Although the recent rise in obesity in the developed world is down to an unhealthy environment, with an abundance of unhealthy food and many people taking very little exercise, the difference in the way people respond to this environment is often genetic.
Scientists say that missing DNA, such as that identified in new research by an international team led by Professor Philippe Froguel, from the School of Public Health at Imperial, may be having a dramatic effect on some people’s weight.
Researchers in Imperial’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, led by Professor Chris Toumazou, are doing pioneering work leading to new developments in medical diagnosis equipment, personalised healthcare devices, new regenerative medicine techniques and new medical imaging technologies.
- Imperial and its spinout company DNA Electronics have developed SNP Dr, a prototype healthcare device that assesses whether patients are genetically predisposed to suffering adverse reactions to prescription drugs.
- Professor Toumazou has also played a key role in developing the first cochlear implant, which can improve hearing in people who are profoundly deaf or very hard of hearing, and has received international recognition for his work.
A five-minute screening test could cut the risk of developing bowel cancer by a third and save thousands of lives from the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, according to new research led by Imperial College London.
The 16-year study led by Professor Wendy Atkin from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial, showed that a single flexible sigmoidoscopy examination in men and women aged between 55 and 64 reduced the incidence of bowel cancer by a third, compared with a control group who had usual care. Screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy (named the ‘Flexi-Scope test’ by the research team) was particularly effective in the lower bowel,
where it halved incidence of the disease.
A team of scientists in Imperial’s School of Public Health is leading the UK arm of an international study on mobile communications (COSMOS), which will run for 20-30 years and follow the health of at least 250,000 participants aged 18-69 in five European countries.
Part of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme, the COSMOS study is the largest research study worldwide investigating mobile phone use and health, and is a very important step towards finding out whether there are health implications of using a mobile phone over a long period of time.
Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial, says: “Imperial scientists are attempting to incorporate new genes into the cells which make the sperm of young pigs, so that when these animals are adult and mate, they will have offspring whose tissues can be tolerated by the human immune system”.
- Professor Andrew George’s group in the Faculty of Medicine’s Molecular Immunotherapy Laboratory is examining the use of genetic modification to induce tolerance, including during xenotransplantation.
Professor Alan Fenwick OBE and his team have addressed several tropical diseases, such as schistosomiasis and intestinal worms, that they believe can be cured by annual doses of inexpensive drugs. They are treating millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa, who are at high risk of serious disease, to prove the drugs are well tolerated and improve their quality of life.
Scientists from diverse disciplines across Imperial are joining forces to develop and evaluate new solutions to improve health in poorer communities. Research ranges from HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and the emerging epidemics of diabetes and cardiovacular disease, to better delivery of healthcare and disease prevention.
The Imperial Blast Biomechanics and Biophysics Research Group is investigating how bones break after high-speed impacts.
- This is especially relevant today as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have become the leading cause of death of UK and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The Group is also looking at the development of improved protective measures has become a core research focus in reducing the injury burden of the combat soldier.
Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine is undertaking research on less invasive means of surgery, which means shorter hospitalisation and recovery times for patients.