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1.  Cost-effectiveness of omalizumab in adults with severe asthma: Results from the Asthma Policy Model 
Background
Omalizumab (trade name Xolair) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of moderate-to-severe allergic asthma. Given the high acquisition cost of omalizumab, its role and cost-effectiveness in disease management require definition.
Objective
We sought to identify the clinical and economic circumstances under which omalizumab might or might not be a cost-effective option by using a mathematic model.
Methods
We merged published data on clinical and economic outcomes (including acute event incidence, frequency/severity of hospitalizations, and health-related quality of life) to project 10-year costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and cost-effectiveness of treatment with omalizumab in addition to inhaled corticosteroids. Sensitivity analyses were conducted by using input data ranges from a variety of sources (published clinical trials and observational databases).
Results
For patients with baseline acute event rates, omalizumab conferred an additional 1.7 quality-adjusted months at an incremental cost of $131,000 over a 10-year planning horizon, implying a cost-effectiveness ratio of $821,000 per QALY gained. For patients with 5 times the baseline acute event rate, the cost-effectiveness ratio was $491,000 per QALY gained. The projected cost-effectiveness ratio could fall within a range of other programs that are widely considered to be cost-effective if the cost of omalizumab decreases to less than $200.
Conclusion
Omalizumab is not cost-effective for most patients with severe asthma. The projected cost-effectiveness ratios could fall within a favorable range if the cost of omalizumab decreases significantly.
Clinical implications
Based on the high cost of omalizumab, it is especially important that clinicians explore alternative medications for asthma before initiating omalizumab.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2007.07.055
PMCID: PMC3476046  PMID: 17904628
Omalizumab; cost-effectiveness; asthma; anti-IgE
2.  Maternal diet vs lack of exposure to sunlight as the cause of the epidemic of asthma, allergies and other autoimmune diseases 
Thorax  2007;62(9):746-748.
Role of vitamin D deficiency in allergic and autoimmune diseases
doi:10.1136/thx.2007.079707
PMCID: PMC2117306  PMID: 17726168
3.  Comprehensive Testing of Positionally Cloned Asthma Genes in Two Populations 
Rationale: Replication of gene-disease associations has become a requirement in complex trait genetics.
Objectives: In studies of childhood asthma from two different ethnic groups, we attempted to replicate associations with five potential asthma susceptibility genes previously identified by positional cloning.
Methods: We analyzed two family-based samples ascertained through an asthmatic proband: 497 European-American children from the Childhood Asthma Management Program and 439 Hispanic children from the Central Valley of Costa Rica. We genotyped 98 linkage disequilibrium–tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in five genes: ADAM33, DPP10, GPR154 (HUGO name: NPSR1), HLA-G, and the PHF11 locus (includes genes SETDB2 and RCBTB1). SNPs were tested for association with asthma and two intermediate phenotypes: airway hyperresponsiveness and total serum immunoglobulin E levels.
Measurements and Main Results: Despite differing ancestries, linkage disequilibrium patterns were similar in both cohorts. Of the five evaluated genes, SNP-level replication was found only for GPR154 (NPSR1). In this gene, three SNPs were associated with asthma in both cohorts, although the opposite alleles were associated in either study. Weak evidence for locus-level replication with asthma was found in the PHF11 locus, although there was no overlap in the associated SNP across the two cohorts. No consistent associations were observed for the three other genes.
Conclusions: These results provide some further support for the role of genetic variation in GPR154 (NPSR1) and PHF11 in asthma susceptibility and also highlight the challenges of replicating genetic associations in complex traits such as asthma, even for genes identified by linkage analysis.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200704-592OC
PMCID: PMC2048676  PMID: 17702965
bronchial hyperreactivity; immunoglobulin E; linkage disequilibrium; NPSR1; single-nucleotide polymorphism
4.  Modifying Effects of the HFE Polymorphisms on the Association between Lead Burden and Cognitive Decline 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(8):1210-1215.
