Navigation Links
Hebrew University study opening new route for combating viruses
Date:6/25/2008

A unique technique for analyzing the function of microRNAs developed by a Hebrew University of Jerusalem doctoral student has led to the discovery of a new mechanism by which viruses evade the human immune system. This discovery has important implications for human intervention in the battle between viruses and humans.

For her work in this field, Naama Elefant, a student of Prof. Hanah Margalit of the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University and an Azrieli fellow, was named one of this year's winners of the Barenholz Prizes for Creativity and Originality in Applied Computer Science and Computational Biology. The prizes were awarded on June 4 during the 71st meeting of the Hebrew University Board of Governors. This discovery also was declared by the magazine Nature Medicine as "one of the ten notable advances of the year 2007."

MicroRNA genes are a class of very tiny genes found in a variety of organisms. First discovered in 1993 and at the time considered relatively unimportant, they are now recognized as major players in diverse biological processes.

MicroRNAs are important regulators of protein production. Proteins, the building blocks of the cell, must be produced precisely at the right time and place. MicroRNAs specifically latch on to other genes (their targets) and inhibit the production of the protein products of these genes. Hundreds of microRNAs have already been discovered, but the identity of their target genes remains mostly unknown and presents a great challenge in the field.

Elefant developed a computer algorithm that predicts the targets of microRNAs. Her algorithm, named RepTar, searches the thousands of genes in the human genome and through sequence, structural and physical considerations detects matches to hundreds of microRNAs.

The uniqueness of this technique allowed her to research an interesting group of microRNAs originating in viruses. The presence of microRNAs in viruses raised the intriguing possibility that upon viral infection of a host cell, the virus may use microRNAs as weapons in its battle against the host, inhibiting the production of important host proteins.

Indeed, Elefant's algorithm predicted that an immune system protein, essential for the immune system's response against viruses, is inhibited by a viral microRNA. This prediction was confirmed in collaboration with the laboratory of Prof. Ofer Mandelboim of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, who demonstrated experimentally that the microRNA aids the virus in evading the immune system. This study showed for the first time that a viral microRNA inhibits the activity of a gene of the human immune system, placing microRNAs as important players in the battle between viruses and humans.

The discovery holds promising therapeutic implications. It opens a new direction for anti-viral therapy aimed at inhibiting the viral microRNA, and it introduces a possible means to suppress the immune system in autoimmune diseases and transplantations by developing synthetic microRNAs that will mimic the action of natural microRNAs.


'/>"/>

Contact: Rebecca Zeffert
rebeccaz@savion.huji.ac.il
972-025-881-641
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Electronic structure of DNA revealed for 1st time by Hebrew University and collaborating researchers
2. Five young Hebrew University scientists win first competitive EU grants
3. Hebrew SeniorLife researchers search for aging, osteoporosis genes
4. Antioxidant to retard wrinkles discovered by Hebrew University researcher
5. Bird watchers, space technology come together in Montana State University study
6. The 12th International Behavioral Ecology Congress held at Cornell University, Aug. 10-14
7. Queens University launches UKs first Center of Excellence for Public Health
8. Argonne-University of Chicago joint venture bolsters genomic sequencing capabilities
9. Environmental peace treaty between Israel and Palestinians unveiled at Ben-Gurion University
10. 2 University of Illinois researchers named HHMI investigators
11. New family of gecko discovered by researchers from the U of Minnesota and Villanova University
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Hebrew University study opening new route for combating viruses
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... leader in dairy research, today announced a new collaboration ... reduce the chances that the global milk supply is ... dairy project, Cornell University has become the newest academic ... Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that includes IBM ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... -- Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an innovative and ... solutions, announced today they will participate as a sponsor ... May 17, 2017, in Washington D.C.,s ... Identity impacts the lives of billions of ... digital world, defining identity is critical to nearly every ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... STANFORD, Calif. , Aug. 15, 2017 After spending ... resources and support with crowdsourced data collection, GeneFo now offers this ... interested in aligning and amplifying support, adherence, and data collection vis ... with medical foundations mark the successful launch of this offer. ... GeneFo ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... San Diego, CA (PRWEB) , ... August 15, ... ... science company pioneering graphene biosensors that accelerate pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics development, announces the ... reduces the number of steps needed to gain kinetic binding data for a ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... Any expert in stem ... compromised these disciplines for more than half a century. Despite their essential roles ... It is widely known that molecular tags developed for this purpose also tag other, ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... The ... time on Immuno-Oncology 360° (IO360°) programming through a series of upcoming panels and events. ... February 7-9, 2018, at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. , “With our ...
Breaking Biology Technology: