Wednesday January 23, 2019

Gut Microbiota Can Help Identify Liver Cancer: Researchers

Gut microbiota can help the body digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.

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Liver
The study illuminates how a toxic combination of dietary fat and cholesterol impacts the behaviour of macrophages, a type of white blood cell, in the liver.

Chinese researchers have identified gut microbiota as a new biomarker of liver cancer, that can help in early diagnosis as well as treatment of the condition.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide.

Due to the absence of specific symptoms in early stages and the lack of diagnostic markers, most patients with HCC are often diagnosed in an advanced stage.

Liver Cancer
AFP is a plasma protein that is produced in abundance by the liver cells. Pixabay

Researchers from China’s Zhejiang University, and Zhengzhou University, found that the microbial diversity in patients with cirrhosis was significantly lower than that in healthy people, but it increased when cirrhosis develops into cancer, the Xinhua reported.

Human gut microbiota has been considered the most important micro-ecosystem living with the body, containing tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1,000 species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes.

Gut microbiota can help the body digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.

Liver Cancer
A high-magnification image from a 2012 glioblastoma case is seen as an example in this College of American Pathologists image released from Northfield. VOA

For the study, appearing in the journal Gut, the team collected 486 fecal samples from across the country.

Also Read: Deaths Due to Cancer Increases to More Than 18 Mn Every Year: WHO

About 12 bacteria genera decreased and six increased in patients with early cancer compared with healthy people.

According to researchers, more data and further studies are needed to confirm the validity and reliability of the model. (IANS)

Next Story

Protein Identified Enables New Drugs to Increase ‘Good Cholesterol’ Levels

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer. 

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ORP2 could offer a new strategic line of research and possibly succeed where the use of statins in this area hasn't, Yang noted.

Researchers have identified a protein, known as ORP2, responsible for transporting cholesterol inside cells that opens the way for new drugs to increase the body’s ‘good cholesterol’ levels.

ORP2 can increase the amount of cholesterol in cells, a process called cholesterol efflux. We think this pathway will be very important for the development of a drug to increase this good cholesterol, said Rob Yang, Professor from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Until now, drugs including statins have targeted bad cholesterol (LDL) by inhibiting its synthesis in the liver in an effort to mitigate the risk of heart disease and stroke.

However, while statins are effective at lowering LDL levels, they do little to increase the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and there is no other drug in use that can significantly boost the human body’s HDL levels.

Congo
Researchers have identified a protein, known as ORP2, responsible for transporting cholesterol inside cells that opens the way for new drugs to increase the body’s ‘good cholesterol’ levels. . VOA

Up to 90 per cent of a cell’s cholesterol is found at the cell’s plasma membrane, said the study published in the journal Molecular Cell.

“Knowing the molecules that deliver cholesterol to the plasma membrane itself is a huge step forward. The transport of cholesterol to the plasma membrane is the key to the generation of HDL.

If such a drug could be developed, it would not replace statins, but would be used complementarily, with one drug used to reduce the bad cholesterol and the other to increase levels of the good, Yang suggested.

Also Read: Number of Students Opting for Science or Tech Are On Rise in India

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer.

Cancer, U.S.

Importantly, ORP2 could also be targeted to fight cancer.

The rampant and uncontrolled growth of cells that characterises cancer could be stopped in its tracks by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced.

ORP2 could offer a new strategic line of research and possibly succeed where the use of statins in this area hasn’t, Yang noted. (IANS)