Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Corn Kernels and Cancer Cells

This story summarizes recent work in my department by my friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Settles. Full story at The Conversation

Driving down a country highway in the Midwest can seem an endless ribbon flanked by green walls of corn, neatly planted in stately rows. But who would guess that a plant that feeds a planet might hold clues that could help us better understand, or perhaps cure, insidious human diseases?
Recent research from Dr. Mark Settles at the University of Florida describes a deep evolutionary link between the processes that govern cell identity in a kernel of corn and those that turn a blood stem cell into a cancerous threat to human life.
Over my three decades as an academic researcher, I’ve been constantly amazed at how discoveries about fundamental cellular processes in plants parallel, or sometimes precede, discoveries in animals. While we share remarkably similar genetic blueprints, plants and animals are obviously quite different. Learning how two very different life forms draw from a similar set of instructions to meet threats or stop disease could lead to breakthroughs in both agriculture and medicine. It reminds us of why close examination of life in animals needs coinciding research tracks in plants.

Full story at The Conversation