Deep Homology Opens Up New Possibilities For Gene Research

In an effort to find new ways to stop tumors from growing, scientists are researching ways to develop drugs that will stop blood vessels from growing. The first step to developing these complex drugs is to identify the human genes that are essential for blood vessel growth, something that researchers at the University of Austin were able to do by using the new branch of biology known as deep homology.

The study’s results, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that these scientists were able to identify five different human genes that were essential for blood vessel growth. The hope is that by developing a drug that would halt these genes from working we would have a new tool in the fight against cancer.

And while the results of the study are remarkable, what is perhaps even more amazing is the way these scientists isolated these human genes. The researchers first identified the blood vessel growing genes by discovering that the same genes work at building cell walls in yeast. The same group of scientists is responsible for finding the genes associated with deafness by studying plants and the genes associated with breast cancer by studying nematode worms.

The reason that studying genes in non-human forms can be beneficial for human medical advances has to do with the new field of “deep homology”. The concept of this branch of science is rooted in evolution. The idea is that millions of years ago all species had the same ancestors and that we still share common genes. In fact, the same clusters of genes that worked together millions of years ago continue to work together today. These clusters of genes are called modules and are the basis for the recent study.

And since it is much easier to identify these clusters in less complex organisms than humans, the fact that we can then translate those findings to human medicine is very exciting. This new approach to identifying human genes and their link to various diseases has allowed medicine to move forward in leaps and bounds.

For more information on this topic, see Carl Zimmer’s article in The New York Times: “The Search to Genes Leads to Unexpected Places”.

Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice claims for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Oak Park, Blue Island, Evanston, and Wheeling.

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