Western diets are typically low in fibre and have been linked with a higher incidence of bowel cancer. Even though Australians eat more dietary fibre than many other western countries, bowel cancer is still the second most commonly reported cancer in Australia with 30 new cases diagnosed every day. Dr David Topping, from CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship, said this is referred to as 'the Australian paradox'. "We have been trying to find out why Australians aren't showing a reduction in bowel cancer rates and we think the answer is that we don't eat enough resistant starch, which is one of the major components of dietary fibre, " Dr Topping said. These findings, published in the latest issue of The Journal of Nutrition, reinforce the fact that dietary fibre is beneficial for human health, but go further to show that fibre rich in resistant starch is even better.
Researchers at Michigan State University have shown a prebiotic may help the body's own natural killer cells fight bacterial infection and reduce inflammation, greatly decreasing the risk of colon cancer. Prebiotics are fiber supplements that serve as food for the trillions of tiny bacteria living in the gut. When taken, they can stimulate the growth of the "good" bacteria. The evolution of prebiotic supplements (as well as probiotics, which are actual bacteria ingested into the system) provide new therapeutic targets for researchers and physicians. In research published in the Journal of Nutrition, MSU's Jenifer Fenton reports that mice given the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharide, or GOS, saw the severity of their colitis (one of the main forms of inflammatory bowel disease) significantly reduced.
Colon cancer patients who take aspirin regularly shortly after diagnosis tend to live for longer, researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre, the Netherlands, reported in the British Journal of Cancer. The authors explain that NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) have been known to have a preventive role with regards to colorectal cancer, and in particular, aspirin. Recently, some studies and experts have suggested that regular aspirin may have a therapeutic role too. However, studies so far have not been conclusive. Dr Gerrit-Jan Liefers and team set out to determine what the therapeutic effect of aspirin/NSAIDs as adjuvant treatment might be on colorectal cancer patients after diagnosis. They carried out an observational population-based study. They gathered prescription data from the PHARMA linkage systems, focusing on patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer (1998-2007).
Researchers from the Research Programme in Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) from the IMIM (Hospital del Mar Research Institute) and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) have identified 115 proteins in silico (via computer simulation) that could be highly relevant to treat colon-rectal cancer, since they would make it possible to define the strategy to design new generation anti-cancer drugs. During the last years, it has been proven that drugs are not as selective as it was thought, and that they actually have an affinity for multiple biological targets. For this reason it is important to develop multi-target drugs, meaning drugs that are able to attack several targets simultaneously, that are more effective and with fewer side effects One of the key aspects of the research in new cancer drugs is determining with what proteins the drug should interact, so as to destroy the tumour cells without affecting healthy ones.
METABOLISM Linking obesity and high cholesterol Obese patients are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a hardening of blood vessel walls called atherosclerosis. One factor that drives atherosclerosis development in obesity is abnormal blood cholesterol levels. ApoB is the major lipid-binding protein that transports low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL cholesterol) from the liver to blood. Alan Tall of Columbia University and colleagues wanted to better understand the genes that are associated with altered levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterol in an obese mouse model system. The research team discovered that a gene call sortilin-1 was inhibited in obese mice. This inhibition caused an increase in apoB secretion and high cholesterol. Accordingly, restoring sortilin-1 levels in the obese mouse model reduced apoB levels.