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1.  Initiation and continuation of randomized trials after the publication of a trial stopped early for benefit asking the same study question: STOPIT-3 study design 
Trials  2013;14:335.
Randomized control trials (RCTs) stopped early for benefit (truncated RCTs) are increasingly common and, on average, overestimate the relative magnitude of benefit by approximately 30%. Investigators stop trials early when they consider it is no longer ethical to enroll patients in a control group. The goal of this systematic review is to determine how investigators of ongoing or planned RCTs respond to the publication of a truncated RCT addressing a similar question.
We will conduct systematic reviews to update the searches of 210 truncated RCTs to identify similar trials ongoing at the time of publication, or started subsequently, to the truncated trials ('subsequent RCTs’). Reviewers will determine in duplicate the similarity between the truncated and subsequent trials. We will analyze the epidemiology, distribution, and predictors of subsequent RCTs. We will also contact authors of subsequent trials to determine reasons for beginning, continuing, or prematurely discontinuing their own trials, and the extent to which they rely on the estimates from truncated trials.
To the extent that investigators begin or continue subsequent trials they implicitly disagree with the decision to stop the truncated RCT because of an ethical mandate to administer the experimental treatment. The results of this study will help guide future decisions about when to stop RCTs early for benefit.
PMCID: PMC3874848  PMID: 24131702
Randomized controlled trials stopped early for benefit; RCT; Systematic review; Protocol
2.  Deferasirox and deferiprone remove cardiac iron in the iron-overloaded gerbil 
Deferasirox effectively controls liver iron concentration; however, little is known regarding its ability to remove stored cardiac iron. Deferiprone seems to have increased cardiac efficacy compared with traditional deferoxamine therapy. Therefore, the relative efficacy of deferasirox and deferiprone were compared in removing cardiac iron from iron-loaded gerbils.
Twenty-nine 8- to 10-week-old female gerbils underwent 10 weekly iron dextran injections of 200 mg/kg/week. Prechelation iron levels were assessed in 5 animals, and the remainder received deferasirox 100 mg/kg/D po QD (n = 8), deferiprone 375 mg/kg/D po divided TID (n = 8), or sham chelation (n = 8), 5 days/week for 12 weeks.
Deferasirox reduced cardiac iron content 20.5%. No changes occurred in cardiac weight, myocyte hypertrophy, fibrosis, or weight-to-dry weight ratio. Deferasirox treatment reduced liver iron content 51%. Deferiprone produced comparable reductions in cardiac iron content (18.6% reduction). Deferiprone-treated hearts had greater mass (16.5% increase) and increased myocyte hypertrophy. Deferiprone decreased liver iron content 24.9% but was associated with an increase in liver weight and water content.
Deferasirox and deferiprone were equally effective in removing stored cardiac iron in a gerbil animal model, but deferasirox removed more hepatic iron for a given cardiac iron burden.
PMCID: PMC2896322  PMID: 17145573
3.  MRI Detects Myocardial Iron in the Human Heart 
Iron-induced cardiac dysfunction is a leading cause of death in transfusion-dependent anemia. MRI relaxation rates R2(1/T2) and R2∗(1∕T2∗) accurately predict liver iron concentration, but their ability to predict cardiac iron has been challenged by some investigators. Studies in animal models support similar R2 and R2∗ behavior with heart and liver iron, but human studies are lacking. To determine the relationship between MRI relaxivities and cardiac iron, regional variations in R2 and R2∗ were compared with iron distribution in one freshly deceased, unfixed, iron-loaded heart. R2 and R2∗ were proportionally related to regional iron concentrations and highly concordant with one another within the interventricular septum. A comparison of postmortem and in vitro measurements supports the notion that cardiac R2∗ should be assessed in the septum rather than the whole heart. These data, along with measurements from controls, provide bounds on MRI-iron calibration curves in human heart and further support the clinical use of cardiac MRI in iron-overload syndromes.
PMCID: PMC2887674  PMID: 16888797
postmortem; T2; T2∗; iron; heart; thalassemia
4.  Safety and Efficacy of Combined Chelation Therapy with Deferasirox and Deferoxamine in a Gerbil Model of Iron Overload 
Acta haematologica  2008;120(2):123-128.
Combined therapy with deferoxamine (DFO) and deferasirox (DFX) may be performed empirically when DFX monotherapy fails. Given the lack of published data on this therapy, the study goal was to assess the safety and efficacy of combined DFO/DFX therapy in a gerbil model.
Thirty-two female Mongolian gerbils 8–10 weeks old were divided into 4 groups (sham chelated, DFO, DFX, DFO/DFX). Each received 10 weekly injections of 200 mg/kg iron dextran prior to initiation of 12 weeks of chelation. Experimental endpoints were heart and liver weights, iron concentration and histology.
In the heart, there was no significant difference among the treatment groups for wet-to-dry ratio, iron concentration and iron content. DFX-treated animals exhibited lower organ weights relative to sham-chelated animals (less iron-mediated hypertrophy). DFO-treated organs did not differ from sham-chelated organs in any aspects. DFX significantly cleared hepatic iron. No additive effects were observed in the organs of DFO/DFX-treated animals.
Combined DFO/DFX therapy produced no detectable additive effect above DFX monotherapy in either the liver or heart, suggesting competition with spontaneous iron elimination mechanisms for chelatable iron. Combined therapy was well tolerated, but its efficacy could not be proven due to limitations in the animal model.
PMCID: PMC2884393  PMID: 19018129
Deferasirox; Deferoxamine; Iron overload
5.  Stopping randomized trials early for benefit: a protocol of the Study Of Trial Policy Of Interim Truncation-2 (STOPIT-2) 
Trials  2009;10:49.
Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) stopped early for benefit often receive great attention and affect clinical practice, but pose interpretational challenges for clinicians, researchers, and policy makers. Because the decision to stop the trial may arise from catching the treatment effect at a random high, truncated RCTs (tRCTs) may overestimate the true treatment effect. The Study Of Trial Policy Of Interim Truncation (STOPIT-1), which systematically reviewed the epidemiology and reporting quality of tRCTs, found that such trials are becoming more common, but that reporting of stopping rules and decisions were often deficient. Most importantly, treatment effects were often implausibly large and inversely related to the number of the events accrued. The aim of STOPIT-2 is to determine the magnitude and determinants of possible bias introduced by stopping RCTs early for benefit.
We will use sensitive strategies to search for systematic reviews addressing the same clinical question as each of the tRCTs identified in STOPIT-1 and in a subsequent literature search. We will check all RCTs included in each systematic review to determine their similarity to the index tRCT in terms of participants, interventions, and outcome definition, and conduct new meta-analyses addressing the outcome that led to early termination of the tRCT. For each pair of tRCT and systematic review of corresponding non-tRCTs we will estimate the ratio of relative risks, and hence estimate the degree of bias. We will use hierarchical multivariable regression to determine the factors associated with the magnitude of this ratio. Factors explored will include the presence and quality of a stopping rule, the methodological quality of the trials, and the number of total events that had occurred at the time of truncation.
Finally, we will evaluate whether Bayesian methods using conservative informative priors to "regress to the mean" overoptimistic tRCTs can correct observed biases.
A better understanding of the extent to which tRCTs exaggerate treatment effects and of the factors associated with the magnitude of this bias can optimize trial design and data monitoring charters, and may aid in the interpretation of the results from trials stopped early for benefit.
PMCID: PMC2723099  PMID: 19580665
6.  Association between change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality: systematic review and meta-regression analysis 
Objective To investigate the association between treatment induced change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and total death, coronary heart disease death, and coronary heart disease events (coronary heart disease death and non-fatal myocardial infarction) adjusted for changes in low density lipoprotein cholesterol and drug class in randomised trials of lipid modifying interventions.
Design Systematic review and meta-regression analysis of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Central, CINAHL, and AMED to October 2006 supplemented by contact with experts in the field.
Study selection In teams of two, reviewers independently determined eligibility of randomised trials that tested lipid modifying interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk, reported high density lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality or myocardial infarctions separately for treatment groups, and treated and followed participants for at least six months.
Data extraction and synthesis Using standardised, pre-piloted forms, reviewers independently extracted relevant information from each article. The change in lipid concentrations for each trial and the weighted risk ratios for clinical outcomes were calculated.
Results The meta-regression analysis included 108 randomised trials involving 299 310 participants at risk of cardiovascular events. All analyses that adjusted for changes in low density lipoprotein cholesterol showed no association between treatment induced change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk ratios for coronary heart disease deaths, coronary heart disease events, or total deaths. With all trials included, change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol explained almost no variability (<1%) in any of the outcomes. The change in the quotient of low density lipoprotein cholesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol did not explain more of the variability in any of the outcomes than did the change in low density lipoprotein cholesterol alone. For a 10 mg/dl (0.26 mmol/l) reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol, the relative risk reduction was 7.2% (95% confidence interval 3.1% to 11%; P=0.001) for coronary heart disease deaths, 7.1% (4.5% to 9.8%; P<0.001) for coronary heart disease events, and 4.4% (1.6% to 7.2%; P=0.002) for total deaths, when adjusted for change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and drug class.
Conclusions Available data suggest that simply increasing the amount of circulating high density lipoprotein cholesterol does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events, coronary heart disease deaths, or total deaths. The results support reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol as the primary goal for lipid modifying interventions.
PMCID: PMC2645847  PMID: 19221140
7.  TraJ-Dependent Escherichia coli K1 Interactions with Professional Phagocytes Are Important for Early Systemic Dissemination of Infection in the Neonatal Rat  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(1):478-488.
Escherichia coli is a major cause of neonatal bacterial sepsis and meningitis. We recently identified a gene, traJ, which contributes to the ability of E. coli K1 to penetrate the blood-brain barrier in the neonatal rat. Because very little is known regarding the most critical step in disease progression, translocation to the gut and dissemination to the lymphoid tissues after a natural route of infection, we assessed the ability of a traJ mutant to cause systemic disease in the neonatal rat. Our studies determined that the traJ mutant is significantly less virulent than the wild type in the neonatal rat due to a decreased ability to disseminate from the mesenteric lymph nodes to the deeper tissues of the liver and spleen and to the blood during the early stages of systemic disease. Histopathologic studies determined that although significantly less or no mutant bacteria were recovered from the spleen and livers of infected neonatal rats, the inflammatory response was considerably greater than that in wild-type-colonized tissues. In vitro studies revealed that macrophages internalize the traJ mutant less frequently than they do the wild type and by a morphologically distinct process. Furthermore, we determined that tissue macrophages and dendritic cells within the liver and spleen are the major cellular targets of E. coli K1 and that TraJ significantly contributes to the predominantly intracellular nature of E. coli K1 within these professional phagocytes exclusively during the early stages of systemic disease. These data indicate that, contrary to earlier indications, E. coli K1 resides within professional phagocytes, and this is essential for the efficient progression of systemic disease.
PMCID: PMC343970  PMID: 14688129

Results 1-7 (7)