Ulcerative colitis, a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease, is characterised by a reduced amount of the lipid phosphatidylcholine in the colon mucosa. This fact was discovered by Wolfgang Stremmel and his team at the University Hospital of Heidelberg. In collaboration with the Heidelberg-based biotechnology company Lipid Therapeutics, the researchers are now working on the development of a phosphatidylcholine drug for the treatment of this disease. In a further collaboration with the Freiburg-based company Dr. Falk Pharma, the drug is being brought to industrial maturity.
Faecal incontinence is a common problem, but is still a strong taboo. A small microchip, implanted above the sacral bone, promises to make sufferers’ lives a lot easier. Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) not only restores patients’ ability to control defaecation, but also provides new insights into the innervation and physiology of the bowel and the pelvic floor.
People whose blood clots more easily than normal are more often affected by cancer. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center have discovered that a number of variants of clotting factor genes have an influence on bowel cancer risk. They found out that carriers of a particular gene variant of clotting factor V have a bowel cancer risk that is six times higher than people who do not have this gene variant.
Europe-wide network for investigating irritable bowel syndrome headed by Heidelberg University HospitalEuropean Science Foundation provides 500000 euros in funding for understanding causes improving options for diagnosis and treatment.
The likelihood of developing colon cancer very much depends on dietary factors. Foods and nutrients with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties have been found to reduce the likelihood of developing this kind of cancer. Research done by scientists from the Karlsruhe-based Max Rubner-Institut suggests that cloudy apple juice can prevent colon cancer. However, little is yet known about the molecular relationships between diet and disease.
Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, working within the European project MetaHIT and in collaboration with colleagues at the Beijing Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, China, established a reference gene set for the human gut microbiome – a catalogue of the microbe genes present in the human gut. Their work proves that high-throughput techniques can be used to sequence environmental samples, and brings us closer to an understanding of how to maintain the microbial balance that keeps us healthy.
Persons who have had a colonoscopy in the past ten years are much less likely to be diagnosed with advanced precancerous stages of bowel cancer. Particularly on the left side of the colon, the risk for cancer and precancerous stages is dramatically reduced, as scientists of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have found out. Their results underline the great potential of colonoscopy for preventing bowel cancer.
Cancer cells use tricks to evade the immune system. Thus, for example, they attract specific blood cells which suppress the body’s own defense mechanisms. Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), collaborating with colleagues of the University Surgical Hospital in Heidelberg and an international research team, have investigated these processes in bowel cancer. The results of their research have now been published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Lipid Therapeutics GmbH and Dr. Falk Pharma GmbH announced on 30th, September, that they have entered into a co-development and licensing agreement for LT-02. Under the terms of the agreement, Dr. Falk Pharma will receive exclusive access to the European rights to Lipid Therapeutics’ lead product LT-02 for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a severe inflammation of the colon affecting more than one million people worldwide.
Researchers at the Robert Bosch Hospital RBK and the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute for Clinical Pharmacology IKP in Stuttgart have now deciphered a new mechanism of action of the human immune system that protects against intestinal bacteria and pathogenic yeasts. The internationally renowned scientific journal Nature presents their findings.
It takes a great deal of courage to question a common scientific doctrine especially for scientists at the very beginning of their careers. But around ten years ago Dr. Jan Wehkamp did not shy away from doing just that and as a result he and his scientific partner Professor Dr. Eduard Stange came up with a new explanation for the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.
Colorectal carcinoma is the most frequent type of bowel cancer and the second most common tumour disease in men and women in Germany. A particularly aggressive form occurs when a mutation is present in the proto-oncogene BRAF. As part of the Collaborative Research Centre 850 at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Cell Research at the University of Freiburg, Dr. Ricarda Herr and Dr. Tilman Brummer are trying to find out how a mutated BRAF gene contributes to the development and growth of colorectal cancer.
The 37-year-old microbiologist Christian Riedel was recently awarded the Science Prize of the city of Ulm for his basic research on bifidobacteria. Riedel who is the head of a group of 12 junior researchers at the University of Ulm has shown that bifidobacteria exert an inhibitory effect on chronic bowel inflammation. The researcher hopes to have identified the underlying molecular mechanisms within the next 12 months.
The appointment of Cornelia Ulrich as professor and head of the Departments of Preventive Oncology at the National Centre for Tumour Diseases and the German Cancer Research Centre shows that Heidelberg is expanding its research priorities in the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer. Ulrichs main focus has been on the folic acid metablism C1 compounds and inflammation.
Some Enterococcus species are common commensal organisms in human intestines and other species are used in raw-milk cheese where they enhance flavour development. On the negative side enterococci are also a common cause of hospital-acquired infections. Prof. Dr. Johannes Huebner from the Freiburg University Medical Centre is hoping that the bacterias capsular polysaccharides might at some point in the future be used as a vaccine opening the door to new treatment options for often difficult-to-treat enterococcal infections.
The type of bacteria that colonize the human gut does not just influence our digestion and well-being. Metagenome sequencing has provided an international consortium involving scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory at the University Hospital of Heidelberg with evidence that certain individuals have different gut types with different types of bacteria. Such individuals not only differ in their predisposition to disease, but also in their behaviour.
Placebo research at Tübingen University is part of a German network that is a world leader in the field. One of the research priorities relates to the perception of pain and the underlying neurobiological mechanisms.
Hirschsprung’s disease is a congenital disease of the intestinal nervous system, which can lead to life-threatening bowel disorders. A new research project, which is being coordinated by the Centre for Regenerative Biology and Medicine (ZRM) in Tübingen, is paving the way for a novel cell therapy. The project is being carried out in co-operation with the NMI in Reutlingen and is being funded by a 1.1-million-euro BMBF-grant.
In the future, when you walk into a doctor’s surgery or hospital, you could be asked not just about your allergies and blood group, but also about your gut type. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and collaborators in the international MetaHIT consortium, have found that humans have three different gut types.
Professor Cornelia Ulrich has been director of the Preventive Oncology Division in the National Centre for Tumour Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg since mid-September 2009. She also holds a professorship in the Department of Preventive Oncology at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.
Lipid Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, announced today that it has initiated a Phase IIb clinical trial with its lead product LT-02 in patients with ulcerative colitis. Lipid Therapeutics received approval for this multi-center, international trial from the authorities in Germany and Lithuania and is awaiting approval in Romania. Patient enrollment has already started in Germany and Lithuania.
Nowadays everything must be good for something must have a direct noticeable or tangible effect. The ever topical issue of nutrition is no exception. All this makes functional food a promising and inexhaustible market. Teams of scientists around the world are focussing on how unhealthy food can be made healthy. Bioactive plant foods are expected to close a gap that should not have existed in the first place.
A research team led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Brunner at the University of Konstanz has found out that intestinal epithelial cells are able to synthesise anti-inflammatory steroids glucocorticoids following immunological stress which makes a considerable contribution to the maintenance of local immune homoeostasis. Brunner plans to use his findings to develop a therapeutic approach for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.
If the interplay of factors that regulate the intestinal immune system tips out of balance, this could result in allergic reactions or serious inflammatory intestinal diseases. Professor Dr. med. Stefan Meuer, Managing Director of the Institute for Immunology at the University Hospital in Heidelberg, is focusing on the molecular mechanisms of mucosal immune regulation.