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Clinically, lung injury is characterized by one or more of the following: altered gas exchange, dyspnea, decreased static compliance, and nonhydrostatic pulmonary edema. Although many antioxidants have been investigated in in vitro systems and in animal models, only some are at the developmental stage, or safe for clinical trials. Considerable evidence has recently accumulated supporting the hypothesis that leukocyte activation involves release of large quantities of highly reactive oxygen radicals, and hydrogen peroxide is partially responsible for diffuse microvascular and tissue injury in septic patients. Granulocyte depletion in animal models reduces the degree of fall in dynamic lung compliance and the increase in airflow resistance, lymph flow, and hypoxemia secondary to endotoxin administration. We hypothesized that the partial benefit derived from granulocyte depletion was due to the effective removal of a major source of oxygen radicals. Among the list of free radical scavengers, N-acetylcysteine stands out, because of its established usefulness in at least one human disease thought to be secondary to free radical organ damage (acetaminophen or paracetamol overdose). It is an extremely safe agent with a wide toxic-therapeutic window. An increasing number of animal studies indicate efficacy for this agent in the prevention and therapy of lung injury involving toxic oxygen species. We developed a randomized, double-blind protocol for the study of intravenous N-acetylcysteine in patients with established adult respiratory distress syndrome (ADRS). Results of this trial are preliminary. Nevertheless, they indicate that plasma and red cell glutathione levels are decreased in ADRS patients, and that N-acetylcysteine increases plasma cysteine as well as plasma and red cell glutathione. There are also indications that cardiopulmonary physiology is favorably affected by such therapy including improvements in chest radiograph edema scores, pulmonary vascular resistance, static compliance, oxygen delivery, and oxygen consumption.
In a single decade, the pandemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has become an international health, social, and economic emergency. Early and effective intervention is urgently needed for both prevention of HIV infection and for the amelioration of clinical disease. Results of therapeutic trials have suggested expanding the population for which chemotherapy is indicated. In this paper, we first review the findings from selected recent drug trials, using zidovudine and pentamidine as examples. We then discuss six issues that we believe to be crucial for future epidemiologic research in the service of vaccine and drug development: 1. To identify which complications of HIV infection most urgently require development of new therapies, we must characterize the frequency and severity of specific medical events (outcomes) in persons taking a variety of treatments. 2. Currently, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) therapeutic trials gauge the effectiveness of new therapies by their impact on such clinical parameters as the time to development of AIDS or death. These approaches take too long to provide information. We urgently need to identify surrogate markers of clinical outcome that will be useful in the early assessment of treatment efficacy. 3. Progress in vaccine development is being retarded because we do not have enough data from natural history studies on host immunologic responses to suggest that a given response is protective. We therefore need to identify natural correlates of immunity, which can help set priorities in vaccine development. 4. Discovery that a therapy works in the setting of a clinical trial is only a first step in intervention. We must also assess the impact of new therapies on the health of the public, evaluating access to health care, compliance, and other barriers to treatment. 5. Clinical trials are usually associated with the effort to prevent disease in infected persons. However, other trials are needed to assess efforts to interrupt viral transmission through use of condoms, use of virucides, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and by effecting specific behavioral changes. 6. Traditional methods of conducting clinical therapeutic research may not be adequate to address urgent questions in the AIDS/HIV epidemic. We must develop innovative clinical research methods, including better use of data from observational studies, to infer what we can about the effect of treatment on the clinical course.
High-dose cytosine arabinoside (HDAC) is used to treat adults with acute and chronic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Although HDAC is associated with various toxicities, cutaneous toxicity in particular leads to alterations in comfort, interference with daily living activities, and increased risk of infection. The incidence of cutaneous toxicity ranges from 3%-72%. A review of the literature revealed a variety of terms describing this toxicity, which begins as erythema and progresses to painful swelling, bullae formation, and desquamation. The etiology is unclear, and the severity is related to the number of consecutive doses. Interventions specific to prevention and treatment of this toxicity were found to be minimal, with no interventions scientifically examined. The challenge for nurses is to explore measures that will minimize the complications, treat the manifestations, and document the impact of these problems on quality of life.