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:11/17/2016)... , Nov. 17, 2016  AIC announces that it has just released a ... organizations that require high-performance scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. ... ... ... Setting up a high performance ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... 14, 2016  Based on its recent ... & Sullivan recognizes FST Biometrics with the ... Visionary Innovation Leadership. FST Biometrics emerged as ... market by pioneering In Motion Identification (IMID) ... seamless, and non-invasive verification. This patented solution ...
(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/9/2016)... ... ... DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and Archer Daniels Midland Company ... Platts Global Energy for their platform technology to produce a revolutionary biobased ... Platts Global Energy Awards, held in New York on Thursday, Dec. 8. , ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... -- China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: CO ) ... provider of cord blood collection, laboratory testing, hematopoietic stem cell ... of its 2016 Annual General Meeting, which was held on ... . At the Annual General Meeting, ... Huazhen LLP as the independent auditors of the Company for ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 This report analyzes ... Product Segments: Acid Based (Humic, Amino, & Fulvic), Extract Based, ... the following Crop Types: Ornamental & Turf, Row Crops, and ... Canada , Japan , ... Latin America , and Rest of World. ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016 AskLinkerReports.com has published a ... Global Amyloglucosidase Industry 2016 Market Research Report. From a basic ... chain overview are all covered in the report. This report ... return analysis of the Amyloglucosidase industry. ... , , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: