In a study published online this week and to be published as a cover story in the July issue of Nature Genetics, Rosetta Genomics' scientists report identification of hundreds of human microRNA genes, including the first report of primate specific microRNAs.
Using a novel methodology, the researchers successfully cloned and sequenced 89 human microRNAs, nearly doubling the number sequenced in man to date.
MicroRNAs are a recently discovered class of tiny regulatory genes, comprised in the 98% of the genome that does not encode proteins, which until recently were considered 'Junk DNA'. Numerous recent studies have shown microRNA genes, far from being 'junk', are in fact of central importance, regulating at least 30% of all proteins, and involved in a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, obesity, viral diseases, and various types of cancer.
"The finding of large numbers of primate specific microRNAs is exciting because it supports the notion that microRNAs may indeed play an important role in the evolution of complexity of higher organisms," said Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel prize laureate 2004, and Chairman of Rosetta Genomics' Scientific Advisory Board. "We believe that these genes may serve as an important basis for next generation diagnostics and therapeutics."
"We are extremely pleased to report our success in nearly doubling the number of human microRNAs sequenced to date, results which we believe establish Rosetta Genomics as a leading player in discovery of microRNA genes," said Isaac Bentwich MD, founder and chairman of Rosetta Genomics and lead investigator of the study. "We are now aggressively pursuing partnerships for development of diagnostics and therapeutics based on this huge group of novel microRNAs."
MicroRNAs are a recently discovered group of non-protein-coding regulatory genes, shown to be involved in a wide range of diseases in addition to neuronal and stem-cell differentiation. MicroRNAs currently are an intensely researched area, and are believed potentially to be the basis for a new class of therapeutic and diagnostic products.