October 2, 2009
NIH Podcast Episode #0094
Balintfy: Welcome to the 94th episode of NIH Research Radio with news about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health—the nation's medical research agency. I'm your host Joe Balintfy. Coming up in this episode, a very special report on President Barak Obama’s visit to the National Institutes of Health. To get some perspective first, we’ll have reports on how medical research is shared over agencies, and among countries. But first we have early results on how the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is effective in children. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
(BREAK FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)
Early Results: In Children, 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Works Like Seasonal Flu Vaccine
Balintfy: An ongoing trial being conducted in healthy children from 6 months to 17 years old is showing that the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine is acting just like the seasonal flu vaccine.
Dr. Fauci: The initial results are encouraging.
Balintfy: Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci: The trial is testing two different dosages (15 versus 30 micrograms) and evaluating the immune response to one and two doses of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine.
Balintfy: On August 7th NIAID launched the first of a series of vaccine trials of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines in healthy adults and elderly individuals. After a review of early data from the adult trials found no safety concerns, trials began in healthy children in mid-August.
Dr. Fauci: Preliminary data from our trials indicate that a single 15-microgram dose of vaccine is well-tolerated and induces an immune response in most older children, that is generally predictive of protection.
Balintfy: Early analysis of blood samples from a small group of trial participants shows that a single 15-microgram dose of the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine—the same dose that is in the seasonal flu vaccine—generates an immune response that is expected to be protective in the majority of 10- to 17- year-olds.
Dr. Fauci: The response in younger children is less robust, but that is not unexpected, as this is the case with seasonal flu vaccines as well.
Balintfy: Data from the trial is being compared for three age groups: children 6 months to 35 months; 3 to 9 years; and 10 to 17 years old.
Dr. Fauci: Although the data are drawn from an early time point—only 8-10 days after vaccination—they also suggest that the two younger groups, that is, children from 6 months to 9 years old, may require two doses of the vaccine, depending on their health history. This is not an unexpected finding and quite similar to what we see with seasonal flu vaccine and is in accordance with the FDA’s recommendations for seasonal flu vaccine in children of various ages.
Balintfy: NIAID is conducting trials of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines through its longstanding vaccine clinical trials network. The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine, like inactivated seasonal flu vaccines, contains a purified part of a killed virus and cannot cause flu. For more information on influenza, including H1N1, visit www.flu.gov.
NIH and VA Announce $7 Million Partnership for Substance Abuse Research among Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families
Balintfy: Two federal departments have joined forces to create a first-time collaborative funding project; it will support research on substance abuse and associated problems among U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families. Kristine Crane has this report.
Crane: A new funding opportunity has been announced by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans’ Administration that will support research on substance abuse and associated problems among U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families. The funding opportunities will focus on the causes, screening and identification, prevention, and treatment of substance use, and abuse, plus associated problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Three NIH institutes, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Cancer Institute, are jointly collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to fund grants worth seven million dollars for research in this area.
Reider: The idea is to both prevent problems and treat problems.
Crane: Dr. Eve Reider is a researcher with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She says the funding opportunity stems from a meeting held in January to gain a better understanding of the substance abuse intervention needs of military personnel, veterans, and their families, and to develop recommendations for prevention and treatment research priorities.
Reider: So it’s about harnessing all this expertise to move things forward to help everybody.
Crane: There is a growing awareness that returning military personnel—whatever their overseas role—need help confronting a variety of war related problems including traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and substance abuse, of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Many of these problems are interconnected—they contribute to individual health and family relationship crises—yet there has been little research on how to prevent and treat the unique characteristics of wartime related substance abuse issues.
Reider: So there’s huge stigma regarding getting mental health and drug abuse treatment. I think in our public in general these are big problems, and in the military specifically.
Crane: Each agency will fund grants relevant to its mission. Dr. Reider emphasizes the importance of this research.
Reider: We want to do everything in our power as they say to bring the power of science to bear on these problems, so that we can both prevent and treat as many problems as possible for all of these people. And there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, I would say, for many years to come.
Crane: The deadline for grant applications is December 22, 2009. For more information visit www.drugabuse.gov. This is Kristine Crane, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
(BREAK FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)
United States and the Republic of Chile Partner to Battle Cancer
Balintfy: From agency partnerships, to global partnerships. A new alliance between the National Cancer Institute and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Chile, aims to accelerate progress against cancer. The focus will be on Hispanic populations in the United States and Latin America. The partnership plans to strengthen and expand cooperation in a broad range of mutual interests, emphasizing basic and clinical cancer research, bioinformatics, data systems, and transfer of technology. Wally Akinso has the story.
Akinso: A new alliance between the National Cancer Institute and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Chile, aims to accelerate progress against cancer in Hispanic populations in the United States and Latin America. Dr. Jorge Gomez, Director of NCI’s Office of Latin American Cancer Program Development explains that the alliance aims to strengthen and expand cooperation in a broad range of mutual interests, including basic and clinical cancer research.
Gomez: I think this is a very unique partnership. The idea is to work with the Latin American countries in a collaborative way, so that we can gain a better understanding of cancer in Latin American men and women and also trying to extrapolate that information to our Latinos here in the United States.
