Category: Health & Medicine

Boston University Researchers and Collaborators Receive $12.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease

July 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, July 7, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

Boston - Researchers from the Biomedical Genetics division of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) are part of a five-university collaboration receiving a $12.6 million, four-year grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to identify rare genetic variants that may either protect against, or contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

At BUSM, the Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA) is led by Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD, Chief of Biomedical Genetics and professor of medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, and biostatistics, who is the principal investigator. Other Boston University investigators include Kathryn Lunetta, PhD, professor of biostatistics; Gyungah Jun, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, ophthalmology and biostatistics; and Richard Sherva, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine.

CASA investigators will analyze whole exome and whole genome sequence data generated during the first phase of the NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Program, an innovative collaboration that began in 2012 between NIA and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), also part of NIH. They will analyze data from 6,000 volunteers with Alzheimer’s disease and 5,000 older individuals who do not have the disease. In addition, they will study genomic data from 111 large families with multiple members who have Alzheimer’s disease, mostly of Caucasian and Caribbean Hispanic descent to identify rare genetic variants.

“This is an exciting opportunity to apply new genomic technologies and computational methods to improve our understanding of the biological pathways underlying this disease,” said Farrer. “The genes and pathways we identify as integral to the Alzheimer process may become novel therapeutic targets,” he added.

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, has become an epidemic that currently affects as many as five million people age 65 and older in the United States, with economic costs that are comparable to, if not greater than, caring for those of heart disease or cancer. Available drugs only marginally affect disease severity and progression. While there is no way to prevent this disease, the discovery of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s is bringing researchers closer to learning how the genes work together and may help identify the most effective interventions.

This effort is critical to accomplishing the genetic research goals outlined in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, first announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in May 2012 and updated annually. Developed under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, the plan provides a framework for a coordinated and concentrated effort in research, care, and services for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Its primary research goal is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

With the current award, CASA joins the NHGRI Large-Scale Sequencing and Analysis Centers program, an NIH-supported consortium that provides large-scale sequence datasets and analysis to the biomedical community. CASA researchers will facilitate the analyses of all Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) and additional non-ADSP sequence data to detect protective and risk variants for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are delighted to support the important research being accomplished under this broad-based, collaborative effort. A team effort is vital to advancing a deeper understanding of the genetic variants involved in this complex and devastating disease and to the shared goal of finding targets for effective interventions,” said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD.

“Alzheimer’s disease research is appropriately one of our highest priorities,” said BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD “We need more to better understand the genetic and environmental mechanisms that will come in part from CASA to develop more effective treatments or even better, to prevent the disease,” she added.

CASA is a collaboration of Boston University School of Medicine and four other American universities. Jonathan Haines, PhD, will lead the project at Case Western Reserve University; Richard Mayeux, MD, at Columbia University; Margaret Pericak-Vance, PhD, at the University of Miami; Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania; and Lindsay Farrar, PhD, at Boston University.

This research is supported by the NIA grant UF1-AG047133.

Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and more than 800 masters and PhD students.  Its 1,246 full and part-time faculty members generated more than $335 million in funding in the 2009-2010 academic year for research in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease, pulmonary disease and dermatology among others. The School is affiliated with Boston Medical Center, its principal teaching hospital, the Boston and Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Centers and 16 other regional hospitals as well as the Boston HealthNet.

Women Veterans Want Options and Follow up Support When Dealing with Intimate Partner Violence

July 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

(Boston)–Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant health issue faced by women veterans, but little has been known up until now about their preferences for IPV-related care. A new study has found that most of these women support routine screening for IPV and want options, follow-up support, transparent documentation and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and community resources. These findings appear in the journal Research in Nursing and Health.

Although women of all socio-demographic groups are at risk for IPV, population-based research suggests that women veterans are at higher risk for IPV than non-veteran women. In order to better understand their attitudes and preferences regarding IPV screening and response issues, five focus groups were conducted with 24 female patients of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) with and without a lifetime history of IPV.

“In general, we found that women veterans support routine IPV screening and comprehensive IPV-related care within the VHA,” explained corresponding author Katherine Iverson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and a clinical research psychologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the VA’s National Center for PTSD. “As we move forward with routine IPV screening, it is important that these women are offered options in terms of what, how, when, and to whom to disclose and follow-up support. In addition, these women must be approached with sensitivity and connectedness with the understanding that different patients are in different stages of recovery.”

