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“Fossil” Antiviral System May Furnish Bones of New RNA-Based Therapies

06:35 EDT 29 Jun 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away—which means that sometimes, they might come back. One old soldier, a veteran of antiviral battles that may go back billions of years, is an RNA-targeting system that can still be found in humans, albeit in remnants. The system, still performing RNA interference duties in plants and invertebrates, though pretty much retired humans, may still have value in our never-ending struggle against disease. Evidence of the ancient system, which incorporates a protein called Drosha and enzymes called RNAase III nucleases, was uncovered by scientists based at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Led by Benjamin R. tenOever, Ph.D., these scientists traced the evolution of three generations of the ancient system. The scientists even speculate that the system goes back to the first prokaryotes. Whether the line back to single-celled organisms such as bacteria and archaea is continuous or not, ...

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