Gene unlocks mystery of immune system

The new gene.
The new gene.

SCIENTISTS have discovered a gene that plays a critical role in regulating the body’s immune response to infection and disease.

National science agency CSIRO made the discovery, which researchers hope will lead to improved treatments for influenza, arthritis and possibly cancer.

The gene, named C6orf106 or “C6”, controls the production of proteins involved in infectious diseases, cancer and diabetes.

CSIRO researcher Dr Cameron Stewart said the gene has existed for 500 million years, but its potential is only now understood.

He said the discovery would enable scientists to develop new and more targeted therapies.

Having discovered the function of C6, the researchers have the privilege of naming it and are enlisting the help of the community.

“The current name, C6orf106, reflects the gene’s location within the human genome, rather than relating to any particular function,” Dr Stewart said.

“We think we can do better than that, and are inviting suggestions from the public.”

Find out how to nominate a name for the new gene at www.csiro.au/namethegene.