Background
As iron and lead promote oxidative damage, and hemochromatosis (HFE) gene polymorphisms increase body iron burden, HFE variant alleles may modify the lead burden and cognitive decline relationship.
Objective
Our goal was to assess the modifying effects of HFE variants on the lead burden and cognitive decline relation in older adults.
Methods
We measured tibia and patella lead using K-X-ray fluorescence (1991–1999) among participants of the Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of community-dwelling men from greater Boston. We assessed cognitive function with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) twice (1993–1998 and 1995–2000) and genotyped participants for HFE polymorphisms. We estimated the adjusted mean differences in lead-associated annual cognitive decline across HFE genotype groups (n = 358).
Results
Higher tibia lead was associated with steeper cognitive decline among participants with at least one HFE variant allele compared with men with only wild-type alleles (p interaction = 0.03), such that a 15 μg/g increase in tibia lead was associated with a 0.2 point annual decrement in MMSE score among HFE variant allele carriers. This difference in scores among men with at least one variant allele was comparable to the difference in baseline MMSE scores that we observed among men who were 4 years apart in age. Moreover, the deleterious association between tibia lead and cognitive decline appeared progressively worse in participants with increasingly more copies of HFE variant alleles (p-trend = 0.008). Results for patella lead were similar.
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that HFE polymorphisms greatly enhance susceptibility to lead-related cognitive impairment in a pattern consistent with allelelic dose.
doi:10.1289/ehp.9855
PMCID: PMC1940090  PMID: 17687449
cognitive decline; epidemiology; HFE; lead; longitudinal studies; neuropsychologic tests
5.  The Association of a SNP Upstream of INSIG2 with Body Mass Index is Reproduced in Several but Not All Cohorts 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(4):e61.
A SNP upstream of the INSIG2 gene, rs7566605, was recently found to be associated with obesity as measured by body mass index (BMI) by Herbert and colleagues. The association between increased BMI and homozygosity for the minor allele was first observed in data from a genome-wide association scan of 86,604 SNPs in 923 related individuals from the Framingham Heart Study offspring cohort. The association was reproduced in four additional cohorts, but was not seen in a fifth cohort. To further assess the general reproducibility of this association, we genotyped rs7566605 in nine large cohorts from eight populations across multiple ethnicities (total n = 16,969). We tested this variant for association with BMI in each sample under a recessive model using family-based, population-based, and case-control designs. We observed a significant (p < 0.05) association in five cohorts but saw no association in three other cohorts. There was variability in the strength of association evidence across examination cycles in longitudinal data from unrelated individuals in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort. A combined analysis revealed significant independent validation of this association in both unrelated (p = 0.046) and family-based (p = 0.004) samples. The estimated risk conferred by this allele is small, and could easily be masked by small sample size, population stratification, or other confounders. These validation studies suggest that the original association is less likely to be spurious, but the failure to observe an association in every data set suggests that the effect of SNP rs7566605 on BMI may be heterogeneous across population samples.
Author Summary
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States of America and developing world, portending an epidemic of related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. While diet and lifestyle contribute to obesity, half of the population variation in body mass index, a common measure of obesity, is determined by inherited factors. Many studies have reported that common sequence variants in genes are associated with an increased risk for obesity, yet most of these are not reproducible in other study cohorts, suggesting that some are false. Recently, Herbert et al. reported a slightly increased risk of obesity for people carrying two copies of the minor allele at a common variant near INSIG2. We present our attempts to further evaluate this potential association with obesity in additional populations. We find evidence of increased risk of obesity for people carrying two copies of the minor allele in five out of nine cohorts tested, using both family- and population-based testing. We indicate possible reasons for the varied results, with the hope of encouraging a combined analysis across study cohorts to more precisely define the effect of this INSIG2 gene variant.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030061
PMCID: PMC1857727  PMID: 17465681

Results 1-5 (5)