Overall, women indicated that the HITS screening tool [the four-item screening tool (Hurt/Insult/Threaten/Scream) tested by Iverson and her colleagues that can be used in under four minutes] could be useful in helping VHA providers identify women who have experienced IPV.  Using the existing clinical reminder dialogue system a notification could be imbedded into a patients’ electronic medical records (EMR’s) to use HITS to assess IPV, ensuring that screening is occurring. This would be similar to clinical EMRs for mammograms and pap smears.

The researchers point out that use of EMRs may be a potential barrier to disclose for some women because of privacy and confidentiality concerns. Study participants suggested that this barrier can be overcome by providers’ use of transparency with respect to documentation. For example, providers can talk with their patients about what they would like to document in the EMR and problem-solve any concerns the patients may raise. In addition, providers can discuss privacy protections in place at VHA and engage patients in conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of documentation. EMRs can also prompt providers to engage in other procedures that were recommended by participants in this study, such as offering information about VHA and community resources.

The researchers believe the VHA has a timely opportunity and is well-positioned to serve as a national model for the implementation of best practices for IPV screening and response. “By incorporating the recommendations expressed by women in this study, VHA and other health care providers may increase the likelihood of identifying IPV, improve patient satisfaction with care, connect veterans with the services they need, reduce healthcare costs to the patient and system at large, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of female veteran patients,” added Iverson.

This research was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) as part of Iverson’s HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA-2; 10-029) and the BUSM Lynne Stevens Award, which Iverson received in 2011.

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BMC Study: Treat Patients with Addiction During, After Hospitalization

July 2nd, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

BMC Study: Treat Patients with Addiction During, After Hospitalization

(Boston) – The results of a new study demonstrate that starting hospitalized patients who have an opioid (heroin) addiction on buprenorphine treatment in the hospital and seamlessly connecting them with an outpatient office based treatment program can greatly reduce whether they relapse after they are discharged.

Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC), the study shows the important role that providers play in offering these patients addiction treatment both while in the hospital and after – even if their primary reason for being in the hospital is not for their addiction.

In this study, 139 hospitalized individuals with opioid addiction who were not already in treatment were randomized into two groups. One group received a tapered dose treatment of buprenorphine for withdrawal and referral information about community treatment programs and the other were initiated on buprenorphine, an opioid substitute proven to treat opioid addiction, along with referral to a primary care office-based buprenorphine treatment program. Buprenorphine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction, is taken orally and helps to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Of those in the buprenorphine maintenance group, more than one third (37 percent) reported no illicit opioid/drug use for the month after they left the hospital compared to less than one in ten (nine percent) among the control group. These patients also reported, on average, fewer days of illicit drug use and continued to use less over the following six months. This effect was evident despite the fact that these patients did not initially come to the hospital seeking treatment for their addiction.

“Unfortunately, referral to substance abuse treatment after discharge is often a secondary concern of physicians caring for hospitalized patients,” said Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, a physician in general internal medicine at BMC and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who served as the study’s corresponding author. “However, our results show that we can have a marked impact on patient’s addiction by addressing it during their hospitalization.”

This study, which is published in JAMA – Internal Medicine, was done in collaboration with Butler Hospital in Rhode Island. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Reproduction Later in Life is a Marker for Longevity in Women

June 25th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

(Boston)–Women who are able to naturally have children later in life tend to live longer and the genetic variants that allow them to do so might also facilitate exceptionally long life spans.

A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) study published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, says women who are able to have children after the age of 33 have a greater chance of living longer than women who had their last child before the age of 30.

“Of course this does not mean women should wait to have children at older ages in order to improve their own chances of living longer,” explained corresponding author Thomas Perls, MD, MPH. “The age at last childbirth can be a rate of aging indicator. The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly, and therefore so is the rest of her body.”

The study was based on analysis of data from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS)—a biopsychosocial and genetic study of 551 families with many members living to exceptionally old ages. Boston Medical Center, the teaching hospital affiliate of BUSM, is one of four study centers that make up the LLFS. The study investigators determined the ages at which 462 women had their last child and how old those women lived to be. The research found that women who had their last child after the age of 33 years had twice the odds of living to 95 years or older compared with women who had their last child by age 29.

The findings also indicate that women may be the driving force behind the evolution of genetic variants that slow aging and decrease risk for age-related genes, which help people live to extreme old age.

“If a woman has those variants, she is able to reproduce and bear children for a longer period of time, increasing her chances of passing down those genes to the next generation,” said Perls, the director of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS), a principal investigator of the LLFS and a professor of medicine at BUSM. “This possibility may be a clue as to why 85 percent of women live to 100 or more years while only 15 percent of men do.”

