News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A novel MRI gadolinium-based contrast agent designed to bind with collagen, a key component in liver fibrosis progression, provides direct quantification of collagen deposition in several preclinical liver disease models. This tool could have large implications in clinical diagnosis and drug trials.

    • Paul Kennedy
    •  & Bachir Taouli
  • News & Views |

    Cancer therapies, in addition to inducing cell death, can trigger cellular senescence of tumour cells, and factors secreted from senescent cells might negatively affect the tumour microenvironment. A new study by Wang et al. shows that eradication of therapy-induced senescent cells (senolysis) can improve the outcome of liver cancer therapy.

    • Katharina Wolter
    •  & Lars Zender
  • News & Views |

    A new study has identified an intestinal stem cell population involved in epithelial regeneration upon injury in mice and provided an in vitro tool with which to characterize the recurrent damage–repair mechanisms affecting chronic gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease.

    • Isabella Dotti
    •  & Azucena Salas
  • News & Views |

    Live biotherapeutics have been used clinically both as defined probiotics and as undefined faecal microbiota transplants. Two new studies illustrate the risks of administering live microorganisms to highly compromised patients. These risks should be considered in the context of the potential therapeutic value of these treatments.

    • Colin Hill
  • News & Views |

    A new study demonstrates a novel role for an endocannabinoid in promoting hepatocyte steatosis. The study describes a mode of bidirectional communication between the alcohol-injured hepatocyte and the glutamate-activated hepatic stellate cell. This intercellular communication represents a novel targetable pathogenic mechanism that could lead to new strategies to prevent fatty liver disease progression to cirrhosis.

    • Josepmaria Argemi
    •  & Ramon Bataller
  • News & Views |

    A new study reveals that a novel serotonin sensor in the spore-forming gut bacteria, Turicibacter sanguinis, might be important for host lipid and steroid metabolism. These findings support the emerging concept that bidirectional signalling pathways can influence bacterial community structure and exert effects on host physiology.

    • Jill M. Hoffman
    •  & Kara G. Margolis
  • News & Views |

    A new study is the first to investigate the relationship between liver-enriched antimicrobial peptide-2 (LEAP2) and different metabolic states, and highlights the reciprocal relationship between LEAP2 and ghrelin (known as the ‘hunger hormone’ for its role in stimulating appetite). These findings could have important implications given the worldwide increase in obesity since 1975.

    • Martha A. Schalla
    •  & Andreas Stengel
  • News & Views |

    Screening and early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer are at the focal point of attention from researchers, physicians and patients. A new systematic review and recommendation statement by the USPSTF attempt to summarize the current state of affairs.

    • Marco J. Bruno
  • News & Views |

    Whether to administer purgative cleansing and oral antibiotics before colon surgery as a method to prevent postoperative infections, once standard of care, is now being considered unnecessary with today’s advancements of care. A new study questions the efficacy of this bowel preparation approach with a prospective randomized trial.

    • John C. Alverdy
    •  & Benjamin D. Shogan
  • News & Views |

    Living donor liver transplantation is a proven option for end-stage liver disease. In a new study, a pioneering multi-organ transplantation programme in Canada critically reviews the motivations and facilitators of anonymous adult living liver donors over a 12-year period, providing insights into how we can push forward ethical living organ donation for transplantation.

    • Robert A. Fisher
  • News & Views |

    During the metastatic process, cancer cells spread from the primary tumour to distant organs. Although metastases are the primary cause of cancer mortality, the dynamics of the metastatic process remain largely unknown. A new study suggests that during colorectal cancer progression, metastatic seeding might occur before clinical detectability.

    • Alessandro Magrì
    •  & Alberto Bardelli
  • News & Views |

    Multi-omics technologies in gut microbiome research provide a global view of changes in genetic, metabolic and biochemical processes. This approach has now been applied to the gut microbiota in the context of IBD, providing first steps towards a functional understanding of host–microbe interactions during disease pathogenesis.

    • Amira Metwaly
    •  & Dirk Haller
  • News & Views |

    A new study has added valuable outcome data from adolescents 5 years after undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. By comparing outcomes from adolescents and adults, the study adds to the existing evidence base, highlighting metabolic and bariatric surgery as an increasingly valuable tool in the multidisciplinary management of adolescents with severe obesity.

