Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


German Research Foundation approves new priority program in the life sciences


Funding to be provided for national program on "Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications" coordinated by Mainz University

In recent years, it has become clear that the genetic code is far more complex than previously assumed. In addition to the well-known building blocks adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, numerous chemical variations play an important role.

Scientists now assume that the newly discovered nucleic acid modifications may form a second layer of information that extends and complements the genetic code. "The new discoveries are rather like umlauts that extend the standard alphabet," explained Professor Mark Helm of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry - Therapeutic Life Sciences at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Helm is the coordinator of the priority program "Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications", which the German Research Foundation (DFG) has now agreed to fund.

This nationwide priority program will start in 2015 and, according to plans, will continue to receive DFG support for six years. "We are lucky enough in Germany to have some of the leading international researchers in all the core areas in this field and we thus intend to explore this subject with the help of a country-wide network," said Helm. Decoding the information in the modified DNA and RNA bases and nucleosides is a hot topic in chemical biology right now.

Before 2009, scientists were convinced that only the four Watson-Crick bases plus a fifth base called 5-methylcytosine code for the genetic information that is key to life. Then three additional DNA modifications were uncovered in quick succession, which are postulated to act as switches that regulate gene functions. The switch can be used to activate or deactivate a gene.

"We are looking at a completely new coding mechanism that had previously escaped our attention," Helm pointed out. On the other hand, scientists have long known that RNA, which is responsible for translating the genetic code into proteins, contains more than 150 different modified nucleosides. The purpose of these, however, is still largely unknown.

The new research network will closely examine the molecular details of the modifications in naturally occurring nucleic acids. This will involve, among other things, detecting and identifying modifications, localizing and quantifying them, and uncovering both their structure and function. In an initial period, an emphasis will be on methods from chemistry and structural biology, allowing to connect to scientists from the life sciences in joint projects. The German Research Foundation will issue a call for proposals in this innovative and interdisciplinary research program.

Further information:
Professor Dr. Mark Helm
Medical / Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry – Therapeutic Life Sciences
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
D 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-25731
fax +49 6131 39-20373

Related links: - DFG press release “16 New Priority Programmes”

Weitere Informationen: - press release

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Biochemistry DFG DNA Foundation Pharmaceutical RNA acids modifications thymine

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

nachricht Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark
28.10.2016 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>