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1.  Allergic Rhinitis 
The New England journal of medicine  2015;372(5):456-463.
A 35-year-old woman has a history of nasal congestion on most days of the year, dating back to her late teens. She has chronic nasal drainage, which is clear and thick. Her congestion is worst in the late summer and early fall and again in the early spring; at these times, she also has sneezing, nasal itching, and cough. Five years ago, she had an episode of shortness of breath with wheezing on a day when her nasal symptoms were severe, but this episode resolved spontaneously and has not recurred. Her eyes do not bother her. Over-the-counter oral antihistamines help her symptoms a little, as do nasal decongestants, which she uses occasionally. Her 6-year-old son has similar symptoms. How should this case be managed?
PMCID: PMC4324099  PMID: 25629743
2.  Adjuvant Ovarian Suppression in Premenopausal Breast Cancer 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;372(5):436-446.
Suppression of ovarian estrogen production reduces the recurrence of hormone-receptor– positive early breast cancer in premenopausal women, but its value when added to tamoxifen is uncertain.
We randomly assigned 3066 premenopausal women, stratified according to prior receipt or nonreceipt of chemotherapy, to receive 5 years of tamoxifen, tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression, or exemestane plus ovarian suppression. The primary analysis tested the hypothesis that tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression would improve disease-free survival, as compared with tamoxifen alone. In the primary analysis, 46.7% of the patients had not received chemotherapy previously, and 53.3% had received chemotherapy and remained premenopausal.
After a median follow-up of 67 months, the estimated disease-free survival rate at 5 years was 86.6% in the tamoxifen–ovarian suppression group and 84.7% in the tamoxifen group (hazard ratio for disease recurrence, second invasive cancer, or death, 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66 to 1.04; P = 0.10). Multivariable allowance for prognostic factors suggested a greater treatment effect with tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression than with tamoxifen alone (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.98). Most recurrences occurred in patients who had received prior chemotherapy, among whom the rate of freedom from breast cancer at 5 years was 82.5% in the tamoxifen–ovarian suppression group and 78.0% in the tamoxifen group (hazard ratio for recurrence, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.60 to 1.02). At 5 years, the rate of freedom from breast cancer was 85.7% in the exemestane–ovarian suppression group (hazard ratio for recurrence vs. tamoxifen, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.87).
Adding ovarian suppression to tamoxifen did not provide a significant benefit in the overall study population. However, for women who were at sufficient risk for recurrence to warrant adjuvant chemotherapy and who remained premenopausal, the addition of ovarian suppression improved disease outcomes. Further improvement was seen with the use of exemestane plus ovarian suppression. (Funded by Pfizer and others; SOFT number, NCT00066690.)
PMCID: PMC4341825  PMID: 25495490
3.  Ruxolitinib versus Standard Therapy for the Treatment of Polycythemia Vera 
The New England journal of medicine  2015;372(5):426-435.
Ruxolitinib, a Janus kinase (JAK) 1 and 2 inhibitor, was shown to have a clinical benefit in patients with polycythemia vera in a phase 2 study. We conducted a phase 3 open-label study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib versus standard therapy in patients with polycythemia vera who had an inadequate response to or had unacceptable side effects from hydroxyurea.
We randomly assigned phlebotomy-dependent patients with splenomegaly, in a 1:1 ratio, to receive ruxolitinib (110 patients) or standard therapy (112 patients). The primary end point was both hematocrit control through week 32 and at least a 35% reduction in spleen volume at week 32, as assessed by means of imaging.
The primary end point was achieved in 21% of the patients in the ruxolitinib group versus 1% of those in the standard-therapy group (P<0.001). Hematocrit control was achieved in 60% of patients receiving ruxolitinib and 20% of those receiving standard therapy; 38% and 1% of patients in the two groups, respectively, had at least a 35% reduction in spleen volume. A complete hematologic remission was achieved in 24% of patients in the ruxolitinib group and 9% of those in the standard-therapy group (P = 0.003); 49% versus 5% had at least a 50% reduction in the total symptom score at week 32. In the ruxolitinib group, grade 3 or 4 anemia occurred in 2% of patients, and grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia occurred in 5%; the corresponding percentages in the standard-therapy group were 0% and 4%. Herpes zoster infection was reported in 6% of patients in the ruxolitinib group and 0% of those in the standard- therapy group (grade 1 or 2 in all cases). Thromboembolic events occurred in one patient receiving ruxolitinib and in six patients receiving standard therapy.