The results of this study are consistent with other findings on the relationship between maternal age at birth of last child and exceptional longevity. Previously,  the NECS found that women who gave birth to a child after the age of 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who had their last child at a younger age.

The results of Perls’ study show the importance of future research on the genetic influences of reproductive fitness because they may also impact a person’s rate of aging and susceptibility to age-related diseases, according to the researchers.

Also contributing to this study were researchers from Boston University School of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Long Life Family Study is funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health.

BUSM Researchers Investigating Ways to Improve Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

June 20th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, June 20, 2014
Contact:
Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

BUSM Researchers Investigating Ways to Improve Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

(Boston) – A better understanding of how the transcription factor Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARgamma) works is critical to find new ways to improve medications to treat type 2 diabetes. Drugs that activate PPARgamma, called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), have long been regarded as a treatment for type 2 diabetes based on their anti-inflammatory and potent insulin-sensitizing activity. When taken orally, TZDs help decrease insulin resistance. However, most medications in that class have now been withdrawn from the market, or severely limited in their usage, given their dangerous side effects, which include weight gain, water retention and heart failure.

One promising approach to target PPARgamma to treat the issues related to type 2 diabetes is to dissect the regulatory strategies that control different subsets of PPARgamma target genes in cells. The ultimate goal would be to target the “negative” side of PPARgamma activity without impacting on the “good” ones.

A recent study led by BUSM researchers, published in Cell Reports, identifies one such strategy regulating fat tissue activity and PPARgamma in adipose cells. It is based on a group of cellular factors that bind to DNA and help PPARgamma in the regulation of a specific subset of target genes, including enzymes important for the mobilization of lipids.

“There is a great need to develop new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes,” said Valentina Perissi, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at BUSM and the study’s corresponding author. “Targeting PPARgamma still represents a powerful approach, however we need to further improve our understanding of PPARgamma function and how its activity is regulated in normal cells in order develop more effective treatments.”

To view the full study, visit http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(14)00435-5

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Addressing the Physician Shortage: Recommendations for Medical Education Reform

May 28th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, May 27, 2014
Contact:
Jenny Eriksen Leary, 617-638-6841, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org

Addressing the Physician Shortage: Recommendations for Medical Education Reform

Since it started more than 30 years ago, funding the graduate medical education (GME) system has not evolved even as there has been a revolution in GME. The United States contributes almost $10 billion a year from Medicare into funding the GME system. However this system fails to provide the workforce needed for the 21st century and lacks the necessary transparency and accountability.

With an aging population and millions of people newly registered for health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, there is a pressing need to increase the number of primary care physicians. In the United States, it is estimated that only 20.9 percent of residents graduating from GME programs will practice primary care.

Recommendations recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine prepared by the Health Policy Education Subcommittee of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) outline how to reform the GME system to support the development of a physician workforce that can provide high quality, high value, population-based, and patient-centered health care, aligned with the dynamic needs of America’s healthcare delivery system.

Angela Jackson, MD, associate dean for student affairs at Boston University School of Medicine and a physician in general internal medicine at Boston Medical Center, is the article’s first author and is Co-Chair of the SGIM’s Health Policy Committee.

“SGIM hopes its policy and paper will invigorate the debate on GME funding, moving beyond discussions limited to funding levels to discussions on GME program accountability for public fund use and how to shape a GME system that will provide the nation with the physician workforce that we need,” said the authors.

The recommendations address workforce analysis, funding mechanisms, transparency, competency-based curriculum accountability, distributions of physician specialties and educational innovation, and call for:

1. Fully funding the National Health Care Workforce Commission
2. Having all payers for care contribute toward GME
3. Rebasing direct and indirect medical education payments to reflect 21st century costs
4. Requiring transparency in spending GME funds
5. Using GME funding exclusively for trainee education and related costs
6. Requiring training programs demonstrate their graduates are competent to practice 21st century medicine
7. Developing incentives for training programs to align the practice patterns of their graduates with regional and national workforce needs
8. Funding to develop GME innovations designed to impact the physician workforce positively.

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BMC’s/BU’s Department of Pediatrics Receives Health Care Delivery Award

May 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 7, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

BMC’s/BU’s Department of Pediatrics Receives Health Care Delivery Award

(Boston)–The Department of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) has been honored with the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) 2014 Health Care Delivery Award.

