New mapping tool pinpoints cancer hotspots

February 23rd, 2012 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Feb 23 (IANS) A new mapping tool simplifies cancer detection by pinpointing genetic information that may be linked with cancer hotspots, a study reveals.

A research team, led by Thomas Preiss, professor from the John Curtin School of Medical Research, used a new mapping technique to reveal tell-tale “sign posts” in DNA’s lesser-known relative, RNA — ribonucleic acid.

“RNA acts as a messenger, carrying genetic information to the parts of the cell in which proteins are made. Enzymes in the cell can modify RNA, leaving ’sign posts’,” Preiss was quoted by the journal Nucleic Acids Research.

“The enzymes that modify RNA have proven connections to cancer and stem cell biology. Understanding the patterns of these modifications will help cancer researchers focus their attention on the contribution that RNA makes to cancer,” said Preiss, according to a university statement.

Researchers comprehensively mapped these modifications in RNA for the first time, identifying over 10,000 new sites.

They found that the sites were much more prevalent than previously suspected and were systematic, rather than random, occurring near genetic landmarks.

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