In patients who had an inadequate response to or had unacceptable side effects from hydroxyurea, ruxolitinib was superior to standard therapy in controlling the hematocrit, reducing the spleen volume, and improving symptoms associated with polycythemia vera.
PMCID: PMC4358820  PMID: 25629741
4.  Cost-Effectiveness of Hypertension Therapy According to 2014 Guidelines 
The New England journal of medicine  2015;372(5):447-455.
On the basis of the 2014 guidelines for hypertension therapy in the United States, many eligible adults remain untreated. We projected the cost-effectiveness of treating hypertension in U.S. adults according to the 2014 guidelines.
We used the Cardiovascular Disease Policy Model to simulate drug-treatment and monitoring costs, costs averted for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained by treating previously untreated adults between the ages of 35 and 74 years from 2014 through 2024. We assessed cost-effectiveness according to age, hypertension level, and the presence or absence of chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
The full implementation of the new hypertension guidelines would result in approximately 56,000 fewer cardiovascular events and 13,000 fewer deaths from cardiovascular causes annually, which would result in overall cost savings. The projections showed that the treatment of patients with existing cardiovascular disease or stage 2 hypertension would save lives and costs for men between the ages of 35 and 74 years and for women between the ages of 45 and 74 years. The treatment of men or women with existing cardiovascular disease or men with stage 2 hypertension but without cardiovascular disease would remain cost-saving even if strategies to increase medication adherence doubled treatment costs. The treatment of stage 1 hypertension was cost-effective (defined as <$50,000 per QALY) for all men and for women between the ages of 45 and 74 years, whereas treating women between the ages of 35 and 44 years with stage 1 hypertension but without cardiovascular disease had intermediate or low cost-effectiveness.
The implementation of the 2014 hypertension guidelines for U.S. adults between the ages of 35 and 74 years could potentially prevent about 56,000 cardiovascular events and 13,000 deaths annually, while saving costs. Controlling hypertension in all patients with cardiovascular disease or stage 2 hypertension could be effective and cost-saving. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC4403858  PMID: 25629742
5.  Targeting BTK with Ibrutinib in Relapsed or Refractory Mantle-Cell Lymphoma 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(6):507-516.
Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a mediator of the B-cell–receptor signaling pathway implicated in the pathogenesis of B-cell cancers. In a phase 1 study, ibrutinib, a BTK inhibitor, showed antitumor activity in several types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including mantle-cell lymphoma.
In this phase 2 study, we investigated oral ibrutinib, at a daily dose of 560 mg, in 111 patients with relapsed or refractory mantle-cell lymphoma. Patients were enrolled into two groups: those who had previously received at least 2 cycles of bortezomib therapy and those who had received less than 2 complete cycles of bortezomib or had received no prior bortezomib therapy. The primary end point was the overall response rate. Secondary end points were duration of response, progression-free survival, overall survival, and safety.
The median age was 68 years, and 86% of patients had intermediate-risk or high-risk mantle-cell lymphoma according to clinical prognostic factors. Patients had received a median of three prior therapies. The most common treatment-related adverse events were mild or moderate diarrhea, fatigue, and nausea. Grade 3 or higher hematologic events were infrequent and included neutropenia (in 16% of patients), thrombocytopenia (in 11%), and anemia (in 10%). A response rate of 68% (75 patients) was observed, with a complete response rate of 21% and a partial response rate of 47%; prior treatment with bortezomib had no effect on the response rate. With an estimated median follow-up of 15.3 months, the estimated median response duration was 17.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.8 to not reached), the estimated median progression-free survival was 13.9 months (95% CI, 7.0 to not reached), and the median overall survival was not reached. The estimated rate of overall survival was 58% at 18 months.
Ibrutinib shows durable single-agent efficacy in relapsed or refractory mantle-cell lymphoma. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; number, NCT01236391.)
PMCID: PMC4513941  PMID: 23782157
7.  PD-1 Blockade with Nivolumab in Relapsed or Refractory Hodgkin's Lymphoma 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;372(4):311-319.
