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Vol. LXII, No. 25
December 10, 2010
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Digest
  More than 72,000 images from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study were made available recently through NCBI’s online database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, known as dbGaP, which archives data from studies that explore the relationship between genetic variations (genotype) and observable traits (phenotype).  
  More than 72,000 images from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study were made available recently through NCBI’s online database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, known as dbGaP, which archives data from studies that explore the relationship between genetic variations (genotype) and observable traits (phenotype).  

The Better to See You: NIH Adds First Images To Major Research Database

NIH has expanded a genetic and clinical research database to give researchers access to the first digital study images. NEI, with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, has made available more than 72,000 photographs of the back of the eye. The images were collected from participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

Scientists can now access these images through NCBI’s online database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, known as dbGaP, which archives data from studies that explore the relationship between genetic variations (genotype) and observable traits (phenotype). AREDS data can be found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap.

“The availability of AREDS images through dbGaP may transform the way we conduct vision research,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving. “Scientists can increase their understanding of the impact of genetics and gene-environment interactions on blinding eye disease progression, which could aid in diagnosis and in developing effective treatments.”

Daily Dialysis Helps Protect Kidney Patients’ Hearts

Frequent hemodialysis improved left ventricular mass (heart size) and self-reported physical health compared to conventional hemodialysis for kidney failure, according to the Frequent Hemodialysis Network Daily Trial funded in part by NIH. Results were published online Nov. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Six hemodialysis treatments per week improved left ventricular mass and physical health compared to conventional, three weekly dialysis therapy sessions. Frequent hemodialysis was also associated with improved control of high blood pressure.

“We confirmed that by administering dialysis more often, although with a smaller dose each time, we could effectively deliver a higher weekly dose overall,” said NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers. “As a result, patients’ hearts remained healthier, they enjoyed better blood pressure control and they enjoyed better physical health than those receiving the standard three treatments per week.”

Very Low Birth Weight Down Syndrome Infants at High Risk for Heart, Lung Disorders

Very low birth weight infants—those weighing less than 3.5 pounds—with Down syndrome are at higher risk for disorders of the heart and lungs than are VLBW infants who do not have a chromosomal variation, according to a study by an NIH research network.

The study was conducted by researchers in the Neonatal Research Network of NICHD and was published online in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers found that VLBW Down syndrome infants had more than twice the risk of death during infancy as VLBW infants born without a birth defect or chromosomal variation.

“Previously, health professionals caring for very low birth weight Down syndrome infants had to base treatment decisions on studies of the general population of very low birth weight infants and on studies of infants with Down syndrome who may not have been of low birth weight,” said senior author Dr. Rosemary Higgins of NICHD. “Our study provides much needed information for practitioners and families making treatment decisions for this unique group of patients.”

Viral Counts Necessary for Gauging Health of Children with HIV

For children being treated for HIV in less developed countries, monitoring to predict the occurrence of serious HIV-related illnesses is most accurate if it includes a measure of HIV levels in the blood, according to an NIH study conducted throughout Latin America. The study was published online in the December issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Termed viral load, the quantity of human immunodeficiency virus genetic material in the blood is a barometer of the effectiveness of HIV treatment. High viral loads indicate potential treatment failure, which can then lead to a weakened immune system and increased risk of infections.

Monitoring children’s viral load is standard in the United States. However, the technology to perform viral load testing is difficult and expensive to maintain and, for these reasons, is often unavailable in less developed settings.

“Our study showed that adding viral load monitoring would significantly improve the monitoring regimen used to safeguard the health of children being treated for HIV,” said NICHD’s Dr. George Siberry, senior author of the study.—


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