In breakthrough research, scientists at the McGill University, Department of Biochemistry have discovered that a small segment of a protein that interacts with RNA can control the normal expression of genes - including those that are active in cancer. The research has important immediate applications for laboratory research and is another step toward the kind of individualized cancer therapies researchers are pursuing vigorously around the world. Dr. Bhushan Nagar and graduate student Filipp Frank, in collaboration with Dr. Nahum Sonenberg at McGill's new Life Sciences Complex, used structural biology to unravel how a small segment in the Argonaute proteins, the key molecules of RNA interference, can select the correct micro RNAs. And the team has discovered that Argonaute proteins can potentially be exploited to enhance gene silencing. "This is fantastic news. You've seen stories lately about how we may see the end of chemotherapy? Well, this is part of that path in developing genetically based therapies that can be tailored to individual patients' particular illnesses. It's a great step forward," said Dr. David Thomas, Chair of McGill's Department of Biochemistry.