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Effective treatment for obesity remains a challenge and the only intervention proven to maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. Intrigued by the beneficial effect that this procedure has on the composition of gut microbiota, Dr Fredrik Bäckhed explores the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a treatment for obesity that won’t require going under the knife.
The abundant presence of a certain bacteria in our intestine, Akkermansia muciniphila, to give it its full name, is an excellent sign according to metabolism and nutrition specialist prof. Patrice Cani. With his team, they discovered the role of these bacteria in reducing cardiometabolic risk factors - like insulin resistance or hypertension – that are leading causes in the development of cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese and therefore at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and some forms of cancers. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers have looked into the reasons why some people are more likely to gain weight while others manage to stay thin.
Tamoxifen, a drug used in breast cancer treatment, may be repositioned to treat pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of death by cancer in Europe. It has a very low survival rate with less than 1 per cent of sufferers surviving for 10 or more years. Over the last 40 years the survival rate has not significantly changed and finding an effective therapy has become a pressing challenge in cancer research. A team based at Imperial College London led by Armando Del Río Hernández, has now demonstrated that a well-known drug could be effective to fight this deadly and other forms of cancer, such as liver cancer.
CRISPR is a widely used molecular biology tool exploiting an immune process discovered in bacteria. Dr David Bikard studies CRISPR in bacterial cells, in conjunction with different DNA repair systems, to create even newer tools. He hopes to gain insight into bacterial genetics, and develop increasingly effective medical treatments.
Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga and his team work on understanding the movement of molecules across human cells. In a paper recently published on Cell Host & Microbe, they outline the significance of a single protein, SLC4A7, in phagocytosis, the body's first line of defence against infection. These results, however, go beyond the context of infectious diseases, with repercussions on our knowledge of processes like inflammation and cancer.
Scientists led by ERC grantee Emma Teeling have identified part of the molecular mechanism that gives bat species Myotis their extraordinary long and healthy lifespans. The longest-lived bats can live over 41 years of age while weighing only 7g, which is the human equivalent of some 234 years. They also maintain good health longer than many other mammals. The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, focus on the protective structures at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres. Bats may have evolved unique telomere maintenance mechanisms which allow them to repair age-related cell damage.
ERC grantee Prof. Maria Antonietta De Matteis studies membrane trafficking in cells and how its components interact and are regulated to guarantee a healthy cell function. Her work could revolutionise our understanding of this key biological process.
European researchers have identified a novel approach to prevent the growth of cancer tumours and inhibit them from spreading, potentially leading to highly effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Acetylsalicylic acid, most commonly known as aspirin, was already part of the Egyptian pharmacopeia, used also in ancient Greece and in the Middle Ages to break fevers. Taken all over the world to kill pain and reduce inflammation, today aspirin helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Its emerging role in preventing and treating cancer is on the rise too. But how does this drug act on your blood cells? ERC grantee Prof Valerie O’Donnell works on the answer.