Unravelling gene-protein matrix to pinpoint disease, remedies

December 17th, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Tornoto, Dec 17 (IANS) Stephen Michnick is helping unravel the gene-protein matrix to pinpoint disease and remedies, besides figuring out the basic architecture of life. A Montreal University biochemistry professor and integrative genomics, Michnick has developed novel technologies to examine how proteins interact within cells.

His objective is to grasp the fundamental chemistry of life, pinpoint where diseases begin and map out where they can be stopped - killer illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Michnick’s new ways of seeing living cells promises to reduce big chunks of analysis to understand how our genomic blueprint translates into complex life.

“We think of genes and proteins interacting in the same manner as people process sentences,” said Michnick.

“Living cells do something similar with genes - proteins read DNA sequence from beginning to end and translate this information in turn into new protein, which are essentially molecules that build the cells structure and control biochemical processes.

“But like language, there’s much more to it than a simple grammatical problem; there are more abstract processes at the heart of reading genes that we need to understand,” he informed, according to a Montreal University release. The study was published recently in PLoS Biology.

“Our team found that when these proteins are destroyed, genes are sometimes read from somewhere in the middle, which is comparable to a defective printer that transcribes only the last words of a sentence,” Michnick said.

“In a living cell, such misinterpretation of genes might be thought to have devastating effects, but we found that under some conditions, misreading genes might be useful.”

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