologic failure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among HIV-infected, treatment-naïve African women, initial NVP-based ART is as effective as LPV/r-based ART in terms of virologic failure and death although more women in the NVP arm discontinued treatment or developed new drug resistance than in the LPV/r arm. Several limitations of this study may affect the accuracy of these findings. In particular, some of the study participants may have been exposed to single-dose NVP during childbirth to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; in a parallel randomized trial, the researchers found that LPV/r-based ART was superior to NVP-based ART among women with prior exposure to single-dose NVP. Moreover, the duration of the current study means the long-term effects of the two treatments cannot be compared. Nevertheless, these findings support the WHO recommendation of NVP-based ART with careful early toxicity monitoring as an initial affordable and effective HIV treatment regiment in resource-limited settings, until access to better-tolerated and more potent regimens is possible.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV treatment and care (in English and Spanish)
WHO provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in English, French and Spanish); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
More information about this trial, the OCTANE trial, is available
MedlinePlus provides detailed information about nevirapine and lopinavir/ritinovir (in English and Spanish)
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about taking anti-HIV drugs and the challenges of anti-HIV drugs
PMCID: PMC3373629  PMID: 22719231
10.  Risk profile and benefits from Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors among patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction treated with primary angioplasty: a meta-regression analysis of randomized trials 
European Heart Journal  2009;30(22):2705-2713.
Several randomized trials and a previous meta-analysis have shown significant benefits from Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors, especially abciximab. Recent randomized trials (BRAVE-3 and HORIZON trials) have shown no benefits from adjunctive Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors on the top of clopidogrel administration. However, the relatively low mortality may have hampered the conclusion of these recent trials. Thus, the aim of the current study was to perform an update meta-analysis of randomized trials on adjunctive Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors in primary angioplasty, and to evaluate by meta-regression analysis, whether the results may be related to risk profile.
Methods and results
We obtained results from all randomized trials evaluating the benefits of adjunctive Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors among STEMI patients undergoing primary angioplasty. The literature was scanned by formal searches of electronic databases (MEDLINE and CENTRAL) from January 1990 to September 2008. The following key words were used: randomized trial, myocardial infarction, reperfusion, primary angioplasty, Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors, abciximab, tirofiban, and eptifibatide. Clinical endpoint was mortality at 30 days. Major bleeding complications were assessed as safety endpoint. No language restriction was applied. A total of 16 randomized trials were finally included in the meta-analysis, involving 10 085 patients (5094 or 50.5% in the Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors group and 4991 or 49.5% in the control group. Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors did not reduce 30 day mortality (2.8 vs. 2.9%, P = 0.75) or re-infarction (1.5 vs. 1.9%, P = 0.22), but were associated with higher risk of major bleeding complications (4.1 vs. 2.7%, P = 0.0004). However, we observed a significant relationship between patient's risk profile and benefits from adjunctive Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors in terms of death (P = 0.008) but not re-infarction (P = 0.25).
This meta-analysis shows a significant relationship between benefits in mortality from Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors and patient's risk profile. Thus, Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors should be strongly considered among high-risk patients.
PMCID: PMC2777025  PMID: 19875386
Primary angioplasty; Gp IIb-IIIa inhibitors; Meta-analysis; STEMI
11.  Predictors of premature discontinuation of treatment in multiple disease states 
Premature discontinuation of treatment impacts outcomes of clinical practice. The traditional perception has been patient discontinuation is mainly driven by unwanted side effects. Systematic analysis of data from clinical trials across several disease states was performed to identify predictors of premature discontinuation during clinical interventions.
A post hoc analysis was conducted on 22 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials for treatment of fibromyalgia, diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Analyses were conducted on pooled data within each disease state.
Lack of early therapeutic response was a significant predictor of patient discontinuation in each disease state. Visit-wise changes in therapeutic response and severity of adverse events were also significant risk factors, with change in therapeutic response having a higher significance level in three disease states. Patients who discontinued due to adverse events had similar therapeutic responses as patients completing treatment.
Contrary to the conventional belief that premature treatment discontinuation is primarily related to adverse events, our findings suggest lack of therapeutic response also plays a significant role in patient attrition. This research highlights the importance of systematic monitoring of therapeutic response in clinical practice as a measure to prevent patients’ discontinuation from pharmacological treatments.
PMCID: PMC2778422  PMID: 19936143
attrition; depression; generalized anxiety disorder; fibromyalgia; therapeutic response; adverse event
12.  Learning from failure - rationale and design for a study about discontinuation of randomized trials (DISCO study) 
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) may be discontinued because of apparent harm, benefit, or futility. Other RCTs are discontinued early because of insufficient recruitment. Trial discontinuation has ethical implications, because participants consent on the premise of contributing to new medical knowledge, Research Ethics Committees (RECs) spend considerable effort reviewing study protocols, and limited resources for conducting research are wasted. Currently, little is known regarding the frequency and characteristics of discontinued RCTs.
Our aims are, first, to determine the prevalence of RCT discontinuation for specific reasons; second, to determine whether the risk of RCT discontinuation for specific reasons differs between investigator- and industry-initiated RCTs; third, to identify risk factors for RCT discontinuation due to insufficient recruitment; fourth, to determine at what stage RCTs are discontinued; and fifth, to examine the publication history of discontinued RCTs.
We are currently assembling a multicenter cohort of RCTs based on protocols approved between 2000 and 2002/3 by 6 RECs in Switzerland, Germany, and Canada. We are extracting data on RCT characteristics and planned recruitment for all included protocols. Completion and publication status is determined using information from correspondence between investigators and RECs, publications identified through literature searches, or by contacting the investigators. We will use multivariable regression models to identify risk factors for trial discontinuation due to insufficient recruitment. We aim to include over 1000 RCTs of which an anticipated 150 will have been discontinued due to insufficient recruitment.
Our study will provide insights into the prevalence and characteristics of RCTs that were discontinued. Effective recruitment strategies and the anticipation of problems are key issues in the planning and evaluation of trials by investigators, Clinical Trial Units, RECs and funding agencies. Identification and modification of barriers to successful study completion at an early stage could help to reduce the risk of trial discontinuation, save limited resources, and enable RCTs to better meet their ethical requirements.
