Zewail City scientists discover the cause of neural dysfunction

Our genetic material, present in the DNA molecule, is tightly wound to fit the tiny space in the nucleus of each of our cells. However, DNA, about two meters long when unravelled, needs to be unwound during processes of transcription for making proteins or during replication in cell division. The unwinding is conducted by a unique set of enzymes.

Scientists, co-led by Dr. Sherif El-Khamisy at Zewail City's Center of Genomics, identified the first defect in this genetic pathway in individuals with impaired neural function.

The findings can be readily translated into clinical practice for optimizing cancer therapy and predicting susceptibility to inherited neural disease as well as the progressive neural dysfunction associated with aging.

Scientists at Zewail City hope that they can apply this new medical research to healthcare practice in Egypt. They also hope to develop new drugs to target this genetic pathway.

Reference for the study: Nature Genetics, 2014

Dr. El Khamisy is a graduate of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, and holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Sussex, U.K. He joined Zewail City in 2012 as the director of the Center for Genomics in the Helmy Institute of Medical Sciences. He has recently been made a fellow of the Royal Institute of Preventative Medicine. Dr. El Khamisy has collaborations with laboratories in Europe and the U.S.

Zewail City is a nonprofit organization. It is dedicated to advancing education, research and economic development. The city is governed by a supreme advisory board, which includes five Nobel laureates, and was founded by a special law that grants its independence.