New tool designed to fight cancer proves effective against certain viruses

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Canadian scientists have developed a new tool to sequence circular DNA and provide more precise data on how to fight cancer, but also fight agricultural crop viruses.

A new method has been developed by researchers at the University of Alberta to sequence circular DNA, CIDER-Seq, which must provide data on circular DNA in any cell type.

“With our invention of CIDER-Seq, we can begin to understand the function of these mysterious circular DNAs in human and plant cells,” said Devang Mehta, lead author of the study published in Nature Protocols.

Circular DNA is quite common in bacteria and viruses, but scientists have only recently discovered it in the nuclei of human and plant cells, called extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA).

“We have designed a new molecular biology method and a new bioinformatics algorithm to obtain complete sequences of cccDNA,” said Devang Mehta.

Further studies in this direction may soon provide insight into how cancer cells multiply so quickly, the researchers hope.

Agriculture

Meanwhile, the scientists have noticed that their tool is effective in another area, that of the fight against the viruses which infect agricultural crops.

“Our method finally allows us to completely sequence these molecules and gives us and other researchers a tool to better understand what they really do in the cell,” he added.

Thus, the method is already taken into account by agronomists who are looking into the resistance of crops genetically modified to resist circular DNA viruses in Kenya. In addition, it could help discover the sequencing of new viruses.

Sequencing consists in analyzing the DNA of cells to know the genes which compose them and to understand their characteristics and their functioning. Scientists are now looking into the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, the study of the sequence of its different genes to understand the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic by following the genetic mutations of the virus.

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