The European Commission has committed 11.8 million euros to this four-year Integrated Project funded under the Sixth Framework Programme.
In Spain, the human research leaded by the scientist of the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Xavier Estivill, is currently studying the contribution of these small RNAs in the regulation of genes potentially involved in neuropsychiatric disorders within the framework of this project.
“RNA silencing, also called RNA interference, is the cell’s natural ability to turn off genes”, said Professor David Baulcombe of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre. “Only a few years ago it was unknown, but now RNA silencing is one of the most powerful tools available to researchers. We can use it to understand the function of genes and the mechanisms of cellular regulation. We can also use it as a diagnostic tool for cancer and other diseases. In future it may also be possible to use RNA silencing as the basis of novel therapy for diverse diseases ranging from avian influenza to cancer.”
RNA silencing is thought to have evolved as a defence mechanism against viruses. In primitive cells it was a type of immune system that could recognize and then silence viral genes. Later in evolution the silencing mechanism was recruited for switching off genes involved in normal growth of cells and responses to stress. It occurs in all sorts of organisms from yeasts to humans and the recent discoveries have revealed a previously unknown role for RNA (ribonucleic acid). They have shown how, in addition to the previously understood role as a cellular messenger that directs protein synthesis, RNA can also silence expression of genes. By introducing specific silencing RNAs into an organism, the expression of genes can be turned down in a controlled way.
“Although there has been rapid recent progress in understanding RNA silencing there is still much to be done” said Professor Baulcombe. “For example we need to ensure that an RNA targeted against gene X will only silence gene X and nothing else. When we can do that we will be able to use RNA as a drug without side effects. We also need to understand more about the role of silencing RNAs in normal growth and development. That information will then allow us to use the presence of silencing RNAs to diagnose disease states in a cell.”
Stimulated by the great potential of RNA silencing the European Commission has funded a consortium of the leading European laboratories. The consortium includes researchers working on RNA silencing in model plant and animal systems as well as humans. The use of the model systems allows experiments to be carried out that would be impossible with humans although the new discoveries may be translatable into new technologies for use in medicine.
Gloria Lligadas | alfa
Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering