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Jackson Lab Team Lands $2.2M for Noncoding RNA Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Investigators at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine have been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the roles that noncoding RNAs may play in cancer and other diseases, JGM said yesterday.

Professor Yijun Ruan will lead the three-year project, which aims to use RNA-DNA ligation and sequencing to find out more about ncRNAs and how they interact with DNA in the human genome. Although most of the known RNAs are those that manufacture proteins based on genomic instructions, there may be thousands of kinds of undiscovered ncRNAs that have functions in health and disease.

Because ncRNAs have been associated with cancer and other diseases, research that identifies novel ncRNAs and their target DNA could lead to diagnostic biomarkers and genomic therapeutic disease targets, JGM said.

"The study of ncRNAs' regulatory functions is becoming a new frontier in biology," Ruan said, adding that his lab is working on new tools to study their functions, particularly how they are involved in cancer biology.

Research conducted by Ruan and his team has focused on using sequencing to investigate the structures and dynamics of the functional DNA elements in complex genomes and transcriptomes. They have developed high-throughput DNA sequencing and mapping methods for the ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, including the paired-end-tag (PET) sequencing strategy for RNA-PET/Seq, ChIP-PET/Seq, DNA-PET, and ChIA-PET analysis.