The end of investigator-initiated research?

The beauty of ECCMID is the abundance of investigator-initiated studies being presented. The cruelty is that the logistical nightmares that each presenter has gone through to get that study approved and done, cannot be reflected in a 10-minute oral or on a poster. The good news, though, is that that will change: the EU directive 536/2014 will make everything much easier and faster, in order “to let more European patients benefit from recent scientific achievements”. True? …. or does it reduce investigator-suffering by just killing any investigator-initiated study initiative? Continue reading

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The antibiotic resistance crisis resolved by bacteriophages (part 3)

Last October Dutch people were “informed” about the potential of bacteriophages. In short, “bacteriophages work where antibiotics fail because of resistance in critically ill patients, something that is already known for 100 years, and that is neglected by modern medicine”. Some questions were raised, see here and here, but curretly Dutch physicians receive many/daily requests from patients on phage therapy and the most desperate patients pay thousands of euros to seek help abroad, without reimbursement from health insurance. Last week, we had invited the most experienced clinical experts and scientists acting at the cutting edge of preclinical bacteriophage research. Here is my impression of the clinical part. Continue reading

The future of infection surveillance is ….. Google

If you feel that your  hospitals’ Electronic Health Record (EHR) can do more for you, read this. Not yet peer-reviewed, but still very impressive. Using all 46 billion (!) data points in the EHR from 216.221 patients in 2 hospitals they predicted (at day 1 of admission) in-hospital mortality, long length of stay and readmission, pretty accurately, and much better than existing prediction models. How? Deep learning techniques. Who are they? The paper has 35 authors, of which 32 work at Google Inc, Mountain View, California. Continue reading

All models are wrong…..

Yesterday, our study on antibiotic cycling strategies in ICUs was published. Thanks to Joppe van Duijn, involved in all study phases, we could report that in 8 ICUs in 5 countries with 8,776 patients the unit-wide prevalence of antibiotic resistance was similar when cycling antibiotics every 6 weeks or when cycling antibiotics for every next patient treated (mixing). The study was motivated by prior mathematical models, of which most predicted that cycling would do better. So, now all can raise their voices: (1) “all models are wrong, but some are useful”; (2) “most studies are wrong, but some are useful”; or (3) “if model predictions are not confirmed, where did the study go wrong?”

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Test-negative design: the best study design ever?

To kick off the 2018 Journal Club our PhD students discussed a bewildering new trial design* to determine vaccine effectiveness (VE) published in Lancet ID, from which Meri Varkila reports.  The classical approach to quantify VE was to spend the best 5 years of your life to find 2,000 general practitioners, to invite 600,000 elderly to randomize 85.000 and to find 139 primary endpoints in 57 hospitals while all involved remain blinded. This new approach, called the test-negative design (TND) study would give you that number in a year, by just studying a few hundred patients with community-acquired pneumonia. A true Quality-of-Life enhancer for many…., if reliable. Continue reading

From collateral damage to collateral sensitivity

“Every disadvantage has an advantage” is one of the many brilliant quotes from the late Dutch philosopher Johan Cruijff. This now also seems to hold for antibiotic resistance. The conventional belief is that resistance development is unidirectional: pathogens cumulatively acquire resistance traits, until being a multidrug resistant superbug. This now seems not always true; resistance development to antibiotic A, may – at the same time – increase susceptibility to antibiotic B, a phenomenon called “collateral sensitivity” that may help us in treating chronic infections. Continue reading

What’s up for 2018?

I hope you enjoyed Christmas time and wish you all the best for this year. From my side, I will continue to reflect what I meet professionally, what surprises me, confirms what I thought to know or what confirms my ignorance. In 2017 I did that 41 times (a surprise to me!) and here are some trending topics that will most likely return in 2018. Continue reading