A team of Australian researchers found a new gene that has a vital role in the immune system. The researchers hadn’t come up with a name for it but announced the public that they could help name it.
Cameron Stewart is a CSIRO researcher who studies the gene at the moment. He calls it C6orf106 or “C6” until the public comes with a better idea. He thinks that this gene could help find new treatments for diseases like cancer, influenza or autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Stewart and his colleagues believe that this gene evolved over 500 million years ago in simple organisms. He explains how they found the gene:
“We found the gene by studying viruses. Viruses can’t replicate on their own, they need host genes in order to do that. So we performed a comprehensive screening looking through the entire genome to identify human molecules that are important for virus growth.”
It took Dr. Stewart and his team three years of work in a high containment facility. In May, they finally published their findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Since the gene wasn’t discovered and studied before, they can name it. However, they launched a website this week so that the public can suggest a name for it.
And as with any public opinion, Dr. Stewart knew that he would encounter name suggestions like the next one:
“I don’t mind it, funny suggestions would be great. There is a body that does make the final decision so I don’t think Genie McGeneface is going to get up, but let’s see how many votes it gets in the first place.”
‘Genie McGeneface’ Not a Good Name for a Crucial Gene…
The CSIRO said that this new gene might be vital in regulating the immune response of the body when it encounters infection and disease.
The team hopes this discovery will unlock development of new treatments for many critical diseases:
“The idea of getting to name a gene or being the first one to discover its function, especially an important gene like this with roles in cancer and autoimmunity, it’s very fulfilling and it’s one of the reasons scientists love their job,” Dr. Stewart concluded.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere