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Exploring the glycosylation process during infection

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Unravelling the stubbornness of stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers seem to recur because of re-infection introduced through the mouth. Key information on understanding and treating this potentially cancer-causing affliction has now come to light.

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Recurrent stomach ulcers have often developed into cancer, and the exact mechanism behind this hasn't always been clear. Medicine has so far discovered the menacing bacteria involved in stomach cancer seem to reappear in the mouth area often and re-infect the stomach in this way. Key in understanding stomach ulcers is glycosylation, a process where glycans - basically simple or complex sugars - attach themselves to proteins and lipids. The fully-funded EU project Infection glycomics is currently investigating these mechanisms in the hope of improving treatment in this area. Research has already shown that intestinal infections in mice and rats compromise glycosylation. The project is currently investigating the exact mechanism that affects the infection cycle. Ultimately, the results will shed light on the design of industrial cell culture facilities where glycosylation can be reproduced. This will ensure the quality glycoprotein drugs, the type of medication needed to combat stomach ulcers and prevent certain types of stomach cancer. The information is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry, which can then develop more effective drugs to treat stomach ulcers and pre-empt stomach cancer. An important finding of the project was the method developed to explore signalling among intestinal immune cells and how certain cells temporarily stop the protein synthesis. This result will have significant implications on understanding the mechanism for asthma and inflammation. With these findings, the project also positioned the European research community as one of the main leaders in glycomic research. Equally important, the main researchers involved in this project are now establishing a centre for glycomic research at the department for medical biochemistry in Gothenburg University, Sweden. They are hosting international workshops to establish the research policy in Europe for glycomics and glycobiology.

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