Better Understanding of DNA’s ‘Dark Matter’ May Lead to Useful New Clinical Pathology Laboratory Tests

DNA ‘dark matter’ will provide clinical laboratories and pathologists with a new specimen source and new methodology for developing useful diagnostic tests

Growing knowledge about DNA “dark matter” may soon make it possible for clinical laboratories to develop new assays that reveal clinical information useful in diagnosing and guiding therapeutic decisions. In genetics, “dark matter” describes the non-coding areas of DNA. Recent discoveries indicate that dark matter plays more important roles than previously thought.

Scientists at Vienna’s Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) recently developed a method that reliably detects the non-coding areas of DNA and simultaneously measures their activity quantitatively. The researchers then used this new methodology to study the genome of the Drosophila fly. Drosophila is widely used in genetic studies. These studies broadened the researchers’ understanding of processes such as transcription and replication in other eukaryotes, including humans. The IMP findings were published January 17, 2013, online by the journal Science. (more…)