    • Andrew J. Beamish
    •  & Torsten Olbers
  • News & Views |

    A new study involving integrative genomic and transcriptomic analysis of dual hepatocellular–intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma tumours has identified distinct subtypes that display different clinical and molecular features, and that could be used to guide therapeutic decisions.

    • Patricia Munoz-Garrido
    •  & Pedro M. Rodrigues
  • News & Views |

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to change many aspects of health-care practice. Two newly published trials explore the potential applications of AI to improve polyp detection and mucosal visualization in gastrointestinal endoscopy — both show the benefits of AI to improve detection in gastrointestinal endoscopy.

    • Colin J. Rees
    •  & Sara Koo
  • News & Views |

    Telephone or web-based psychotherapy has been suggested to be as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy while lowering access restrictions and improving patient acceptability. A large new study in patients with IBS shows the superiority of such an approach in comparison with treatment as usual.

    • Paul Enck
    •  & Jeffrey M. Lackner
  • News & Views |

    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been linked to common gastrointestinal symptoms; yet its precise definition remains elusive. A new study shows that, when it comes to symptom prediction in functional gastrointestinal disorders, high-throughput sequencing analysis of the microbiome and not jejunal aspiration and culture is the clear winner.

    • Eamonn M. M. Quigley
  • News & Views |

    Single-cell RNA profiling of colonic epithelial crypts from healthy volunteers and patients with ulcerative colitis adds pH-regulating colonocytes and goblet cells expressing a major determinant of barrier maintenance to the current arsenal of uncovered colonic epithelial cell types.

    • Isabelle Cleynen
    •  & Debby Laukens
  • News & Views |

    A new study shows that a real-world care pathway for patients with NAFLD in primary care can increase the detection of patients with clinically significant liver disease and decrease referrals for patients who could be managed in the community.

    • Patricia C. Valery
    •  & Elizabeth E. Powell
  • News & Views |

    A new study provides evidence that platelets exert potent inflammatory effects and play a central part in the progression from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The results from this and other studies raise important questions regarding the role of platelets in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in individuals with fatty liver disease.

    • Laurence P. Diggs
    •  & Tim F. Greten
  • News & Views |

    A new study provides mechanistic insight into the carcinogenic potential of human colonic mucosal microbial biofilms, confirming that both microbiota composition and organization along with the host inflammatory response are contributing factors to creating the ‘perfect storm’ in terms of colorectal carcinogenesis.

    • Georgina L. Hold
    •  & Emma Allen-Vercoe
  • News & Views |

    In a new study, the risk of new mental illness postpartum was significantly increased in women with IBD, and specifically in those with Crohn’s disease. Disturbingly, the risk of a substance disorder was also elevated in these women. The findings highlight that disease management during pregnancy is challenging and requires a multidisciplinary approach.

    • C. Janneke van der Woude
    •  & Ariella Bar-Gil Shitrit
  • News & Views |

    A new study shows that a sustainable faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) treatment protocol, including anaerobic sample preparation, induces remission of active ulcerative colitis. The promising results are another piece in the puzzle, but it is not yet possible to draw conclusions and implement the procedure in clinical practice.

    • Giovanni Cammarota
    •  & Gianluca Ianiro
  • News & Views |

    A new study provides evidence that colonization of germ-free mice with faecal bacteria from healthy infants can protect against signs of cow’s milk allergy in mice. The results from this and other studies raise the intriguing question of whether the gut microbiota can be manipulated for food allergy prevention and therapy.

    • Supinda Bunyavanich
  • News & Views |

    Two recent papers show that probiotics colonize the gut in permissive volunteers only and delay the reconstitution of the microbiome after antibiotics treatment. In the absence of any clinical readouts, it is still difficult to extrapolate these observations in terms of short-term or long-term health consequences for patients.

    • Philippe Langella
    •  & Jean-Marc Chatel
  • News & Views |

    A new study of a fibroblast growth factor 19 analogue in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) provides provocative results. The data challenge alkaline phosphatase levels as the appropriate surrogate end point in PSC trials and highlight alternatives, urging efforts to identify better clinical end points for this disease.

