Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Not just humans benefit from animal biotechnology

25.10.2007
Laboratory animals are the source of major discoveries and breakthroughs in biology, not just in tackling disease but also unravelling fundamental molecular processes. Delegates at a recent research conference organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and Wellcome Trust heard how technology capable of analysing animal genes across the whole genome is yielding many benefits for agriculture and human society.

In breeding both domestic and farm animals for example, it is now possible to select individuals with a wide spectrum of desirable traits in a single generation. In the past selective breeding of animals has been confined to traits that are obvious or easy to measure, and it has been difficult to produce individuals with a broad combination of desirable qualities, according to Helen Sang, chair of the recent ESF/Wellcome conference on Animal Biotechnology.

"There is the potential to increase the effectiveness of genetic selection, even for traits that are difficult or take a long time to measure," said Sang from the Roslin Institute Department of Gene Function & Development Edinburgh United Kingdom. The key point here is that it is now possible to identify individual animals for breeding, and select offspring, with the best overall combination of gene variants (alleles) rather than focusing on just one or two traits.

This ability to measure whole genomes is also helping unravel the genetic components of many multi-gene diseases in both humans and animals. "It is impressive how quickly specific mutations can be mapped in farm animal species and the dog, now that genome sequences are available and SNP maps," said Sang. SNP, or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, refers to the single point variations between the DNA of individuals of a species that determine traits. These lead to the existence of different versions of some genes, called alleles, and in some cases these variants arise in an individual through mutations in a single nucleotide. It is now possible to pinpoint mutations across the whole genome quickly and study how the associated genes interact. "This information can be used to investigate disease in these species but also in many cases can be useful models for similar human genetic diseases," said Sang.

... more about:
»Conference »Genome »Sang »Trait »alleles »benefit »mutations

The conference showed how fundamental breakthroughs can be exploited in tackling disease. One of the most exciting discoveries of recent years is the fact that rods and cones are not the only light receptors in the eye, overturning the long established view. There is also a receptor, called phototropin, that recognises blue light at much lower levels, even operating in some people who are otherwise blind, playing an important role in setting the circadian clock. At the conference, one of the world's leading specialists in chronobiology (study of biological rhythms) Russell Foster, explained how mouse models were being used to study this newly discovered blue light receptor. "This has been analysed in mice and he is using the knowledge gained to interact with ophthalmologists (eye disease specialists) and patients," said Sang.

Genes determine individual traits not just through their variations, or alleles, but also through differing levels of expression. Another important field of research discussed at the conference concerned the important role of microRNAs in controlling gene expression. RNAs are normally the intermediate molecules between DNA and their products, proteins, in gene expression. However microRNA is a type of RNA that instead of being involved in protein production, feeds back into the DNA coding process to regulate the expression of other genes. Mutations in the genes coding for the microRNA itself can therefore effect the expression of other genes, with some subtle and occasionally dramatic effects, as Sang pointed out. Given that animals inherit two copies, or alleles, of each gene, mutations are more likely to be effective when one of the copies is already silenced, as happens in the phenomenon known as genomic imprinting. Sang cited the case of sheep, where imprinting of a gene called callipyge leads to increased muscle growth in the hindquarters, which clearly can be a desirable trait in meat production.

All these different strands of research could benefit from being integrated into a common framework to avoid duplication of effort and exploit relevant expertise, according to Sang. "The main value of the workshop was that it brought the more theoretical people together with experimental scientists and opportunities for synergies were identified."

Thomas Lau | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/activities/esf-conferences.html

Further reports about: Conference Genome Sang Trait alleles benefit mutations

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>