Genetic material once considered junk actually could hold key to cancer drug response
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(New York, NY – April 3, 2018)–Material left out of common processes for sequencing genetic material in cancer tumors may actually carry important information about why only some people respond to immunotherapy, possibly offering better insight than the type of material that is being sequenced, according to a study by Mount Sinai researchers published on April 3 in Cell Reports.

Sequencing a type of genetic material in cancer tumors called messenger RNA has transformed personalized cancer therapy and revealed biomarkers for early detection. Advances in this field have transformed scientists’ understanding of the differences between healthy tissue and tumors.

To date, gene expression in tumors has been typically profiled by capturing messenger RNAs; however, they represent only a fraction of the molecules detected. A different type of RNA, called non-coding RNA, had long been dismissed as “junk” and left out of sequencing processes. However, recent advances in genetics have shown that many non-coding RNAs can carry critical functions for cell biology, and a class of RNA known as repetitive elements may interact with the immune system in a way that may be important to develop new and personalized cancer immunotherapies.

In their study, the researchers used a process called

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