Professor Andy Gescher, of the University of Leicester, is leading an investigation to carry out clinical trials with the commercially produced substance Mirtoselect (extracted from bilberries), with the cooperation of patients about to undergo surgery for colorectal and liver cancer.
Among his research team are two Allison Wilson Fellows whose work is funded by Hope Against Cancer, Ms Sarah Thomasset and Mr Giuseppe Garcea.
The research project, which takes place in the University of Leicester’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and at the Leicester General Hospital, has already established that in a laboratory model Mirtoselect decreases the development of colorectal cancer.
Now, working with Mr Dave Berry, Hepatobiliary surgeon at the General Hospital, they are looking to see how much of the bilberry extract actually gets into human tissue and whether there are changes in the tissue that may have been caused by the substance.
If so, then that indicates that taking the extract over a long period may be beneficial. If not, then the researchers have to decide whether it is feasible to increase the dose and whether it is right to go forward to a major clinical trial.
By comparing results with their laboratory model, the research team will have an indication as to how effective the bilberry extract is likely to be in preventing cancer. This will help them to design a protocol for a future clinical trial that will test whether it really does interfere with the onset of colorectal or liver cancer.
Ms Thomasset explained: "Modern medicine is increasingly trying to find ways to prevent diseases from developing. You can see this in the Public Health Warnings on tobacco products. Our research project is looking at substances which can be taken as tablets and which may slow down the development of a cancer, or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.
"In the future, these agents could be used as drugs to stop cancers from developing in apparently healthy people, or they could be used to prevent it recurring in patients who have had successful treatment of cancer. The ideal type of drug to use for this would be one with very few, or no, side effects, which could be taken daily for many years with no problems."
The Mirtoselect project is the latest in a long line of research carried out by Professor Gescher and Professor Will Steward, working with surgical colleagues at the Leicester General Hospital.
Professor Gescher commented: "We are interested in agents, many of them derived from diet, which may prevent cancer or delay its onset. For quite a number of years we have been working on curcumin, the yellow constituent of curry.
"Our current research, funded by Hope Against Cancer, involves berries, coloured blue or red, which contain chemicals called anthocyanins. These have long been suspected to have a beneficial effect in this sense.
"We take an individual chemical out of its context and investigate it. Instead of asking people to eat a punnet of bilberries, we ask them to take Mirtoselect, which contains anthocyanins. We also study whether anthocyanins are more efficacious when they are part of a dietary mixture. There is some evidence to say that this may be the case."
Developing a new drug, even one derived solely from fruit or some other food substance, is time-consuming, and Ms Thomasset is still recruiting colorectal and liver cancer patients to help with the study.
In the meantime, one of her principal tasks is to take body fluids such as urine and plasma from participating patients and check how much of the bilberry extract is present.
"This is an extremely expensive process, and it is this that the Hope funding pays for," explained Professor Gescher. "All the reagents Sarah needs, she can buy without using up our internal budget. It is fantastic for us. When we need to buy reagents for the analysis or antibodies there’s no problem. Unlike many of our colleagues, we don’t have to scratch our heads and take up time wondering where to get the money from. We are very fortunate."
Since its beginnings in 2002 the Leicestershire and Rutland charity, Hope Against Cancer, has grown in strength and now funds eleven cancer researchers in our local hospitals and universities.
Founded by the late Allison Wilson CBE, following the discovery that she had cancer, The Hope Foundation was set up to promote clinical trials, with all the benefits these bring to cancer care in the region.
Much of the research supported by Hope Against Cancer is based at the University of Leicester, where the charity funds PhD research posts, clinical fellowships, Allison Wilson Fellowships and this year, for the first time, a nursing fellowship.
Ather Mirza | alfa
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
16.08.2018 | Information Technology
16.08.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.08.2018 | Information Technology