IBM and the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) revealed results from a joint research study on how cell processes are regulated. The two teams discovered that microRNAs likely exert their influence much more widely than previously thought.

The results, which are reported in the September 22 issue of the journal Cell, suggest that some microRNAs may exert their influence by targeting as many as a few thousand messenger RNAs. In addition, the study showed that nearly all genes in higher organisms may be under microRNA control. The analysis also suggests that likely tens of thousands of microRNAs remain to be identified.

Experiments conducted by GIS validate findings generated by a mathematical model developed by the IBM team. The work is expected to provide insight on microRNA-based regulation in diseases, such as cancers, neurodegenerative disorders, and diabetes and to suggest possible avenues for novel diagnostics and the development of therapeutics.

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