The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA), held a scientific workshop for journal editors in biomedicine: “Publishing integrity and good practices in editing in biomedicine” on April 25, 2014 in MASA, Skopje. The meeting looked into old problems and new situations in editing and publishing, with emphasis on the situation in developing countries.
This global knowledge-based society is founded on the results obtained from scientific research. The data from basic research in developed countries contribute in a quite substantial manner to the newly added economic value. One of the main reasons for underdevelopment in South Eastern Europe (SEE) is certainly a low or non-existent contribution of scientific research in the newly added economic value. This has largely to do with the perception of the political elites which simply lack the insight on the crucial importance of science in development. In the long term this leads to societies in which there are distortions in the understanding of the most basic values.
Academic publishing has experienced tremendous growth: so far there are at least 50 million scientific articles. Interestingly, publishing in developing countries has experienced a rate of growth higher than in developed countries. However, this is not the case with the Balkan countries.
The meeting looked at some old and some newly emerging problems in editing and publishing.
First, the high cost for universities and researchers to purchase journals adversely affects both publishing and editing. In developing countries the high cost of purchasing scientific literature is an almost insurmountable problem in spite of the fact that some publishing companies offer discounted fees. Open access journals in South Eastern European (SEE) countries are hardly achievable as this also incurs costs that have to be covered in some way or other.
The peer review process has the fundamental difficulty that reviewers are in the situation of a Procrustean bed, tending to accept reports which support the reviewer's concepts of thinking and, like Procrustes, cutting everything else out. Authorship is often a contentious issue, as undeserved authors appear on the list of authors.
Some principles are now a norm in academic publishing. This applies to the declaration of a conflict of interest, the consent of the patient and the approval of the Ethical Board of the institution.
This global informational technological revolution has, unfortunately, led to largely widespread and increasingly sophisticated deviations: plagiarism, data fabrication and data falsification as forms of scientific misconduct. Those events are now more widespread than in the past. Luckily new tools to track them are much better than previously. The race for perfect publishing integrity and for the best good practices in editing in biomedicine is on. New and old challenges will be met. The benevolent and caring society, educated professionals and an enlightened public remain essential preconditions. The wealth of nations depends on R&D and consequently on academic publishing.
Krabbe disease (KD) (globoid cell leukodystrophy) is a degenerative, lysosomal storage disease, caused by a severe loss of galactocerebrosidase (GALC) enzymatic activity. The inheritance is autosomal recessive. KD affects the white matter of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
We present a 3 year old boy in whom the disease had an ‘infantile’ or ‘classic’ presentation, with spasticity, irritability, and developmental delay. In addition the boy showed progressive severe motor and mental deterioration, difficulties in swallowing and decerebration.
Molecular analysis revealed that the child is a compound heterozygote: p.Asp187Val (c.560A>T) and p.Ile250Thr (c.749T>C). The father was the carrier of p.Asp187Val (c.560A>T), while the mother was the carrier of the p.Ile250Thr (c.749T>C) in exon 6 of the GALC gene.
The clinical course in this compound heterozygote is severe and the patient passed away at the age of 3 years. Genotype-phenotype relations are discussed in this Macedonian patient with KD.
Diabetes mellitus type 1 (T1DM) is a chronic disease with long term consequences dictating daily struggle to maintain a good metabolic control.
Children and adolescents with T1DM seem to have inferior psychological adjustment to their normal counterparts, which might be associated with glycemic control and disease duration.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the psychological characteristics of children and adolescents with T1DM treated last year in the University Children Hospital in Skopje, Macedonia and to propose some response measures. For psychological evaluation we used CBCL (Child Behavior Check List), GAS (General Anxiety Scale), EPQ (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire) and MMPI-201 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory).
The results confirmed the following psychological characteristics: mild depression and anxiety, emotional instability, need for social acceptance, as well as the possible psychopathic traits. Suffering for a complex metabolic and chronic illness, these patients need psychological evaluation and intervention in the management.
The 4th meeting on rare diseases in South Eastern Europe (SEE) was held in Skopje, at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA) on the 14th of November 2015. The focuses were metabolic, rare brain diseases as well as the rare dysmorphic syndrome. The authors of the report are particularly keen on stating that one of the main goals of the meeting, namely to help the treatment of patients with rare disease has begun to bear fruits. The talk on an iminosugar-based pharmacological chaperone compound as a drug candidate for the treatment of GM1-gangliosidosis and mucopolysaccharidosis IVB (Morquio disease type B) was enlightening. To date, there is no treatment available to be offered to patients, but chaperones lead mutated proteins to adopt a native-like conformation and to successfully traffic to their normal cellular destination. DORPHAN is developing an iminosugar-based pharmacological chaperone compound for the treatment of GM1-gangliosidosis and mucopolysaccharidosis IVB.
