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"Dark Matter" That Shapes Cancer Behavior Unveiled in Landmark Studies – Technology Networks

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Cancers can evolve to become more aggressive without relying only on DNA mutations, two major studies published simultaneously in Nature reveal.

The research characterizes a whole extra level of control of cancer gene activity within tumours, which the researchers describe as cancer’s “dark matter”.

The two landmark studies showed how a level of gene control called ‘epigenetics’ plays a central role in the development and progression of bowel cancer. Testing cancers for DNA mutations alone misses this level of control – and so can fail to predict how cancers may behave and respond to treatment.

The research, published today in Nature, was led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, Human Technopole in Milan and Queen Mary University of London. It was funded by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Cancer Research UK.

More accurately predict cancer’s behaviour

The research could change the way we think about cancer and its treatment – and lead to new forms of tests that predict cancer’s behaviour more accurately.

Epigenetics involves chemical changes to the three-dimensional structure of DNA which don’t alter the DNA code itself but can control access to genes. It has increasingly been recognised as playing an important role in the development of cancer.

Now for the first time, scientists have been able to track the influence of epigenetic control on how bowel cancers grow, develop and evolve over time, separately from the influence of mutations to the DNA code, which they mapped simultaneously.

The researchers observed important epigenetic changes in every cancer they examined and found signs that epigenetic changes are involved in cancer’s ability to evolve and become more aggressive.

In the first paper, the researchers collected 1,373 samples from 30 bowel cancers and looked at epigenetic changes as cancers evolved. They showed that epigenetic changes:

  • are highly common in cells which have become cancerous and occur around genes already known to drive cancer
  • are heritable, meaning they can be inherited by cells with each cell division, and that they contribute to cancer evolution
  • influence how cancer cells accumulate DNA mutations
  • were present in cancer cells that had survival advantages which helped them to grow more than other cells.

Survival advantages

The second Nature paper aimed to understand why cancer cells within the same tumour can be so different to one another – a characteristic that helps some cells develop survival advantages and become resistant to cancer treatments.

The researchers wanted to understand whether the diversity of cell types within a tumour is governed by variation in the DNA code, or something else. They looked at the DNA sequence in diverse samples taken from different parts of the same tumour.

They found:

  • less than 2 per cent of changes in the DNA code in independent areas of a tumour were associated with changes in gene activity
  • variation in cancer cell characteristics throughout tumours is often governed by factors other than DNA mutations.

The researchers point out that their findings are observational in nature and more work needs to be done to determine cause and effect between specific epigenetic changes and modifications to cancer behaviour.

Fundamental advance in our understanding of cancer

Collectively, the papers represent a fundamental advance in our understanding of cancer. The researchers stress that DNA mutations are fundamental in “setting the scene” for a cancer’s development and evolution – but that much of the subsequent behaviour of cancer cells is determined by other factors, such as epigenetics.

That could help explain why DNA tests don’t always predict how cancers will respond to treatment and help doctors to tailor treatments for patients more effectively. It could also explain why some environmental exposures can cause cancer without leading to mutations in the DNA code.

Professor Trevor Graham, Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the ICR, said:

“We’ve unveiled an extra level of control for how cancers behave – something we liken to cancer’s ‘dark matter’. For years our understanding of cancer has focused on genetic mutations which permanently change the DNA code. But our research has shown that the way the DNA folds up can change which genes are read without altering the DNA code and this can be very important in determining how cancers behave.

“I hope our work will change the way we think about cancer and its treatment – and should ultimately affect the way patients are treated. Genetic testing for cancer mutations only gives us part of the picture about a person’s cancer – and is blind to ‘epigenetic’ changes to how genes are read. By testing for both genetic and epigenetic changes, we could, potentially, much more accurately predict which treatments will work best for a particular person’s cancer.”

Professor Andrea Sottoriva, Head of the Computational Biology Research Centre at Human Technopole in Milan, who co-led the research, said:

“When we study how cancers evolve over time, we tend to look at DNA mutations, but it’s clear that epigenetic changes also enable cancer to adapt and develop a survival advantage over other cells.

“We have for the first time been able to map epigenetic changes alongside the accumulation of DNA mutations as a colorectal tumour evolves. This provides exciting opportunities to create new treatments for cancer that don’t target the effects of DNA mutations, but instead the epigenetic changes which determine how genes are read.”

“Open’s up exciting future opportunities”

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of the ICR, London, and a world leader in the study of epigenetics, said:

“This discovery represents an exciting advance in our understanding of cancer biology.  Cancer’s ability to rapidly change and evolve is a key reason why it is so hard to treat. Exactly how cancer cells do this, and the factors that control how it can adapt to evade treatment, is not well understood.

“This important work demonstrates the potential role of epigenetic regulation in the development of cancer and the complexity of its behaviour. It opens exciting future opportunities to assess cancer using both genetic and epigenetic tests, and eventually to treat cancer with epigenetic-directed drugs.”

References:

  1. Heide T, Househam J, Cresswell GD, et al. The co-evolution of the genome and epigenome in colorectal cancer. Nature. 2022:1-11. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05202-1 
  2. Househam J, Heide T, Cresswell GD, et al. Phenotypic plasticity and genetic control in colorectal cancer evolution. Nature. 2022:1-10. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05311-x

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart

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Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert

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Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled

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Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!

 

1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.

 

2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.

 

3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.

 

4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.

 

5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.

 

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