The DNA guardians

24.11.2015
Discover Dr. Anahí Mollá Herman, 2015 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow and PhD in the Laboratoire de Développement de Cellules Germinales at the Institut Curie.

The sun’s rays, chemical products… The DNA in our cells is constantly changing under the action of various elements and the cell has developed processes to preserve the DNA and counter any threats which may lead to the cell’s death or its uncontrolled proliferation: this is a phenomenon at the basis of cancerous processes. Among these elements are transposons – mobile genetic elements – that modify the gene expression and place the integrity of the genome in danger. Small molecules of RNA play the role of guardians, preventing their action. Currently studying for her doctorate in the Laboratoire de Développement de Cellules Germinales at the Institut Curie, Anahí Mollá Herman is carrying out an exhaustive study, both descriptive and functional, of some of these molecules in the fruit fly, in which she combines approaches from genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics. Her aim is to study how the whole genome is protected down the generations and to thus better understand the appearance of diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration or viral infections, which are very widespread in the human race and have recently been linked to a change in these DNA guardians, whose precise role is still unknown. “We are all affected by personal events that influence our decisions and for me it would be extraordinary if cancer become just another illness that was easy to treat”, says Anahí Mollá Herman.

 

I chose to focus my research on the issue of infertility. I discovered that there are molecules called TRNA that participate in the protection of the genome. My role is to study how the integrity of the genome is protected across the generations and thus better understand the appearance of illness that are widespread in humans, such as cancer, neuro-degeneration or viral infections. For me, it would be a wonderful victory if cancer was to become an illness like any other, easy to treat.

 

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