Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Massive microRNA scan uncovers leads to treating muscle degeneration

19.10.2007
Researchers have discovered the first microRNAs – tiny bits of code that regulate gene activity – linked to each of 10 major degenerative muscular disorders, opening doors to new treatments and a better biological understanding of these debilitating, poorly understood, often untreatable diseases.

The study, to be published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Iris Eisenberg, PhD, of the Program in Genomics at Children’s Hospital Boston. Louis Kunkel, PhD, director of the Program in Genomics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was senior investigator.

The disorders include the muscular dystrophies (Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy, limb girdle muscular dystrophies, Miyoshi myopathy, and fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy); the congenital myopathies (nemaline myopathy); and the inflammatory myopathies (polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and inclusion body myositis). While past studies have linked them with an increasing number of genes, it's still largely unknown how these genes cause muscle weakness and wasting, and, more importantly, how to translate the discoveries into treatments.

For instance, most muscular dystrophies begin with a known mutation in a “master gene,” leading to damaged or absent proteins in muscle cells. In Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, the absent protein is dystrophin, as Kunkel himself discovered in 1987. Its absence causes muscle tissue to weaken and rupture, and the tissue becomes progressively nonfunctional through inflammatory attacks and other damaging events that aren’t fully understood.

“The initial mutations do not explain why patients are losing their muscle so fast,” says Eisenberg. “There are still many unknown genes involved in these processes, as well as in the inflammatory processes taking place in the damaged muscle tissue.”

She and Kunkel believe microRNAs may help provide the missing genetic links. Their team analyzed muscle tissue from patients with each of the ten muscular disorders, discovering that 185 microRNAs are either too abundant or too scarce in wasting muscle, compared with healthy muscle.

Discovered in humans only in the past decade, microRNAs are already known to regulate major processes in the body. Therefore, Eisenberg believes microRNAs may be involved in orchestrating the tissue death, inflammatory response and other major degenerative processes in the affected muscle tissue. The researchers used bioinformatics to uncover a list of genes the microRNAs may act on, and now plan to find which microRNAs and genes actually underlie these processes.

The findings raise the possibility of slowing muscle loss by targeting the microRNAs that control these “cascades” of damaging events. This approach is more efficient than targeting individual genes.

The team also defined the abnormal microRNA “signatures” that correspond to each of the ten wasting diseases. They hope these will shed light on the genes and disease mechanisms involved in the most poorly understood and least treatable of the degenerative disorders, such as inclusion body myositis.

“At this point, it’s very theoretical, but it’s possible,” says Eisenberg.

James Newton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>