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Not just humans benefit from animal biotechnology
Date:10/24/2007

ns in a single nucleotide. It is now possible to pinpoint mutations across the whole genome quickly and study how the associated genes interact. This information can be used to investigate disease in these species but also in many cases can be useful models for similar human genetic diseases, said Sang.

The conference showed how fundamental breakthroughs can be exploited in tackling disease. One of the most exciting discoveries of recent years is the fact that rods and cones are not the only light receptors in the eye, overturning the long established view. There is also a receptor, called phototropin, that recognises blue light at much lower levels, even operating in some people who are otherwise blind, playing an important role in setting the circadian clock. At the conference, one of the worlds leading specialists in chronobiology (study of biological rhythms) Russell Foster, explained how mouse models were being used to study this newly discovered blue light receptor. This has been analysed in mice and he is using the knowledge gained to interact with ophthalmologists (eye disease specialists) and patients, said Sang.

Genes determine individual traits not just through their variations, or alleles, but also through differing levels of expression. Another important field of research discussed at the conference concerned the important role of microRNAs in controlling gene expression. RNAs are normally the intermediate molecules between DNA and their products, proteins, in gene expression. However microRNA is a type of RNA that instead of being involved in protein production, feeds back into the DNA coding process to regulate the expression of other genes. Mutations in the genes coding for the microRNA itself can therefore effect the expression of other genes, with some subtle and occasionally dramatic effects, as Sang pointed out. Given that animals inherit two copies, or alleles, of each gene, mutations are more likely to be effective when one o
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Contact: Dr. Helen Sang
Helen.sang@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-013-152-74234
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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