Washington: Targeting bits of junk DNA, known to regulate the activity of a cancer-related gene PTEN, can help suppress cancers, says a new study.

Small stretches of such DNA in the human genome, called pseudogenes, are considered to play no role even while being nearly identical to those of various genes.

But now a discovery made by the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) scientists shows that by targeting pseudogenes related to PTEN, cancers can be suppressed, the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology reports.

The discovery suggests a much larger role for pseudogenes — adding a new layer of complexity to an already crowded topography marked by multiple, overlapping and interacting gene networks, according to a Scripps statement.

Understanding how pseudogenes interact and control gene networks in the human body may lead to new ways of addressing diseases, linked to disruptions in these gene networks, said TSRI scientist Kevin Morris.

“This has improved our knowledge of how genes in cancer are regulated and how we may now be able to control them,” said Morris, who led the study with scientists from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Source: IANS