PMCID: PMC3528626  PMID: 22928744
Randomized controlled trial; Trial discontinuation; Slow recruitment; Ethics committees; Trial protocols
13.  Efficacy of Intravitreal Bevacizumab for Stage 3+ Retinopathy of Prematurity 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;364(7):603-615.
Retinopathy of prematurity is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. Peripheral retinal ablation with conventional (confluent) laser therapy is destructive, causes complications, and does not prevent all vision loss, especially in cases of retinopathy of prematurity affecting zone I of the eye. Case series in which patients were treated with vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors suggest that these agents may be useful in treating retinopathy of prematurity.
We conducted a prospective, controlled, randomized, stratified, multicenter trial to assess intravitreal bevacizumab monotherapy for zone I or zone II posterior stage 3+ (i.e., stage 3 with plus disease) retinopathy of prematurity. Infants were randomly assigned to receive intravitreal bevacizumab (0.625 mg in 0.025 ml of solution) or conventional laser therapy, bilaterally. The primary ocular outcome was recurrence of retinopathy of prematurity in one or both eyes requiring retreatment before 54 weeks’ postmenstrual age.
We enrolled 150 infants (total sample of 300 eyes); 143 infants survived to 54 weeks’ postmenstrual age, and the 7 infants who died were not included in the primary-outcome analyses. Retinopathy of prematurity recurred in 4 infants in the bevacizumab group (6 of 140 eyes [4%]) and 19 infants in the laser-therapy group (32 of 146 eyes [22%], P = 0.002). A significant treatment effect was found for zone I retinopathy of prematurity (P = 0.003) but not for zone II disease (P = 0.27).
Intravitreal bevacizumab monotherapy, as compared with conventional laser therapy, in infants with stage 3+ retinopathy of prematurity showed a significant benefit for zone I but not zone II disease. Development of peripheral retinal vessels continued after treatment with intravitreal bevacizumab, but conventional laser therapy led to permanent destruction of the peripheral retina. This trial was too small to assess safety.
PMCID: PMC3119530  PMID: 21323540
14.  Cinnarizine in refractory migraine prophylaxis: efficacy and tolerability. A comparison with sodium valproate 
This was a double-blind clinical trial designed to assess the efficacy and safety of the cinnarizine (CIN) in patients with migraine who were refractory to propranolol and tricyclic antidepressants in comparison with sodium valproate (SV) to investigate whether CIN could be at least as effective as SV. A total of 125 patients were treated in a treatment period of 12 weeks. All patients had at least one intake of trial medication and 2-week post baseline efficacy observation which all were included in the ITT analysis. Of the 125 subjects treated, 46 discontinued prematurely: 25 from the CIN and 21 from the SV group. The main reasons for premature discontinuation were: lost to follow up (25/46, 63.2%), insufficient response (16/46, 20%), and adverse events (5/46, 12.8%). No statistically significant inter-group differences in the number of discontinuation was observed (p > 0.05). In both groups, number of attacks, intensity, and duration of attacks significantly decreased (p < 0.05). No statistically significant inter-group differences were observed regarding the mean number of attacks, duration, and intensity of migraine attacks for any of the time intervals analysed, except for the mean reduction of third and fourth visits intensity from baseline which were significantly different in two groups (p < 0.05), with the CIN group showing more reduction. Analysis of the number of responders showed that in the CIN group 61.2% subjects were responders, and 63.8% in the SV group. No statistically significant differences between the treatment groups were found for any of the secondary parameters. Overall 26 subjects reported one or more adverse events during the study period: 13 subjects in each group. Five subjects discontinued prematurely due to adverse events; two in the CIN group with significant weight gain, and 3 in the SV group with significant weight gain and severe tremor. These results suggest that CIN is an effective and safe prophylactic agent even in severe migraine headache.
PMCID: PMC3476188  PMID: 18286231
Migraine prophylaxis; Cinnarizine; Sodium valproate
15.  Tolerability and feasibility of eptifibatide in acute coronary syndrome in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease: A retrospective analysis* 
Despite the beneficial effects of glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa antagonists in patients with unstable angina and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (UA/NSTEMI), GP IIb/IIIa antagonists are rarely administered in general internal medicine wards in Israel, where most patients with UA/ NSTEMI are admitted, due to lack of adequate monitoring and safety concerns.
The aims of this study were to compare the prevalence of bleeding complications in patients with UA/NSTEMI receiving combination treatment with eptifibatide (a GP IIb/IIIa antagonist), the low-molecular-weight heparin enoxaparin, and acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) versus that in patients receiving enoxaparin and ASA in internal medicine wards in Israel, and to identify risk factors for bleeding complications.
This retrospective analysis included information from the database at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel. The database provided information from 4 of the 5 wards (the ward from which data were unavailable did not routinely use eptifibatide). Data were included from patients aged ≥l.8 years who were admitted to the center with a diagnosis of UA/NSTEMI, were at high risk for death and/or nonfatal ischemic events based on American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines, were to undergo coronary intervention, and who had a Thrombosis in Myocardial Infarction risk score ≥3 (moderate to high risk). Patients in the eptifibatide group received eptifibatide IV (180-μg/kg bolus followed by a continuous infusion of 2 μg/kg · min up to 72 hours), enoxaparin SC (2 mg/kg · d), and ASA (100 mg/d). Patients in the control group received enoxaparin SC (2 mg/kg - d up to 96 hours) and ASA (100 mg/d). The prevalence of bleeding events was assessed using data up to 24 hours after the end of study drug administration. Major bleeding was defined as life-threatening bleeding at any site, intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding accompanied by a decrease in plasma hemoglobin concentration of 5 g/dL or more. Otherwise, bleeding was considered minor. The risk for bleeding events was assessed using multivariate regression analysis.
Data from 105 patients (64 men, 41 women) were included in the analysis. In the eptifibatide and control groups, the mean (SD) ages were 68.7 (11.1) and 74.8 (11.0) years, respectively. These characteristics were statistically similar between the 2 groups. The rates of major bleeding were similar between the eptifibatide and control groups (2 [3.8%] vs 0 patients). The rate of minor bleeding was significantly higher in the eptifibatide group compared with that in controls (11 [21.2%] vs 4 [7.5%] patients; P = 0.03). The incidence of thrombocytopenia was statistically similar between the eptifibatide and control groups (0 vs 2 [3.8%] patients). The risk for bleeding was found to be associated with eptifibatide use (odds ratio, 4.8; 95% CI, 1.29–17.80), whereas an association with treatment was not found in the control group.
