Menu

CSIRO gene discovery ‘unlocks mystery of immunity’

CSIRO’s recently discovered C6orf106 gene. Can you think of a better name? Image CSIRO

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO has identified a new gene that plays a critical role in regulating the body’s immune response to infection and disease.

The discovery could lead to the development of new treatments for influenza, arthritis and even cancer.

The gene, called C6orf106 or ‘C6’, controls the production of proteins involved in infectious diseases, cancer and diabetes. The gene has existed for 500 million years, but its potential is only now understood.

‘Our immune system produces proteins called cytokines that help fortify the immune system and work to prevent viruses and other pathogens from replicating and causing disease,’ CSIRO researcher Dr Cameron Stewart said.

‘C6 regulates this process by switching off the production of certain cytokines to stop our immune response from spiralling out of control.

‘The cytokines regulated by C6 are implicated in a variety of diseases including cancer, diabetes and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.’

The discovery helps improve our understanding of our immune system, and it is hoped that this understanding will enable scientists to develop new, more targeted therapies.

Dr Rebecca Ambrose was part of the CSIRO team that discovered the gene, and co-authored the recent paper announcing the discovery in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

‘Even though the human genome was first fully sequenced in 2003, there are still thousands of genes that we know very little about,’ Dr Rebecca Ambrose, a former CSIRO researcher, now based at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research said.

‘It’s exciting to consider that C6 has existed for more than 500 million years, preserved and passed down from simple organisms all the way to humans. But only now are we gaining insights into its importance.’

Having discovered the function of C6, the researchers are awarded the privilege of naming it, and are enlisting the help of the community to do so.

‘The current name, C6orf106, reflects the gene’s location within the human genome, rather than relating to any particular function,’ Dr Stewart said.

‘We think we can do better than that, and are inviting suggestions from the public.’

A shortlist of names will be made available for final approval by a governing third party.

The breakthrough builds on decades of work in infectious diseases, by researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

To find out how to nominate a name for the new gene, please visit: www.csiro.au/namethegene

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Vast Ballina and Falls Festival