Dr. Elisabeth Letellier, Prof. Rejko Krüger and Dr. Ibrahim Boussaad talk about their work in medical research on colorectal cancer and Parkinson's disease, where prevention is key.

After a two-week hiatus, due to getting covid, then moving house, I'm back!

So lovely to be in the studio once more surrounded by my wonderful guests.

To start the show, as ever, Sasha Kehoe gives us a rundown of some of the week's news stories and there is no shortage to choose from.

We chat about COP 27, the US midterms, ex-Spanish King Juan Carlos, the Norwegian Princess and her husband, Prime Minister Bettel's home screen and loads more!

My guests this week all come from the scientific world where research meets medicine.

Ageing well

Curbing Colorectal Cancer

It may not be a common topic of conversation, but colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, and the second when it comes to mortality rates. Over the last few days, Dr. Elisabeth Letellier and her team have set up part of a 'colon' at Belle Etoile to educate passers-by about the importance of gut health to prevent colon cancer.

Did you know there is a national screening program for the over 55s? However, the age of getting colon cancer is reducing. Why is this? Well there are probably many reasons but one that we can take control of is our gut microbiome; our gut health. About 20% of this type of cancer is genetic and the rest is due to other influences.

Dr. Elisabeth Letellier co-heads the Molecular Disease Mechanisms (MDM) group at the Department of Life Sciences and Medicine. Her current research focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying tumor initiation and progression in colorectal cancer, with a special focus on the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome has gained increasing interest over recent years. Several studies have identified specific species that are highly enriched in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. However, the interrelationships are complex and multifaceted.

For us, the main message is to try to have a varied and balanced diet with lots of fibre.

Preventing Parkinson's Disease

Professor Rejko Kruger is a doctor and a researcher, Professor for Neuroscience at the University of Luxembourg and Director of Transversal Translational Medicine at the Luxembourg Institute of Health. Since June 2019 he works between the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) to contribute to personalised medicine

Dr. Ibrahim Boussaad is a research scientist at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg.

Parkinson’s disease is made up of many different subtypes, which Rejko and Ibrahim have been trying to disentangle to provide, eventually, personalised treatments at the National Center for Excellence in Research on Parkinson’swww.parkinson.lu 

We can explain 20-30% by genetics. The others cannot refer back to a single mutation. Someone who has a specific sleep problem is 80% more likely to get Parkinson’s, and there are all sorts of other factors too, but ageing is the highest risk factor. Parkinson’s disease is, in fact, the premature ageing of neurons.

This work carried out by Ibrahim and Rejko depends on patient participation - cell donation. Everyone with Parkinson’s in Luxembourg is invited to enter this research. Their work is effectively a Proof of Concept; a pipeline from bed to bench to bed.

And this approach can be applied to other and new neurodegenerative diseases, even cancer.  About half of Parkinson’s patients get dementia, so this research is linked.

Developing a centre of excellence has allowed the group to collaborate across disciplines and different institutions.

A national prevention plan for dementia exists, telling us about lifestyle factors to avoid / add into our lives to avoid dementia. But it doesn’t yet exist for Parkinson’s, which is why Rejko and Ibo have developed a survey for 50-80 year olds - please fill this out! There is also a NCER-PD (National Center for Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s) Facebook page

www.pdp.lu (Dementia Prevention Programme)
www.heba.lu (Healthy Ageing Study; here we can invite everyone between 50 and 80 years)
Parkinson : Recherche au Luxembourg | Luxembourg | Facebook 

By the time someone has Parkinson’s, 60% of the nerve cells in brain are gone. And so, the main aim is to prevent people getting Parkinson’s. And if one has the disease, to slow down the progression and maintain quality of life. It's all about healthy aging

The side effects of Parkinson's can be treated very well, but the chronic progression, as of this moment, cannot be prevented.

For more in-depth learning you can visit the YouTube channel with videos on NCER-PD research and from ParkinsonNet Luxembourg therapists: https://www.youtube.com/c/NCERPD/

And there is an upcoming conference in January on Precision Medicine in Parkinson’s Disease | Facebook

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