Zombie DNA linked to muscular dystrophy

Out of the entire human genome, only 2 percent is known to code for functional genes. The remaining 98 percent - known as "junk DNA." - has generally been thought to be unused by the body. A study recently published in "Science," however, has shown that certain sequences of junk DNA may have the ability to come back to life. This movie-like "Zombie DNA" has severe - and, perhaps, frightening - implications, as researchers have discovered a particular set of junk DNA that, once active, causes facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, or FSHD, an inherited disease that causes weakening of the muscles of the face and shoulder. The study pinpointed a repeating set of "zombie DNA," with a certain mutation causing it to become activated. Researchers are now looking for different treatments to avoid activating the set of DNA, thwarting cases of FSHD. Researchers are keen to continue "zombie" DNA research, as its success with explaining FSHD will hopefully help find treatments to other diseases as well.

-compiled by Aradhya Nigam

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