Preclinical studies suggest that Reed–Sternberg cells exploit the programmed death 1 (PD-1) pathway to evade immune detection. In classic Hodgkin's lymphoma, alterations in chromosome 9p24.1 increase the abundance of the PD-1 ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, and promote their induction through Janus kinase (JAK)–signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling. We hypothesized that nivolumab, a PD-1–blocking antibody, could inhibit tumor immune evasion in patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In this ongoing study, 23 patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma that had already been heavily treated received nivolumab (at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight) every 2 weeks until they had a complete response, tumor progression, or excessive toxic effects. Study objectives were measurement of safety and efficacy and assessment of the PDL1 and PDL2 (also called CD274 and PDCD1LG2, respectively) loci and PD-L1 and PD-L2 protein expression.
Of the 23 study patients, 78% were enrolled in the study after a relapse following autologous stem-cell transplantation and 78% after a relapse following the receipt of brentuximab vedotin. Drug-related adverse events of any grade and of grade 3 occurred in 78% and 22% of patients, respectively. An objective response was reported in 20 patients (87%), including 17% with a complete response and 70% with a partial response; the remaining 3 patients (13%) had stable disease. The rate of progression-free survival at 24 weeks was 86%; 11 patients were continuing to participate in the study. Reasons for discontinuation included stem-cell transplantation (in 6 patients), disease progression (in 4 patients), and drug toxicity (in 2 patients). Analyses of pretreatment tumor specimens from 10 patients revealed copy-number gains in PDL1 and PDL2 and increased expression of these ligands. Reed–Sternberg cells showed nuclear positivity of phosphorylated STAT3, indicative of active JAK-STAT signaling.
Nivolumab had substantial therapeutic activity and an acceptable safety profile in patients with previously heavily treated relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and others; number, NCT01592370.)
PMCID: PMC4348009  PMID: 25482239
8.  Causes and Timing of Death in Extremely Premature Infants from 2000 through 2011 
The New England journal of medicine  2015;372(4):331-340.
Understanding the causes and timing of death in extremely premature infants may guide research efforts and inform the counseling of families.
We analyzed prospectively collected data on 6075 deaths among 22,248 live births, with gestational ages of 22 0/7 to 28 6/7 weeks, among infants born in study hospitals within the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. We compared overall and cause-specific in-hospital mortality across three periods from 2000 through 2011, with adjustment for baseline differences.
The number of deaths per 1000 live births was 275 (95% confidence interval [CI], 264 to 285) from 2000 through 2003 and 285 (95% CI, 275 to 295) from 2004 through 2007; the number decreased to 258 (95% CI, 248 to 268) in the 2008–2011 period (P = 0.003 for the comparison across three periods). There were fewer pulmonary-related deaths attributed to the respiratory distress syndrome and bronchopulmonary dysplasia in 2008–2011 than in 2000–2003 and 2004–2007 (68 [95% CI, 63 to 74] vs. 83 [95% CI, 77 to 90] and 84 [95% CI, 78 to 90] per 1000 live births, respectively; P = 0.002). Similarly, in 2008–2011, as compared with 2000–2003, there were decreases in deaths attributed to immaturity (P = 0.05) and deaths complicated by infection (P = 0.04) or central nervous system injury (P<0.001); however, there were increases in deaths attributed to necrotizing enterocolitis (30 [95% CI, 27 to 34] vs. 23 [95% CI, 20 to 27], P = 0.03). Overall, 40.4% of deaths occurred within 12 hours after birth, and 17.3% occurred after 28 days.
We found that from 2000 through 2011, overall mortality declined among extremely premature infants. Deaths related to pulmonary causes, immaturity, infection, and central nervous system injury decreased, while necrotizing enterocolitis–related deaths increased. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)
PMCID: PMC4349362  PMID: 25607427
10.  Swimming against the Current — What Might Work to Reduce Low-Value Care? 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;371(14):1280-1283.
PMCID: PMC4499847  PMID: 25271601
11.  Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;370(13):1209-1219.
Autism involves early brain overgrowth and dysfunction, which is most strongly evident in the prefrontal cortex. As assessed on pathological analysis, an excess of neurons in the prefrontal cortex among children with autism signals a disturbance in prenatal development and may be concomitant with abnormal cell type and laminar development.
