Brussels, 15 May 2003
Seven research teams from four EU Member States and Israel are teaming up for an alternative splicing database project, funded under the Quality of Life programme of the Fifth Framework Programme.
Together, the consortium will build a database of all alternatively spliced genes in order to develop new diagnostic tools for major human diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration and infertility. Splicing is the mechanism that enables a cell to generate several distinct proteins from a single gene.
'Recent studies have shown that alternative RNA splicing impacts at least 60 per cent of human genes, and defects in alternative are increasingly recognised as the cause of many human diseases,' said Laurent Bracco, Executive Vice President of ExonHit Therapeutics, one of the project partners. 'We are very pleased to be a member of this European initiative, which we believe will provide a better understanding of the importance of alternative splicing,' he added.
Biologists and computer scientists will collate data on alternative exons from human, mouse, drosophila and rat which have been published in peer review journals and enter them into a user-friendly computer database. This will then provide a workbench for researchers and clinicians needing to access information on diseases.
The project will also develop DNA microarrays that contain cDNAs of all splicing regulatory proteins and their isoforms, as well as chips that incorporate a number of disease relevant genomic signatures for diseases.
Project coordinator Stefan Stamm from the institution of biochemistry at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg believes the project will build on progress made in the human genome project: 'I am very pleased to be coordinating this exciting pan-European project which brings together experts from different scientific disciplines. [...] This is of great importance in order to maximise the value of large scientific initiatives such as the human genome and proteome projects,' he said.