Scientists are investigating why eating five-a-day is more beneficial for some people than others.
Studies have suggested that we all metabolise fruit and vegetables differently — this means some of us are gaining more of their protective effect against diseases.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia believe that the key may be in how people metabolise flavonoids — these are a type of antioxidant and are found in many fruit and vegetables.
In a trial of more than 200 people, the researchers will investigate whether gender, age, gut bacteria or genes have an effect on how individuals absorb flavonoids.
New drug could help to shrink skin cancer
A new once-a-day pill has been developed to help tackle basal cell carcinoma, a non-malignant form of skin cancer.
The prescription-only treatment can shrink the lesions — which most often occur on the head and neck — in up to half of patients not considered suitable for surgery or radiotherapy.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the UK.
The new pill has been shown to shrink the lesions in 47 per cent of patients where the disease hasn’t spread (and in a third of those where the cancer has spread).
The European drug regulator has given the go-ahead for the drug, known as vismodegib.
The medication is still to be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Tooth sensor to tell if you cheat on diet
A tooth sensor that fits onto dentures or braces has been developed by doctors to enable them to track whether a person is following health advice.
The tiny gadget — small enough to be embedded into a tooth — contains a tiny motion sensor called an accelerometer.
The theory is that the jaw moves differently during various activities such as chewing, smoking and drinking.
The sensor collects this information on a tiny circuit board and sends this data to a smartphone.
The doctor can download this data and monitor whether a patient has, for instance, been sticking to a diet or given up smoking.
The device, which has been developed at National Taiwan University, is in the prototype stage.
A knee ‘bracelet’ may help treat leg and foot pain. The gadget has been designed for those who suffer from nerve damage from diabetes, as well as chronic pain.
The gadget sits just below the knee, and at the touch of a button sends painless electrical currents into the leg. These pulses distract the nerves that send pain signals to the brain, alleviating discomfort.
Dose of iron may help lung patients breathe
Giving lung patients a boost of iron may relieve their symptoms.
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — an umbrella term that includes bronchitis and emphysema — are having the mineral delivered directly into their bloodstream via a drip.
In the Oxford University trial, 12 patients will have the intravenous iron administered during 15-minute sessions.
They will have four sessions over eight weeks, while a placebo group of 12 patients will have intravenous saline solution.
Iron is crucial for transporting oxygen around the body, and the team hope that such an intense dose may ease breathlessness and boost energy levels.
How swarms of bugs can tackle infection
Researchers are encouraging bacteria to form ‘swarms’, in the hope of making them more susceptible to antibiotics.
Bacteria often form a sticky layer called biofilm when they infect humans — this is a defensive strategy that makes them harder to kill with antibiotics.
Biofilms are thought to be particularly common in urinary tract and ear infections. But a team in the U.S has discovered that repeatedly disturbing the bacteria biofilm causes the bugs to divide rapidly and spread — or ‘swarm’.
Though this sounds harmful, this actually weakens the biofilm and makes it more susceptible to attack with antibiotics.
The team are working on therapies that could cause bacteria to swarm and so make infections easier to treat.