22 March 2010

Gene-Targeted Cancer Fix Could Be a Breakthrough

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For first time in humans, scientists used RNA to stop production of protein driving malignancy

For the first time in humans, scientists have successfully used a gene-manipulation therapy to enter tumor cells and block the production of toxic proteins that are causing cancer, researchers report.

"They're basically putting an instruction booklet into the cell saying, 'We don't want this protein expressed for now,'" explained Gregory Adams, co-leader of the developmental therapeutics program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "It's pretty amazing. It's potentially huge."

As reported online March 21 in Nature, this is the first time the process, known as RNA interference (RNAi), has been shown to work in humans.

The process of RNA interference involves putting two strands of RNA together to form so-called "small interfering RNAs" (siRNAs) and inserting them into cells. Once there, these interlopers cut the messenger RNA (mRNA) that is ordinarily used to make specific proteins. This discovery won the Nobel Prize in 2006.

(HealthScout)

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