The research from the University of Sheffield’s Neuroscience Institute and Healthy Lifespan Institute gives important new insights into so-called junk DNA and how it impacts on neurological disorders such as Motor Neuron Disease (MND) and Alzheimer’s.
Until now, the repair of junk DNA, which makes up 98% of DNA, has been largely overlooked by scientists, but the new study published in Nature found it is much more vulnerable to breaks from oxidative genomic damage than previously thought. This has vital implications on the development of neurological disorders.
The researchers also identified the pathway of how oxidative breaks are formed and repaired. Repairing these breaks in junk DNA is essential for producing proteins that protect us from disease.
Oxidative stress is an unavoidable consequence of cellular metabolism and can be influenced by factors such as diet, lifestyle and environment. In the long term, oxidative stress can cause damage to the body’s cells, proteins and DNA, accelerating the aging process and contributing to the development of neurological diseases such as dementia.
It is hoped this study could pave the way for further research that may potentially help speed up the detection of biomarkers of disease, and allow for earlier intervention to help prevent the onset or progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and MND in those who have the relevant gene.
“Until now the repair of what people thought is junk DNA has been mostly overlooked, but our study has shown it may have vital implications on the onset and progression of neurological disease.
“The research also shows that it could have implications for making cancer treatments more effective.”Full article at Medical Xpress.