Trending News Today: Tick Salvia May Reduce Heart Disease in HIV-positive Patients

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Adjuvant therapy with Yervoy­­—–the standard postoperative treatment in patients with melanoma––could be pushed aside by the immunotherapy Opdivo, according to a head-to-head comparison study. The international study included 900 patients with melanoma whose tumors were removed by surgery but were still at high risk of recurrence, according to The Washington Post. After a year of treatment, 71% of patients in the Opdivo arm did not experience recurrence, compared with 61% of patients in the Yervoy arm. Opdivo was well-tolerated among patients, with 14% experiencing severe adverse events (AEs) with Opdivo compared with 45% administered Yervoy. Furthermore, only 5% of patients administered Opdivo discontinued treatment due to serious AEs compared with 31% who received Yervoy. “Results like this will change how we practice medicine,” said Jeffrey Weber, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone School of Medicine, who presented the findings at the annual European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Madrid, as reported by the Post.

The saliva of blacklegged ticks, known to carry Lyme disease, may reduce heart disease in patients with HIV, The Washington Post reported. In a recent study, investigators used human blood samples exposed to ixolaris—–a synthetic version of the small molecule found in the saliva of the Ixodes scapularis tick—–and found the protein activity was blocked. Next, the investigators treated 2 different SIV-positive species of lab monkeys with ixolaris. Both models replicated the virus but 1 did not have hypercoagulation, whereas the other had high coagulation and high cardiovascular disease. In the high-coagulation specific, ixolaris lowered the levels of inflammatory proteins. “Targeting the coagulation pathway in HIV-infected patients may be effective in reducing the immune activation and inflammation that are linked to cardiovascular comorbidities in HIV infection,” the authors concluded, as reported by the Post.

A new analysis shows online ratings of physicians do not indicate medical skill, according to Bloomberg. Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center compared reviews of specialists across 78 medical centers on 5 popular rating sites using internal quality measures. The internal performance metrics included reviews from physicians’ colleagues and administrators, how often patients were readmitted, how long their hospital stay was, and adherence to practice guidelines. The results of the study showed there was little correlation between physicians’ performance scores and how patients assessed them on the websites.