How ‘junk DNA’ can control cell development

Centenary Institute Cell

Cell is regarded as one of the most prestigious journal to publish in.

Researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute have confirmed that, far from being “junk”, the 97 per cent of human DNA that does not encode instructions for making proteins can play a significant role in controlling cell development.

And in doing so, the researchers have unravelled a previously unknown mechanism for regulating the activity of genes, increasing our understanding of the way cells develop and opening the way to new possibilities for therapy.

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Motherpedia: How bioinformatics is transforming medicine


A blog by mothers, for mothers.

Our Executive Director, Professor Matthew Vadas, has guest blogged for Motherpedia this month, a blog by mothers for mothers, on the topic of how bioinformatics is transforming medicine.

Professor Vadas talks about how bioinformatics is critical to the development of personalised medicine and will result in significant changes in prevention, treatment & possibly cures.

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Orchestrating changes in heart disease

Centenary’s Molecular Cardiology research group—Professor Chris Semsarian, Dr Richard Bagnall & Tatiana Tsoutsman (Missing: Rhian Shephard) with bioinformatician Dr William Ritchie

A study by Centenary scientists will help researchers find new approaches to diagnosing and treating a devastating genetic heart condition. The group looked at microRNAs, tiny fragments of genetic material that regulate genes.

They may be small, but microRNAs (miRNAs) pack a significant punch. The work that Centenary’s Molecular Cardiology research group—including post-doctoral fellow, Dr Richard Bagnall, Professor Chris Semsarian, Dr Tatiana Tsoutsman and Rhian Shephard in collaboration with bioinformatician Dr William Ritchie—has just published tracked changing patterns of microRNAs in heart cells from the inception of the disease condition until its end stages. Continue reading

Is the cure hiding in the computer?

Dr William Ritchie

Dr William Ritchie, Research Fellow and Group Head of Bioinformatics

Tonight Dr William Ritchie will tell some of Centenary’s biggest supporters about how fast computing is transforming research at the Institute.

He’s speaking at our 2012 Foundation dinner to a who’s who of Sydney’s business community.

He’ll tell them how a new generation of medical researchers: mathematicians, physicists and engineers are invading research laboratories. They’re hunting through the gigabytes of information produced in the lab and finding patterns: gene sequences connected with certain cancers for example; or DNA sequences that don’t seem to be doing anything. They’re even running virtual experiments – doing in seconds what would take months of laboratory work.

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