A genetic breakthrough may significantly boost the production of therapeutic proteins that are widely used to treat a range of illnesses.
The development by researchers at the the universities of Edinburgh, Pennsylvania and Harvard might result in large quantities of useful drugs being created.
The research, published in the journal Science, showed that gene variants introduced into bacteria do not affect the type of protein produced, but do increase the quantity.
Meanwhile, other variants do not affect the amount of protein produced, but do cause harm to the bacteria, which has significant implications for future vaccine and cancer research.
Dr Grzegorz Kudla, of Edinburgh University said : “The human genome contains more than 20,000 genes, which carry the code for all the proteins present in our bodies. Some of these proteins are needed in bulk, while for others a tiny amount is sufficient.
“We have discovered another layer in the genetic code, by which DNA controls not only the type of proteins produced, but their amount.”
Copyright Press Association 2009