Scientists find 3,600 disease ‘switches’ in human body

Scientists find 3,600 disease ‘switches’ in human bodyWashington, July 18 : A collaborative study conducted by researchers at University of Copenhagen and the Max Planck Institute in Germany has led to the identification of no less than 3,600 molecular switches in the human body, which may prove to be a crucial factor in human ageing and the onset and treatment of cancer, Alzheimer''s disease and Parkinson''s disease.

Lead researcher Professor Matthias Mann, of Novo Nordisk Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen and the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, has revealed that the 3,600 acetylation switches were detected in 1,750 different proteins.

"This is more than just a technological achievement, it has also expanded the number of known acetylation switches by a factor of six, and it gives us for the first time a comprehensive insight into this type of protein modification," says Professor Mann.

According to background information in an article on the study, published in the journal Science, a given protein can perform more than one task, and how it behaves is regulated by adding a small molecule that acts as a ''switch'' which can turn on the different tasks.

Acetylation is essential for cells'' ability to function normally. Defective protein regulation plays a role in ageing and the development of diseases like cancer, Parkinson''s and Alzheimer''s.

"With the new mapping, we can now begin to study and describe how acetylation switches respond to medications that could repair the defects on them. It can have a major impact on medical care," says Professor Mann, adding that medications to repair the damaged protein regulation are already showing promising in the treatment of cancer.

The researchers have also found that acetylation modification occurs primarily on proteins that work together, and that these switches have much greater consequences for the organism''s function than previously thought. (ANI)