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UA researchers excited by Human Genome Project

By Richard Clark
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
June 28, 2000
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

The end of many genetic diseases could come in the next 40

Top UA medical researchers said they are excited about new possibilities the Human Genome Project will open up now that it is near completion.

The completed gene sequences will allow revolutionary research into cancer, leukemia and other gene related research, said Jay Hoying, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

A primary focus of the research being done in his department is angio-genisis, the development of new blood vessels. Preventing the development of blood vessels could be a new route to fighting cancer, Hoying said.

"The focus is in designing imaging implants to find developing vessels," he said.

The theory - which is in its preliminary stages - is that if the developing vessels can be targeted, there should be a way to shut down genes in that vessel. This would cut off the blood flow and kill the cancerous cells without harsh treatments.

While completion of the project is only a preliminary step in genetics, Hoying said the project will have profound affects on genetic related research across campus.

At the Arizona Cancer Center the greatest benefit from the project has been the development of the CDNA Micro Array Analysis, said Bernard Futscher, associate professor of pharmacology and director of the Micro Array facility at the Arizona Cancer Center.

The CDNA Micro Array allows the user to sequence up to 5,700 genes at a time, whereas 10 years ago researchers could only sequence 10 genes at a time.

There are approximately 100,000 genes in every human cell.

The next several years will be spent collecting and organizing data from thousands of patients with various genetic based ailments to determine the function of the genes, Futscher said.

Futscher added that a leukemia patient now has about a 50 percent chance of surviving based on what form of leukemia the patient has.

The Micro Array technology in the future will be able to determine specifically which gene is causing the leukemia and the doctors will know immediately what the patients long term prognosis and treatment options are.

"We hope to have a treatment for most diseases in the next 40 years," he said.

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Rhuematory Arthritis are among the diseases that Futscher believes will have cures the soonest.

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