Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Jefferson Researchers Develop Microchip to Track Genetic Signature of Cancer and Normal Tissue

22.06.2004


MicroRNAs (miRNAs), tiny pieces of genetic material that can serve as stop signs for gene expression and protein synthesis, are thought to be important in the development of cancer. Now, researchers at Jefferson Medical College and the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have developed a technique that allows them to find which miRNA genes are expressed – and how – in both cancerous and normal tissue.


Scientists, led by Carlo Croce, M.D., director of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center and professor of microbiology and immunology at Jefferson Medical College, have developed a microarray chip onto which they were able to put all the known miRNA genes in both human and mouse. They found that each tissue they tested had its own characteristic pattern of miRNA gene expression.

The work might enable scientists to gain a better understanding of the roles of miRNAs in cancer and provide targets for future drug development. They reported their findings June 21, 2004 online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Croce explains that miRNAs are thought to play important roles in regulating gene expression during development and cell differentiation. MiRNAs inhibit the function of their targets, typically messenger RNA, which is involved in gene expression. They either degrade the messenger RNA or block its translation. Cells in organisms from yeast to mammals make interfering RNA to shut off gene expression in development.



Dr. Croce and his colleagues had previously shown that deletions in miRNA genes were involved in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adult leukemia in the Western world. They also had reported that human miRNA genes are frequently located in “fragile” areas of the genome that are vulnerable to mutation. “We think the miRNA genes are in fact involved in many human cancers,” he says.

“As a result, we have a number of markers that allow us to characterize specific tissue in specific cells,” Dr. Croce says. “Now the chip allows us to compare normal tissue to malignant tissue.

“This kind of approach will give us important clues about the gene regulation in a number of cells in normal and cancer tissue,” he says. “It opens new avenues for treatment because these miRNA genes are so small, they can get into cells and be used as drugs. Characterizing their targets might help in understanding cancer phenotypes.”

MiRNA genes can function differently. Take miR-16, for example, which is one of the miRNA genes Dr. Croce has studied in CLL. It functions as a tumor suppressor, and probably some of its targets are oncogenes, he says. Tumor suppressor genes are normal genes that protect against the development of cancer. Oncogenes, on the other hand, promote excessive cell growth, the hallmark of cancer.

“If the miR is expressed at a high level, however, the RNA level of the targets would be low and the expression of the oncogene would be low,” he says. Conversely, “knocking out” the miR gene would mean the expression of the oncogene would be high.

“MiRNAs are a new mechanism involved in malignant transformation,” he says. “I think it will be found to be a very generalized mechanism and provide a lot of opportunities for treatment.

“The chip is an easy way to test for miRNA alterations,” he says. “When you look at a cancer, the chip will tell you which miRNAs are in fact there and which are not. Then you can study the targets and figure out their role in cancer.

“The next step is to continue to find out how these genes are regulated and what they regulate – their targets and their roles in cancers.”

Steven Benowitz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jefferson.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>