Taking Center Stage with Life Science

Written by: Casey Egan

May 16
Taking Center Stage with Life Science

Basic biology has always taught us that the cellular mechanisms behind what makes you, can be summarized in as easy as one, two, three.

  1. DNA is transcribed into RNA
  2. RNA is translated into protein
  3. Proteins make organs and tissues - which are the building blocks of our entire bodies.

We have traditionally looked for hiccups that may have occurred during this three-step process in order to explain why some of us get diseases or cancer and others do not.

Historically, if this process was a classic play or movie, the starring roles would have undoubtedly been ‘DNA’, featuring, ‘Protein’ with ‘RNA’ as the mere stage director, or the middleman -- the one who makes the magic happen behind the scenes with little to no credit. However, now we know that less than 2 percent of our DNA sequence actually codes for protein! The remaining 98 percent of our DNA contains non-protein-coding RNAs, also known as ncRNAs. This vast discovery has shifted attention from the 2 percent to the 98 percent, which has ironically been referred to as ‘junk DNA’ for decades.

As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

RNA’s debut performance came in the early 1990’s with the discovery of the first microRNAs. These short pieces of ncRNAs have turned out to be rising stars  in understanding disease. Recent research, like that of Dr. Eugenia Wang of the University of Louisville, show that microRNAs have unique sequences that can be linked to a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.  Soon it may be possible to predict disease risk, spot disease initiation, and gauge disease progression by monitoring, in real time, the blood RNA signature of an individual with just a single pin-prick test. Could such a test eventually negate the need to conduct biopsies or perform other, more invasive diagnostic procedures all together? According to Dr. Ronan Power, Vice President of Alltech Life Sciences, it very well could. Power said, “Many of the world’s deadliest diseases could be detected in time to prevent a patient from suffering any pain or deterioration, reducing our dependency on the emergency room, and, in turn, removing a lot of distress in healthcare systems around the world.”

These types of advances in science and technology have allowed us to discover that there are many genetic and molecular connections among a variety of diseases. For instance, inflammation and the incidence of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, and obesity and fertility. Could it be possible that these are all just waves in one big pool of a single disease?

These are the topics we will dive into during the Life Science session at Alltech’s 30th Annual International Symposium.

Join us on Tuesday, May 20 to discover the future of human health. Please visit alltech.com/symposium or call 855-255-2647 to learn more about the event or to register.

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