New FDA approval: retacrit, to improve anemia of kidney disease

New FDA approval: retacrit, to improve anemia of kidney disease

Erythropoietin is a key hormone produced by the kidney to stimulate bone marrow production of red blood cells. FDA has now approved the second erythropoietin analog, retacrit, in addition to epogen. It shows similar efficacy and side effects to epogen. This approval allows both medications to be more accessible to patients, at a lower cost. It is indicated for treatment of anemia of chronic kidney disease or from use of chemotherapy and zidovudine. It could also be used preemptively prior to surgeries with expected major blood loss.

GT

Sexual function after bariatric surgery

Sexual function after bariatric surgery

This meta-analysis shows that bariatric surgery significantly improves sexual function in men but that a more limited degree of improvement is achieved in women.

In obese male patients who underwent bariatric surgery, the levels of the sex hormones TT, FT, LH, FSH, and SHBG significantly increased, and the level of E2 decreased. In obese female patients, the levels of the sex hormones TT, FT, and E2 decreased, but the levels of LH, FSH, and SHBG increased.

Future studies should be performed to elucidate the mechanism of the improved sexual function in obese patients after bariatric surgery. 

JES

Early heart disease in diabetes and prediabetes

Early heart disease in diabetes and prediabetes

The study finds that the longer the duration of diabetes and prediabetes in early adulthood, the higher the risk of progressive subclinical atherosclerosis and cardiac pump dysfunction, in both phases of contractility and relaxation. About 3,600 patients of age 18-30 were followed for 25 years. This is yet another reason to screen and intervene aggressively young individuals for both prediabetes and diabetes.

GT

Right adrenal tumors are frequently missed

Right adrenal tumors are frequently missed

A serious article analyzing the prevalence of left-sided vs. right-sided adrenal tumors. Prior observations have consistently shown that left-sided adenomas are more common than right-sided ones, in 2:1 ratio.

Although a reason could be embryological, leading to a greater left adrenal vascularity, innervation, volume and mass; authors suggest that asymmetry could also be due to anatomical locations of the glands.

The left adrenal gland is surrounded by the hypo-attenuated visceral fat, making it easier to be seen by imaging, versus the right gland which is somewhat compressed by the relatively hyper-attenuated liver and kidney.

Authors' argument is compelling enough that clinicians should be aware of possibly missing right-sided adrenal tumors, especially in the context of hyper-functionality; elevated catecholamines, cortisol, aldosterone and DHEAs.

GT

Differentiating LADA, type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Differentiating LADA, type 1 and type 2 diabetes

It is not always easy to distinguish LADA from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Common parameters utilized are BMI, age, family history, HLA-typing, clinical presentation, glucose variability and severity, insulin production, C-peptide levels, as well as autoantibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65), pancreatic islet cells (ICA) or insulin (IAA).

The article shows that other inflammatory markers could also be useful in differentiating the diagnoses. Such markers are; adiponectin, soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor 2 (sTNFR2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), hs-CRP, and total leukocyte number. More research is needed on how to incorporate the additional tests in clinical practice.

GT

Late-night salivary cortisol measurements are not consistent in cushing disease

Late-night salivary cortisol measurements are not consistent in cushing disease

The study reveals that late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC) measures are variable in cushing disease, particularly in those with recurrent or persistent illness. Less variability was seen in new cases of the disease who had not undergone treatment. Hypercortisolemia is expected to be lower in treated vs. untreated patients, thus it is reasonable to suspect similar inconsistencies in LNSC values in those with subtle hypercortisolemia, frequently seen with adrenal adenomas.

GT

New FDA approval: drug therapy for anaplastic thyroid cancer

New FDA approval: drug therapy for anaplastic thyroid cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare and aggressive type of thyroid cancer. It accounts for about 1-2% of all thyroid cancers. NIH estimates 54,000 new cases of thyroid cancer and 2,000 deaths from the disease in the US in 2018. 

The tafinlar + mekinist combination is now approved for the treatment of BRAF V600E mutation-positive ATC that cannot be addressed surgically or has already spread to other organs. Tafinlar and Mekinist have also been approved for two other BRAF V600 mutation-positive metastatic malignancies; melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

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A possible new drug for diabetes and obesity (PTP1b inhibitor)

A possible new drug for diabetes and obesity (PTP1b inhibitor)

Protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1b) was first discovered in 1988. It is a counter-regulator to insulin and leptin signaling pathways. Given current endemic of insulin resistance via obesity and type 2 diabetes, it is natural to search for drugs that improve insulin and leptin sensitivities. PTP1b suppression is one of those options.

Here is a phase 2 clinical trial on an antisense inhibition of PTP1b (IONIS-PTP-1BRx). Results are promising but not profound: A1c and body weight dropped by 0.7% and 6 lbs in 27 to 36 weeks. No major adverse events were seen. A clearer picture of the drug will emerge in the future trials. At the same time the search for the other perfect PTP1b continues.

GT

The semi-automated insulin pump performs well

The semi-automated insulin pump performs well

The study reveals that the hybrid closed loop device, MiniMed 670g, helps in reducing A1c by 0.75% compared to standard insulin pumps. For those transitioning to it, carbohydrate to insulin ratio needs to be adjusted immediately. This semi-automated system, differently called semi-artificial pancreas, is a significant advancement in the field of type 1 diabetes. The device was approved by FDA in September 2016.

GT