The results of this retrospective analysis suggest that the risk for bleeding complications is higher with combination treatment with eptifibatide, enoxaparin, and ASA compared with that with enoxaparin and ASA in high-risk patients with UA/NSTEMI admitted to internal medicine wards in Israel.
PMCID: PMC3965992  PMID: 24678072
GP IIb/IIIa antagonists; eptifibatide; unstable angina and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction; bleeding; Thrombosis in Myocardial Infarction risk score; aspirin; low-molecular-weight heparin; enoxaparin; anti-coagulation; combination
16.  Patient perception of medication benefit and early treatment discontinuation in a 1-year study of patients with schizophrenia 
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between patient beliefs about medication use and their likelihood of discontinuing treatment prematurely. Associations of patient beliefs about medication with clinical psychopathology and their life satisfaction were also assessed.
This post-hoc analysis used data from a randomized, open label, 1-year trial of antipsychotics in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders (N = 664). Medication management including dosage adjustment and medication switching was at doctors’ discretion, reflecting naturalistic treatment in usual clinical care settings. Early treatment discontinuation was defined as all-cause study drop out. Patient-reported beliefs about medication were assessed by Rating of Medication Influences (ROMI), degree of clinical psychopathology was measured by Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and patient quality of life was measured by Lehman Quality of Life Interview (LQLI).
Patient perception of medication benefit was the only strong predictor of treatment duration among the 5 underlying dimensions of medication influence. Higher level of perceived beneficial effect of medication was associated with reduced risk of early treatment discontinuation (Hazard ratio = 0.56, 95% Confidence Interval [0.40, 0.79], p = 0.001). Patients with greater beliefs in the beneficial effect of treatment also had better clinical psychopathology outcome and were more satisfied with their quality of life and well-being.
Understanding the predictors of early treatment discontinuation in the care of schizophrenia patients is important for the development of interventions to improve treatment outcome. Current findings suggest that patient perception of beneficial effect of medication may be a critical factor in achieving treatment persistence and a satisfactory treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC2779124  PMID: 19956443
adherence; compliance; antipsychotic; schizophrenia; patient attitude
17.  Extracorporeal Photophoresis 
Executive Summary
To assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of extracorporeal photophoresis (ECP) for the treatment of refractory erythrodermic cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and refractory chronic graft versus host disease (cGvHD).
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a general name for a group of skin affecting disorders caused by malignant white blood cells (T lymphocytes). Cutaneous T cell lymphoma is relatively uncommon and represents slightly more than 2% of all lymphomas in the United States. The most frequently diagnosed form of CTCL is mycosis fungoides (MF) and its leukemic variant Sezary syndrome (SS). The relative frequency and disease-specific 5-year survival of 1,905 primary cutaneous lymphomas classified according to the World Health Organization-European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (WHO-EORTC) classification (Appendix 1). Mycosis fungoides had a frequency of 44% and a disease specific 5-year survival of 88%. Sezary syndrome had a frequency of 3% and a disease specific 5-year survival of 24%.
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma has an annual incidence of approximately 0.4 per 100,000 and it mainly occurs in the 5th to 6th decade of life, with a male/female ratio of 2:1. Mycosis fungoides is an indolent lymphoma with patients often having several years of eczematous or dermatitic skin lesions before the diagnosis is finally established. Mycosis fungoides commonly presents as chronic eczematous patches or plaques and can remain stable for many years. Early in the disease biopsies are often difficult to interpret and the diagnosis may only become apparent by observing the patient over time.
The clinical course of MF is unpredictable. Most patients will live normal lives and experience skin symptoms without serious complications. Approximately 10% of MF patients will experience progressive disease involving lymph nodes, peripheral blood, bone marrow and visceral organs. A particular syndrome in these patients involves erythroderma (intense and usually widespread reddening of the skin from dilation of blood vessels, often preceding or associated with exfoliation), and circulating tumour cells. This is known as SS. It has been estimated that approximately 5-10% of CTCL patients have SS. Patients with SS have a median survival of approximately 30 months.
Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease
Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a treatment used for a variety of malignant and nonmalignant disease of the bone marrow and immune system. The procedure is often associated with serious immunological complications, particularly graft versus host disease (GvHD). A chronic form of GvHD (cGvHD) afflicts many allogeneic HCT recipients, which results in dysfunction of numerous organ systems or even a profound state of immunodeficiency. Chronic GVHD is the most frequent cause of poor long-term outcome and quality of life after allogeneic HCT. The syndrome typically develops several months after transplantation, when the patient may no longer be under the direct care of the transplant team.
Approximately 50% of patients with cGvHD have limited disease and a good prognosis. Of the patients with extensive disease, approximately 60% will respond to treatment and eventually be able to discontinue immunosuppressive therapy. The remaining patients will develop opportunistic infection, or require prolonged treatment with immunosuppressive agents.
Chronic GvHD occurs in at least 30% to 50% of recipients of transplants from human leukocyte antigen matched siblings and at least 60% to 70% of recipients of transplants from unrelated donors. Risk factors include older age of patient or donor, higher degree of histoincompatibility, unrelated versus related donor, use of hematopoietic cells obtained from the blood rather than the marrow, and previous acute GvHD. Bhushan and Collins estimated that the incidence of severe cGvHD has probably increased in recent years because of the use of more unrelated transplants, donor leukocyte infusions, nonmyeloablative transplants and stem cells obtained from the blood rather than the marrow. The syndrome typically occurs 4 to 7 months after transplantation but may begin as early as 2 months or as late as 2 or more years after transplantation. Chronic GvHD may occur by itself, evolve from acute GvHD, or occur after resolution of acute GvHD.
The onset of the syndrome may be abrupt but is frequently insidious with manifestations evolving gradually for several weeks. The extent of involvement varies significantly from mild involvement limited to a few patches of skin to severe involvement of numerous organ systems and profound immunodeficiency. The most commonly involved tissues are the skin, liver, mouth, and eyes. Patients with limited disease have localized skin involvement, evidence of liver dysfunction, or both, whereas those with more involvement of the skin or involvement of other organs have extensive disease.