A talk on recent developments in the laboratory diagnosis of mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) was particularly interesting, covering the laboratory diagnosis of the MPS diseases by a strategy of clinical examination, biochemical analysis of urine samples, enzyme tests and genetic characterization of underlying mutations. New techniques were developed, including analysis of urinary glycosaminoglycans with tandem mass spectrometry, miniaturized enzyme tests or novel synthetic substrates for enzyme assays using mass spectrometry detection of products using dried blood spots. Feasibility and cost-effectiveness of these methods in newborn screening programs have been demonstrated.
Neuromuscular RDs, and especially familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP) were a topic of the Bulgarian colleagues. Diagnosis, screening and the role of microglia were also topics of particular interest. In summary, this year RD meeting was exciting and productive on a wide range of diseases and on a novel insights on diagnosis and treatment. New methods are expanding our capabilities for a fast and precise diagnosis. Novel knowledge offers better distinction on whom to treat with which medications (e.g. steroid dependent nephrotic syndrome). Novel diseases or variants are published (segmental overgrowth). The authors of the report are particularly keen on stating that one of the main goals of the meeting, namely to help the treatment of patients with rare disease has begun to bear fruits. Namely, the Health Fund of Macedonia for the first time treats the patients with Gaucher′s disease. We are hopeful that the number of patients treated for Gaucher′s disease and the number of treated patients with other treatable RDs diseases will continue to grow.
Nephrotic syndrome is defined as the association of massive proteinuria, hypoalbuminaemia, edema, and hyperlipidemia. It is separated to steroid-sensitive or steroid-resistant (SRNS) forms in respect to the response to intensive steroid therapy. SRNS usually progresses to end-stage renal failure. According to the North American Pediatric Renal Trials and Collaborative Studies SRNS constitutes the second most frequent cause of ESRD in the first two decades of life. Unfortunately, there is no curative treatment for majority of patients. Majority of the SRNS patients have the histologic picture of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Interestingly, the risk of recurrence in the kidney graft in patients with hereditary SRNS is lower than in those who do not have genetic background. The etiology and pathogenesis of SRSN has remained enigma for decades. The discovery of 39 dominant or recessive SRNS genes enabled better understanding of the function of the glomerular podocytes and slit membrane. Hildebrandt′s group has shown that 85% of the SRNS cases with onset by 3 months of age and 66% with onset by 1 year of age can be explained by recessive mutations in one of four genes only (NPHS1, NPHS2, LAMB2, or WT1). The same group used modern diagnostic techniques such as the next generation sequencing and tested a large international cohort of SRNS patients (n = 1783 families). The diagnostic panel included 21 genes with a recessive mode of inheritance and 6 genes with a dominant mode of inheritance. Single-gene cause was detected in 29.5% (526 of 1783) of the families with SRNS that manifested before 25 years of age. The identification of causative single-gene mutations may have important therapeutic consequences in some cases. This is very important for patients who carry mutations in a gene of coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis (COQ2, COQ6, ADCK4, or PDSS2). In these patients the treatment with coenzyme Q10 may be indicated. Also, patients with recessive mutations in PLCE1 may respond fully to the treatment with steroids or cyclosporine A. The patients with CUBN may benefit the treatment with vitamin B12. The detection of causative mutations may also be very important for familial genetic counseling and for prenatal diagnosis.
The fifth SEE meeting on rare diseases (RDs) was held in Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA) the November 11th, 2016. Several lectures dealt with mucopolysaccharidosis, glycogen storage diseases and the possibilities for their diagnosis and treatment. Enzyme replacement treatment (ERT), its availability, effects (or the lack of it) on the brain, and further prospects of eventual gene treatment were comprehensively exposed and discussed. Special accent was on Gaucher, Morquio IVA, Hunter and the audience was given new knowledge on the complexities of diagnosis and treatment. A block of lectures on rare renal diseases was also impressive. From renal stones, their molecular and genetic mechanisms to different forms of CAKUT the use of NGS and other molecular methods in diagnosis of RDs. Mitochondrial diseases, the novelties and importance of early discovery were comprehensively exposed. Special lecture was given on the complement system. Endocrine disruptors, microprolactinomas were also the topic of the meeting. A rather reach session of posters was also presented.
