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Lyme disease’s history is riddled with mysteries, but new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health might have uncovered a new treatment to prevent lifelong symptoms of the disease.

Researchers found a variant of Lyme disease that is slow growing and may be the cause of the 10-20 percent of patients that experience lifelong symptoms from the disease. This variant is resistant to the standard single antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. However, in test tubes and mice, the researchers found a three-antibiotic cocktail eradicated the Lyme bacteria.

“There is a lot of excitement in the field, because we now have not only a plausible explanation but also a potential solution for patients who suffer from persistent Lyme disease symptoms despite standard single-antibiotic treatment,” says study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School.

“A lot of physicians have been wanting to do clinical trials of antibiotic combinations in post- treatment Lyme disease syndrome patients, and now we have results in animals that support the idea of such trials,” Zhang says.

Zhang and his colleagues are making plans for their own trials and hope that some of their results will help not just Lyme patients, but other patients with persistent diseases.

The research was published in the March 28 issue of Discovery Medicine. More information can also be found in the Bloomberg School’s press release.

Every year, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health celebrates the work of Hopkins faculty, staff and students involved in research and service around the world through Global Health Day. Part of the annual event features a leading figure in global health as the keynote and a judged student poster session. This year’s event will take place Thursday, March 28.

The 2019 Global Health Day keynote is Michele Barry, MD, FACP, FASTMH,  a Professor of Medicine and Tropical Disease at Stanford University. She will be speaking on health benefits and vulnerabilities due to climate change in urban populations of 10 million or more inhabitants.

Events like Global Health Day are wonderful opportunities for JHSPH students to showcase their work and learn from leaders outside of the Bloomberg School. With this event particularly, it’s also a great way to learn more about research and work opportunities abroad.

On March 6, researchers led by Lorraine T. Dean, ScD, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology, published a study in the journal Cancer, that offered nine recommendations on how to lower the long-term breast cancer-related economic burden for U.S. breast cancer survivors. What is special about this study is it takes the recommendations from the patients themselves, rather than only focusing on provider and insurer perspectives.

The recommendations range from assistance in understanding coverage, expanding coverage for lymphedema-specific supplies and treatment, expanding availability of services, providing domestic assistance (including house chores, child care and transportation), and expanding eligibility for financial aid beyond those in poverty. Lymphedema is the swelling of the arms or torso commonly caused by the removal of the lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery.

Previous studies on U.S. cancer patients have shown that breast cancer patients have considerably higher economic burdens compared to those with other types of cancers. The extra costs often deal with the treatments’ side effects, particularly lymphedema, which affects nearly 35 percent of U.S. breast cancer survivors. Survivors with lymphedema experience over $14,500 more in out-of-pocket costs than survivors who do not develop the side effect.

Two weeks ago, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth published a study that looked at violent crimes in relation to alcohol outlets in Baltimore. While previous research studies have looked at the correlation between crime and alcohol access, there is disagreement on whether or not on-premise (such as a bar or restraint) and off-premise (stores that sell alcohol but do not allow for consumption on the property) outlets have a stronger association with violent crime. This study used advanced methods and considered the number of alcohol outlets and the location of the outlets to better understand the association with violent crime.

The study, led by former post-doctoral fellow Pamela Tragnestein, PhD, found that a 10 percent increase in access to liquor stores and beer and wine stores had a 37 percent greater association with violent crime than on-premise outlets. They also found the type of violent crime was different for on-premise outlets than the off-premise outlets. The third important finding was that disadvantaged neighborhoods have a higher access to off-premise outlets.

The study, Outlet Type, Access to Alcohol, and Violent Crime, was published on September 26 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Joshua SharfsteinAssociate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training, Joshua Sharfstein, published an article in yesterday’s Politico concerning regulations in the FDA that prevent over-the-counter medications from being updated based on new science and research. The article shares his long-held beliefs on FDA reforms as Congress considers legislation that could result in bi-partisan supported changes. As a former Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Sharfstein is very familiar with the regulations.

In terms of over-the-counter drugs, some of Sharfstein’s hopes for reform stem from learning that several Baltimore toddlers died from the toxic effects of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in 2006. Upon further research, Sharfstein learned that there is no scientific proof that these cold medicines are effective in young children and are more commonly associated with dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries across the country. 10 years ago Sharfstein organized a petition to the FDA for a change to children’s cold and cough medication, however, the FDA still has not acted because it lacks the tools to protect consumers from updates or new research with over-the-counter drugs as it does with prescription medications.

While explaining the weakness in the current FDA regulations, Sharfstein goes on to propose two reforms that would help protect consumers, as well as assist the FDA and manufacturers in developing new over-the-counter products and updating older products thanks to newer scientific developments.

The full article can be accessed online via Politico.