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Posted: January 25, 2010
Scientists achieve first rewire of genetic switches
(Nanowerk News) Researchers in Manchester have successfully carried out the first rewire of genetic switches, creating what could be a vital tool for the development of new drugs and even future gene therapies.
A team of scientists from the School of Chemistry and the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) at The University of Manchester have found a way of hijacking so-called 'riboswitches' and directing gene activity.
Working within cells of bacteria, chemical biologist Professor Jason Micklefield and his team have rewired these genetic switches so they are no longer activated by small naturally occurring molecules found in cells – but through the addition of a synthetic molecule.
The work builds on the recent discovery that these naturally occurring molecules can turn genes on and off by triggering riboswitches found within a large molecule called 'messenger RNA'.
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Selective Chemical Intervention in Biological Systems Initiative.
In the latest research, when Manchester researchers added synthetic molecules, they bound to the riboswitches and caused the genes to spark into life.