Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

uni'wissen 01-2016_ENG

uni wissen 01 2016 Two developmental stages of Morpho peleides: Epigenetic markers determine when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. Fotos: Maggi_94/flickr, Doug Schnurr/Fotolia or thousands of keys and optimizing them to fit perfectly in a particular lock.” A Kind of Language The long term goal is to develop epigenetic therapies “that can be used to target only par- ticular areas of the genome.” To return to the bookmark analogy, this means the following: “We remove only a single red bookmark, for instance from page 300 of the book, and leave all the other red bookmarks in the book.” One of the difficulties is that the epigenome is not a fixed code like DNA but more akin to a context- dependent language. When one hears the word “lock,” for example, it only becomes clear in context whether one is talking about a device for fasten- ing doors or a tress of hair. Epigenetics confronts scientists with similar questions to interpret. The epigenetic proteins Jung is using for his experiments are delivered by project partners from France, but one searches in vain for the names of large pharmaceutical companies on the list of institutions participating in A-PARADDISE. “We’re conducting fundamental research,” Jung stresses. Epigenetics is a young field: The first detailed studies in this area were conducted in the mid 1990s, and the first drugs to be developed on the basis of epigenetics research are now being used to treat leukemia and other types of blood cancer. It is not yet foreseeable whether clinical studies on patients will be conducted within the context of A-PARADDISE. The tropical diseases transmitted by parasites are by no means rare medical phenomena. “Millions of people contract them every year, and several hundred thousands die of them,” says Jung. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is alone responsible for up to 200,000 deaths per year. For the year 2013, the WHO registered 40 million cases of the disease in 75 countries. This makes schistosomiasis the 34 uni wissen 012016