Connect with us

News

Researchers to investigate role gut bacteria plays in breast cancer

The project aims to provide insights into the function of gut bacteria in breast cancer

Published

on

Researchers in the UK are to investigate the function of gut bacteria in breast cancer and how it could be used to fight against the disease.

Bacteria living in our gut can affect our immune system and previous research in other cancers has shown a connection between healthier gut bacteria and better overall outcomes for patients.

Cancerous cells can spread in many different ways, including by manipulating the immune system to prevent being killed. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it becomes incurable.

Breast Cancer Now has awarded £249,065 to Dr Stephen Robinson at the Quadram Institute, in Norwich Research Park, to study the composition and function of the gut bacteria in oestrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer.

Up to 80 per cent of women with the disease are diagnosed with ER-positive breast cancer, making it the most common type of breast cancer.

Stool samples will be taken from women who have recently been diagnosed with ER-positive breast cancer and are yet to begin treatment.

Further samples will then be taken from the same women at various stages during and after treatment to see how gut bacteria changes during the course of the disease.

The team will compare samples from people who respond well to treatment to people who do not, to analyse any differences in their gut bacteria and see if it’s possible to predict the outcome of treatment based on this information.

Using mice, the researchers will also investigate how gut bacteria influence the immune system. The team will test specific bacteria species that have been linked with better treatment outcomes alongside bacteria linked with poorer outcomes, to see how the bacteria affect the progression of breast cancer.

“Evidence shows that certain bacteria living in our gut can help slow the growth and spread of cancers, including breast cancer,” said Dr Stephen Robinson from the Quadram Institute.

“These findings are particularly important given that breast cancer treatment may disturb normal gut bacteria.

“We are looking into how exactly the bacteria help our bodies prevent cancer from progressing, and whether standard treatments are affecting this.”

Dr Simon Vincent, Breast Cancer Now’s director of research, support and influencing, said: “This project will provide crucial insights into the role gut bacteria play in breast cancer.

“It could help us develop new approaches to treatment that use gut bacteria to activate the immune system and reduce the chance of breast cancer spreading and becoming incurable.”

He added: “With around 11,500 women tragically dying from breast cancer each year in the UK, we urgently need to find new ways to prevent the disease spreading, and treat it effectively when it does.”

Kerry’s story

Kerry Blake, 34, from Hertfordshire found a small lump in her left breast a month before her wedding.

“A few days before the wedding I felt a pain in my breast so booked a doctor’s appointment to get it checked out,” Kerry said.

“During the examination, the doctor confirmed I had a small pea-sized lump and referred me to the breast clinic.”

After an ultrasound, mammogram and needle biopsy, Kerry was told she had grade 2, ER-positive breast cancer.

“The doctor sat down next to me to give me the results. I burst into tears and was trying hard to listen and make sense of what he was saying but all I could think was I’m 28, how can I have breast cancer?”

In the following months, Kerry had CT scans, MRI scans, fertility appointments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by a single mastectomy. She also had a tumour in her left breast removed.

It’s now been five years since Kerry’s diagnosis, and she believes it’s due to advances in research that’s she’s living a full and active life today.

“Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but thanks to research, I’m here today,” she said.

“For me and countless others, breast cancer research isn’t just about finding a cure; it’s about finding kinder, more effective treatments and inspiring hope. With every research breakthrough, we’re closer to a world where no more lives are lost to this terrible disease.”

To receive the Femtech World newsletter, sign up here.

News

‘Groundbreaking’ endometriosis study identifies patient priorities

Published

on

A “groundbreaking” study into endometriosis has identified three areas for future research that can help improve the outcomes for women with the condition.

The study, commissioned by Endometriosis New Zealand, attracted 1,262 participants, including 1,024 people with confirmed endometriosis, making it the largest ever study involving endometriosis patients and supporters in New Zealand.

Study participants identified the management and treatment of endometriosis, the need for a better understanding of its cause and improvements to diagnostic capability as the three main priorities for further research.

While these findings provide a clear pathway for future work, Endometriosis New Zealand chief executive, Tanya Cooke, said endometriosis research had historically been underfunded.

“With an estimated 120,000 New Zealanders living with endometriosis, much more needs to be invested into finding solutions,” Cooke explained.

“The reality is the outcomes for many endometriosis patients are pretty poor, with diagnosis often taking many years and treatment patchy across the country.”

Estimates based on Australian data suggest that endometriosis is likely to be costing New Zealand somewhere in the range of $1.3-1.5bn annually through increased healthcare costs and lost workforce productivity.

