ISLAMABAD - Your fondness for red meat might increase your chances of developing bowel cancer due to large amounts of iron in it.
The new discovery could open the way to new treatments to mop up iron in the bowels of those who develop cells hit by the defective gene called APC. Mice fed low iron diet remained cancer free even if the gene was defective, but when it functioned normally, high iron levels did no harm.
However, mice with the defective gene given high iron intake were two to three times more likely to develop the disease, the Daily Mail reports.
Owen Sansom, deputy director of the Cancer Research UK Institute, Glasgow, who led the study, said: “We’ve made a huge step in understanding how bowel cancer develops. The APC gene is faulty in around eight out of 10 bowel cancers but until now we haven’t known how this causes the disease.”
“It’s clear that iron is playing a critical role in controlling the development of bowel cancer in people with a faulty APC gene. And, intriguingly, our study shows that even very high levels of iron in the diet don’t cause cancer by itself, but rely on the APC gene,” said Sansom.
Effective antibodies against flu strains identified
Scientists have identified three human antibodies effective against flu B virus strains. The same team had earlier reported finding antibodies against flu A strains. The isolation of these antibodies paves the way for the development of a universal antibody-based flu therapy for use in severe infections or to protect hospital staff during an outbreak.
Importantly, these antibodies may provide key clues to the design of an active universal flu vaccine designed to protect long-term against flu viruses, not just against the current season’s strains, the journal Science reports.
“To develop a truly universal flu vaccine or therapy, one needs to be able to provide protection against influenza A and influenza B viruses, and with this report we now have broadly neutralising antibodies against both,” said A. Wilson, professor of structural biology at Scripps Institute.
He served as the senior study investigator with Jaap Goudsmit and Robert Friesen, from the Crucell Vaccine Institute in the Netherlands, according to a Scripps statement.
One of the newly discovered antibodies will be of special interest to flu researchers, because it appears to protect against essentially all influenza B and influenza A strains. “It’s the only one in the world that we know of that has been found to do this,” said Wilson. Influenza B viruses are considered less dangerous than Influenza A viruses, and have been less intensively studied because they have less capacity to mutate into deadly pandemic strains. However, influenza B viruses account for a significant part of the annual flu illness burden in humans.
Blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease in offing
A blood test is in the offing to detect Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Emory University say. “Reliability and failure to replicate initial results have been the biggest challenge in this field. We demonstrate here that it is possible to show consistent findings,” says William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, who led the study. Hu and collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University, St. Louis, measured the levels of 190 proteins in the blood of 600 study participants at those institutions, the journal Neurology reports.
They included healthy volunteers and those who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI, which foreshadows Alzheimer’s, causes a slight but measurable decline in cognitive abilities, according to an Emory statement.
Neurologists currently diagnose Alzheimer’s disease based mainly on clinical symptoms. Additional information can come from PET brain imaging, which tends to be expensive, or analysis of a spinal tap, which can be painful.
“Though a blood test to identify underlying Alzheimer’s disease is not quite ready for prime time given today’s technology, we now have identified ways to make sure that a test will be reliable,” Hu said.
“In the meantime, the combination of a clinical exam and cerebrospinal (brain) fluid analysis remains the best tool for diagnosis in someone with mild memory or cognitive troubles,” Hu added.