What is the best strategy to determine the specific function of a gene? Certainly a good idea is to eliminate the gene and see what kind of effects this move has on the whole organism. With this goal in mind, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the Whitehead Institute and the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard – together with a consortium of five bioinformatics companies (Bristol-Myers, Novartis Pharma, Eli Lilly, Sigma, Astra Zeneca) – are about concluding the establishment of a technological platform that will allow the scientists to investigate the specific role of some genes in the onset of tumours. They will accomplish this goal by selectively inhibiting the genes’ activity. This ambitious and important project was presented yesterday by William C. Hahn, from the Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute, during the 2nd IFOM-IEO Campus Meeting on Cancer.
“We are building up – says Hahn, who leads the project – what is technically called an RNAi library, a collection of interfering RNAs that work according to a predator-prey rationale. In other words, we have generated a huge assembly of hunter-molecules, so far around 104,000, that are able to target a prey: some 22,000 human and murine genes.”
When these molecules are introduced in the cells they can selectively inactivate a gene by interfering with its activity. How? First of all the hunter spots its prey: the RNA molecule produced from a specific gene that carries the instructions for the synthesis of a protein. Then it binds the prey and destroys it. “At this point – details the scientist – we check the outcome and examine what are the changes that this loss-of-function determines. So far we have identified a set of genes whose role is still unknown. When we combine this information with other data obtained with different analytical approaches we should be able to speed up the procedures necessary to proceed from the singling out of a target and the production of adequate drugs.”
Up to now by using the interfering-inactivation technique the scientists have detected a number of genes, and a hundred of these turned out to control mitosis: a process of cell division which results in the production of two identical daughter cells. “Some of them were already known – pinpoints Hahn – but others were identified for the first time thanks to this technique. Our next goal is to identify genes that are involved in the onset of some tumours and to characterize their role in detail”. Further targets are also two classes of enzymes – called kinases and phosphatases – involved in some steps of the neoplastic transformation.
An important feature of the platform created at Harvard and MIT is the fact that not only the results of this research, but also materials, methods and the newly-built molecules will be accessible at no cost to the whole scientific community. “This approach – explains Hahn – stems from the spirit that animates the Broad Institute, and is the true spirit that we should expect in all kinds of science.”
‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel
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...
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...
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...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy