Biomarkers are biological attributes that can give doctors or researchers clues about the health status or illnesses of a patient. Scientists are placing great hope in a new type of biomarker, so-called microRNAs. These short ribonucleic acid molecules are notable for their very high level of stability. Researchers at Saarland University, the University of Luxembourg and the Eurac Research center in Bozen have now established that such microRNAs can remain stable even after 5300 years. They have found the molecules in the well-known glacier mummy "Ötzi".
A number of facts have been scientifically proven about the glacier mummy, known as "the Iceman" or "Ötzi," found in the Ötztal Alps (South Tyrol) in 1991. Through imaging techniques, we know about degeneration in his lumbar spine and a fatal arrow wound in his left shoulder. DNA analyses showed that Ötzi was lactose intolerant, and had brown eyes and blood type 0. Now a study of Ötzi's microRNAs has also been completed. MicroRNAs are very small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and play a central role in the regulation of genes.
Researchers found short ribonucleic acid molecules (microRNA) even in mummies like Ötzi.
Andreas Keller, Universität des Saarlandes
Although these molecules are very stable in tissues, prior to this study it was unclear whether they could still be found in human tissues after thousands of years. Therefore, Professors Andreas Keller and Eckart Meese of Saarland University, Stephanie Kreis of the University of Luxembourg, and Professor Albert Zink and Frank Maixner of Eurac Research in Bozen took on the challenge.
They analyzed not only tissue samples from the Iceman, but also those from a mummy of a soldier fallen in World War I. "Our investigation provides evidence that we can analyze microRNA even after thousands of years," explains Andreas Keller, Professor of Clinical Bioinformatics at Saarland University, who coordinated the study.
The scientists took samples from Ötzi's skin, stomach, and stomach contents. "It was a challenge to extract this genetic material in significant quantities and sufficient quality from the mummified tissue samples, and to measure and quantify it with the newest, very precise methods," reports Stephanie Kreis, who isolated the microRNAs at the University of Luxembourg.
Some molecules were found that were present predominantly in the ancient tissues. Conversely, some of the biomarkers that are well-known today were not found in Ötzi. According to Professor Zink from Eurac Research, the microRNAs are the next important class of molecules from Ötzi to receive intensive examination.
Professor Meese, head of the Institute of Human Genetics at Saarland University, claims that the stability of these biomarkers is also important for people today. "It is vital for clinical applications," explains Meese.
"It's evident that the potential of microRNA is much greater than we previously thought. We still don't know enough about how these molecules influence specific genes, entire gene families, or biochemical reaction pathways. When we investigate this further, it's possible microRNAs will become new stars in therapy. Until then, however, there is a lot more work to do," concludes Professor Keller.
"miRNAs in ancient tissue specimens of the Tyrolean Iceman"
Questions can be directed to:
Professor Andreas Keller
Chair for Clinical Bioinformatics
Tel.: +49 681 302 68611
Professor Albert Zink
Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
Tel.: +39 0471 055561
Dr. Stephanie Kreis
Life Sciences Research Unit
University of Luxembourg
Tel.: +352 4666 44 6884
Competence Center of Computer Science Saarland
Saarland Informatics Campus E1.7
Tel.: +49 681 302 70741
Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf | Universität des Saarlandes
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
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...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Medical Engineering
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Life Sciences