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MicroRNA provides new insight into birth defects

Molecules of microRNAs may be responsible for birth defects, cancer and other health problems.//

The researchers of UF Genetics Institute have used genetically modified mice to see how the microRNAs are responsible for the physiological growth of animals. When the mice were grown without the microRNA molecules they grew to be malformed and with nonfunctional limbs.

MicroRNA (miRNA) are small RNA molecules that control the level of proteins made from transcribed genes. Researchers have discovered that there exists an association between the microRNA profile of the human beings and the development of tumors in different parts of the body.

The new study will open new ways of exploring the exact reasons of birth defects and will also provide new ways to learn more about the microRNAs and their impact on human health from these parallel animal studies.

The researcher also showed that it is possible to eliminate microRNAs from a specific tissue while the rest of the tissue system remains normal. It shows that mutations in the molecules are responsible for birth defects and this can lay the pathway for discovering what microRNAs as a group are capable of.

Reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2005
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