The award recognizes an outstanding program or system of health care that is both innovative and effective and provides health care in the context of a teaching environment. Judges “were impressed that the programs represented the overall mission of quality health care delivery for especially at-risk populations over the span of 30-plus years.”
Despite the expansion of health insurance to nearly 98 percent of children in Massachusetts, low-income children still experience disproportionately more illnesses, hospitalizations, low birth weight and school failure due to the impact of poverty compared to more affluent peers. In the early 90s, BMC’s Department of Pediatrics decided to transform its child health care delivery system to prevent problems for low-income, primarily minority, patients by developing new services to eliminate or at least reduce adverse effects of selective aspects of poverty.
These programs have been sustained for more than 30 years and have been adopted by other hospitals and clinics across the country. They include Reach Out and Read to promote early childhood development; Medical-Legal Partnership and HealthLeads to ensure families receive entitled basic needs; a food pantry and Baby Friendly status to ensure nutrition; Child Witness to Violence Project to reduce the effects on children who witness violence; and the Kids Fund to provide philanthropy directly to families.

“This recognizes the Department for its outstanding leadership in the area of child health,” said Robert Vinci, MD, chief and chair of pediatrics at BMC and BUSM. “I have witnessed firsthand the remarkable contributions that our Department has made to better the lives of our most vulnerable patients.”

The APA is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all children and adolescents by promoting research, advancing a scholarly approach to education, developing innovations in health care delivery, advocating for an equitable child health agenda, and fostering leadership and career development of child health professionals.

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Study Shows that Impulsivity is Risk Factor for Food Addiction

May 7th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

For Immediate Release, May 5, 2014
Contact:
Jenny Eriksen Leary, jenny.eriksen@bmc.org, 617-638-6841

      Study Shows that Impulsivity is Risk Factor for Food Addiction

 

(Boston) – Have you ever said to yourself that you would only have a handful of potato chips from the bag then, minutes later, realized you ate the whole thing? A recent study shows that this type of impulsive behavior might not be easily controlled – and could be a risk factor in the development of food addiction and eating disorders as a result of cellular activities in the part of the brain involved with reward.

 

The research, published online in Neuropsychopharmacology, was led by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and conducted in collaboration with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. It also points out the common mechanisms involved between drug and food addiction.

 

Research has shown that people with eating disorders and obesity are known to be more impulsive than healthy people. For example, they may be more likely to blurt out something that they later regret saying or to start an activity without thinking through the consequences. However, it was unclear whether the impulsivity existed before the dysfunctional eating behavior or if developed as a result of it.

 

BUSM researchers attempted to answer this question by measuring the inability to withhold an impulsive response in experimental models that were exposed to a diet high in sugar daily for one hour. Models shown to be more impulsive rapidly developed binge eating, showing heightened cravings and the loss of control over the junk diet (measured as inability to properly evaluate the negative consequences associated with ingestion of the sugary diet). Conversely, models shown to be less impulsive demonstrated the ability to appropriately control impulsive behavior and did not show abnormal eating behavior when exposed to the sugary diet.

 

Interestingly, the impulsive models showed increased expression of a transcription factor called Delta-FosB in the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain involved in reward evaluation and impulsive behavior, indicating a potential biological component to this behavior.

 

“While impulsivity might have aided ancestors to choose calorie-rich foods when food was scarce, our study results suggest that, in today’s calorie-rich environment, impulsivity promotes pathological overeating,” said Pietro Cottone, PhD, co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders and associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM.

 

“Our results add further evidence to the idea that there are similar mechanisms involved in both drug and food addiction behavior,” said Clara Velazquez-Sanchez, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Addictive Disorder and first author of the study.

 

Other contributors to the study include Valentina Sabino, PhD, co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders and assistant professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM; Antonio Ferragud, PhD, and Cassie Moore from BUSM; and Barry Everitt, ScD, from the University of Cambridge, UK.

 

Research included in this study was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, the McManus Charitable Trust, and Boston University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Boston Medical Center Cardiologist Gary Balady, MD, Receives AHA’s Paul Dudley White Award

May 2nd, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 28, 2014
Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

 

Boston Medical Center Cardiologist Gary Balady, MD, Receives
AHA’s Paul Dudley White Award

 

Boston –Gary Balady, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology and the Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Laboratories at Boston Medical Center (BMC), will receive the American Heart Association’s (AHA) most prestigious tribute, the Paul Dudley White Award, at the group’s annual Heart Ball on May 3.

 

Balady, also professor of medicine and assistant dean of admissions at Boston University School of Medicine, is being honored for his outstanding work in the field of preventive cardiology. “Dr. Balady has made significant contributions to the American Heart Association and the field of cardiology,” said event Co-Chair, Dr. Lawrence H. Cohn, Hubbard Professor Emeritus of Cardiac Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a cardiac surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We are pleased to recognize his achievements with this year’s Paul Dudley White Award.”