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
The optimal management of MF is undetermined because of its low prevalence, and its highly variable natural history, with frequent spontaneous remissions and exacerbations and often prolonged survival.
Nonaggressive approaches to therapy are usually warranted with treatment aimed at improving symptoms and physical appearance while limiting toxicity. Given that multiple skin sites are usually involved, the initial treatment choices are usually topical or intralesional corticosteroids or phototherapy using psoralen (a compound found in plants which make the skin temporarily sensitive to ultraviolet A) (PUVA). PUVA is not curative and its influence on disease progression remains uncertain. Repeated courses are usually required which may lead to an increased risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. For thicker plaques, particularly if localized, radiotherapy with superficial electrons is an option.
“Second line” therapy for early stage disease is often topical chemotherapy, radiotherapy or total skin electron beam radiation (TSEB).
Treatment of advanced stage (IIB-IV) MF usually consists of topical or systemic therapy in refractory or rapidly progressive SS.
Bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation have been used to treat many malignant hematologic disorders (e.g., leukemias) that are refractory to conventional treatment. Reports on the use of these procedures for the treatment of CTCL are limited and mostly consist of case reports or small case series.
Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease
Patients who develop cGvHD require reinstitution of immunosuppressive medication (if already discontinued) or an increase in dosage and possibly addition of other agents. The current literature regarding cGvHD therapy is less than optimal and many recommendations about therapy are based on common practices that await definitive testing. Patients with disease that is extensive by definition but is indolent in clinical appearance may respond to prednisone. However, patients with more aggressive disease are treated with higher doses of corticosteroids and/or cyclosporine.
Numerous salvage therapies have been considered in patients with refractory cGvHD, including ECP. Due to uncertainty around salvage therapies, Bhushan and Collins suggested that ideally, patients with refractory cGvHD should be entered into clinical trials.
Two Ontario expert consultants jointly estimated that there may be approximately 30 new erythrodermic treatment resistant CTCL patients and 30 new treatment resistant cGvHD patients per year who are unresponsive to other forms of therapy and may be candidates for ECP.
Extracorporeal photopheresis is a procedure that was initially developed as a treatment for CTCL, particularly SS.
Current Technique
Extracorporeal photopheresis is an immunomodulatory technique based on pheresis of light sensitive cells. Whole blood is removed from patients followed by pheresis. Lymphocytes are separated by centrifugation to create a concentrated layer of white blood cells. The lymphocyte layer is treated with methoxsalen (a drug that sensitizes the lymphocytes to light) and exposed to UVA, following which the lymphocytes are returned to the patient. Red blood cells and plasma are returned to the patient between each cycle.
Photosensitization is achieved by administering methoxsalen to the patient orally 2 hours before the procedure, or by injecting methoxsalen directly ino the leucocyte rich fraction. The latter approach avoids potential side effects such as nausea, and provides a more consistent drug level within the machine.
In general, from the time the intravenous line is inserted until the white blood cells are returned to the patient takes approximately 2.5-3.5 hours.
For CTCL, the treatment schedule is generally 2 consecutive days every 4 weeks for a median of 6 months. For cGvHD, an expert in the field estimated that the treatment schedule would be 3 times a week for the 1st month, then 2 consecutive days every 2 weeks after that (i.e., 4 treatments a month) for a median of 6 to 9 months.
Regulatory Status
The UVAR XTS Photopheresis System is licensed by Health Canada as a Class 3 medical device (license # 7703) for the “palliative treatment of skin manifestations of CTCL.” It is not licensed for the treatment of cGvHD.
UVADEX (sterile solution methoxsalen) is not licensed by Health Canada, but can be used in Canada via the Special Access Program. (Personal communication, Therakos, February 16, 2006)
According to the manufacturer, the UVAR XTS photopheresis system licensed by Health Canada can also be used with oral methoxsalen. (Personal communication, Therakos, February 16, 2006) However, oral methoxsalen is associated with side effects, must be taken by the patient in advance of ECP, and has variable absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
According to Health Canada, UVADEX is not approved for use in Canada. In addition, a review of the Product Monographs of the methoxsalen products that have been approved in Canada showed that none of them have been approved for oral administration in combination with the UVAR XTS photophoresis system for “the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma”.
In the United States, the UVAR XTS Photopheresis System is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for “use in the ultraviolet-A (UVA) irradiation in the presence of the photoactive drug methoxsalen of extracorporeally circulating leukocyte-enriched blood in the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of CTCL in persons who have not been responsive to other therapy.”
UVADEX is approved by the FDA for use in conjunction with UVR XTS photopheresis system for “use in the ultraviolet-A (UVA) irradiation in the presence of the photoactive drug methoxsalen of extracorporeally circulating leukocyte-enriched blood in the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of CTCL in persons who have not been responsive to other therapy.”
The use of the UVAR XTS photopheresis system or UVADEX for cGvHD is an off-label use of a FDA approved device/drug.
Summary of Findings
The quality of the trials was examined.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence.
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
Overall, there is low-quality evidence that ECP improves response rates and survival in patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL (Table 1).
Limitations in the literature related to ECP for the treatment of refractory erythrodermic CTCL include the following:
Different treatment regimens.
Variety of forms of CTCL (and not necessarily treatment resistant) - MF, erythrodermic MF, SS.
SS with peripheral blood involvement → role of T cell clonality reporting?
Case series (1 small crossover RCT with several limitations)
Small sample sizes.
Response criteria not clearly defined/consistent.
Unclear how concomitant therapy contributed to responses.
Variation in definitions of concomitant therapy
Comparison to historical controls.
Some patients were excluded from analysis because of progression of disease, toxicity and other reasons.
Unclear/strange statistics
Quality of life not reported as an outcome of interest.
The reported CR range is ~ 16% to 23% and the overall reported CR/PR range is ~ 33% to 80%.
The wide range in reported responses to ECP appears to be due to the variability of the patients treated and the way in which the data were presented and analyzed.
