Ancient Viruses That Function in Early Human Development May Play Role in Cancer, St. Laurent Instittute Study

Published: Aug 01, 2013

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The St. Laurent Institute, a non-profit medical research institute focused on the systems biology of disease, today announced in a study published in the July edition of Genome Biology, that genetic matter, previously ignored by the scientific community, may play an important role in cancer. The study, "VlincRNAs controlled by retroviral elements are a hallmark of pluripotency and cancer" found that novel non-coding parts of the human genome known as vlincRNAs (very long intergenic, non-coding RNAs) triggered by ancient viruses, participate in the biology of stem cells, and in the development of cancer. Importantly, the group of researchers from U.S., Europe and Russia found that the elimination of these vlincRNAs caused the death of cancer cells.

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