Ninety-eight percent of the human genome is non-coding. The majority of our DNA instructs and regulates the other two percent. Until recently, this ninety-eight percent was considered junk DNA and held a mystery of purpose akin to dark matter. George Calin opens the mystery for listeners and explains how researching non-coding RNAs will lead to better cancer treatments.
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George Calin is a principal investigator with the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. He specializes in how non-coding RNAs impact disease and virus mechanisms, specifically the role of microRNAs in human cancers. He also looks at what they can tell us about how bad and aggressive a particular disease will be for a specific individual. He notes that “a specific type of cancer with a specific localization at a specific stage. . . can behave very differently in another patient” with the same profile. “One is surviving, let’s say one month, and other is surviving three years,” he adds, and researchers want to know why.
He says that mRNAs may have the answers and could point doctors in the direction of how to help both patients. It could lead to more aggressive measures when the biomarkers point toward that necessity, for example. Because cancer is a genetic disease, understanding the complexities of genes and genomics is vital to its treatment. By studying how and why and when abnormalities are expressed and what these non-coding RNAs are instructing, researchers can open up an entirely new way to treat cancers. He says that some of this biomarker identification is already in use for some bladder cancers.
Listen in for more on how advancement in studying the smallest parts of us may make the biggest difference.
Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C