Akinso: In 2006, cancer was estimated to be the second leading cause of death in Chile. Cancer mortality rates for Chilean males are highest in stomach, lung and prostate cancers, while for Chilean females the highest mortality rates are in gallbladder, breast, and stomach cancers. Dr. Gomez says the incidence of cancer in Latin America is similar to the U.S.
Gomez: Cancer is the number two cause of morbidity and mortality in Latin America, followed by cardiovascular diseases. It’s almost the same as in the United States. So they have a tremendous problem in terms of the prevalence and the incidence of cancer in Latin America. And I think that we haven’t seen the problem in the United States is because the Hispanic population here in the United States is a little bit younger so but we’ll see it in the near future. So we need to be prepared for that.
Akinso: Chilean Undersecretary of Public Health Dr. Jeanette Vega and NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber signed a letter of intent where both institutions will work under a collaborative agreement to advance cancer research that meets the needs of Chile and the United States. Dr. Gomez says both sides are eager to work with each other and hope this leads to breakthroughs within cancer research in both countries.
Gomez: So I think eventually we hope that they will become completely independent and they will collaborate with the United States and different universities and hospitals here to do high quality research.
Akinso: Dr. Gomez says this cooperative effort may include promoting the exchange of technical information and research materials, development of collaborative research projects, reciprocal access to laboratories and training activities. For information about this collaborative effort, visit www.cancer.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health.
Balintfy: And since Wally filed this report, partnerships have been announced with four more Latin American governments: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay. Coming up next, the President of the United States and his visit to NIH.
(BREAK FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)
President Obama Visit to NIH – Recovery To Discovery
Balintfy: This past Wednesday, September 30th, President Barak Obama visited the NIH campus in here Bethesda, Maryland. NIH Director, Dr. Frances Collins, in his introduction of the President, announced an important milestone: as of that day, NIH had awarded more than 12-thousand recovery act grants totaling five billion dollars.
Dr. Collins: These grants will fund trail-blazing research into treating and preventing many of our most scary diseases from cancer to heart disease to HIV/AIDS.
Balintfy: Dr. Collins added that these new grants propose some of the most innovative and creative directions for biomedical research.
Dr. Collins: You see this unprecedented NIH Recovery and Discovery program is not just about doubling the recipe, we’re investigating new programs with powerful new tools and looking at old problems from entirely new perspectives. We can’t know exactly where that research will lead—that’s the nature of science. But I am confident that millions of Americans that are alive today, and millions more in future generations, will live longer healthier lives because of the grants we are announcing today.
Balintfy: Dubbing the President as "Scientist in Chief," Dr. Collins expressed his gratitude to have the support of a president who is excited about the potential of this work.
Dr. Collins: President Obama began his administration by making a strong commitment to listening to scientists. This is not just because he didn’t want to hurt our feelings. It’s because he sees great opportunities to use science to improve lives, whether it’s creating new medicines, developing better prevention strategies, or devising smarter policies whether they are to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to building a more effective health care system.
Balintfy: President Obama acknowledged that commitment to the NIH audience and medical research community.
Obama: The work you do is not easy. It takes a great deal of patience and persistence. But it holds incredible promise for the health of our people and the future of our nation and our world. That’s why I’m here today. For decades, the NIH has been at the forefront of medical invention and innovation, helping to save countless lives and relieve untold suffering. And yet, if we’re honest, in recent years we’ve seen our leadership slipping as scientific integrity was at times undermined and research funding failed to keep pace.
We know that the work you do would not get done if left solely to the private sector. Some research does not lend itself to quick profit. And that’s why places like the NIH were founded. And that’s why my administration is making a historic commitment to research and the pursuit of discovery. And that’s why today we’re announcing that we've awarded $5 billion—that's with a "b"—in grants through the Recovery Act to conduct cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world. This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history.
Balintfy: The President also gave an historic perspective, quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, from his address at the dedication of NIH in October of 1940:
Obama: And he said, and I quote: "Neither the American people, nor their government, intends to socialize medical practice any more than they plan to socialize industry. In American life the family doctor, the general practitioner..."
Roosevelt: . . . performs a service which we rely upon and which we trust as a nation. No one has a greater appreciation than I of the skill and self-sacrifice of the medical profession. And there can be no substitute for the personal relationship between doctor and patient which is a characteristic and a source of strength of medical practice in our land.
Obama: It was here, in the years after President Roosevelt's visit, that polio vaccines would be tested to end a scourge that affected millions, including obviously the President that helped make the research possible. We can only imagine the new discoveries that will flow from the investments we make today.
Balintfy: President Obama emphasized that breakthroughs in medical research take time and hard work. But hold promise like no other area of human endeavor.
Obama: And here at the National Institutes of Health, and at universities and research institutions across this country, you are demonstrating our capacity not just as a nation but as human beings to harness our creativity and our ingenuity to save lives, to spare suffering—to build a better world for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. That is our great promise. And it is one that we've once again begun to fulfill.
Balintfy: For the complete audio and video of the President’s address here at NIH, visit the website videocast.nih.gov.
Balintfy: That’s it for this episode of NIH Research Radio. Please join us again on Friday, October 16 when our next edition will be available for download. I'm your host, Joe Balintfy. Thanks for listening.
NIH Research Radio is a presentation of the NIH Radio News Service, part of the News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.