Research News

Genetic signature linked to cancer prognosis identified

Tuesday, 11 October 2016 12:19

Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge have identified a genetic signature related to metabolism associated with poor patient prognosis. The results of the analysis of 8,161 tissue samples could in the future help clinicians decide how best to treat a patient as well as aid the development of new targeted treatments.

For cancer cells to grow and spread they undergo a complex metabolic transformation. This allows the cells to meet the energy needs for the cancer to proliferate. Increasing our understanding of the genes that underpin the changes to metabolic pathways will provide further insight into the events that lead to the spread of cancer within the body.

To this end, Dr Christian Frezza, programme leader, and Edoardo Gaude, a PhD student, from the MRC Cancer Unit, analysed the expression of metabolic genes across 20 different solid cancer types from 8,161 tumour and non-cancerous samples held in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).

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Studying how the low-FODMAP diet reduces symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Tuesday, 11 October 2016 11:46

For one individual, the culprit might be peanut butter. For another, it might be fried chicken. Foods that trigger symptoms are well identified by those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—a functional disorder based on gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that might include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea.

Scientifically, it has proven more difficult to identify dietary patterns that reliably affect the symptoms of those with IBS. Growing evidence shows, however, that one particular dietary pattern can reduce overall IBS symptoms in the majority of sufferers: the low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (low-FODMAP) diet.

Dr. James Versalovic of Baylor College of Medicine (USA), a leading centre for research on children with functional bowel disorders, says his research group wants to find out how the low-FODMAP diet can be used to reduce recurrent abdominal pain in both children and adults.

“A [low-FODMAP diet is] where you are deliberately changing whole classes of foods,” Versalovic tells GMFH editors in a phone interview. “It’s not simply just ‘eat more fruits and vegetables’ but there are a number of fruits and vegetables that actually elevate your FODMAP content and others that keep it low.” The diet was developed by researchers at Australia’s Monash University and is now being studied by groups around the world for its potential benefits. The premise of the diet is to limit short-chain carbohydrates, which the body does not readily absorb, as well as high-fibre foods that are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. The group of acceptable fruits includes bananas, berries, and citrus fruits, for example, but excludes apples, pears, and stone fruits. The guidelines disallow honey, sweeteners, wheat, and legumes, while they allow juices, sugar, oats, and rice.

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Alcohol Research Grapevine

Monday, 10 October 2016 15:27

Recently the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Alcohol Research UK have been developing an online alcohol research directory: the Alcohol Research Grapevine. Its primary functions are:

  • To allow researchers to upload profiles listing publications and outlining areas of professional interest
  • To create a searchable database of published, but also (importantly) ongoing and prospective research
  • To support collaboration by helping researchers to find colleagues working in similar areas, or to publicise areas of work they are interested in pursuing
  • To allow researchers to notify colleagues of available data that may benefit from further analysis

More details can be found on the directory’s website

Anyone interested in alcohol research is encouraged to register and create a profile. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Foster at IAS.

An interview with Philippe Marteau: “Some probiotics can be used like drugs for medical indications”

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:32

According to scientific research, probiotics may restore the composition of the gut microbiota and introduce beneficial functions to gut microbial communities. In fact, some probiotics can be used like drugs to treat some conditions and there is good evidence of their efficacy for diarrhoea associated to antibiotic intake or gastroenteritis diarrhoea.

Philippe Marteau is head of the medico-surgical department of hepato-gastroenterology at Lariboisière Hospital in Paris. He attended the 5th Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit 2016, where we interviewed him about probiotics and also prebiotics.

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