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 Tissue-engineered colon from human cells develop different types of neurons
02.10.2015 | Children's Hospital Los Angeles

nachricht Big eyes! – MDC Researchers Identify Cause of Inherited Form of Extreme Nearsightedness
02.10.2015 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>