Archive for July, 2007

Bioengineering Gene Expression

A recent article at Sciencedaily called Bioengineers Devise ‘Dimmer Swith’ To Regulate Gene Expression In Mammal Cells discusses new technology being developed that combined a targeted DNA repressor protein, and a custom-designed RNAi strand. The repressor is thought to prevent most transcription, but in the event not all genes are repressed, the RNAi is thought to hunt out those transcripts, and destroy them.

Another chemical called Isopropyl-â-thiogalactopyranoside acts as a “dimmer” that can block the repressor protein. Thus by altering the amount of this chemical, repressor and RNAi, they can regulate a gene’s expression. Cool.

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Cancer and the Immune System

Cancer is able to evade the immune system, and grow within our bodies in a number of ways. Tumours are able to accomplish this feat in hundreds, if not thousands of different ways.

Researchers at USC mentioned that you could then take these “immune signatures” generated by the immune response against a tumour — and target them with whichever drugs or therapy is best suited. This builds on personalized medicine, here’s why: lets say two tumours exist, A + B, where A is a breast tumour and B is a prostate tumour. Generally tumours A + B will have different biochemistry for reasons including: (1) different cell of origin; and (2) different prepotency for specific mutations thus causing cancers in the different cells. Traditionally, drugs have either tries to poison these cells, or hijack an intracellular process associated with a specific mutation found in one cancer. By looking at the immune response signature, you could generate immune-specific drugs that could target tumour illiciting similar immune signatures. Therefore, it could be found for one drug commonly used for tumour A to work perfectly in tumour B if the immune response signatures are in alignment.

In the article, the researchers generated signatures using real-time PCR on 14 pro-immunity genes, and 11 anti-immunity genes from 5 different mouse tumour models. This is merely a start to what seems to be the tip of the iceburg here. It will be excited to see future developments.

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