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Geneticists Envision the Future of Personalized Human Medicine During Alltech-University of Kentucky Lecture Series

[Lexington, Ky.] - Researchers embarking on a new frontier of genetic science provided insight into the future of human medicine Oct. 16 during the 2012 Distinguished Lecture Series in Nutrigenomics: A Symposium on miRNA Regulation of Gene Expression, organized by Alltech and the University of Kentucky.

During the sixth annual lecture series, three renowned researchers revealed how advancements in nutrigenomic science are paving a path to once unthinkable possibilities for personalized human medicine. As part of the Alltech and University of Kentucky Nutrigenomic Alliance, the lecture series held at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital provided a venue for geneticists to collaborate and present research at the forefront of human and animal health. Nutrigenomic studies, including research supported by the Alliance, are shaping the future of how humans and animals will receive customized genetic information to promote longer, healthier lives.

Eugenia Wang, Ph.D, explained how implications from her research of longevity in dwarf mice are leading to personalized medicine. (From left) Renowned researchers Eugenia Wang, Ph.D, Carmen Marsit, Ph.D and Jun Lu, Ph.D, answer questions from the audience to close the symposium Oct. 16.

This year, the series focused on the role of the MircoRNA (miRNA) in the complex genetic regulatory system. MiRNA are a special class of small RNA molecules that influence how the basic genetic code is converted into functional proteins. Researchers are examining how the expression of the miRNA’s points to implications for human health, with potential to find nutrigenomic solutions for diseases such as obesity, cancer and diabetes.

Distinguished speakers included Jun Lu, Ph.D, assistant professor at Yale University Cancer Center, who delivered findings from a reporting test on the effect of miRNA on blood cell production. Carmen J. Marsit, Ph.D, assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, examined the correlation between miRNA expression and environmental influences impacting placental function and fetal growth. Eugenia Wang, Ph.D, professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, discussed a study on miRNA as a factor in promoting longevity in dwarf mice, with implications for the future of personalized medicine for humans. Emphasizing the progress in the past six years gaining scientific ground toward personalized human medicine, Wang said geneticists are hinging on the border of “science and magic.”

“The 2012 lectures illuminated scientific progress toward understanding the function of a puzzling part of the human and animal genome,” Karl Dawson, vice president and chief scientific officer for Alltech. “The work these three impressive researchers have conducted on miRNA brings us closer to finding innovative solutions for human and animal nutrition, a priority shared by Alltech and the University of Kentucky. This will influence disease diagnosis and treatments and will lead to longer, healthier lives.”

Established in 2004, the Alltech and University of Kentucky Nutrigenomic Alliance supports future developments in the areas of animal nutrigenomics and its applications to enhancing human health. The Alliance promotes high-quality research projects that enhance learning and nutritional strategies to improve animal health and performance in modern livestock production systems. As a member of this alliance, Alltech has contributed five years of funding for lecture series, research projects and bioinformatic software.