Cooke said: “The good news is that our findings align closely with those in Australia and provide three clear priorities for future research – improved treatment options, causation and better diagnostic capability.

“What New Zealand now requires is proper funding for a future research programme that can investigate these priorities more closely and improve the outcomes for individuals living with endometriosis.”

To receive the Femtech World newsletter, sign up here.

Continue Reading

News

Virtual care platform secures US$46m to address US maternal health crisis

Pomelo Care will use the funding to scale its care model and improve maternal and infant outcomes

Published

on

Marta Bralic Kerns, founder and CEO of Pomelo Care

The US virtual maternity care platform Pomelo Care has secured US$46m in funding to address the US maternal health crisis.

One in 10 babies born in the US today start their life in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Healthcare access continues to worsen, with one in eight births occurring in US counties with limited-to-no access to maternal care. Due to significant gaps in postpartum care, about half of pregnancy-related deaths in the US occur after hospital discharge.

The evidence exists for how to identify people at highest risk for complications and which interventions are most effective, but existing data gaps and provider capacity challenges make it difficult to apply these interventions at scale.

Pomelo has developed a care model that aims to address these challenges by analysing claims and health record data to identify individual risk factors and providing virtual pregnancy, postpartum, and infant care to patients to reduce those risks.

“We’ve long known what works to reduce maternal and infant complications,” said Marta Bralic Kerns, founder and CEO of Pomelo Care.

“The questions have always been: can you identify the patients who are at highest risk, can you deeply engage them in care to drive uptake of the prevention strategies we know work, and can you do it in the highest risk populations with the most limited access to care?”

“This data demonstrates that we absolutely can. And with this additional funding, we’ll have the opportunity to scale our care model to more pregnant people across the country.”

The funding, led by existing investors First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health, is hoped to help Pomelo accelerate its partnerships with payors across the US and increase access to “evidence-based” care.

Josh Kopelman, partner at First Round Capital and Pomelo board member, said: “It’s rare to come across an opportunity where the incentives between patient, provider and payor are all aligned.

“Marta and the Pomelo team have found an incredible opportunity to dramatically improve outcomes for the highest risk populations, while helping payors reduce their avoidable costs.”

Vineeta Agarwala, general partner at a16z Bio + Health and Pomelo board member, added: “Pomelo is one among a small set of health tech companies that have earned true scale.

“This scale is evident in our partnerships with major Medicaid and commercial plans covering over three million lives, which create the opportunity to collaborate with OB providers, labour and delivery wards, and NICUs nationwide, while serving hundreds of thousands of expecting mothers and newborns with high quality, technology-enabled care.”

To receive the Femtech World newsletter, sign up here.

Continue Reading

News

One in three UK fertility patients seek treatment abroad due to high costs

Expensive fertility treatments prompt UK patients to seek help abroad

Published

on

One in three fertility patients in the UK seek treatment abroad due to high costs, a new survey has shown.

Fertility Family has gathered insights from 429 UK participants who have experienced difficulties with infertility.

The Infertility Awareness Report found that the high cost of fertility treatment in the UK has driven over one in four people to spend over £10,000 on both treatments and investigative procedures.

The research showed around 35 per cent of people struggling with infertility have considered seeking fertility treatment abroad due to the prospect of lower costs.

Of those seeking fertility treatment in a foreign country, however, only 14 per cent believed that clinics abroad have a higher success rate.

Of those actively trying to conceive almost one in five have used their life savings in the pursuit of having a child, whilst 25 per cent have paid for their fertility treatments using a credit card.

Dr Gill Lockwood, consultant at Fertility Family, said: “While we tend to cast our gaze on women when it comes to infertility, case studies have shown that infertility can impact both women and men in similar ways. However, women have been observed to seek help more than men.

“Although the psychological struggles of infertility can be overwhelming, many patients ultimately reach some type of resolution. Some of the alternatives include becoming parents to a relative’s children, adopting children, or deciding to adopt a child-free lifestyle.

“Needless to say, this resolution is usually psychologically demanding, and patients may feel forever impacted by the experience of infertility.”

A combination of fertility struggles and accessible healthcare have impacted people across the UK significantly, with one in two admitting to feeling “ashamed” due to their difficulties trying to conceive.

A further 31 per cent reported feeling that other people think “less” of them due to their fertility struggles, showcasing the need for better mental health support.

To receive the Femtech World newsletter, sign up here.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Aspect Publishing Ltd. All Rights Reserved.