Part of the Quadram Institute’s mission is to understand how diet and gut health relate to cancer, and other chronic conditions. With a better understanding of the complex interactions between diet, the gut microbiome, genetics and physiology we can provide better dietary advice, improved foods and diets that reduce the risk of developing cancer and helping us to age more healthily. Support from charities such as The Big C will help us maximise the benefits from having patient care and research housed together in our building.
The news that for the first time there are more male deaths from prostate cancer than female deaths from breast cancer has been attributed to the effects of an ageing population meaning more men are developing the disease, along with better diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer reducing its toll.
We have a major research project, supported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, that is using intervention studies to assess whether metabolites derived from sulphur-containing foods can reduce the occurrence or progression of prostate cancer, in collaboration with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the University of East Anglia. This builds on a longstanding research interest into Brassica and allium vegetables that are naturally high sources of these metabolites, which is adding to the evidence that they can play a role in preventing the occurrence, or halting the progression of prostate cancer.
We are also studying the molecular and cellular events that lead to the development of cancers linked to digestive health and metabolism, such as bowel and liver cancer.
This relies on gut biologists working closely with fundamental scientists and mathematical and network biologists, building computational models of the highly complex networks of signals between cells that regulate normal growth. We want to better understand the gut-liver axis, where inflammation in the gut has been linked to liver disease and liver cancer.
This combination of interdisciplinary expertise is needed to understand the development of complex conditions like cancer, and we hope that by bringing together researchers and clinicians we can contribute to the efforts being undertaken across the UK to reduce the impact of cancer and other chronic age-related diseases.