British scientists have taken an
important step toward preventing tumor growth by finding a way of
switching off a gene involved in cell division.
The Oxford University researchers say the mechanism involves a form
of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, a chemical found in cell nuclei. RNA plays
a direct role in the synthesis of proteins, but scientists have known
for some time that not all types of RNA are directly involved in
Now, in research funded by the Wellcome Trust and Britain's Medical
Research Council, the Oxford scientists have shown one particular type
of RNA plays a key role in regulating the gene implicated in control of
"There's been a quiet revolution taking place in biology during the
past few years over the role of RNA," said Alexandre Akoulitchev, a
senior research fellow at the university. "Scientists have begun to see
'junk' DNA as having a very important function. The variety of RNA
types produced from this "junk" is staggering and the functional
implications are huge."
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