Tue 28th February - Fri 3rd March 2017
In February 25-28th, 1996 50 scientists from the UK and the US met in Bermuda because it was a neutral location. They were on a mission: to sequence the complete human genome. The Human Genome Project (HGP) took place between 1990 and 2003. During this time many labs contributed to its completion.
One main issue regarding the HGP was the uncertainty about what would happen to the gene sequences once deduced. Would the lab that sequenced them get a patent on that gene and sell the sequence for a profit? Or would they be made publicly available to advance scientific research? At this 1996 meeting, entitled "The International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing", it was decided that all gene sequences would be made public in order to further scientific progress in all fields. This agreement was written up in a document called the Bermuda Principles. The impact of the Bermuda Principles on the pace and depth of scientific research has not been appreciated enough. It is clear that this decision has been pivotal in the history of science.
Pre-mRNA splicing is the removal of introns from a pre-mRNA transcript within the nucleus, leaving the exons for translation by the ribosome in the cytoplasm. Splicing is a very interesting mechanism that is at the heart of proper gene regulation. If it goes wrong there are problems, which lead to disease. Cancer is one of the many diseases where mis-splicing is found and so much work is targeted at correcting this is an effort to further cancer treatment.
One underlying assumption in all splicing research is that the sequence of the gene is known. With this freely available, mini-constructs can be made to mimic exactly what is happening in the cell but in a controlled environment. By manipulating various conditions, studies have found what factors cause proper and improper splicing of onco-genes, for example. Such results have lead to innovative therapeutics for many diseases. The Bermuda Principles has had a drastic impact on the splicing field.
Fairmont Southampton Princess, Southampton, Bermuda
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