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Quick Hits: Brain Scan Can Predict Antidepressant Response, Economic Cost of Smoking & More

A functional MRI (fMRI) brain scan may be able to predict whether a patient will respond to an antidepressant. Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan gave an fMRI scan to patients with major depressive disorder who were about to begin antidepressant therapy. Some of those patients would receive 1 of 2 antidepressants, while the others would receive no drug at all. The researchers looked at activity patterns of the brain while participants executed a cognitive-control task that would determine whether the scan predicted a response to drug treatment. The results showed that the tested model predicted which patients would respond well to antidepressant treatment, and which would not with a 90% accuracy rate. Being able to predict a response to drugs could reduce the time it takes patients to begin feeling better since antidepressants typically take 8 to 12 weeks to take effect. Posted January 24, 2017. Via Brain.

The total economic cost of smoking was more than $1.4 trillion in 2012, or 1.8% of the world’s GDP. In addition, diseases attributable to smoking accounted for 12% (2.1 million) of all deaths among working age adults (30–69 years of age), with a high proportion in Europe and the Americas, according to data from the World Health Organization and the World Bank. Researchers also say that due to smoking-related ill health, the number of working years lost added up to 26.8 million, 18 million of which were lost to death with the remainder lost to disability. Smoking-related health expenditures accounted for $422 billion, with again, the highest share being in Europe and the Americas. Posted January 30, 2017. Via Tobacco Control.

Men who are suspected to have prostate cancer can avoid an unnecessary biopsy and overdiagnosis by receiving an MRI scan. About 1 in 4 men can avoid a biopsy if a Multi-parametric MRI (MP-MRI) test is given beforehand. If men experience prostate cancer symptoms or have a “prostate specific antigen (PSA)” that reveals elevated levels of the PSA protein in their blood, then they usually receive a biopsy. But PSA tests are sometimes inaccurate, resulting in many men undergoing unnecessary biopsies. A new study found that the MP-MRI should be used before a biopsy procedure. There were 44 serious adverse events during the study, but they resulted from biopsies rather than the MP-MRI scan. The scans could reduce overdiagnosis of harmless cancers by 5%, as well as improve the detection of aggressive cancers. Posted January 19, 2017. Via The Lancet.

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