Lab-grown ‘mini-bile ducts’ used to repair human livers

 

 

Bile Duct Organoid. Credit:Teresa Brevini

Rosetrees -funded research, published in Science, reports that for the first time, researchers have used lab grown ‘mini-bile ducts’ to repair human livers. The work entitled “Cholangiocyte organoids can repair bile ducts after transplantation in human liver” was led by Dr Fotios Sampaziotis from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.
Bile ducts are the liver’s waste disposal system and dysfunctional bile ducts are the cause of approximately 1/3 of adult and 70% of children’s liver transplantations. Currently there is a chronic shortage of donor livers and there are no alternative treatments for patients who need a transplant. To counter this the researchers have grown bile duct “mini-organs” known as organoids and transplanted these into ex vivo human livers, repairing the damage.
This pioneering work in regenerative medicine is the 1st study of its kind that has been used in human organs and paves the way for cell therapies to treat liver disease in patients in the coming years. It is also possible that this approach can be applied to various organs and diseases, greatly reducing the pressure on transplant waiting lists and improving the prognosis for countless patients. More information can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosetrees -funded research, published in Science, reports that for the first time, researchers have used lab grown ‘mini-bile ducts’ to repair human livers. The work entitled “Cholangiocyte organoids can repair bile ducts after transplantation in human liver” was led by Dr Fotios Sampaziotis from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.
Bile ducts are the liver’s waste disposal system and dysfunctional bile ducts are the cause of approximately 1/3 of adult and 70% of children’s liver transplantations. Currently there is a chronic shortage of donor livers and there are no alternative treatments for patients who need a transplant. To counter this the researchers have grown bile duct “mini-organs” known as organoids and transplanted these into ex vivo human livers, repairing the damage.
This pioneering work in regenerative medicine is the 1st study of its kind that has been used in human organs and paves the way for cell therapies to treat liver disease in patients in the coming years. It is also possible that this approach can be applied to various organs and diseases, greatly reducing the pressure on transplant waiting lists and improving the prognosis for countless patients. More information can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids could prevent asthma

New research has recently been published in the European Respiratory Journal, led by Rosetrees funded researchers. They reported that increasing the daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids in childhood has the potential to reduce the risk of developing asthma in certain children carrying a common gene variant. The paper, published in January of this year (2021), was led by Professor Seif Shaheen from Queen Mary University of London, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, the University of Southampton, UK and the Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

The study used data from a large UK birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children). This study recruited pregnant mothers in the early 1990s and have continued to follow up the health and development of the children ever since. When the researchers first analysed the association of long chain omega-3 intake from fish with asthma they did not find an association in the cohort as a whole. However, they then looked at children that carry a common variant in the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) gene which is associated with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood. In these children a higher dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a decreased chance of developing asthma. This study sheds light on the potential health benefits of children increasing their intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. The research was featured in The Times newspaper.

RCS/Rosetrees Essay Prize

We are very pleased to announce the winners of the annual Royal College of Surgeons/Rosetrees essay prize 2021. The winning essays were selected from 24 outstanding applications in answer to the question: ‘Describe how your research project will contribute to improvements in patient care within the next five years’. The well-deserved winner, James Glasbey (University of Birmingham) won with his essay entitled ‘Reducing infection and mortality after surgery around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond’. James’ work is investigating how making important changes surrounding surgery care with regards to COVID-19 has the potential to save thousands of lives across the world. The calibre of this year’s applications was very high and we would also like to congratulate the runners-up of this prize; James Fletcher for his essay ‘Optimising screw fixation for surgeons to improve patient care’ and ‘Panagiota Birmpili’ for her essay ‘Improving outcomes for patients with Chronic Limb-Threatening Ischaemia.’

Genetic changes in tumours could help predict if patients will respond to immunotherapy

 

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, the UCL Cancer Institute, and the Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence have identified genetic changes in tumours which could be used to predict if immunotherapy drugs would be effective in individual patients.

Immunotherapies have led to huge progress in treating certain types of cancer, but only a subset of patients respond. The challenge for doctors and researchers is in understanding why they work in some people and not others, and in predicting who will respond well to treatment.

In their paper, published in Cell (27 January), the scientists looked for genetic and gene expression changes in tumours in over 1,000 patients being treated with checkpoint inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy which stops cancer cells from switching off the body’s immune response.

They found that the total number of genetic mutations which are present in every cancer cell in a patient was the best predictor for tumour response to immunotherapy. The more mutations present in every tumour cell, the more likely they were to work. In addition, expression of gene CXCL9 was found to be a critical driver of an effective anti-tumour immune response.

The researchers also looked at the cases where checkpoint inhibitors had not been effective. For example, having more copies of a gene called CCND1 was linked to tumours being resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. More research is needed, but the scientists suggest that patients with this mutation in their tumours may benefit more from alternative drug treatment options.

Kevin Litchfield, co-lead author of the Cell paper and group leader of the Tumour Immunogenomics and Immunosurveillance lab at UCL said: “It has enabled us to pinpoint the specific genetic factors which determine tumour response to immunotherapy and combine them into a predictive test to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from therapy. Furthermore, it has improved our biological understanding of how immunotherapy works, which is vital for the design and development of new improved immunotherapeutic drugs.”

The work was partly funded by Cancer Research UK, the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and Rosetrees Trust, among others.

ROSETREES ENTEPRISE FELLOWSHIP AWARD

We are delighted to announce that Dr Christopher Chapman of Imperial College has been awarded a Rosetrees Enterprise Fellowship.  The £180,000 award will fund three years of development of an implantable device to deliver precision chemotherapeutic release. The aim is to significantly improve the efficacy of treatment for hard-to-treat cancers, such as brain and pancreatic cancer, that have shown little increase in survival rates over the last 40 years.  It is also hoped that targeted treatment into tumours, via implanted electrodes, will also lead to a reduction in side effects compared to conventional treatments and hence offer patients a better quality of life.

Dr Chapman is currently in his third year as a post-doctoral biomedical engineering research associate.

Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Award 2020

Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Award 2020

We are delighted to announce that the winners of the Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Award 2020 are Professor Quentin Sattentau (Oxford University) and Professor Ben Davis (Rosalind Franklin Institute and Oxford University). The team will receive an award of £300,000 over three years to fund their research on creating a vaccine for HIV.

The aim of the annual Interdisciplinary Award is to develop new collaborative studies between researchers in different fields to make advances that will have real benefits to patients. This year’s award was in recognition of the interface between medicine and chemistry. 

The research team recently integrated chemistry, molecular biology and immunology in a novel approach to generating strong immune responses to specific sugar molecules (known as glycans) found in viruses . They now plan to use this approach to design a vaccine that will provide protective antibody responses against HIV. This strategy also has the potential to not only create new vaccines against other viruses that have had a global impact, such as SARS-CoV-2, but to also instruct the immune system to attack cancer cells.