    • Alessio Gerussi
    •  & Pietro Invernizzi
  • News & Views |

    Over the past decade, many studies have revealed the importance of the gut microbiome in disease development and treatment, including in cancer. Because both host genetics and the gut microbiome can influence host phenotype and treatment outcome, there is an urgent need to develop precision medicine and personalize dietary supplementation based on an individual’s microbiome.

    • Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan
    •  & Prasant Kumar Jena
  • News & Views |

    Innovative solutions are needed to overcome the global disparity in patients awaiting kidney transplantation versus donor organs available. A new study reports a promising new strategy of transplanting kidneys from HCV-infected donors into HCV-uninfected recipients and treating their HCV with direct-acting antivirals post-transplant — recipients achieved HCV cure with excellent one-year kidney allograft function.

    • Allison J. Kwong
    •  & Norah A. Terrault
  • News & Views |

    New findings show that a gut microbiome signature derived from metagenomic and phenomic data can accurately predict nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in obese women. The data highlight a role for phenylacetic acid, a microbial product of aromatic amino acid metabolism, in the cross-talk between the gut microbiome and the host hepatic phenotype.

    • Cyrielle Caussy
    •  & Rohit Loomba
  • News & Views |

    Pancreatic cancer is a disease with high tumour heterogeneity and dismal prognosis. There are few therapeutic options and many promising drugs have failed in patients, which makes better models to predict drug efficacy a key research priority. Now, a new study shows that patient-derived organoids can be used for molecular and therapeutic profiling and might be useful to predict clinical responses.

    • Thomas Seufferlein
    •  & Alexander Kleger
  • News & Views |

    A new report in Science by Ma and colleagues uncovers the interplay of microbiota-controlled bile acid metabolism and immune responses in the context of primary and metastatic liver tumours in mice. Their findings shed light on the gut–liver axis in hepatic malignancies.

    • Timon E. Adolph
    •  & Herbert Tilg
  • News & Views |

    IBD is associated with disruptions to resident microbial populations and inflammatory immune responses; however, little is known about how bacteria influence pathogenic immunity. New research identifies microbially produced ascorbate as a potential drug target to ameliorate disease by inhibiting inflammatory T cell function through altered cellular metabolism.

    • João Carlos Gomes-Neto
    •  & June L. Round
  • News & Views |

    New findings show that disease-specific T cells that target gluten in patients with coeliac disease persist for decades. The data highlight a central role for a highly select and stable population of T cells in disease persistence and support the feasibility of diagnostics and therapies targeting these cells.

    • Melinda Y. Hardy
    •  & Jason A. Tye-Din
  • News & Views |

    Serrated polyps contribute substantially to the development of colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the molecular events that drive these lesions is limited. Now, a new study describes an organoid-based mouse model that might accelerate our understanding of the serrated neoplasia pathway.

    • Arne Bleijenberg
    •  & Evelien Dekker
  • News & Views |

    Recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma after resection or ablation with curative intent is common and not prevented by direct-acting antiviral agent (DAA) therapy for hepatitis C. Owing to multiple methodological inconsistencies, available studies fail to answer whether DAA therapy anticipated risk of severe tumour recurrence: a prospective randomized study might serve the purpose.

    • Massimo Colombo
    •  & Vincenzo Boccaccio
  • News & Views |

    In a new study, Maier et al. reveal that non-antibiotic drugs intended to target human cells have off-target effects on the growth of human gut bacteria at clinically relevant concentrations. These results emphasize the need for a new field of metagenomic toxicology aimed at a more comprehensive understanding of the toxicity of compounds for humans and their associated microbial communities.

    • Peter Spanogiannopoulos
    •  & Peter J. Turnbaugh
  • News & Views |

    Colorectal cancer screening can save lives but there is a need for targeted, personalized screening. A new study examines an individual risk assessment based on family history, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, but faecal haemoglobin levels and their change over time can also help to further identify patients at high risk.

    • Ernst J. Kuipers
    •  & Manon C. Spaander
  • News & Views |

    The efficacy of Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy for the prevention of preneoplastic lesions in gastric cancer remains controversial. A new placebo-controlled trial and a large-scale observational study tackle this problem and show the positive effects of eradication therapy.

