Helicobacter pylori cause stomach cancer

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Helicobacter pylori cause stomach cancer

The gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori can not only cause inflammation of the stomach and gastric ulcers, but is also a significant risk factor for the development of gastric carcinomas (gastric cancer). Anne Müller and Massimo Lopes from the Institute of Molecular Cancer Research at the University of Zurich have now uncovered the mechanism by which Helicobacter pylori bacteria damage human host cells and thus promote the outbreak of gastric cancer.

As the Swiss researchers report in the current issue of the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS), stomach cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide. According to this, more than a third of cancer deaths are due to carcinoma in the stomach. Before the current study by Anne Müller and Massimo Lopes, chronic infections of the gastric mucosa with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria were known to be essential risk factors for the development of stomach cancer. The Swiss researchers have now, for the first time, succeeded in deciphering the molecular mechanism that leads to the outbreak of gastric cancer.

DNA damage caused by Helicobacter pylori infections When investigating the genetic consequences of Helicobacter pylori infection, the researchers led by Anne Müller and Massimo Lopes found that the bacteria in the cells of the gastric mucosa cause breaks in both strands of the DNA molecule. According to the scientists, this damages the genetic information of the cell and promotes mutations in the tissue that cause gastric cancer in the event of uncontrolled cell growth. According to the researchers, the occurrence of double-strand breaks depends on the intensity and duration of the Helicobacter pylori infection. If the pathogens were killed with antibiotics within a few hours after the laboratory tests, the natural repair mechanisms were able to repair most of the fractures and prevent uncontrolled cell growth, according to the experts.

If the gastric mucosal infection was not treated with medication, the natural repair mechanisms could not bring the growing number of double-strand breaks under control in the long term, the Swiss researchers report. The fractures would only be repaired inaccurately or not at all, according to Anne Müller and colleagues. As a result, in addition to the death of the cells, the experts named an increasing number of genetic mutations that significantly increase the risk of gastric cancer. This is the first time that the connection between the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori and the occurrence of gastric cancer has been scientifically proven, emphasize Anne Müller and Massimo Lopes. According to the researchers, the latest study results also show how important early treatment for Helicobacter pylori infections of the gastric mucosa is. In addition, based on the current findings, not only gastric cancer therapy but possibly early detection of gastric cancer could be significantly improved in the future, the Swiss scientists hope.

Taking signs of Helicobacter pylori infection seriously The conventional medical treatment of infection with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which was first detected in 1983, is usually based on the administration of special antibiotics in combination with an active ingredient to reduce acid production in the stomach. However, an infection with Helicobacter pylori often runs without symptoms, so that those affected see no need to see a doctor. According to the experts, stomach pain in the upper abdomen, stomach pressure, flatulence, heartburn, diarrhea or nausea and vomiting can appear as possible signs of Helicobacter pylori infection. In view of the increased risk of gastric cancer associated with Helicobacter pylori infection, a doctor should be consulted urgently if suspected. (fp)

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Image: Sebastian Karkus / pixelio.de

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