Many patients, in mostly retrospective case series, were concurrently on other therapies and were not assessed for comparability of diagnosis or disease stage (MF versus SS; erythrodermic versus not erythrodermic). Blood involvement in patients receiving ECP (e.g., T cell clonality) was not consistently reported, especially in earlier studies. The definitions of partial and complete response also are not standardized or consistent between studies.
Quality of life was reported in one study; however, the scale was developed by the authors and is not a standard validated scale.
Adverse events associated with ECP appear to be uncommon and most involve catheter related infections and hypotension caused by volume depletion.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Extracorporeal Photopheresis for Refractory Erythrodermic Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma
Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease
Overall, there is low-quality evidence that ECP improves response rates and survival in patients with refractory cGvHD (Table 2).
Patients in the studies had stem cell transplants due to a variety of hematological disorders (e.g., leukemias, aplastic anemia, thalassemia major, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma).
In 2001, The Blue Cross Blue Shield Technology Evaluation Centre concluded that ECP meets the TEC criteria as treatment of cGvHD that is refractory to established therapy.
The Catalan health technology assessment (also published in 2001) concluded that ECP is a new but experimental therapeutic alternative for the treatment of the erythrodermal phase of CTCL and cGvHD in allogenic HPTC and that this therapy should be evaluated in the framework of a RCT.
Quality of life (Lansky/Karnofsky play performance score) was reported in 1 study.
The patients in the studies were all refractory to steroids and other immunosuppressive agents, and these drugs were frequently continued concomitantly with ECP.
Criteria for assessment of organ improvement in cGvHD are variable, but PR was typically defined as >50% improvement from baseline parameters and CR as complete resolution of organ involvement.
Followup was variable and incomplete among the studies.
GRADE Quality of Studies – ECP for Refractory cGvHD
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors.
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence (Tables 1 and 2).
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 is the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For refractory erythrodermic CTCL, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to an annual budget impact of approximately $1.5M Cdn (based on 30 patients) while the cost-effectiveness of ECP is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. The device is licensed by Health Canada, but the sterile solution of methoxsalen is not licensed.
With an annual budget impact of $1.5 M Cdn (based on 30 patients), and the current expenditure is $1.3M Cdn (for out of country for 7 patients), the potential cost savings based on 30 patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL is about $3.8 M Cdn (annual).
For refractory cGvHD, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $1.5M Cdn while the cost-effectiveness of ECP is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. Both the device and sterile solution are not licensed by Health Canada for the treatment of cGvHD.
If all the ECP procedures for patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL and refractory cGvHD were performed in Ontario, the annual budget impact would be approximately $3M Cdn.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3379535  PMID: 23074497
18.  Switching from enoxaparin to dabigatran etexilate: pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety profile 
Dabigatran etexilate is an oral, reversible, direct thrombin inhibitor licensed for the prevention of venous thromboembolism and stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether, and to what extent, a switch from enoxparin to dabigatran etexilate affects the pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) parameters and safety profile of dabigatran.
Enoxaparin 40 mg was administered subcutaneously once daily for 3 days followed by a single dose of dabigatran etexilate 220 mg (test treatment) on day 4 in an open-label, two-way cross-over trial in healthy volunteers. Dabigatran plasma levels were measured using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method. Anticoagulant activity was measured using a number of clotting tests, including prothrombinase-induced clotting time (PiCT), activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), ecarin clotting time (ECT), and diluted thrombin time (dTT).
PK, PD, and safety data were available for 23 subjects for each treatment. The adjusted geometric mean test/reference ratio of area under the concentration–time curve for total dabigatran was 84% (90% confidence interval 67.2–105.0%) and 86% (67.0–110.0%) for maximum plasma concentration. The PiCT test/reference ratio, which represents the activity of enoxaparin and dabigatran, was elevated by approximately 15% for peak maximum effect ratio to baseline and total area under the effect curve (AUEC0-48) activity, suggesting that some anticoagulant activity of enoxaparin was still present. Enoxaparin pre-treatment increased the AUEC0–48 of activated partial thromboplastin time by approximately 14%. All other dabigatran-related PD markers were unaffected. Tolerability was good, with only mild and reversible adverse events during the treatment.
Prior administration of enoxaparin did not meaningfully affect the PK or PD properties of dabigatran, and the switch from enoxaparin to dabigatran etexilate was well tolerated among the study subjects. These data support the safety of switching patients from enoxaparin to dabigatran etexilate.
PMCID: PMC3332339  PMID: 22252796
Enoxaparin; Dabigatran etexilate; Switch; Pharmacokinetics; pharmacodynamics; Biomedicine; Pharmacology/Toxicology
19.  Treatment of non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction and ST-elevation myocardial infarction in patients with chronic kidney disease 
Archives of Medical Science : AMS  2013;9(6):1019-1027.
Renal dysfunction is frequent in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTE-ACS). Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with very poor prognosis and is an independent predictor of early and late mortality and major bleeding in patients with NSTE-ACS. Patients with NSTE-ACS and CKD are still rarely treated according to guidelines. Medical registers reveal that patients with CKD are usually treated with too high doses of antithrombotics, especially anticoagulants and inhibitors of platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptors, and therefore they are more prone to bleeding. Drugs which are excreted mainly or exclusively by the kidney should be administered in a reduced dose or discontinued in patients with CKD. These drugs include enoxaparin, fondaparinux, bivalirudin, and small molecule inhibitors of GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors. In long-term treatment of patients after myocardial infarction, anti-platelet therapy, lipid-lowering therapy and β-blockers are used. Chronic kidney disease patients before qualification for coronary interventions should be carefully selected in order to avoid their use in the group of patients who could not benefit from such procedures. This paper presents schemes of non-ST and ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction treatment in CKD patients in accordance with the current recommendations of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
PMCID: PMC3902722  PMID: 24482645
bleeding; chronic kidney disease; management; myocardial infarction; treatment
20.  The new oral anti-coagulants and the phase 3 clinical trials - a systematic review of the literature 
Thrombosis Journal  2013;11:18.
Anticoagulation with vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin has historically been used for the long term management of patients with thromboembolic disease. However, these agents have a slow onset of action which requires bridging therapy with heparin and its analogues, which are available only in parenteral route. To overcome these limitations, new oral anticoagulants such as factor Xa inhibitors and direct thrombin inhibitors have been developed. The aim of this article is to systematically review the phase 3 clinical trials of new oral anticoagulants in common medical conditions.