    • Hidekazu Suzuki
    •  & Juntaro Matsuzaki
  • News & Views |

    Mechanical forces are important for normal gastrointestinal development and function. Now, He et al. have discovered a population of Drosophila midgut epithelial enteroendocrine cell (EEC) precursors that express the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo, which generates a calcium influx that drives EEC differentiation and proliferation in response to physiological mechanical stimuli.

    • Arthur Beyder
  • News & Views |

    Exome sequencing of patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and genotyping of large case–control cohorts has identified new CD risk and protective variants of LRRK2, the most common genetic determinant of Parkinson disease. These findings provide new insights into the pathophysiology of these two seemingly unrelated disorders.

    • Pascal Derkinderen
    •  & Michel Neunlist
  • News & Views |

    In a prospective study of adults with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Gracie and colleagues have found evidence for the bi-directional relationship between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) activity and symptoms of psychological disorders. This study represents an important milestone in our understanding of how the brain and gut interact in IBD.

    • Antonina Mikocka-Walus
    •  & Jane M. Andrews
  • News & Views |

    Although metagenomic sequencing has provided unprecedented characterization of the gut microbiome, it gives only indirect evidence of the genes and pathways that might be active. Now, investigators have combined longitudinal sampling with metatranscriptomics and metagenomics in IBD to provide a high-resolution picture of the microbiome's functional dynamics.

    • Aonghus Lavelle
    •  & Harry Sokol
  • News & Views |

    RNA interference (RNAi) is a novel concept to target transcripts derived from HBV covalently closed circular DNA. The study by Wooddell et al. investigates the RNAi-based therapy ARC-520 in patients and chimpanzees with chronic HBV infection and uncovers HBV DNA integration as a crucial source of hepatitis B surface antigen, which has not been considered in current strategies to accomplish HBV cure.

    • Markus Cornberg
    •  & Michael P. Manns
  • News & Views |

    Increased relative abundance of Fusobacterium species contributes to the difference in intestinal bacterial composition between healthy individuals and patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). A new study now reveals that live Fusobacterium originating from primary CRC associate with liver metastasis, suggesting a potentially important function for this bacterial genus in metastatic tumour growth.

    • Ye Yang
    •  & Christian Jobin
  • News & Views |

    Predicting clinical outcomes in cancer using neoantigen burden is imperfect because current algorithms use only the binding affinity of putative neoantigens to HLA. A new study models pancreatic tumour response through a deeper understanding of tumour immunology, providing new tools for identifying neoantigens and characteristics that define their quality.

    • Alexander Hopkins
    •  & Elizabeth Jaffee
  • News & Views |

    At the squamocolumnar junction of mice and humans,a new study has identified a unique population of transitional basal cells that express molecular markers of both oesophageal stratified squamous epithelium and gastrointestinal columnar epithelium. These transitional basal cells are an attractive candidate for the cell of origin for Barrett oesophagus.

    • Rhonda F. Souza
    •  & Stuart J. Spechler
  • News & Views |

    Oncolytic viruses have made headlines owing to increasing numbers of reports of clinical success. Compelling data now indicate that small anticancer molecules can serve as potent sensitizers of tumour cells in hepatocellular carcinoma to enhance the oncolytic potential of systemically applied viruses.

    • Jennifer Altomonte
  • News & Views |

    Although Helicobacter pylori is associated with gastric cancer, bacterial communities that reside in the stomach are mostly unacknowledged. A new study shows that some gastric bacterial communities have emigrated from our mouth, prefer certain neighbours and prefer certain environments. By understanding the interactions of these bacteria, we hope to understand the environment most conducive to gastric cancer carcinogenesis.

    • Manish A. Shah
  • News & Views |

    Ileocaecal resection has traditionally been reserved for the treatment of biologic-refractory inflammatory, fibrostenotic or fistulizing Crohn's disease of the terminal ileum. Now, for the first time, this surgical approach has been investigated as an initial treatment for steroid or immunomodulator-refractory Crohn's ileitis, in comparison with anti-TNF therapy.

    • Bo Shen
  • News & Views |

    Childhood malnutrition is a global health issue influenced by poorly understood microbial interactions. A new model of co-infection in mice now sheds light on the complex interplay between pathogens, the host and the resident gut microbiota during malnutrition.

    • Kelsey E. Huus
    •  & B. Brett Finlay