Research News

NIHR committed to push the pace of research

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 10:10

It takes on average 17 years for a promising medicine, being developed in a laboratory to being patient ready, and approximately 10 years of this is spent within the NIHR research pathway. As part of the wider commitment to a culture of continuous improvement, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is committed to reducing this pathway by 20 months.

Push the Pace has identified what the most effective changes would be to reduce the journey length and they are looking at piloting and then implementing changes already identified. Seven important areas of work are being investigated, involving colleagues from across the NIHR.

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Mapping the biomedical research funding landscape

Tuesday, 11 October 2016 12:23

The MRC has come together with seven other research funders to create an interactive ‘map’ of the funding schemes available to biomedical researchers.

The first of its kind focused on medical research, the ‘funding view’ takes the form of an interactive map, giving the user an easy way to navigate the UK biomedical research funding landscape.

It brings biomedical research funding opportunities together in one place, including funding schemes from the Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the NC3Rs, the National Institute for Health Research and Wellcome.

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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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