Researchers find new link to colorectal cancer risk
Eating processed meats, such as ham and salami, is known to increase the risk of colorectal cancer, but for one-third of the population who carry a specific gene variant, the risk appears to increase significantly, according to a study in PLOS Genetics. Researchers at the University of Southern California studied more than 18,000 people from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. Half the sample had colorectal cancer and half were free of cancer. After searching 2.7 million genetic variants, the researchers found a significant interaction between one particular gene variant and diets that included processed meats.
Milestone in fight against 'lifestyle' diseases
In a breakthrough that could lead to new therapies to fight diabetes and obesity, researchers at the Warwick Medical School in Britain have for the first time used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect "brown fat" in a living adult. Compared to the traditional method of positron emission tomography, MRI distinguishes between brown and white fat. White fat is linked with weight gain, but brown fat can use energy and burn calories. The researchers hope to provide detailed insights into where brown fat can be found in adults, which may be vital in the creation of therapies that activate deposits of brown fat.
Scientists isolate protein crucial to fertilisation
Researchers have solved a long-running mystery by identifying the proteins on the surfaces of sperm and egg that bind with each other, allowing fertilisation to take place. "We may be able to use this discovery to improve fertility treatments and develop new contraceptives," says Dr Gavin Wright, senior author of the study published in Nature. The researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain discovered the protein in egg and named it Juno, after the Roman goddess linked to fertility and marriage. The protein pairs with Izumo, the sperm equivalent identified by Japanese researchers in 2005 and named after a marriage shrine. The British team developed mice that lacked the Juno protein in the eggs. The eggs could not fuse with healthy sperm, rendering the mice infertile.