Research Team Discovers Gene-Silencing Technology

Genes that can cause certain diseases can be silenced by a new technology that could help prevent disease where gene dysfunction is involved. The research was led by Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Structural and Chemical Biology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“By being able to silence certain genes, we may be able to suppress genes that can cause diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, inflammation and diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems. We now know we can focus on these genes and potentially change the ultimate course of many diseases that have a major impact on people’s lives,” says Dr. Zhou.

Dr. Zhou, Shiraz Mujtaba, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Structural and Chemical Biology at Mount Sinai and their colleagues found that Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus uses a viral protein to modify host DNA packing chromatin and switch host transcription machinery for viral replication. Using this information, the doctors developed a new technology capable of suppressing transcriptional expression of targeted genes in human cells, including genes that are linked to the onset of a number of diseases.

Source: Nature Cell Biology, September, 2008

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