The New York Times' Carl Zimmer reports on research out of the University of Texas at Austin led by Edward Marcotte, who have discovered five genes in yeast that could lead to a better cancer treatment. The genes are essential for the growth of blood vessels, and Marcotte hopes that shutting them down can lead to tumor death, Zimmer says. In yeast, Marcotte says, the genes workin a cluster to fix cell walls. In humans, the genes still work in the same cluster, but on different tasks, including growing blood vessels. But that's not the only non-human discovery that Marcotte and his team have made that could benefit man. He has found genes associated with deafness in plant genomes and genes associated with breast cancer in nematode worms, Zimmer says. Marcotte's study was recently published in PNAS. And though homology like this has been a subject of study for many years, only recently have researchers become interested in deep homology – and Marcotte's trying to figure out a way to speed up the pace of discovery, Zimmer says. "The evidence for deep homologies … might already be waiting to be found in the scientific literature — specifically, in the hundreds of thousands of studies scientists have conducted on how various genes worked in various species," he adds. Some researchers suggest this may be a faster way to find genetic causes for human diseases.
Study: Discoveries in Non-Human Species Could Directly Benefit Man
Apr 28, 2010