22
Thu, Feb

How Defeating THOR Could Bring a Hammer Down on Cancer

Typography

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center uncovered a novel gene they named THOR while investigating previously unexplored regions of the human genome — or the human genome’s dark matter.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center uncovered a novel gene they named THOR while investigating previously unexplored regions of the human genome — or the human genome’s dark matter.

They characterized a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that is expressed in humans, mice and zebrafish. It’s unusual for this type of RNA to be conserved throughout species like this. The team’s thinking was that if the RNA plays a role in other animals and species besides humans, it must be important.

“Genes that are evolutionarily conserved are likely important for biological processes. The fact that we found THOR to be a highly conserved lncRNA was exciting. We chose to focus on it with the thought that it has been selected by evolution for having important functions,” says Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine.

In fact, the researchers found this particular lncRNA plays a role in cancer development. And that knocking it out can halt the growth of tumors.

Read more at Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Image: This is a conceptual image of Thor's hammer. (Credit: Ella Maru Studio, Inc. and Yashar Niknafs)