To systematically examine neocortical architecture during the early years after the onset of autism, we used RNA in situ hybridization with a panel of layer- and cell-type– specific molecular markers to phenotype cortical microstructure. We assayed markers for neurons and glia, along with genes that have been implicated in the risk of autism, in prefrontal, temporal, and occipital neocortical tissue from postmortem samples obtained from children with autism and unaffected children between the ages of 2 and 15 years.
We observed focal patches of abnormal laminar cytoarchitecture and cortical disorganization of neurons, but not glia, in prefrontal and temporal cortical tissue from 10 of 11 children with autism and from 1 of 11 unaffected children. We observed heterogeneity between cases with respect to cell types that were most abnormal in the patches and the layers that were most affected by the pathological features. No cortical layer was uniformly spared, with the clearest signs of abnormal expression in layers 4 and 5. Three-dimensional reconstruction of layer markers confirmed the focal geometry and size of patches.
In this small, explorative study, we found focal disruption of cortical laminar architecture in the cortexes of a majority of young children with autism. Our data support a probable dysregulation of layer formation and layer-specific neuronal differentiation at prenatal developmental stages. (Funded by the Simons Foundation and others.)
PMCID: PMC4499461  PMID: 24670167
12.  Induction Regimens for ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(19):1865-1866.
PMCID: PMC4497541  PMID: 24195565
14.  Gestational Hypertension and Preeclampsia in Living Kidney Donors 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;372(2):124-133.
Young women wishing to become living kidney donors frequently ask whether nephrectomy will affect their future pregnancies.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of living kidney donors involving 85 women (131 pregnancies after cohort entry) who were matched in a 1:6 ratio with 510 healthy nondonors from the general population (788 pregnancies after cohort entry). Kidney donations occurred between 1992 and 2009 in Ontario, Canada, with follow-up through linked health care databases until March 2013. Donors and nondonors were matched with respect to age, year of cohort entry, residency (urban or rural), income, number of pregnancies before cohort entry, and the time to the first pregnancy after cohort entry. The primary outcome was a hospital diagnosis of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Secondary outcomes were each component of the primary outcome examined separately and other maternal and fetal outcomes.
Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia was more common among living kidney donors than among nondonors (occurring in 15 of 131 pregnancies [11%] vs. 38 of 788 pregnancies [5%]; odds ratio for donors, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 5.0; P = 0.01). Each component of the primary outcome was also more common among donors (odds ratio, 2.5 for gestational hypertension and 2.4 for preeclampsia). There were no significant differences between donors and nondonors with respect to rates of preterm birth (8% and 7%, respectively) or low birth weight (6% and 4%, respectively). There were no reports of maternal death, stillbirth, or neonatal death among the donors. Most women had uncomplicated pregnancies after donation.
Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia was more likely to be diagnosed in kidney donors than in matched nondonors with similar indicators of baseline health. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others.)
PMCID: PMC4362716  PMID: 25397608
15.  Bardoxolone Methyl in Type 2 Diabetes and Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(26):2492-2503.
Although inhibitors of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system can slow the progression of diabetic kidney disease, the residual risk is high. Whether nuclear 1 factor (erythroid-derived 2)–related factor 2 activators further reduce this risk is unknown.
We randomly assigned 2185 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and stage 4 chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate [GFR], 15 to <30 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 of body-surface area) to bardoxolone methyl, at a daily dose of 20 mg, or placebo. The primary composite outcome was end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or death from cardiovascular causes.
The sponsor and the steering committee terminated the trial on the recommendation of the independent data and safety monitoring committee; the median follow-up was 9 months. A total of 69 of 1088 patients (6%) randomly assigned to bardoxolone methyl and 69 of 1097 (6%) randomly assigned to placebo had a primary composite outcome (hazard ratio in the bardoxolone methyl group vs. the placebo group, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70 to 1.37; P = 0.92). In the bardoxolone methyl group, ESRD developed in 43 patients, and 27 patients died from cardiovascular causes; in the placebo group, ESRD developed in 51 patients, and 19 patients died from cardiovascular causes. A total of 96 patients in the bardoxolone methyl group were hospitalized for heart failure or died from heart failure, as compared with 55 in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.32 to 2.55; P<0.001). Estimated GFR, blood pressure, and the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio increased significantly and body weight decreased significantly in the bardoxolone methyl group, as compared with the placebo group.
