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Australian scientists find new gene, lending clues to flu, cancer treatment

(Xinhua)    10:46, July 02, 2018

WASHINGTON, July 1 -- Australia's national science agency CSIRO has identified a new gene that plays a critical role in regulating the body's immune response to infection and disease.

The discovery, reported on Sunday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry under American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, could lead to the development of new treatments for influenza, arthritis and even cancer.

The gene, called C6orf106 or "C6", is found to control the production of proteins involved in infectious diseases, cancer and diabetes, according to the study.

"Our immune system produces proteins called cytokines that help fortify the immune system and work to prevent viruses and other pathogens from replicating and causing disease," said CSIRO researcher Cameron Stewart, the paper's co-author.

"C6 regulates this process by switching off the production of certain cytokines to stop our immune response from spiraling out of control," said Stewart.

The cytokines regulated by C6 are implicated in a variety of diseases including cancer, diabetes and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to Stewart.

"Even though the human genome was first fully sequenced in 2003, there are still thousands of genes that we know very little about," said Rebecca Ambrose, a former CSIRO researcher, now based at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research.

"It's exciting to consider that C6 has existed for more than 500 million years, preserved and passed down from simple organisms all the way to humans. But only now are we gaining insights into its importance."

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