In a groundbreaking study, University of Toronto researchers have unveiled an “Enigma machine” program that can decode the messages of our very genes.
Like the German encoding device captured by the Allies during the Second World War, the U of T program can unlock the meaning of a garbled language — in this case, the cryptic orders that direct our genetic machinery.
All living things depend on genes, which hold the information to build and maintain an organism’s cells and pass genetic traits to offspring.
“We are the first people to actually make predictions about which genetic message will be produced in different tissues,” said Brendan Frey, one of the paper’s senior authors.
“Prior to this, there was no way to predict that actually,” said Frey.
The paper was featured yesterday on the cover of Nature, the world’s most prestigious science journal.
It introduces a readily accessible chart that can decode the messages that a gene will send out in any given type of cell.
“From now on, it will be possible to predict the true meaning of a gene in a particular type of cell,” said Spanish geneticist Jaun Valcarel, one of several leading scientists already stepping up to praise the Toronto work.
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