Among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and stage 4 chronic kidney disease, bardoxolone methyl did not reduce the risk of ESRD or death from cardiovascular causes. A higher rate of cardiovascular events with bardoxolone methyl than with placebo prompted termination of the trial. (Funded by Reata Pharmaceuticals; BEACON number, NCT01351675.)
PMCID: PMC4496027  PMID: 24206459
16.  Treating smokers in the health care setting 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(13):1222-1231.
A 45 year-old overweight woman with a history of asthma and depression presents to her primary care physician with her third episode of acute bronchitis in the last 24 months. She began smoking at age 15 and now smokes 10 to 15 cigarettes per day, but every day she starts smoking immediately upon awakening, an indication of severe nicotine dependence1. She has made multiple unsuccessful attempts to quit, once briefly using the nicotine patch, but relapsed due to strong urges to smoke and weight gain. She has not used cessation counseling or other medications. She is bothered by the cost of cigarettes, and is worried about smoking’s health effects on her two children and on herself. Importantly, she is reluctant to make a quit attempt now, in part, because she fears she won’t succeed. What would you advise?
PMCID: PMC4494734  PMID: 21991895
17.  Lyme Disease 
A 32-year-old pregnant woman from southeastern Connecticut presents to her physician in July at 26 weeks’ gestation because of a skin lesion. She reports she has had fatigue, arthralgia, and headache for 2 days and a rash in her left axilla for 1 day. She lives in a wooded area and works in her garden frequently. Six weeks earlier, she had removed a small tick that was attached behind her right knee. On physical examination, she is afebrile. She has an erythematous, oval macular lesion, 7 to 8 cm in diameter, in her left axilla, with enhanced central erythema; no other abnormalities are noted. How should her case be managed?
PMCID: PMC4492124  PMID: 25119621
19.  The Amyloidogenic V122I Transthyretin Variant in Elderly Black Americans 
Approximately 4% of black Americans carry a valine-to-isoleucine substitution (V122I) in the transthyretin protein, which has been associated with late-onset restrictive amyloid cardiomyopathy and increased risks of death and heart failure.
We determined genotype status for the transthyretin gene (TTR) in 3856 black participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study and assessed clinical profiles, mortality, and the risk of incident heart failure in V122I TTR variant carriers (124 participants [3%]) versus noncarriers (3732 participants). Cardiac structure and function and features suggestive of cardiac amyloidosis were assessed in participants who underwent echocardiography during visit 5 (2011 to 2013), when they were older than 65 years of age.
After 21.5 years of follow-up, we did not detect a significant difference in mortality between carriers (41 deaths, 33%) and noncarriers (1382 deaths, 37%; age- and sex-stratified hazard ratio among carriers, 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.73 to 1.36; P = 0.97). The TTR variant was associated with an increased risk of incident heart failure (age- and sex-stratified hazard ratio, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.03 to 2.10; P = 0.04). On echocardiography at visit 5, carriers (46 participants) had worse systolic and diastolic function, as well as a higher level of N-terminal pro–brain natriuretic peptide, than noncarriers (1194 participants), although carriers had a low prevalence (7%) of overt manifestations of amyloid cardiomyopathy.
We did not detect a significant difference in mortality between V122I TTR allele carriers and noncarriers, a finding that contrasts with prior observations; however, the risk of heart failure was increased among carriers. The prevalence of overt cardiac abnormalities among V122I TTR carriers was low. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC4382209  PMID: 25551524
20.  Lyme Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;370(18):1724-1731.
A 32-year-old pregnant woman from southeastern Connecticut presents to her physician in July at 26 weeks' gestation because of a skin lesion. She reports she has had fatigue, arthralgia, and headache for 2 days and a rash in her left axilla for 1 day. She lives in a wooded area and works in her garden frequently. Six weeks earlier, she had removed a small tick that was attached behind her right knee. On physical examination, she is afebrile. She has an erythematous, oval macular lesion, 7 to 8 cm in diameter, in her left axilla, with enhanced central erythema; no other abnormalities are noted. How should her case be managed?
