Researchers learn more every day about how our genes influence our health and wellbeing. A recently described group of tiny molecules – microRNAs – can trigger or terminate the process by which genes produce proteins. MicroRNAs literally ‘mop up’ messages from genes preventing their translation into protein products. Researchers investigating microRNA-134 found it in particularly high levels in a brain region associated with epileptic seizure. They discovered this tiny molecule was blocking the expression of a gene called LIMK1. However, they used another small molecule to ‘hoover up’ microRNA-134 from the brain cells (pictured) of epileptic mice, with the result that the animals suffered fewer seizures. These results offer a glimmer of hope for epilepsy sufferers, a third of whom gain no benefit from current drug treatments. It seems likely that this drug-resistant group of patients could benefit significantly from the new approach.
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