Industry News

 Published: March 15, 2022

By: Heather Willden

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Tips From Former Smokers is Back with New Ads, Texting Feature

The federal government’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the CDC is marking the occasion with a host of new ads featuring real people who have been impacted by smoking-related diseases.

“For the past 10 years, the Tips campaign has saved lives and smoking-related health care costs with powerful, effective ads that motivate adults to quit smoking,” said CDC Acting Deputy Director Debra Houry, MD, MPH. “One of the most important actions people can take to improve their health is to quit smoking.”

The program, which has been credited with encouraging more than one million adults in the U.S. to quit smoking and inspired millions more to try, is now promoting the new National Texting portal and the already successful 1-800-QUIT-NOW telephone counseling service as well. Plus, smokers will be able to access the texting portal in both English and Spanish.

New ads in the campaign highlight the impact smoking has made on those with heart failure, COPD, Buerger’s disease, and colorectal cancer. Read More

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ATS, ERS Issue Update to the PFT Technical Standard Series

Citing a need to clarify pulmonary function testing issues, the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society released an updated PFT interpretation standard.

The updated standard addresses areas of uncertainty related to the tests. According to Task Force Co-Chair Sanja Stanojevic, PhD, the standard looks at —

  1. The obtained result and how representative it was of the individual’s lung function at testing.
  2. The pre-test probability of disease and how it may influence the appropriate threshold for that individual.
  3. The reference population’s validity against which the test is being judged is for the individual.

Factoring race into PFT results is a key concern, continued Dr. Stanojevic.

“As there are observed population differences in body proportions and lung function, in some contexts it may be relevant to interpret results for an individual relative to that of a similar ancestral grouping, whereas in others it may be more appropriate to compare to the whole population,” she said.

She also noted that, “An individual’s medical history, symptoms, and social circumstances must be considered when applying PFT results to inform clinical decision making.”

The standard was published by the European Respiratory Journal and is slated to be covered by an ATS webinar series. Read More

New Treatment for Obese with Asthma?

Statistics show obesity is common in people with asthma and can exacerbate the condition. Getting people to lose weight, however, is a challenge. Now researchers from the Vermont Lung Center have found that ketone bodies may hold the clue to treating asthma in the obese.

Working in genetic and diet-induced mouse models of obesity, they tested several methods of applying ketone bodies (i.e., products of fat metabolism generated by the liver during weight loss) to see if they could impact asthma symptoms. Normal-weight control mice were treated as well.

The investigators found that mice treated with the ketone bodies were less sensitive to a trigger of airway constriction which is commonly used in the diagnosis of asthma, and all of the methods of intervention worked.

The authors note that ketone ester supplementation is already being used in some human populations and is considered safe.

“Our results provide innovative first steps toward a safe, efficacious, and cost-effective strategy that may uniquely target obese asthma,” they wrote. The study was published by the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. Read More

ECMO in the Pandemic Era

ECMO has been shown to save the lives of critically ill patients for whom other treatments are failing. Two new studies shed light on how it has been used during the pandemic.

Investigators from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) studied 240 patients who were referred for ECMO in their referral region. Among that group, 90, or 37%, were eligible for the treatment. The median age of the patients was 40, and 25, or 27.8%, were female.

Of those 90 patients, however, only 35, or 38.9%, actually received ECMO. The other 55 patients, or 61.1%, were turned away due to a lack of health system resources such as equipment, personnel, and ICU beds.

Among the 35 patients who did receive ECMO, more than half survived. Among the 55 who didn’t, 49 of the 55 died. The mortality rates were 42.9% and 89.1%, respectively.

Researchers from NYU Langone Health illustrated the value of carefully selecting patients offered ECMO. They looked at 415 patients admitted to the ICU with severe COVID-19, 80 of whom were evaluated for ECMO and 30 of whom ultimately received venovenous (VV) ECMO.

Twenty-eight of the patients survived, and 27 were discharged home or to an acute rehabilitation center. None left the hospital on a ventilator, and only one patient required supplemental oxygen. The survival rate at a median of 10.8 months was 86.7%.

The researchers credit these positive outcomes to their policy of viewing VV ECMO, not as a therapy to bail out patients with no other options left but rather as a treatment to aid those patients with a reasonable chance for survival.

The Vanderbilt study was published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Read More

The NYU study appeared in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Read More

RSV: The Latest on Antibiotics and Vaccines

Azithromycin is often given to people with chronic lung diseases for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, would it work to prevent recurrent wheezing among infants hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as well?

That’s the question researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University asked in a study conducted among 200 infants hospitalized with RSV. The children were randomly assigned to azithromycin or placebo for two weeks.

While infants treated with azithromycin did have lower levels of the IL-8 marker of airway inflammation in their noses than the control infants, no difference was seen in the risk of developing recurrent wheezing over the two to four year follow up period. What’s more, infants who received the antibiotic, or any other antibiotic, trended toward more wheezing. The finding was not statistically significant, but given the lack of benefit seen for azithromycin, the authors conclude neither it nor other antibiotics may be useful in treating infants with RSV.

Better news comes from researchers studying a potential new vaccine against RSV. A Phase 3 trial of nirsevimab was 74.5% effective in protecting healthy infants from a medically attended lower respiratory tract infection that was caused by RSV during an entire RSV season.

Similar results were seen in a separate Phase 2/3 trial involving infants with congenital heart disease, chronic lung disease, and prematurity who were also entering their first RSV season.

Nirsevimab is an investigational long-acting monoclonal antibody under development by Astra Zeneca and Sanofi.

The antibiotic study appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine — Evidence. Read More

The vaccine studies were published by The New England Journal of Medicine. Read More

Environmentally Friendly Inhaler Propellant On the Way

To reduce respiratory health care-related carbon emissions without restricting patient choice, Honeywell has developed a new propellant for pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) called Solstice Air that the company believes could be a good alternative to hydrofluorocarbons.

In a Phase 1 trial conducted along with AstraZeneca, the propellant reduced greenhouse gas emissions of a pMDI containing budesonide, glycopyrronium, and formoterol fumarate by up to 99.9% and was shown to be safe and effective. AstraZeneca expects its Breztri Aerosphere to be the first medicine to transition to the next generation pMDI platform, subject to regulatory approval. 

“Our collaboration with Honeywell demonstrates AstraZeneca’s commitment to advancing sustainable health care innovation, with the aim of improving outcomes for patients while reducing our environmental footprint,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot. Read More

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Communications and Media for the AARC where she develops strategic content for the association and respiratory therapists everywhere. Connect with her about public relations and stories by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she’s not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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