PMCID: PMC4487875  PMID: 24785207
21.  Twelve or 30 Months of Dual Antiplatelet Therapy After Drug-eluting Stents 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;371(23):2155-2166.
Dual antiplatelet therapy is recommended after coronary stenting to prevent thrombotic complications, yet the benefits and risks of treatment beyond 1 year are uncertain.
Subjects were enrolled after a drug-eluting coronary stent procedure. After 12 months of thienopyridine (clopidogrel bisulfate [Plavix] or prasugrel [Effient/Efient]) with aspirin, subjects were randomized to continued thienopyridine or placebo for another 18 months; all continued aspirin. The co-primary effectiveness end points were stent thrombosis and major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (a composite of death, myocardial infarction, or stroke) at 12 to 30 months. The primary safety end point was moderate or severe bleeding.
Subjects (N=9,961) were randomized to continued thienopyridine or placebo. Continued thienopyridine reduced stent thrombosis (0.4% vs. 1.4%, hazard ratio 0.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.17-0.48, P<0.001) and major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (4.3% vs. 5.9%, hazard ratio 0.71, 95% CI 0.59-0.85, P<0.001). Myocardial infarction was reduced (2.1% vs. 4.1%, hazard ratio 0.47, P<0.001). Rates of all-cause mortality in the continued thienopyridine and placebo groups were 2.0 and 1.5%, respectively (hazard ratio 1.36, 95% CI 1.00-1.85, P=0.052). Moderate or severe bleeding was increased with continued thienopyridine (2.5% vs. 1.6%, P=0.001). An elevated hazard for stent thrombosis and myocardial infarction was observed in both groups during the 3 months following thienopyridine discontinuation.
Dual antiplatelet therapy beyond one year after drug-eluting stent placement significantly reduced the risks of stent thrombosis and major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events compared with aspirin alone, but was associated with increased bleeding.
PMCID: PMC4481318  PMID: 25399658
22.  Clonal Hematopoiesis and Blood-Cancer Risk Inferred from Blood DNA Sequence 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;371(26):2477-2487.
Cancers arise from multiple acquired mutations, which presumably occur over many years. Early stages in cancer development might be present years before cancers become clinically apparent.
We analyzed data from whole-exome sequencing of DNA in peripheral-blood cells from 12,380 persons, unselected for cancer or hematologic phenotypes. We identified somatic mutations on the basis of unusual allelic fractions. We used data from Swedish national patient registers to follow health outcomes for 2 to 7 years after DNA sampling.
Clonal hematopoiesis with somatic mutations was observed in 10% of persons older than 65 years of age but in only 1% of those younger than 50 years of age. Detectable clonal expansions most frequently involved somatic mutations in three genes (DNMT3A, ASXL1, and TET2) that have previously been implicated in hematologic cancers. Clonal hematopoiesis was a strong risk factor for subsequent hematologic cancer (hazard ratio, 12.9; 95% confidence interval, 5.8 to 28.7). Approximately 42% of hematologic cancers in this cohort arose in persons who had clonality at the time of DNA sampling, more than 6 months before a first diagnosis of cancer. Analysis of bone marrow–biopsy specimens obtained from two patients at the time of diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia revealed that their cancers arose from the earlier clones.
Clonal hematopoiesis with somatic mutations is readily detected by means of DNA sequencing, is increasingly common as people age, and is associated with increased risks of hematologic cancer and death. A subset of the genes that are mutated in patients with myeloid cancers is frequently mutated in apparently healthy persons; these mutations may represent characteristic early events in the development of hematologic cancers. (Funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC4290021  PMID: 25426838
23.  Very Early Administration of Progesterone for Acute Traumatic Brain Injury 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;371(26):2457-2466.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Progesterone has been shown to improve neurologic outcome in multiple experimental models and two early-phase trials involving patients with TBI.
We conducted a double-blind, multicenter clinical trial in which patients with severe, moderate-to-severe, or moderate acute TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale score of 4 to 12, on a scale from 3 to 15, with lower scores indicating a lower level of consciousness) were randomly assigned to intravenous progesterone or placebo, with the study treatment initiated within 4 hours after injury and administered for a total of 96 hours. Efficacy was defined as an increase of 10 percentage points in the proportion of patients with a favorable outcome, as determined with the use of the stratified dichotomy of the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale score at 6 months after injury. Secondary outcomes included mortality and the Disability Rating Scale score.