Pediatric kidney diseases were in the focus of the World Kidney Day 2016. Macedonian pediatric nephrologists gave their contribution with public appearance in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, with interactive lectures and discussion with the youngest about the kidney function, healthy life style and simple measures to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases. Besides promotive appearance in the media, series of lectures were presented in front of the health professionals. The aim was to attract the attention of the professionals for early diagnosis and prevention of kidney disease. The action starts in utero, followed by early postnatal imaging and assessment, conservative treatment and in selected cases surgical treatment. The emphasis is on the multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to children and adolescents with kidney diseases.
The sixth SEE meeting on rare diseases (RDs) was held in MASA the November 10th, 2017. A block of lectures on rare renal diseases started the meeting: nephrotic syndrome, Alport syndrome, atypical HUS, hypophosphatemic rickets, CAKUT were presented in all complexities. Their molecular and genetic mechanisms were discussed. The discovery of a dozen of newly genes in CAKUT, congenital overgrowth, spodilocostal dysplasia, precocious puberty has been done with collaboration of Macedonian and foreign researchers. NGS and other molecular methods in diagnosis of RDs have been presented by several presenters. The mitochondrial diseases, the novelties and importance of early discovery were comprehensively presented and discussed. The genetics and treatment of persistent neonatal hypoglcaemia were of special interest. Dysmorphic syndromes (Klippel Feil) were also presented. A session of oral electronic posters was reach and inspiring. Several lectures dealt with mucopolisaccaridoses, glycogen storage diseases and the possibilities for their diagnosis and treatment. Enzyme replacement treatement (ERT), its availability, effects (or the lack of it on the brain), intratecal ERT administration and further prospects of eventual gene treatment were comprehensively exposed and discussed. The main purposes of this traditional meeting are hopefully fulfilled: increased number of patients with RDs treated and cutting edge presentations got.
Rare renal diseases (RRD) are an important category of rare disease (RD) as they can do great damage to the patients, families and society. The patient may undergo years even decades of numerous investigations including invasive procedures and yet not have definitive and precise diagnose and therefore, no opportunity for appropriate treatment. The great progress in molecular genetic techniques characterized many Mendelian diseases on molecular level. This gave the possibility for appropriate prevention and treatment interventions, genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis. Herein, we summarize the current status of RRD in Macedonia. The research interest of Macedonian clinicians and scientists is focused on the genetics of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT), steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome, nephrolithiasis and nephrocalcinosis, cystic diseases and cilliopathies with collaborations with eminent laboratories in Unites States and Europe. This collaboration resulted in detection of new genes and pathophysiological pathways published in The New England Journal of Medicine and in other high impact journals. Macedonian health professionals have knowledge and equipment for diagnosis of RRD. Unfortunately the lack of finances is great obstacle for early and appropriate diagnosis. Participation in the international registries, studies and trials should be encouraged. This would result in significant benefit for the patients, health professionals and science.
Background: Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a multisystem genetic disorder characterized with central obesity, pigmentary retinopathy, polydactyly, mental retardation, and hypogenitalism. Renal abnormalities have been recognized as a cardinal feature of the disease with serious prognostic implication. The aim of this study was to analyze the renal status in children with BBS and to implement appropriate interventions in those with progressive course
Patients and methods: The diagnosis of BBS was established on the basis of criteria proposed by Beales et al. (J Med Genet 1999). Imaging of the kidneys and urinary tract was performed with ultrasound study, Tc99mDMSA scan and a cystographic study. Twenty four hour urine collections were obtained for estimation of proteinuria and creatinine clearance. Blood pressure was monitored at clinical visits or as 24-hour ambulatory monitoring.
Results: There were 4 children (2 males, 2 females). All four children displayed abnormal kidney ultrasound and Tc99mDMSA scan resembling dysplastic kidney(s). Two of them had overt proteinuria (glomerulo-tubular pattern). Three children had normal blood pressure and glomerular filtration rate (GFR): 107, 145 and 95 ml/min/1.73m2, and the fourth had hypertension and progressive worsening of the GFR at 65 ml/min/1.73m2. Conclusion: Children with BBS should undergo imaging studies of the kidneys and urinary tract at initial work up; in those with renal dysplasia proteinuria, GFR and blood pressure should be regularly monitored to slow down progression to terminal renal failure.