Can gut microbes and genes do the job of weight loss surgery?

Scientists have linked post-operative changes in gut bacteria to improvements in metabolic diseases. Image Credit - Sue Sapp (CC BY 2.0)

by Emanuela Barbiroglio Mice that have undergone weight loss surgery experience a change in the composition of their gut bacteria and the functioning of their genes, leading scientists to explore the possibility of mimicking these changes to develop a non-surgical treatment for obesity and liver disease in humans.  Obesity and associated metabolic diseases such as lifestyle-related … Read more

Cerebral palsy: studying baby steps could lead to better treatments

Image credit - Paul Eisenberg, licensed under CC BY 2.0, image was cropped

Understanding the progression from the stepping reflex to independent walking could help find new therapies for children with cerebral palsy (CP) – a movement disability caused by brain damage before, during or shortly after birth. A baby’s first steps are a magical moment – an early stepping stone towards independent walking. Children usually begin to … Read more

In a picture: Hunting down guerrilla tumour cells – Prof. Rolf Bjerkvig

Brain tumours contain many different types of cells, here stained different colours, which makes them complex to treat.

Professor Rolf Bjerkvig, a specialist in brain cancer research, tells us why guerrilla cells make the disease so hard to treat. Brain tumours are hard to treat completely with surgery because they leave behind cells that invade the brain. In this video, which covers 72 hours, you can see cells breaking off from a tumour to invade other … Read more

Understanding immune system switches will spark new drugs

Image credit - magnaram, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Identifying the chemical switches that turn different parts of our immune system on and off is opening up new avenues for treating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis – and potential new uses for discarded drugs, according to Professor Luke O’Neill, an immunologist at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Your work focuses on … Read more

Nature or nurture: How do we end child obesity?

An estimated 224 million children worldwide are overweight or obese.

A smartphone app that challenges children to engage in healthy behaviour, and genetic studies that investigate risk factors for obesity, are taking a nature and nurture approach to tackling one of the biggest epidemics of our time – childhood obesity. Around 224 million children around the world are overweight, making obesity one of the biggest public health … Read more

Tissue engineering is no quick fix for kidney disease, but early intervention can help

Kidney disease often lacks symptoms until it is at an advanced stage.

by Frieda Klotz Recent advances in kidney research have yielded dramatic headlines touting scientists’ ability to grow kidneys in the lab. But some experts worry that hype about tissue engineering is excessively raising patients’ hopes. In 2013, US scientists announced that they had grown kidneys that could process urine in rats. The announcement was hailed as potentially … Read more