Eureka Alert

BOSTON – Until recently, scientific research concentrated almost exclusively on the 2 percent of the genome’s protein coding regions, virtually ignoring the other 98 percent – a vast universe of non-coding genetic material previously dismissed as ‘junk.’ In the past 10 years, scientists have discovered thousands of new long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Although scientists now recognize that lncRNAs play an integral role in all biological processes, they remain largely in the dark as to their functional role.

Now, in a groundbreaking paper published today in the journal Cell, a team led by investigators at the Cancer Research Institute Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has developed a novel approach to identify and determine the functional role of lncRNAs relevant to chemotherapy resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The new technique integrates information from publicly-available pharmacological data bases with leading-edge CRISPR technologies to screen for both coding and non-coding genes that influence response to treatment. Taken together, this genome-wide screening platform could be applied to identify and determine the functions of ncRNAs relevant to many health contexts.

“Although thousands of lncRNAs have now been detected and annotated in the human genome, the need to characterize their functions remains a critical challenge,” said Pier


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