DNA may keep cancer at bay, say researchers

DNA may keep cancer at bay, say researchers

Imagine doctors injecting genetic material into a patient suffering from cancer to create a wall surrounding the affected cells and stop the spreading of the disease?

This could one day be possible thanks to the findings by the scientists of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here. The findings were  published in the latest edition of the Nature Communications.

A team consisting of Ram P Kumar, Jaya Krishnan, Narendra Pratap Singh, Lalji Singh and Rakesh K Mishra discovered that the non coding DNA—considered junk so far—is not a waste material but it performs an extraordinary job of protecting different cell types by creating boundaries around them, even though the genes are lying in a sequence close to each other.

“Out of the 3.3 billion nuclcleotides of human genome, less than 2 per cent could code for a protein while the remaining 98 per cent is non-coding, which can’t express, in other words. We have found out the nature of the non-coding DNA,” DR Mishra said.

The non-coding DNA, known as Simple Sequence Repeats, is repetitive in nature that repeat in tandem.CCMB scientists provided definite evidence for the functional significance of one of these repeats and experiments in transgenic Drosophila and human cell culture, and showed that this repeat DNA functions as boundary elements that separates functional domains of genome.

The CCMB team has taken the GATA repeat elements isolated from human beings and used it in fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. By removing the boundaries they found out that certain characters which were so far bound by these walls, have spread to other parts of the body like the leg and wings of the fruit fly.Dr CH Mohan Rao, Director CCMB, said the results would one day help in personalised and tailor-made medicine where GATA could act as a boundary element, saving the patient from a said ailment, such as cancer.Ruling out ethical issues in intervening in nature’s scheme of things he said that the usage of a boundary or removing it will be at the genetic level that too with the disease DNA.

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