Cancer Research

After lung and stomach cancer, liver cancer is the third largest cause of cancer deaths in the world. A new study on the relationship between coffee drinking and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) confirmed that there is an inverse association between coffee consumption and HCC.

At least eleven studies conducted in southern Europe and Japan have examined the relationship between coffee drinking and the risk of primary liver cancer. The current study, led by Francesca Bravi of the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri in Milan, Italy, was a meta-analysis of published studies on HCC that included how much coffee patients had consumed.

The major active component of marijuana could enhance the ability of the virus that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma to infect cells and multiply, according to a team of researchers at Harvard Medical School. According to the researchers, low doses of Ä-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), equivalent to that in the bloodstream of an average marijuana smoker, could be enough to facilitate infection of skin cells and could even coax these cells into malignancy.

While most people are not at risk from Kaposi’s sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV), researchers say those with lowered immune systems, such as AIDS patients or transplant recipients, are more susceptible to developing the sarcoma as a result of infection.

Urothelial cells are the specialised lining cells of the bladder that enable it to retain urine. The cells have a very low turnover rate, but scientists have found that if the bladder is damaged, the urothelial cells are able to rapidly re-grow to repair the wound. The researchers hope to harness this property to engineer new bladders.

The University of York researchers have developed a series of models that mean they can study human urothelial cells in the laboratory. Of these models, the most important is their development of a urothelial cell sheet that functions as it would in the bladder. When the researchers create a wound in this model, the cells regenerate to repair the damage - just as they would in the body.

Killing cancerous tumors isn't easy, as anyone who has suffered through chemotherapy can attest. But a new study in mice shows that switching off a single malfunctioning gene can halt the limitless division of tumor cells and turn them back to the path of their own planned obsolescence.

The surprising possibility that a cell's own natural mechanism for ensuring its mortality could be used to vanquish tumors opens the door to a new approach to developing drugs to treat cancer patients, according to Dean Felsher, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine (oncology) and of pathology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The University of Bradford has unveiled a new ‘Ethical Tissue’ bank to provide UK biomedical researchers access to a wider range of human tissue and tissue products. The bank will operate on a not-for-profit basis and will provide access to human tissue and tissue products such as viable cells, cell fractions and arrays.

Leeds and Bradford Hospital Trusts, who currently provide tissue to the bank, work with patients and their families to provide information about the supply of tissue for research purposes and manage the consent procedures which underpin the bank’s high ethical standards. It is planned that this relationship will be extended to hospital trusts around the UK.

The project is possible through links with NHS Trusts, the NHS Blood and Transplant Tissue Services, transplant co-ordinators and other collaborators, who understand the importance of human tissue in biomedical research and are committed to supporting the activities of the University’s research tissue bank.

More than 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 40,900 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a gene linked to the development of an aggressive form of breast cancer.

The researchers found that the gene, FOXP3, suppresses tumor growth. FOXP3 is located on the X chromosome, which means a single mutation can effectively silence the gene. This is unusual, as only one other gene linked to cancer has been found on the X chromosome.

Nutraceuticals are used to create ‘functional foods’, the most commonly known of which are yogurts containing probiotic bacteria. However, many natural food products contain powerful ingredients that could be incorporated into food products to create functional foods.

Dr Nigel Brunton and Dr Hilde Wijngaard describe a number of possible new ingredients in the most recent issue of TResearch, Teagasc’s research magazine.

Waste Not, Want Not

Fruit and vegetable processing in Ireland generates substantial quantities of waste and by-products. However, researchers at Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) have found a potential use for this ‘waste’ as a source of antioxidants, which may help in the prevention of degenerative conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

New research presented at Life Sciences 2007 shows how the UK’s most commonly used brominated flame retardant, TBBPA, bio-accumulates within the human body, meaning that even low concentrations could cause cells to become cancerous and have dramatic effects on sperm count and allergic responses.

Dr. Francesco Michelangeli explained exactly the process involved and called for research into alternative, less toxic, flame retardants.

The research is particularly significant as the use of a number of other flame retardants are being banned throughout Europe, due to their toxicity. TBBPA was considered the least toxic, and has, until now, been unaffected by bans. Brominated Flame Retardants (or BFRs) are known endocrine disrupters - ie.

Research now indicates that air pollution has a role to play in atherosclerosis (artery hardening), which can contribute to heart attacks or strokes. Findings published in Genome Biology show how the fats that clog arteries work together with air pollution particles, triggering the genes behind inflammation.

A research team drawn from medical and environmental engineering disciplines at the Universities of California, Los Angeles, investigated the relationship between oxidized phospholipids found in the low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, the ‘bad’ fats that clog arteries, and diesel exhaust particles.

The "itch gene" is GRPR (gastrin-releasing peptide receptor), which codes for a receptor found in a very small population of spinal cord nerve cells where pain and itch signals are transmitted from the skin to the brain. The researchers, led by Zhou-Feng Chen, Ph.D., found that laboratory mice that lacked this gene scratched much less than their normal cage-mates when given itchy stimuli.

The laboratory experiments confirmed the connection between GRPR and itching, offering the first evidence of a receptor specific for the itch sensation in the central nervous system. The findings are reported this week in Nature through advance online publication.