Samantha Truex (file photo)

Bruce Booth and Saman­tha Truex's lat­est ven­ture aims just above Hu­mi­ra

In 2000, about a year af­ter the first tri­al da­ta on Hu­mi­ra came out, a Japan­ese team iden­ti­fied a new gene that ap­peared to pre­vent GI can­cer in mice: gas­der­min, they called it, af­ter the par­tic­u­lar pro­teins it ex­pressed.

Over the next decade-and-a-half, re­searchers found five more genes in the same fam­i­ly – of­ten iden­ti­fied as gas­der­min A, B, C, D, E and F – and yet their pur­pose baf­fled sci­en­tists. Mu­ta­tions in ap­peared to make mice bald (alope­cia), but delet­ing it had no ef­fect. Mu­ta­tions in F and A were linked to deaf­ness. Mu­tant E caused hu­man cells to self-de­struct.

“The ex­act bi­o­log­i­cal func­tion of these pro­teins re­mained un­known for more than 15 years,” three of the field’s top re­searchers wrote in a  Na­ture re­view in No­vem­ber.

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