Does your morning cup of coffee interfere with medication for high blood pressure?
A research team from Lawson and Western University led by Dr. David Bailey measured how occasional coffee consumption reduces the action of a commonly prescribed class of blood-pressure lowering medication. Calcium channel blockers, such as felopidine, relax and widen the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow and in turn lower blood pressure. In the study, one cup of coffee containing a relatively low amount of caffeine lowered the drug’s effects at its maximum recommended dose. To overcome the effect of the coffee, you would have to double the dose and so increase the risk of unwanted drug effects. The hope is to increase awareness of how caffeine can affect diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure.
Dan Harvey (front) with Lawson researchers Dr. Eldon Loh, Stacey Guy and Swati Mehta (left to right).
First clinical guidelines in Canada for pain following spinal cord injury
Neuropathic pain is complex and chronic, and is the most common complication reported by people who have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI). A team of Lawson researchers, led by Dr. Eldon Loh, worked with care providers at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute, along with an international panel, to address the complex and unique challenges for managing pain during recovery and rehabilitation. Also on the panel was Dan Harvey, who sustained a spinal injury after falling off a trampoline. Having experienced extensive neuropathic pain himself and working with several newly injured people, he contributed to the project and feels that this advancement will have a tremendous impact for patients. The new guidelines provide recommendations for screening, diagnosis and treatment, helping to develop new resources for both care providers and patients.
Creating room on the liver transplant list
For years, severe liver disease from chronic hepatitis C (HCV) has been the most common reason for liver transplantation, not only in Canada but worldwide. Lawson researchers at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital have found that an oral anti-viral treatment improved some patients’ severity scores to the point that they could be removed from the liver transplant list. Dr. Paul Marotta and Dr. Bandar Al-Judaibi have reported the first Canadian data showing the benefit of treating and curing patients with HCV, saving them from needing a transplant – and saving the life of someone else on the list waiting for a donor organ.
Leading the way in joint replacement research
Many patients suffering from severe arthritis of the knee, shoulder or hip undergo joint replacement surgery. These implants can wear out over time or leave the patient unsatisfied. To improve patient outcomes, Dr. Matthew Teeter is studying the potential of imaging techniques and sensors to better evaluate the repair of diseased joints. He directs Canada’s first and largest implant retrieval laboratory at London Health Sciences Centre and uses a variety of methods to evaluate the effectiveness of different devices. With the belief that joints are made to move, the research team works with partners in London to use techniques such as moving x-rays (called fluoroscopic imaging) virtual reality environments and wearable sensor technologies to measure a patient’s condition before intervention and track implant performance.
Can type 2 diabetes go into remission?
Remission is well-known as the goal in cancer treatment, but is a new idea for those with type 2 diabetes, a lifelong chronic disease. A group of Lawson researchers, led by Dr. Irene Hramiak, are leading clinical trials at St. Joseph’s Hospital, one of only seven sites in Canada testing this exciting new possibility. Their hope is that an intensive treatment approach for those recently diagnosed will induce remission. The REMIT Study followed research by the Population Health Research Institute, a joint institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. This research showed early aggressive treatment resulted in up to 40 per cent of the study participants with type 2 diabetes going into remission and not requiring any diabetes treatment for at least three months.
Can type 2 diabetes go into remission?
World first in imaging technology developed at Lawson
Lawson scientists, in collaboration with Ceresensa Inc., produced the first commercial imaging product for Positron Emissions Tomography/ Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PET/MRI) scanners available in the world. With this kind of hybrid imaging, the PET gamma rays are absorbed by the coils used in MRI which causes a loss in the quality of data. Dr. Jean Théberge and Adam Farag corrected this problem with the novel design of the PET-transparent MRI head coil, now allowing for unparalleled images in the study, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases. This research innovation came after Lawson installed Canada’s first whole body PET/MRI scanner in 2012 at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
A game-changing blood test for concussions
Concussion is a major public health concern. It is the most common traumatic brain injury and can cause long-lasting effects. Yet diagnosis of a clinically significant concussion can be difficult, as it currently relies on a combination of patient symptom assessment and clinician judgement. Equally problematic are the decisions to stop play or activities, and when the individual can return to normal activities without risking further injury. Dr. Douglas Fraser, Lawson scientist and physician at London Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital, worked with researchers at Western University to develop a blood test that can identify with greater than 90 per cent certainty whether or not an adolescent athlete has suffered a concussion. The blood test measures a panel of metabolites, small molecules that are the products of the body’s metabolism, to search for distinct patterns that indicate a concussion has occurred.
Walking the labyrinth: A path for meaning, insight and reflection
St. Joseph’s Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care has two labyrinths to help patients with a mental illness who have also come into contact with the criminal justice system. Labyrinths are walking paths created using continuous lines with one route to and from the centre. A study by Stephen Yeo, Dr. Clark Patrick Heard and Jared Scott showed that walking the labyrinth contributes to recovery by promoting spiritual self-care, insight development and personal meaning-making reflection. Through the process, individuals may think about what they observed or did, why it mattered and how they might think or act differently based on new knowledge. This allows them to set goals and use what they’ve learned from the past to inform future action, and to consider the real-life implications.