RNA modification study opens new doors for disease treatment
16 June 2011 00:00 in Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs
Pioneering research has discovered a method of altering human genetic code in a way that could have significant repercussions for disease treatment in future.
A team from the University of Rochester have created a method of artificially modifying messenger RNA (mRNA), which plays a key role in the body's protein production processes.
Certain genetic disorders can be caused by mutant mRNA containing a premature stop codon, which results in incomplete and shortened proteins being created.
However, the researchers have now been able to alter this codon for the first time, thus eliminating the genetic error and resulting in the development of normal, full-length proteins.
This could potentially offer insight into the treatment of around a third of genetic diseases, including serious conditions such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and many forms of cancer.
Dr Robert Bambara, chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said: "The ability to manipulate the production of a protein from a particular gene is the new miracle of modern medicine."
Earlier this month, UT Southwestern Medical Center research suggested that RNA manipulation could also offer a new way of treating degenerative eye disorders.
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