Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a “high throughput” technique to identify the function of genes more quickly.

The technology screens cell culture and animal models based on biological function, creating what they call a cDNA library of DNA protein-encoding sequences. That data then can be refined to identify analyze the specific function of the gene.

“All the genes in the human genome have now been sequenced, but the problem is that we don’t know their function,” said Dr. Tal Kafri, principal investigator of the study and an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC’s School of Medicine. “(The technique) offers a quick and efficient way to transfer cDNA into a viral vector library, and it also helps isolate altered cells, ensuring that the changes in them are due to the introduced gene. The closed system we have developed allows us to take candidate genes from virus to bacteria to cell to animal, quickly and efficiently.”

He said the technology could also be used in drug research.

The researchers’ report is published in the July issue of Molecular Therapy.

Kafri is a member of the UNC Gene Therapy Center. Assisting him was Hong Ma, a researcher at the center.