We are excited to announce our collaboration with Professor Anand Hardikar (NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Sydney Medical School and Sydney University) and his scientific team! Working with Professor Hardikar and his team will allow us to make new discoveries that will accelerate the progress of stem cell research and medicine for the benefit of the entire community.
Picture below: Dr. Ralph Bright (left) Prof. Hardikar (right)
Let’s start with describing microRNA’s and their discovery, then we will dive right into Stem Cell Responses!
Our genetic information is stored as a DNA code, which is then converted into an RNA message (mRNA). The tiny protein factories, ribosomes, then read the mRNA. These decode the messages and create proteins, which are the building blocks we use to repair or grow new cells.
Of the 20,000 genes we have around 2% make mRNA to grow new protein. The other 98% will make very short RNA copies called microRNA (18-25 letters long)
The first functional miRNA, lin-4, was officially discovered in 1993. Scientists were looking at the development of the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, and found that lin-4 inhibited protein synthesis of the lin-14 gene.
They subsequently found that miRNA can physically bind to mRNA and stop it creating proteins. Thus it effectively suppresses the activity of a gene. This discovery was the first evidence of miRNA negatively regulating RNA coding for proteins.
More than 1,800 human miRNAs have been found. We now understand that miRNA control numerous genes and processes vital for cellular life such as metabolism, development and the immune system.
miRNAs are now recognised as the puppet masters, pulling the strings of various genes on the molecular biology stage.
One miRNA can bind to many mRNAs and inhibit their expression. This suggests that the future of cancer therapy may lay with miRNA-based drugs that can target multiple genes, and therefore affect multiple pathways involved in cancer. This moves us on from the “one drug, one target” approach. (Ref: The Conversation)
A lot of recent miRNAs work is looking to identify potential biomarkers and therapeutics in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer. (The Conversation)
Another addition is the recent work Prof. Hardikar has been performing with Diabetes.
“Our previous studies using next generation sequencing of developing human pancreas using the SOLiD platform have provided insight to understanding the role of ncRNAs (specifically microRNAs) in development and differentiation of insulin-producing cells. Present research projects involve applying this information to differentiation of human pancreatic progenitor cells. In addition to these studies, other projects in the lab are focused on understanding the epigenetic modifications in insulin-producing cells in a unique model of multigeneration undernutrition. These studies involve understanding the influence of diet, micronutrients, intrautetine programming and gut microbiota in development of central adiposity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”
(Prof. Hardikar – University of Sydney)
Careful clinical observation has identified key patient patterns, and we are lead to believe, your miRNA may house a genetic code sequence to answer why a small number of patients do not respond to their own stem cells (clinically observed figures suggest 3% of patients).
Whilst 3% does not sound like a lot, if you are the person in that 3% range, it is truly disappointing…
Our goal is to compare super responding patients miRNA with non-responding patients miRNA, and we hope to find a difference in coding between these patients. If we can prove this, we will create a test strip to flag the “fault” code in your miRNA.
You will simply be able to drop a sample of your blood on this test strip, thus allowing your genetic “response” code to be tagged with a fluorescent marker. Then, take a photo with a smart phone. If the marker is present, we hope to be able to tell you what your chances are of responding to your own stem cells.
GROWING THE FUTURE of MEDICINE in AUSTRALIA.
REF:The Conversation. (2018). Explainer: microRNA, the puppet master of the genome. [online] Available at: http://theconversation.com/explainer-microrna-the-puppet-master-of-the-genome-39641 [Accessed 9 Apr. 2018].
TAGS: Macquarie Stem Cells, Dr. Ralph Bright, Stem Cell Research, Micro RNA’s, Genetic Code, miRNA, Stem Cell Response,