We searched PubMed (Medline) from January 2007 to February 2013 using “Oral anticoagulants”, “New oral anticoagulants”, “Randomized controlled trial”, “Novel anticoagulants”, “Apixaban”, “Rivaroxaban”, “Edoxaban”, “Dabigatran etexilate”, “Dabigatran” and a combination of the above terms. The available evidence from the phase 3 RCTs was summarized on the basis of individual drug and the medical conditions categorized into “atrial fibrillation”, “acute coronary syndrome”, “orthopedic surgery”, “venous thromboembolism” and “medically ill patients”.
Apixaban, rivaroxaban and dabigatran have been found to be either non-inferior or superior to enoxaparin in prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism in knee and hip replacement with similar bleeding risk, superior to warfarin for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation with significant reduction in the risk of major bleeding, non-inferior to aspirin for reducing cardiovascular death and stroke in acute coronary syndrome with significant increase in the risk of major bleed. Rivaroxaban and dabigatran are also superior to the conventional agents in the management of symptomatic venous thromboembolism. However, compared to enoxaparin, apixaban and rivaroxaban use lead to significantly increased bleeding risk in medically ill patients. Additional studies evaluating the specific reversal agents of these new drugs for the management of life-threatening bleeding or other adverse effects are necessary.
Considering their pharmacological properties, their efficacy and bleeding complications, the new oral agents offer a net favourable clinical profile in orthopedic surgery, atrial fibrillation, acute coronary syndrome and increase the risk of bleeding in critically ill patients. Further studies are necessary to determine the long term safety and to identify the specific reversal agents of these new drugs.
PMCID: PMC3766654  PMID: 24007323
Vitamin K antagonists; Oral anticoagulants; Apixaban; Rivaroxaban; Dabigatran; Orthopedic surgery; Knee replacement; Hip replacement; Acute coronary syndrome; Atrial fibrillation; Venous thromboembolism; Critically ill patients; Systematic review
21.  Variable selection for covariate-adjusted semiparametric inference in randomized clinical trials 
Statistics in medicine  2012;31(29):10.1002/sim.5433.
Extensive baseline covariate information is routinely collected on participants in randomized clinical trials, and it is well-recognized that a proper covariate-adjusted analysis can improve the efficiency of inference on the treatment effect. However, such covariate adjustment has engendered considerable controversy, as post hoc selection of covariates may involve subjectivity and lead to biased inference, while prior specification of the adjustment may exclude important variables from consideration. Accordingly, how to select covariates objectively to gain maximal efficiency is of broad interest. We propose and study the use of modern variable selection methods for this purpose in the context of a semiparametric framework, under which variable selection in modeling the relationship between outcome and covariates is separated from estimation of the treatment effect, circumventing the potential for selection bias associated with standard analysis of covariance methods. We demonstrate that such objective variable selection techniques combined with this framework can identify key variables and lead to unbiased and efficient inference on the treatment effect. A critical issue in finite samples is validity of estimators of uncertainty, such as standard errors and confidence intervals for the treatment effect. We propose an approach to estimation of sampling variation of estimated treatment effect and show its superior performance relative to that of existing methods.
PMCID: PMC3855673  PMID: 22733628
covariate adjustment; false selection rate control; oracle property; semiparametric treatment effect estimation; shrinkage methods; variable selection
22.  Chemical combinations elucidate pathway interactions and regulation relevant to Hepatitis C replication 
SREBP-2, oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) or lanosterol demethylase were identified as novel sterol pathway-associated targets that, when probed with chemical agents, can inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication.Using a combination chemical genetics approach, combinations of chemicals targeting sterol pathway enzymes downstream of and including OSC or protein geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT) produce robust and selective synergistic inhibition of HCV replication. Inhibition of enzymes upstream of OSC elicit proviral responses that are dominant to the effects of inhibiting all downstream targets.Inhibition of the sterol pathway without inhibition of regulatory feedback mechanisms ultimately results in an increase in HCV replication because of a compensatory upregulation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) expression. Increases in HMGCR expression without inhibition of HMGCR enzymatic activity ultimately stimulate HCV replication through increasing the cellular pool of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP).Chemical inhibitors that ultimately prevent SREBP-2 activation, inhibit PGGT or encourage the production of polar sterols have great potential as HCV therapeutics if associated toxicities can be reduced.
Chemical inhibition of enzymes in either the cholesterol or the fatty acid biosynthetic pathways has been shown to impact viral replication, both positively and negatively (Su et al, 2002; Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Sagan et al, 2006; Amemiya et al, 2008). FBL2 has been identified as a 50 kDa geranylgeranylated host protein that is necessary for localization of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication complex to the membranous web through its close association with the HCV protein NS5A and is critical for HCV replication (Wang et al, 2005). Inhibition of the protein geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT), an enzyme that transfers geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) to cellular proteins such as FBL2 for the purpose of membrane anchoring, negatively impacts HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003). Conversely, chemical agents that increase intracellular GGPP concentrations promote viral replication (Kapadia and Chisari, 2005). Statin compounds that inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the sterol pathway (Goldstein and Brown, 1990), have been suggested to inhibit HCV replication through ultimately reducing the cellular pool of GGPP (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Ikeda et al, 2006). However, inhibition of the sterol pathway with statin drugs has not yielded consistent results in patients. The use of statins for the treatment of HCV is likely to be complicated by the reported compensatory increase in HMGCR expression in vitro and in vivo (Stone et al, 1989; Cohen et al, 1993) in response to treatment. Enzymes in the sterol pathway are regulated on a transcriptional level by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), specifically SREBP-2 (Hua et al, 1993; Brown and Goldstein, 1997). When cholesterol stores in cells are depleted, SREBP-2 activates transcription of genes in the sterol pathway such as HMGCR, HMG-CoA synthase, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) synthase, squalene synthase (SQLS) and the LDL receptor (Smith et al, 1988, 1990; Sakai et al, 1996; Brown and Goldstein, 1999; Horton et al, 2002). The requirement of additional downstream sterol pathway metabolites for HCV replication has not been completely elucidated.