 

The award is named for Dr. Paul Dudley White, one of Boston’s most revered cardiologists considered the father of preventive cardiology who founded the AHA and was instrumental in developing the Framingham Heart Study and establishing the National Heart Institute and the National Institutes of Health. The award is bestowed annually to a Massachusetts medical professional physician.

One of his nominators noted, “Dr. Balady has numerous personal qualities and a career path that is remarkably similar to that of Dr. White. He has been interested in preventive cardiology as founded by Dr. White and has extended this into the arena of cardiac rehabilitation as one would anticipate Dr. White would have done. Both have been advocates for this mission on the local and national levels and are recognized for their efforts. Both are widely regarded as excellent teachers and mentors to many. Dr. Balady is personally committed to keeping physically fit with regular exercise. He, too, lives by the principles that he preaches!”

 

A superb clinician who was recognized by previously being named the Physician of the Year by the AHA in 2010, Balady established the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Program at BMC. Now one of the leading programs in the region and in the country, it was considered pioneering two decades ago when most programs focused primarily on exercise alone. At BMC, Balady instituted a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to preventive and rehabilitation cardiac care combining exercise training, nutrition and weight management, smoking cessation, and cholesterol management. The program has served more than 4,000 patients.

 

“Dr. Balady is a compassionate doctor with a meticulous approach to care,” said Boston Medical Center President and CEO Kate Walsh. “He always takes the time to listen to our patients’ concerns, many of whom have suffered a recent cardiac event. He is able to guide them back to health with more awareness and a greater sense of well-being.”

 

Recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to exercise physiology and preventive and rehabilitation cardiology, Balady’s research focuses on exercise testing and training of cardiac patients. With nearly 150 publications to his credit, he is particularly interested in the physiologic changes that occur in the cardiovascular system with regular exercise, as well as the assessment of outcomes after cardiac rehabilitation. As chair and member of several AHA and American College of Cardiology writing groups, Balady has been instrumental in generating guidelines for exercise testing, training and preventive cardiology.

“Dr. Balady also is an outstanding educator,” says Boston University School of Medicine Dean Karen Antman. “He teaches his patients, trainees, colleagues and the community at large about cardiovascular health and disease, as well as echocardiography. He is an excellent mentor to our trainees and junior faculty – guiding them on clinical research projects, providing opportunities within the AHA, such as committees and writing groups, and offering sage career advice.”

 

Balady is a fellow of the AHA, American College of Cardiology, and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. He serves the AHA both nationally and locally by leading and participating on key committees involved with exercise, physical activity and preventive cardiology. He is past chair of the AHA’s Council on Clinical Cardiology, past president of the AHA Greater Boston Division, and presently serves as immediate past president of the Board of Directors of the AHA Founders Affiliate.

BUSM Researchers Find Anti-Seizure Drug May Reduce Alcohol Consumption

April 18th, 2014 in 2014, Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 17, 2014

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, gina.digravio@bmc.org

BUSM Researchers Find Anti-Seizure Drug May Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Boston—Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered that the anti-seizure drug ezogabine, reduced alcohol consumption in an experimental model. The findings, reported in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, may lead to more effective treatments for alcoholism.

Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the leading causes of illness and death in the U.S. and has significant negative economic impact by limiting the productivity of workers and necessitating huge health care expenditures.

According to the researchers, this study provides the first evidence that alcoholism can be treated by this newly discovered mechanism that helps to regulate brain activity known as Kv7 channel modulation. “This finding is of importance because ezogabine acts by opening a particular type of potassium channel in the brain, called the Kv7 channel, which regulates activity in areas of the brain that are believed to regulate the rewarding effects of alcohol,” explained lead author Clifford Knapp, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM. “This research indicates that drugs that open Kv7 channels might be of value in the treatment of alcoholism,” he added.

Previous studies conducted by this research group helped to establish the value of anti-seizure drugs as medications to treat alcoholism. However, further research needs to be conducted to establish that the effects of this drug result primarily from its actions on Kv7 channels. “Because of the close proximity of the doses at which ezogabine reduces drinking and those at which it is reported to produce motor impairment, it is still important to continue to investigate how selective the actions of ezogabine are on the neuronal mechanisms that control alcohol consumption,” said Knapp.

The researchers believe these finding will encourage the search for other drugs that act on this system to discover more effective treatments for alcoholism.

This work was supported by the NIH Grant R01AA015923 (to senior author Domenic A. Ciraulo, MD) and by funds received from the Gennaro Acampora Charitable Trust Fund.