A total of 882 of the planned sample of 1140 patients underwent randomization before the trial was stopped for futility with respect to the primary outcome. The study groups were similar with regard to baseline characteristics; the median age of the patients was 35 years, 73.7% were men, 15.2% were black, and the mean Injury Severity Score was 24.4 (on a scale from 0 to 75, with higher scores indicating greater severity). The most frequent mechanism of injury was a motor vehicle accident. There was no significant difference between the progesterone group and the placebo group in the proportion of patients with a favorable outcome (relative benefit of progesterone, 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85 to 1.06; P = 0.35). Phlebitis or thrombophlebitis was more frequent in the progesterone group than in the placebo group (relative risk, 3.03; CI, 1.96 to 4.66). There were no significant differences in the other prespecified safety outcomes.
This clinical trial did not show a benefit of progesterone over placebo in the improvement of outcomes in patients with acute TBI. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and others; PROTECT III number, NCT00822900.)
PMCID: PMC4303469  PMID: 25493974
24.  Age-Related Clonal Hematopoiesis Associated with Adverse Outcomes 
The New England journal of medicine  2014;371(26):2488-2498.
The incidence of hematologic cancers increases with age. These cancers are associated with recurrent somatic mutations in specific genes. We hypothesized that such mutations would be detectable in the blood of some persons who are not known to have hematologic disorders.
We analyzed whole-exome sequencing data from DNA in the peripheral-blood cells of 17,182 persons who were unselected for hematologic phenotypes. We looked for somatic mutations by identifying previously characterized single-nucleotide variants and small insertions or deletions in 160 genes that are recurrently mutated in hematologic cancers. The presence of mutations was analyzed for an association with hematologic phenotypes, survival, and cardiovascular events.
Detectable somatic mutations were rare in persons younger than 40 years of age but rose appreciably in frequency with age. Among persons 70 to 79 years of age, 80 to 89 years of age, and 90 to 108 years of age, these clonal mutations were observed in 9.5% (219 of 2300 persons), 11.7% (37 of 317), and 18.4% (19 of 103), respectively. The majority of the variants occurred in three genes: DNMT3A, TET2, and ASXL1. The presence of a somatic mutation was associated with an increase in the risk of hematologic cancer (hazard ratio, 11.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.9 to 32.6), an increase in all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.8), and increases in the risks of incident coronary heart disease (hazard ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.4) and ischemic stroke (hazard ratio, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4 to 4.8).
Age-related clonal hematopoiesis is a common condition that is associated with increases in the risk of hematologic cancer and in all-cause mortality, with the latter possibly due to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
PMCID: PMC4306669  PMID: 25426837
25.  Anthracycline Dose Intensification in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(13):1249-1259.
In young adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), intensification of the anthracycline dose during induction therapy has improved the rate of complete remission but not of overall survival. We evaluated the use of cytarabine plus either standard-dose or high-dose daunorubicin as induction therapy, followed by intensive consolidation therapy, in inducing complete remission to improve overall survival.
In this phase 3 randomized trial, we assigned 657 patients between the ages of 17 and 60 years who had untreated AML to receive three once-daily doses of daunorubicin at either the standard dose (45 mg per square meter of body-surface area) or a high dose (90 mg per square meter), combined with seven daily doses of cytarabine (100 mg per square meter) by continuous intravenous infusion. Patients who had a complete remission were offered either allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation or high-dose cytarabine, with or without a single dose of the monoclonal antibody gemtuzumab ozogamicin, followed by autologous stem-cell transplantation. The primary end point was overall survival.
In the intention-to-treat analysis, high-dose daunorubicin, as compared with a standard dose of the drug, resulted in a higher rate of complete remission (70.6% vs. 57.3%, P<0.001) and improved overall survival (median, 23.7 vs. 15.7 months; P = 0.003). The rates of serious adverse events were similar in the two groups. Median follow-up was 25.2 months.
In young adults with AML, intensifying induction therapy with a high daily dose of daunorubicin improved the rate of complete remission and the duration of overall survival, as compared with the standard dose.
PMCID: PMC4480917  PMID: 19776406

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