Monday, October 26, 2009

Pitt Researcher: RNA not Junk

For years researchers have dismissed tiny strands of RNA found in cells as junk but researchers at the University of Pittsburgh says they have found evidence to the contrary. The study looked at what is known as “unusually small RNAs” or usRNAs. The strands number in thousands inside each of your cells but scientists thought they were of little value. Study author Bino John says the usRNAs are, “surprisingly stable, and are repeatedly, reproducibly, and accurately produced across different tissue types." The team began its work by looking at the virus associated with the rare cancer Kaposi sarcoma. John says they found that specific usRNAs were being produced and could some day serve as a marker for the disease. John says, "They may be valuable tools to diagnose diseases, or perhaps they could present new drug targets." John says that dream is a long way away and the research to get there will not be easy.

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