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publicado em 02/02/2011 às 02h00:00
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Micro-RNAs are deregulated key to the understanding of lupus

Discovery may impact future diagnosis and lead to development of new treatments for autoimmune disease

 
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Foto: Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed (left) and Rujuan Dai, a research scientist at the College of Veterinary
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Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed (left) and Rujuan Dai, a research scientist at the College of Veterinary

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA, discovered a set of deregulated miRNAs present in several models of lupus. Discovery may lead to a better understanding and impacting future diagnosis and treatment of disease.

In order to better understand epigenetic factors in the causes of lupus, the researchers focused their work on microRNA (miRNA), seeking to determine potential losses of gene regulation. These small RNAs control gene expression directly regulates target mRNAs by inhibiting translation or inducing its degradation.

"Micro-RNAs perform these functions in an orderly manner. The white blood cells use to regulate miRNA antibodies and other proteins in response to infection or any kind of aggression," said researcher S. Ansar Ahmed.

The researchers chose three strains of mice prone to autoimmune diseases that have different genomes and manifgestam lupus in different ages.

The results show that all three strains of lupus manifest a common pattern of deregulated miRNAs, despite the basic differences in their genes.

This miRNA expression became evident only at the age in which mice expressed the disease.

The identification of these common miRNAs present a new way of understanding the development of lupus. The researchers argue that this study has the potential to open a new approach to diagnosis and treatment of disease by altering specific miRNAs in lymphocytes from lupus.

Future

"Short term we use our better understanding of the disease to develop a tool in the form of molecular markers for early and reliable diagnosis," said Ahmed. The long term goal is to offer entirely new therapeutic approaches such as manipulation of miRNA related to lupus, to correct pathological conditions.

Having identified the signatures of miRNA changes in lupus, the next step for researchers is to prove that they can actually turn off the disease.

"If we can do that in a mouse model and then heal the other animals, we hope that one day this can be done in humans," said Ahmed.

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