Sarah Walker

Medical Research Council (UK), Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (4)58.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Large clinical trials including patients with uncommon diseases involve assessors in different geographical locations, resulting in considerable inter-rater variability in assessment scores. As video recordings of examinations, which can be individually rated, may eliminate such variability, we measured the agreement between a single video rater and multiple examining physicians in the context of PRION-1, a clinical trial of the antimalarial drug quinacrine in human prion diseases. We analysed a 43-component neurocognitive assessment battery, on 101 patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, focusing on the correlation and agreement between examining physicians and a single video rater. In total, 335 videos of examinations of 101 patients who were video-recorded over the 4-year trial period were assessed. For neurocognitive examination, inter-observer concordance was generally excellent. Highly visual neurological examination domains (e.g. finger-nose-finger assessment of ataxia) had good inter-rater correlation, whereas those dependent on non-visual clues (e.g. power or reflexes) correlated poorly. Some non-visual neurological domains were surprisingly concordant, such as limb muscle tone. Cognitive assessments and selected neurological domains can be practically and accurately recorded in a clinical trial using video rating. Video recording of examinations is a valuable addition to any trial provided appropriate selection of assessment instruments is used and rigorous training of assessors is undertaken.
    Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders extra. 01/2012; 2(1):286-97.
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    ABSTRACT: Human prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders caused by misfolding of the prion protein. There are no useful biomarkers of disease progression. Cerebral cortex spongiform change, one of the classical pathological features of prion disease, resolves in prion-infected transgenic mice following prion protein gene knockout. We investigated the cross-sectional, longitudinal and post-mortem cerebral magnetization transfer ratios as a surrogate for prion disease pathology. Twenty-three prion disease patients with various prion protein gene mutations and 16 controls underwent magnetization transfer ratio and conventional magnetic resonance imaging at 1.5 T. For each subject, whole-brain, white and grey matter magnetization transfer ratio histogram mean, peak height, peak location, and magnetization transfer ratio at 25th, 50th and 75th percentile were computed and correlated with several cognitive, functional and neuropsychological scales. Highly significant associations were found between whole brain magnetization transfer ratio and prion disease (P < 0.01). Additionally, highly significant correlations were found between magnetization transfer ratio histogram parameters and clinical, functional and neuropsychological scores (P < 0.01). Longitudinally, decline in the Clinician's Dementia Rating scale was correlated with decline in magnetization transfer ratio. To investigate the histological correlates of magnetization transfer ratio, formalin-fixed cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres from 19 patients and six controls underwent magnetization transfer ratio imaging at 1.5 T, with mean magnetization transfer ratio calculated from six regions of interest, and findings were followed-up in six variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cases with 9.4 T high-resolution magnetization transfer imaging on frontal cortex blocks, with semi-quantitative histopathological scoring of spongiosis, astrocytosis and prion protein deposition. Post-mortem magnetization transfer ratios was significantly lower in patients than controls in multiple cortical and subcortical regions, but not frontal white matter. Measurements (9.4 T) revealed a significant and specific negative correlation between cortical magnetization transfer ratios and spongiosis (P = 0.02), but not prion protein deposition or gliosis. The magnetic resonance imaging measurement of magnetization transfer ratios may be an in vivo surrogate for spongiform change and has potential utility as a therapeutic biomarker in human prion disease.
    Brain 10/2010; 133(10):3058-68. · 10.23 Impact Factor
  • The Lancet Neurology 10/2009; 8(9):782-783. · 23.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The propagation of prions, the causative agents of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other human prion diseases, requires post-translational conversion of normal cellular prion protein to disease-associated forms. The antimalarial drug quinacrine (mepacrine) prevents this conversion in vitro, and was given to patients with various prion diseases to assess its safety and efficacy in changing the course of these invariably fatal and untreatable diseases. Patients with prion disease were recruited via the UK national referral system and were offered a choice between quinacrine (300 mg daily), no quinacrine, or randomisation to immediate quinacrine or deferred quinacrine in an open-label, patient-preference trial. The primary endpoints were death and serious adverse events possibly or probably related to the study drug. This study is registered, ISRCTN 06722585. 107 patients with prion disease (45 sporadic, two iatrogenic, 18 variant, and 42 inherited) were enrolled, 23 in a pilot study and 84 in the main study. Only two patients chose randomisation; 40 took quinacrine during follow-up (37 who chose it at enrollment). Choice of treatment was associated with disease severity, with those least and most severely affected more likely to choose not to receive quinacrine. 78 (73%) patients died: one randomly assigned to deferred treatment, 26 of 38 who chose immediate quinacrine, and 51 of 68 who chose no quinacrine. Although adjusted mortality was lower in those who chose to take quinacrine than in those who did not, this was due to confounding with disease severity, and there was no difference in mortality between groups after adjustment. Four of 40 patients who took quinacrine had a transient response on neurological rating scales. Only two of 14 reported serious adverse events were judged quinacrine-related. Quinacrine at a dose of 300 mg per day was reasonably tolerated but did not significantly affect the clinical course of prion diseases in this observational study.
    The Lancet Neurology 05/2009; 8(4):334-44. · 23.92 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

61 Citations
58.06 Total Impact Points

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  • 2009
    • Medical Research Council (UK)
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom