The European Commission has committed 11.8 million euros to this four-year Integrated Project funded under the Sixth Framework Programme.
“RNA silencing, also called RNA interference, is the cell’s natural ability to turn off genes”, said Professor David Baulcombe of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre. “Only a few years ago it was unknown, but now RNA silencing is one of the most powerful tools available to researchers. We can use it to understand the function of genes and the mechanisms of cellular regulation. We can also use it as a diagnostic tool for cancer and other diseases. In future it may also be possible to use RNA silencing as the basis of novel therapy for diverse diseases ranging from avian influenza to cancer.”
RNA silencing is thought to have evolved as a defence mechanism against viruses. In primitive cells it was a type of immune system that could recognize and then silence viral genes. Later in evolution the silencing mechanism was recruited for switching off genes involved in normal growth of cells and responses to stress. It occurs in all sorts of organisms from yeasts to humans and the recent discoveries have revealed a previously unknown role for RNA (ribonucleic acid). They have shown how, in addition to the previously understood role as a cellular messenger that directs protein synthesis, RNA can also silence expression of genes. By introducing specific silencing RNAs into an organism, the expression of genes can be turned down in a controlled way.
“Although there has been rapid recent progress in understanding RNA silencing there is still much to be done” said Professor Baulcombe. “For example we need to ensure that an RNA targeted against gene X will only silence gene X and nothing else. When we can do that we will be able to use RNA as a drug without side effects. We also need to understand more about the role of silencing RNAs in normal growth and development. That information will then allow us to use the presence of silencing RNAs to diagnose disease states in a cell.”
Stimulated by the great potential of RNA silencing the European Commission has funded a consortium of the leading European laboratories. The consortium includes researchers working on RNA silencing in model plant and animal systems as well as humans. The use of the model systems allows experiments to be carried out that would be impossible with humans although the new discoveries may be translatable into new technologies for use in medicine.
Seventeen world-class laboratories and companies from nine European countries are members of the SIROCCO consortium. SIROCCO stands for “Silencing RNAs: organisers and coordinators of complexity in eurkaryotic organisms”.
Dr Aileen Hogan | alfa
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research