To further understand the impact of the sterol pathway and its regulation on HCV replication, we conducted a high-throughput combination chemical genetic screen using 16 chemical probes that are known to modulate the activity of target enzymes relating to the sterol biosynthesis pathway (Figure 1). Using this approach, we identified several novel antiviral targets including SREBP-2 as well as targets downstream of HMGCR in the sterol pathway such as oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) and lanosterol demethylase. Many of our chemical probes, specifically SR-12813, farnesol and squalestatin, strongly promoted replicon replication. The actions of both farnesol and squalestatin ultimately result in an increase in the cellular pool of GGPP, which is known to increase HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Wang et al, 2005).
Chemical combinations targeting enzymes upstream of squalene epoxidase (SQLE) at the top of the sterol pathway (Figure 4A) elicited Bateson-type epistatic responses (Boone et al, 2007), where the upstream agent's response predominates over the effects of inhibiting all downstream targets. This was especially notable for combinations including simvastatin and either U18666A or squalestatin, and for squalestatin in combination with Ro48-8071. Treatment with squalestatin prevents the SQLS substrate, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) from being further metabolized by the sterol pathway. As FPP concentrations increase, the metabolite can be shunted away from the sterol pathway toward farnesylation and GGPP synthetic pathways, resulting in an increase in host protein geranylgeranylation, including FBL2, and consequently replicon replication. This increase in replicon replication explains the source of the observed epistasis over Ro48-8071 treatment.
Combinations between probes targeting enzymes downstream of and including OSC produced robust synergies with each other or with a PGGT inhibitor. Figure 4B highlights examples of antiviral synergy resulting from treatment of cells with an OSC inhibitor in combination with an inhibitor of either an enzyme upstream or downstream of OSC. A combination of terconazole and U18666A is synergistic without similar combination effects in the host proliferation screen. Likewise, clomiphene was also synergistic when added to replicon cells in combination with U18666A. One of the greatest synergies observed downstream in the sterol pathway is a combination of amorolfine and AY 9944, suggesting that there is value in developing combinations of drugs that target enzymes in the sterol pathway, which are downstream of HMGCR.
Interactions with the protein prenylation pathway also showed strong mechanistic patterns (Figure 4C). GGTI-286 is a peptidomimetic compound resembling the CAAX domain of a protein to be geranylgeranylated and is a competitive inhibitor of protein geranylgeranylation. Simvastatin impedes the antiviral effect of GGTI-286 at low concentrations but that antagonism is balanced by comparable synergy at higher concentrations. At the low simvastatin concentrations, a compensatory increase in HMGCR expression leads to increased cellular levels of GGPP, which are likely to result in an increase in PGGT enzymatic turnover and decreased GGTI-286 efficacy. The antiviral synergy observed at the higher inhibitor concentrations is likely nonspecific as synergy was also observed in a host viability assay. Further downstream, however, a competitive interaction was observed between GGTI-286 and squalestatin, where the opposing effect of one compound obscures the other compound's effect. This competitive relationship between GGTI and SQLE explains the epistatic response observed between those two agents. For inhibitors of targets downstream of OSC, such as amorolfine, there are strong antiviral synergies with GGTI-286. Notably, combinations with OSC inhibitors and GGTI-286 were selective, in that comparable synergy was not found in a host viability assay. This selectivity suggests that jointly targeting OSC and PGGT is a promising avenue for future HCV therapy development.
This study provides a comprehensive and unique perspective into the impact of sterol pathway regulation on HCV replication and provides compelling insight into the use of chemical combinations to maximize antiviral effects while minimizing proviral consequences. Our results suggest that HCV therapeutics developed against sterol pathway targets must consider the impact on underlying sterol pathway regulation. We found combinations of inhibitors of the lower part of the sterol pathway that are effective and synergistic with each other when tested in combination. Furthermore, the combination effects observed with simvastatin suggest that, though statins inhibit HMGCR activity, the resulting regulatory consequences of such inhibition ultimately lead to undesirable epistatic effects. Inhibitors that prevent SREBP-2 activation, inhibit PGGT or encourage the production of polar sterols have great potential as HCV therapeutics if associated toxicities can be reduced.
The search for effective Hepatitis C antiviral therapies has recently focused on host sterol metabolism and protein prenylation pathways that indirectly affect viral replication. However, inhibition of the sterol pathway with statin drugs has not yielded consistent results in patients. Here, we present a combination chemical genetic study to explore how the sterol and protein prenylation pathways work together to affect hepatitis C viral replication in a replicon assay. In addition to finding novel targets affecting viral replication, our data suggest that the viral replication is strongly affected by sterol pathway regulation. There is a marked transition from antagonistic to synergistic antiviral effects as the combination targets shift downstream along the sterol pathway. We also show how pathway regulation frustrates potential hepatitis C therapies based on the sterol pathway, and reveal novel synergies that selectively inhibit hepatitis C replication over host toxicity. In particular, combinations targeting the downstream sterol pathway enzymes produced robust and selective synergistic inhibition of hepatitis C replication. Our findings show how combination chemical genetics can reveal critical pathway connections relevant to viral replication, and can identify potential treatments with an increased therapeutic window.
PMCID: PMC2913396  PMID: 20531405
chemical genetics; combinations and synergy; hepatitis C; replicon; sterol biosynthesis
23.  Perspectives on the Design of Clinical Trials Combining Transarterial Chemoembolization and Molecular Targeted Therapy 
Liver Cancer  2012;1(3-4):168-176.
