News in brief: Novel combination approach against AML; Remove MTHFR polymorphisms from thrombophilia testing; Long COVID common in healthcare staff

Thursday, 9 Jun 2022


Novel combination approach against AML

Victorian researchers say their discovery of a novel immunoregulatory mechanism through inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDAC) offers a novel combination therapy approach for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Professor Ricky Johnstone of the Peter Mac Cancer Centre has published preclinical work showing shown that ‘epigenetic rewiring’ of plasmacytoid dendritic cells could enhance induction of antitumour immunity.

They said the histone deacetylase inhibitor dampened the cell’s dysregulated response and slowed down the growth of the leukaemia cells. But a surprise findings was that it also stimulated plasmacytoid dendritic cells to produce interferon, which has anti leukemic effects.

In conjunction with other centres, they developed a combination of both a histone deacetylase inhibitor (panobinostat ) and interferon-α, showing that it had more potency against AML than either drug used alone.

“These results strongly suggest that combining HDAC inhibition with type I IFN would benefit patients with leukemia, including those with t(8;21) translocations,” they concluded in Cancer Discovery.

Call to remove MTHFR polymorphisms from thrombophilia testing

MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase ) polymorphisms are not an inherited thrombophilia and should not be included as part of a thrombophilia workup, an international expert group has said.

The World Thrombosis Day (WTD) Steering Committee says testing for MTHFR  polymorphisms is still a standard part of thrombophilia testing in many laboratories but it is an unnecessary cost that also contributes to patient anxiety.

In a statement published on 8 June they said randomised controlled trials had clearly shown that these polymorphisms were not risk factors for arterial or venous thrombosis

“Thrombosis experts need to advocate for elimination of this testing,” they said.

“Furthermore, patients who carry these polymorphisms should be reassured that this common finding does not place them at increased thrombotic risk and they do not, in fact, carry a thrombophilia.”

It is time for thrombosis experts to partner with their laboratories and remove MTHFR polymorphism testing from existing thrombophilia panels, as is supported by multiple professional societies and leading institutions,” they concluded.

Long COVID common in healthcare staff

Almost three-quarters of healthcare staff continue to suffer from the consequences of COVID-19 for months after acute infection, a German study has found.

A survey of 2053 healthcare workers who had PCR confirmed COVID-19 disease in 2020 found that 73% experienced persistent symptoms for more than three months, with fatigue/exhaustion, concentration/memory problems and shortness of breath being most frequently reported.

Ongoing symptoms were associated with poor physical and mental health-related quality of life, with one-fifth of staff with persistent symptoms reporting depression and anxiety symptoms.

Risk factors for long term symptoms after acute infection included older age, female gender, previous illness, many and severe symptoms during the acute infection, and outpatient medical care.

The findings “demonstrate the urgent need for rehabilitation measures among those affected so that they can achieve an improved quality of life in terms of their health and work ability,” the researchers said.

More details:  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 

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