Scientists Move Close to Silencing Disease-causing Genes

by Rajashri on Aug 20 2008 5:14 PM

A new technology that could be used to suppress genes, which lead to the development of certain diseases has been developed by Mount Sinai researchers.

According to researchers, this technology could pave the way for preventing diseases where gene dysfunction plays a role.

"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," Nature quoted Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Structural and Chemical Biology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as saying.

"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," Dr. Zhou added.

In the study, Dr. Zhou and colleagues discovered that Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus uses a viral protein to modify host DNA packing chromatin and switch host transcription machinery for viral replication.

Based on this finding, researchers were able to develop a new gene targeting technology that effectively suppresses transcriptional expression of targeted genes in human cells, including genes that are linked to the onset of a number of diseases.

The findings are published in the September issue of Nature Cell Biology.