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) moderately prolongs the survival of patients with intermediate-stage hepatocellular carcinoma. Molecular targeted therapy (MTT) may improve the efficacy of TACE. However, the findings of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of a combination of TACE and MTT are conflicting. We hypothesized that this disparity can be prevented using alternative study designs. In this review, we classify the pertinent issues of study designs into five domains: primary endpoints, patients, TACE procedures, timing of randomization, and drug administration. Furthermore, we discuss the methods for increasing the success rate by minimizing potentially confounding factors within these five domains. Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the current standard therapy for patients with Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) intermediate-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) [1, 2, 3]. The survival benefit of TACE is supported by the results of meta-analysis of clinical trials comparing TACE with other conservative treatments in patients with inoperable HCC [4]. The results showed that the median survival of patients improved from approximately 16 to 20 months following TACE [4, 5]. Although advances in TACE techniques and the use of new embolization agents may improve the efficacy of TACE [6, 7], other approaches are needed to further improve the outcome in HCC patients treated using TACE. Molecular targeted therapy (MTT) has improved the survival of patients with advanced-stage HCC [5, 8]. Therefore, combining MTT and TACE may additionally improve the survival in patients with intermediate-stage HCC. Many molecular targeted agents (MTA) are currently undergoing evaluation in randomized trials (table 1). However, the designs of these trials differ significantly. The results of two trials combining sorafenib and TACE were recently reported. Both trials failed to demonstrate a therapeutic benefit of the combination therapy for time to tumor progression (TTP) or overall survival (OS) [9, 10]. However, specific subgroups of patients who received treatment for more than 6 months exhibited significantly better survival (table 2). Because median survival can be greater than 2 years in patients with intermediate-stage HCC, it is likely that an extended exposure period is necessary for MTA effects to reach the biological threshold at which survival benefit becomes measurable. Therefore, early discontinuation of study drug treatment may significantly undermine the statistical power of efficacy analysis in randomized trials (fig. 1). Clinical trials should be designed to minimize confounding factors that could lead to early discontinuation of study drug [1, 2, 3, 11, 12]. Factors that are crucial in this regard can be categorized into five domains: (1) selection of primary endpoints, (2) selection of patient population, (3) selection of TACE procedures, (4) timing of randomization, and (5) study drug administration. In this review we discuss the confounding effects potentially associated with each domain and the possible interactions among domains in trials combining TACE and MTA. We also discuss strategies that can help improve sensitivity and accuracy measurements of MTA efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3760466  PMID: 24159581
Clinical trial; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Transarterial chemoembolization
24.  A methodology for assessing the effect of correlations among muscle synergy activations on task-discriminating information 
Muscle synergies have been hypothesized to be the building blocks used by the central nervous system to generate movement. According to this hypothesis, the accomplishment of various motor tasks relies on the ability of the motor system to recruit a small set of synergies on a single-trial basis and combine them in a task-dependent manner. It is conceivable that this requires a fine tuning of the trial-to-trial relationships between the synergy activations. Here we develop an analytical methodology to address the nature and functional role of trial-to-trial correlations between synergy activations, which is designed to help to better understand how these correlations may contribute to generating appropriate motor behavior. The algorithm we propose first divides correlations between muscle synergies into types (noise correlations, quantifying the trial-to-trial covariations of synergy activations at fixed task, and signal correlations, quantifying the similarity of task tuning of the trial-averaged activation coefficients of different synergies), and then uses single-trial methods (task-decoding and information theory) to quantify their overall effect on the task-discriminating information carried by muscle synergy activations. We apply the method to both synchronous and time-varying synergies and exemplify it on electromyographic data recorded during performance of reaching movements in different directions. Our method reveals the robust presence of information-enhancing patterns of signal and noise correlations among pairs of synchronous synergies, and shows that they enhance by 9–15% (depending on the set of tasks) the task-discriminating information provided by the synergy decompositions. We suggest that the proposed methodology could be useful for assessing whether single-trial activations of one synergy depend on activations of other synergies and quantifying the effect of such dependences on the task-to-task differences in muscle activation patterns.
PMCID: PMC3652392  PMID: 23717277
muscle synergies; correlations; information theory; task decoding; single-trial analysis
25.  Etifoxine Versus Alprazolam for the Treatment of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety: a Randomized Controlled Trial 
Advances in Therapy  2015;32:57-68.
Adjustment disorder with anxiety (ADWA) is a highly prevalent condition, particularly in primary care practice. There are relatively few systematic treatment trials in the area of ADWA, and there are few data on predictors of treatment response. Etifoxine is a promising agent insofar as it is not associated with dependence, but in primary care settings benzodiazepines continue to be frequently prescribed for psychiatric symptoms. A randomized controlled trial of etifoxine versus alprazolam for ADWA was undertaken, focusing on efficacy and safety measures, and including an investigation of predictors of clinical response.
This was a comparative, multicenter, double-blind, randomized trial in two parallel groups of outpatients with ADWA. One group was treated with 150 mg/day for etifoxine, and the other with 1.5 mg/day for alprazolam for 28 days. Patients were followed for 4 weeks of treatment, and for an additional week after treatment discontinuation. The primary outcome measure was the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), while secondary outcome measures included the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), the Clinical Global Impressions-Change Scale (CGI-C), and the Self-Report for the Assessment of Adjustment Disorders. Non-inferiority analysis was used to assess the primary outcome measure, and a multivariate logistic regression was employed to investigate predictors of response.
Two hundred and two adult outpatients with ADWA were enrolled at 17 primary care sites. One hundred and seventy seven patients completed the study (n = 87 in the etifoxine group; n = 90 in the alprazolam group). Etifoxine and alprazolam were accompanied by decreases in the HAM-A at day 28, with a difference between treatment groups in HAM-A score of 1.78 [90% CI; 0.23, 3.33] in favor of alprazolam. However, after medication discontinuation, HAM-A scores continued to improve in the etifoxine group, but increased in the alprazolam group; the difference between groups in mean change between day 28 and day 35 was significant (p = 0.019). Secondary outcome measures showed similar results for etifoxine and alprazolam at day 35. More treatment-related adverse events were reported in patients treated with alprazolam, particularly central nervous system-related AEs, and especially after medication discontinuation. No significant predictors of treatment response were found.
This randomized controlled trial provides support for the efficacy and safety of etifoxine in the management of adjustment disorder with anxiety, particularly when treatment discontinuation data are also assessed. Etifoxine has the important clinical advantage of having anxiolytic effects, which are not being associated with dependence. Pharmacotherapy was equally efficacious in patients with more severe anxiety symptoms at baseline. Additional work using longer-term follow-up and collecting data on cost-efficiency of management options would further advance the field of ADWA.
Sponsorship and article processing charges for this study were provided by Biocodex, Gentilly, France.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12325-015-0176-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4311065  PMID: 25620535
Adjustment disorder with anxiety; Alprazolam; Etifoxine

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