Fireflies, jellyfish genes shedding light on causes of infertility, autoimmune diseases

March 28th, 2009 - 11:18 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 28 (ANI): Studies on fireflies and jellyfish’s genes are providing significant insights into the possible causes of infertility and autoimmune diseases in humans, says a report.

The article states that with the aid of the luminescent and florescent genes, scientists illuminate cells that produce a hormone linked to conditions, which include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

It further says that the technique may be prove useful for tracking the production of the hormone prolactin, which is crucial in ensuring supplies of breast milk in nursing mothers, but can be overproduced by some pituitary tumours, causing infertility.

Prolactin has been linked to more than 300 biological functions, and is believed to play a role in autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, besides the inflammation of cells and tissues.

According to the write-up, scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool have been successful in using genes from fireflies and jellyfish to create a chemical reaction to light up cells expressing prolactin in rats.

The technique means that scientists can identify when and where prolactin is expressed to look at how the hormone works in real time.

Sabrina Semprini, whose study is published in the journal Molecular Endocrinology, said: “The lighting up of cells expressing this hormone will help us to understand its role within the body and could help research looking for treatments for conditions in which prolactin is involved.”

The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, identified cells producing prolactin throughout the body, which included the pituitary gland, the thymus - an organ in the chest which helps protect against autoimmunity - the spleen and inflammatory cells in the abdominal cavity. (ANI)

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