Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found a way to examine more closely into a long-neglected, non-coding portion of the human genome, uncovering mechanisms that might drive or suppress cancer development.

Since scientists at the Human Genome Project completed the sequencing of the entire human genome, substantial data has become available to suggest that the coding region of the genome is involved in gene regulation, while the non-coding region merely exists. The Dana-Farber researchers’ findings, published in Nature Genetics earlier this week, demonstrated this notion wrong by showing that the non-coding portion of the human genome plays a role in gene epigenetics.

While the coding regions are directly linked to gene expression, the non-coding region can regulate gene activity by influencing the environment around it. The Dana-Farber team jump-started this new area of research by accumulating a database of mutations that have links to biological mechanisms by way of epigenetic influence.

Read more here