Imprinted genes offer key to some diseases - GENE SILENCING

The ink is barely dry on the human genome project, but already researchers are onto the 'second genetic code,' or the pattern of silencers on our DNA. Using a technology called MethylScope ('methyl' is the DNA silencer), 'we will map this second genetic code to see which genes are imprinted and identify any differences between normal and cancerous cells,' says Nathan Lakey, chief executive of Orion Genomics, a closely held biotechnology concern. Those differences may become the foundation for molecular diagnostic tests within three years, perhaps starting with colon cancer. Normally, the copy of a gene called IGF2 that you get from dad is active, the copy from mom silenced. In 10 percent of us, though, mom's copy has thrown off the silencer, leading to a greater risk of colorectal cancer. Detecting that unsilencing could provide an early warning of the disease.

Science Journal: Imprinted genes offer key to some diseases

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