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Anchor lead: For those unable to receive vaccines, herd immunity really helps, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Herd immunity is the phenomenon where when the majority are vaccinated against an infectious disease, it protects even those who aren’t vaccinated. Now a new study shows herd immunity impacting on HPV infection. Maria Trent, an adolescent medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Trent: If we have everyone in society get immunized to something, and then there’s one person who say can’t get the vaccine, if everybody else is immune and are not getting the infection, we protect that person in our society who can’t get it, and so they looked at a large group of young women who had been immunized and they looked at those people who were not immunized, and they found that there was a reduction overall in HPV related disease in the people who’d been immunized but they also saw that amongst those who had not been immunized for whatever reason, there was a reduction in disease. :30

Trent notes that relying on herd immunity isn’t a good personal health strategy, and that everyone who can be immunized should do so for the benefit of all. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Parents find some messaging about the HPV vaccine more compelling than others, Elizabeth Tracey reports

How can parents be informed about HPV vaccination to improve the odds that they’ll choose it for their children? A recent study showed that by far, framing the information as a preventative against cancer was the parental hands down favorite. Maria Trent, an adolescent medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, says parents always want to protect their children.

Trent: We want to think about the hepatitis vaccine. No one looks at their infant and says I think my baby is going to grow up and have sex, ever. Or that my child might use IV drugs and acquire a hepatitis B infection. They think I’m going to do everything that I can, to make sure that this child has the best advantage for health and life, and if that means giving him a vaccine before we leave the hospital to start them on that path we’re going to do it.  We have to think about HPV vaccination in a similar way when we talk to parents.  :31

Trent applauds increasing rates of HPV vaccination. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: People with cancer may be more likely to consider suicide, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer may cause some people to consider and then commit suicide, a recent study found, with lung cancer and pancreas cancer diagnoses the riskiest. The study also found that men were more likely to commit suicide than women, and the risk was highest in the first year following a diagnosis. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Nelson: I think what it illustrates is that when someone’s told, you have cancer or may begin to go through treatment and it gets very real and they’re thinking about what their life has been, what the prospects are for the future broadly, that distress, depression, demoralization are very common. What this means is that very careful attention has to be paid for people exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress and depression, to intervene and to treat them, especially now that outcomes for cancers are getting better and better we don’t want to have people to the state where they feel that the only way out is to take their own life. :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: It may be possible to determine who will respond to one type of cancer treatment, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors have almost miraculous effects on some cancers. Now new research indicates that the greater the number of mutations, or changes in DNA a cancer has, the more likely that someone will respond to these medicines. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes the study.

Nelson: They looked at 1662 folks with advanced cancer who were treated with these immune checkpoint inhibitors. Many different types of cancers and what they found was that pretty much for each type of cancer the highest 20% of the number of mutations, they called the tumor mutational burden, really were the ones that typically responded. Here’s the challenge though: the cutoff where the immune checkpoint inhibitors sort of worked or didn’t work was different for all the different cancers.  :28

Nelson says further research should try to discern why each cancer has a unique number of mutations that indicate susceptibility. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Firearms are a very important factor in causes of death for youth in the US, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Firearms are the second leading cause of death among those between one and nineteen years of age in the United States, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported. About eight children are killed each day. Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, says this tragedy permeates the lives of all children.

Davidson: What is the impact of this whole gun culture on the psychology of younger children? Every school in the United States has not only faced the anguish of the stories in the media but also had real exercises about active shooters. It just seems to me such a preventable issue. How do you really look at the safety of a child unless you actually ask the parents are there any guns in the house and how are they being stored?    :30

Davidson notes that motor vehicle accidents, the number one cause of death among youth, are falling, while gun violence continues to climb. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: A new job niche employs statisticians to check data in scientific research, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Have you heard of metascience? This is the study of science itself, and these days, the field is focused on looking closely at the statistics in research and validating them independently, a role that seems necessary in the wake of highly visible cases of scientific fraud. Paul Rothman, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that’s what the scientific method is all about.

Rothman: The great thing about science is we question data all the time. And in the end result there are some experiments that are not going to be correct when reanalyzed and tested by others and that’s the scientific method. It’s given us some really important and powerful data over the past centuries and will continue to and you have to understand that sometimes results are going to be wrong and you have to requestion them and redo them again and again and have multiple people testing them in multiple populations to get the true result.  :28

Rothman notes there’s also a role for such folks at the beginning of a study, to insure that the right data is gathered to answer the questions the study has posed. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Just how involved is industry in clinical trials? Elizabeth Tracey reports

The majority of later stage clinical trials, aimed to bring new drugs, devices and vaccines to market, have industry involvement in study design and authorship along with their academic affiliations, a recent study in the British Medical Journal reported. Paul Rothman, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, says such partnerships are needed.

Rothman: People want to make an impact. People are doing fundamental discovery because they want to impact human disease. In today’s world given the complexity of research and the complexity of taking science and transmitting it into cures or therapeutics or diagnostics requires interaction with industry. They have resources, they have expertise, and so I think for us to make an impact on human life we need to have thoughtful and robust interactions with industry.  :30

Rothman says transparency and full disclosure are fundamental to the success of industry/academia ventures. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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