Daily ReCAP April 13, 2017

April 13th 2017
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

The latest news on chronic, acute, and preventive care across the health care landscape.

Chronic: Drivers of Reactivation of Latent Herpes Simplex Virus

Scientists have identified a set of protein complexes recruited to viral genes and simulate initial infection and reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus (HSV). In a study published inCell Host & Microbe, investigators identified new roles that HCF-1 protein complexes play in initiating viral infection and reactivation. In a mouse model, the investigators found they could reactivate latent HSV using compounds that turn on components of the HCF-1 protein complexes. Additionally, the investigators found that some of the HCF-1 associated proteins were also involved in HIV reactivation from latency. The authors noted that although the findings show promise, more research needs to be done.

Acute: Short-Term Steroid Use Increases Rate of Serious Health Threats

In a study published in theBritish Medical Journal, investigators found that patients who took oral corticosteroids were more likely to break a bone, have a potentially dangerous blood clot, or have a life-threatening bout of sepsis in the months after treatment, compared with similar adults who didn’t use corticosteroids. For the study, investigators used data from 1.5 million non-elderly American adults with private insurance. One of 5 filled a short-term prescription for oral corticosteroids such as prednisone “sometimes” in the 3-year study period. The results of the study showed that serious adverse effects were highest in the first 30 days after a prescription and that they remained elevated even 3 months later. The authors stress the need for better education of prescribers and the public about the potential risks and the most appropriate uses and doses for short-term use of steroids.

Preventive: Novel Chip Seeks to Minimize Premature Births

Scientists are hoping that their newly developed palm-sized chip will minimize babies’ chances of being born preterm. The integrated microfluidic device is designed to predict a woman’s risk for future giving preterm birth, with up to 90% accuracy. “It’s like we’re shrinking a whole laboratory and fitting it into one small microchip,” said lead author Mukul Sonker. The goal of the device is to use a tiny sample of blood to measure a panel of 9 identified preterm birth biomarkers. In a study published inElectrophoresis, the investigators created the chip and a system for preconcentrating and separating biomarkers on it. The device is small, fast, and cheap, and investigators said that once fully developed, it will help make detecting biomarkers a simple, automated task. The estimated annual costs associated with preterm birth in the United States is close to $30 billion. “There are a lot of preterm babies who don’t survive: if we could get them to survive and thrive, it would be a huge gain to society,” said co-author Adam Woolley.

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