NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Zsuzsanna Izsvák at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine has been awarded a five-year, €1.94 million ($2.55 million) grant to study the role of transposons in cancer and other diseases.
Izsvák and her team will use the grant from the European Research Council to investigate transposons under stress conditions triggered by the environment, such as toxins or heavy metals, in order to better understand the relationship between transposon-derived regulatory sequences and human disease, the Delbrück Center said.
The research team will also explore the use of artificially produced transposons for gene therapy.
About half of the human genome consists of transposon-derived sequences, which due to mutations have lost their ability to insert themselves into the host's genome and to spread. While the remnants of transposons had been thought to be "junk DNA," recent studies indicate they can influence gene regulation.
"The human genome is much more complex that previously assumed," Izsvák said in a statement. "In many processes in the body and also in disease, transposons may be the decisive factor. That is why we need to take a closer look at transposons and their influence."