Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered a new mechanism by which colon cancer develops. Whilst concentrating on 'junk DNA' i.e. DNA segments located between genes, the team found a set of master switches (gene enhancer elements) that turn key genes on and off. An alteration in the expression of these genes leads to colon cancers. To describe these master switches, the team has named them Variant Enhancer Loci or 'VELs'. The team points out that VELs are not mutations in the actual DNA sequence, but changes in proteins that bind to DNA. This form of alteration is also known as 'epigenetic' or 'epimutations'. The finding is significant, given that such epimutations can potentially be reversed. Over a 3-year period, the team systematically recorded the locations of hundreds of thousands of gene enhancer elements in DNA from normal and cancerous colon tissues and identified key target VELs that were different between the two tissue types.
According to an article in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, one single dose medication may eliminate serious complications of ERCP, a procedure typically applied to diagnose and treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. This discovery is important, as it benefits patients in avoiding post-ERCP pancreatitis, a disabling complication, which affects up to 1 in 4 high-risk patients who have a gastrointestinal procedure. Scientists have researched for decades to find an effective way to prevent post-ERCP pancreatitis and this is the first clinical trial that has been able to provide evidence of achieving this goal. The trial ended ahead of schedule, after an interim evaluation confirmed clear safety and benefits for the first 600 patients, and the results are already altering clinical practice.
Whether you become infected by some strains of rotavirus may depend on your blood type. Some strains of rotavirus find their way into the cells of the gastrointestinal tract by recognizing antigens associated with the type A blood group, a finding that represents a new paradigm in understanding how this gut pathogen infects humans, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in an online report in the journal Nature. Rotavirus is a major intestinal pathogen that is the leading cause of severe dehydration and diarrhea in infants around the world. An estimated 500, 000 people worldwide die from the infection annually. The structure of a key part of a strain of the virus known as P provides a clue to how the virus infects human cells, said Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM and the report's corresponding author.
Risk Of Upper GI Complications If Gastroprotective Drugs Prescribed With Anti-Inflammatory Medicines Not Taken
To relieve pain, arthritis sufferers are prescribed medications that may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, both of which can irritate the digestive tract. At times additional drugs are co-prescribed with NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors to prevent adverse gastrointestinal (GI) effects. Now a new study available in the American College of Rheumatology journal, Arthritis & Rheumatism, reveals that decreasing gastroprotective agent (GPA) adherence among users of COX-2 inhibitors is linked to an increased risk of such upper GI complications. Current clinical guidelines recommend that GPAs, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or misoprostol, be prescribed to patients taking NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors - also known as COX-2 blockers - who are at high risk of upper GI events.
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., have found - contrary to previous studies linking inferior outcomes in patients with gastrointestinal malignancies to higher body mass index (BMI) - that in their study of BMI and negative outcomes, there was no such link. They concluded that BMI was not associated with either surgical complications or esophageal cancer patient survival. Their study was published in the current online issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, published by the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. "The incidence of esophageal cancer in North America is rising, " said study co-author Kenneth L. Meredith, M.D., assistant member at Moffitt and chief of the Esophagogastric Oncology Section. "Corresponding to that rise, there has been a dramatic rise in overweight and obese people as defined by the World Health Organization's guidelines indicating those having a BMI of 25 to 29.