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Turning junk into gold
April 2006
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author
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TEL AVIV, Israel—The work with the SIMAP consortium and the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway isn't Compugen Ltd.'s only recent advance in the area of proteomics work. The company also recently announced the development of an in silico predictive approach allowing the discovery of novel human transcripts and proteins from portions of so-called "junk DNA."
 
This methodology has already enabled Compugen to discover several previously unknown therapeutic protein candidates and publish results of those findings in the Jan. 31, 2006, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 
"In addition to the scientific importance of these findings, from a practical standpoint, they are providing Compugen with novel putative therapeutic and diagnostic transcripts and proteins that otherwise would be difficult, if not impossible to discover," says Dr. Yossi Cohen, Compugen's vice president of research and discovery.
 
The DNA sequences used by the new methodology are what the company calls "essentially ancient, mutated copies of current genes, termed processed pseudogenes." Making use of public pseudogene databases, Compugen's predictive methodology reportedly has been shown both to verify the sequences' annotation on the genome and then use the pseudogene sequences as blueprints for new gene variants and thus novel transcripts and proteins.
 
"The breakthrough nature of this discovery is that we can actually use these 'dead copies of genes' as a genomic embedded cDNA library," says Dr. Ronen Shemesh, manager of experimental research at Compugen and the lead author of the paper.  

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