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Vol. LXII, No. 21
October 15, 2010
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Digest

  NHLBI grantees have found that a drug commonly used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease successfully treats adults whose asthma is not well-controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids.  
  NHLBI grantees have found that a drug commonly used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease successfully treats adults whose asthma is not well-controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids.  

Possible Alternate Therapy for Adults with Poorly Controlled Asthma

A drug commonly used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease successfully treats adults whose asthma is not well-controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids, reported researchers supported by NHLBI.

“This study’s results show that tiotropium bromide might provide an alternative to other asthma treatments, expanding options available to patients for controlling their asthma,” said acting NHLBI director Dr. Susan Shurin. “The goal in managing asthma is to prevent symptoms so patients can pursue activities to the fullest.”

According to the study, adding tiotropium bromide to low doses of inhaled corticosteroids is more effective at controlling asthma than doubling inhaled corticosteroids alone, and as effective as adding the long-acting beta agonist salmeterol. The results were published online Sept. 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual congress of the European Respiratory Society in Barcelona.

Depression High Among Youth Victims of Cyber Bullying

Unlike traditional forms of bullying, youth who are the targets of cyber bullying at school are at greater risk for depression than are the youth who bully them, according to a survey conducted by researchers at NIH.

The new finding is in contrast to earlier studies of traditional bullying, which found that the highest depression scores were reported by another category of youth involved in bullying— bully-victims. Past studies on traditional bullying show that bully-victims—those who both bully others and are bullied themselves—are more likely to report feelings of depression than are other groups.

Traditional forms of bullying involve physical violence, verbal taunts or social exclusion. Cyber bullying, or electronic aggression, involves aggressive behaviors communicated over a computer or a cell phone.

“Notably, cyber victims reported higher depression than cyber bullies or bully-victims, which was not found in any other form of bullying,” the study authors wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “Unlike traditional bullying, which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.”

The analysis of 6th through 10th grade students was conducted by Drs. Jing Wang, Tonja Nansel and Ronald Iannotti, all of NICHD’s Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research.

Addition of Immunotherapy Boosts Pediatric Cancer Survival

Administering a new form of immunotherapy to children with neuroblastoma, a nervous system cancer, increased the percentage of those who were alive and free of disease progression after 2 years. The percentage rose from 46 percent for children receiving a standard therapy to 66 percent for children receiving immunotherapy plus standard therapy, according to the study in the Sept. 30 New England Journal of Medicine. The randomized phase III clinical trial was coordinated by the Children’s Oncology Group, a national consortium of researchers supported by NCI.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the peripheral nervous system (found outside of the brain and spinal cord), and is responsible for 12 percent of all deaths due to cancer in children under 15 years of age. It is the most common non-brain solid tumor in children. Nearly 50 percent of patients with neuroblastoma have a high-risk form of the disease and have poor long-term survival despite very intensive treatment.

The previously established standard treatment for neuroblastoma uses high doses of chemotherapy to destroy as many cancer cells as possible. But this form of chemotherapy also destroys some normal blood-forming cells, so it is followed by giving back previously collected blood-forming cells to restore immune system function and blood cell formation.

A newer approach to cancer treatment is immunotherapy, which in this instance uses an antibody called ch14.18 to target a substance on the surface of tumor cells called GD2. The GD2 is expressed by cancers such as neuroblastoma but is also present on some normal nerve cells. Early-phase studies demonstrated the safety and activity of ch14.18 when it was given with other drugs that boost the immune system.

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