research in the news

 Research in the news summarizes the latest developments and research news.




Seniors with arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders are less likely to need re-hospitalization or long term care if they receive rehabilitation services at their homes.  A study from the University of Waterloo found that after receiving physiotherapy and occupational therapy as home-based services, seniors with arthritis showed increased independence and ability to perform household tasks.  These findings highlight the need for larger investment into community and home-based rehabilitation services for seniors.

“Home-based rehab for seniors raises quality of life, saves money: study.”  Canadian Healthcare Network. June 18, 2013.  Available from:




Allergic Brochopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA), a disorder that complicates asthma, can be treated with antifungal treatment such as itraconazole.  A conjoined study from the University of Toronto and Manchester University has demonstrated that itraconazole, when used in combination with standard asthmatic therapy, reduces mortality rates.  Asthma affects about 193 million people worldwide, 4.8 million of which develop ABPA that, in turn, may lead to a collection of long-term fungal infections, often causing allergic responses otherwise known as Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CPA).

Denning, D.W. et al.  “Global burden of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis with asthma and its complication chronic pulmonary aspergillosis in adults.” Medical Mycology 51(4):361-370. May 2013.





A class of cancer-fighting drugs known as PARP Inhibitors are showing exciting potential in clinical trials.  Olaparib, when taken orally after chemotherapy, exhibited promise by extending progression-free survival in patients with ovarian and breast cancer.  Intravenous iniparib also demonstrated significant potential in a phase 2 trial when administered in conjunction with standard chemotherapy agents gemcitabine and carboplatin, but unfortunately failed to pass effectiveness standards in phase 3.  Another agent being investigated is niraparib.  PARP inhibitors may eventually become a valid option in oncology due to their chemopotentiative properties, which means that they increase antitumour activity of other chemotherapeutic drugs.  However, PARP inhibitors also act on the body’s own marrow, rendering dosage control a crucial setback.  Future therapies will utilize PARP inhibitors either after chemotherapy, or intermittently in conjunction with it.  Research will focus on customizing delivery of the drugs using nanoparticles and directly into the tumor to avoid adversely affecting the marrow.

Infante, J.R. and Burris, H.A.  “PARP Inhibitors: Pitfalls and Promises.”  The Lancet: Oncology 14(9):798-799. August 2013.


Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have reported a connection between Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) and an increased risk of kidney injury in men with prostate cancer.  ADT acts by reducing the levels of hormones in the body and has become the standard method of treatment for advanced prostate cancer, especially for patients who are prone to biochemical recurrence after prostate removal or radiation.  Although the benefits of the therapy compensate for the side effects in men with metastatic prostate cancer, the study has shown that the risk for kidney injury in men with advanced prostate cancer is about 4.5 for every 1000 patients per year.  One weakness of this research is that a direct causal connection cannot be assumed between ADT and kidney injury.  Instead, it can only be recognized that a correlation between ADT and kidney injury exists in the population.  Dr. Ron Wald, a nephrologist at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto, also comments that the study failed to screen patients for previous chronic kidney disease, which may have been the cause of kidney injury.

“Study raises red flag regarding commonly used prostate cancer therapy.”  Canadian Healthcare Network. July 17, 2013. Available from:


A new ultrasound-based treatment for prostate cancer may soon offer a viable alternative to surgery and radiation that often lead to incontinence and impotence.  Transurethral Magnetic Resonance (MR) Guided Ultrasound Ablation is a method that applies high-energy ultrasound specifically to the target cancer cells, while sparing the nearby healthy tissues.  The method has been developed and tested at Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada.  Although additional clinical trials are due to establish the long-term effects, this treatment option should benefit patients with small prostate cancers that are unlikely to spread.

Favaro, A. and St. Philip, E.  “Canadians pioneering new ultrasound approach to treating prostate cancer.”  CTV News.  April 26, 2013.  Available from:
“Leading edge – summer 2013” Canadian Healthcare Network. June 13, 2013.  Available from:


Women that undergo surgery for breast cancer, known as Auxillary Lymph Node Dissection, to remove lymph nodes under the arm are at a quadruple higher risk of developing arm lymphodema, a condition of fluid retention and swelling in the arm.  In a study by the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation in Australia, it was found that the risk of lymphodema rises with more intensive surgeries for cancer removal.  A gentler surgery,  Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, did not show the increased risk.  Besides causing physical disfigurations, pain, heaviness, tightness, and decreased range of motion in the arm, lymphodema also affects the patient’s psychological status.  Many women reported high scores of anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.  Some risks factors linked to lymphodema were identified to be lack of  physical exercise and a high Body-Mass-Index.  Currently, there are no standard treatments or detection practices for lymphodema.  Therefore, screening is recommended in the first 2 years after onset of breast cancer.

Queensland University of Technology. “Breast cancer surgery linked to swollen arm syndrome.” Medical News Today. August 7, 2013.  Available from:


Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Diseases 2


Calcium-channel blockers (CCBs), a class of antihypertensive drugs commonly used to treat elevated blood pressure, have been linked to higher risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.  Due to the chronic nature of hypertension, CCBs are the leading class of prescription drugs in the U.S.  In a study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, women who had been prescribed CCBs for 10 years or longer were at a 2.5 times higher risk for developing ductal and lobular cancer than patients taking other types of anti-hypertensives or none at all.  CCBs operate by the mechanism of suppression of cell death, which is otherwise a normal part of the cell life cycle.  Such artificial suppression of cell death has previously been hypothesized to be a cause for cancer.  This study suggests that the use of anti-hypertensives as long-term agents should be re-evaluated.  Other anti-hypertensives such as diuretics, beta blockers, and angiotensin-receptor blockers were not tested in this study.

Ellis, M. “Blood pressure drugs linked to higher breast cancer risk.” Medical News Today.  August 7, 2013.  Available from:


Written by Julia Yusupova


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