SHERBROOKE, QC, March 31, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Xavier Roucou, PhD, and his research team have made an extraordinary discovery that is pushing back the limits of life and rocking the fields of medicine and biology: the existence of what has been termed alternative proteins. The results of this research Ranked among the top ten discoveries in 2013 by Québec Science, the work of this team from the Université de Sherbrooke's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMSS) and the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CRCHUS) is today being awarded the title of Découverte de l'année 2013 from the Québec Science science magazine. This distinction, determined by the magazine's readers, was given to Xavier Roucou and his team whose novel work has been described as a "major, audacious discovery that is revolutionizing the research community."
The discovery of more than 80,000 proteins—referred to as alternative proteins—is shaking up medicine and biology by putting into question much of our knowledge about proteins. After examining the entire human genome, Xavier Roucou and his team knocked down the tenet that each gene corresponds to a protein. According to their data, each mature messenger RNA (intermediary by which cells produce proteins) encodes an average of 3.8 proteins, rather than just one as has been held until now. This represents a huge breakthrough because, up to now, alternative proteins have been under the radar of researchers. The identification of these proteins opens a new doorway to understanding certain neurodegenerative diseases.
"I view this," stated Roucou, "as a very important award since both the scientific community and the general public interested in the sciences have expressed their support of our research. Moreover, I want to thank everyone who voted for this discovery. Our entire team is very honored by this recognition," expressed Xavier Roucou, professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Université de Sherbrooke, CRCHUS researcher, and discoverer of alternate proteins.
People's Choice Award: a Remarkable Distinction
"Québec Science's Découverte de l'année (people's choice award) is the only science prize awarded by the general public. That didn't keep the magazine's readership from awarding more than 28% of the votes to this highly fundamental research with enormous potential impact," stated Raymond Lemieux, Editor-in-Chief of Québec Science.
In the words of one of the magazine's readers, "What interested me the most about this discovery is that it is not only a culmination but a springboard for other breakthroughs. In my opinion, that is the true sense of scientific research: advancing knowledge while opening in the way for other research groups."
"Bravo to Professor Roucou and his team for their boldness in publishing these results," exclaimed another reader.
About the Research Team
The members of Roucou's team that worked on the studies on alternative proteins are students Benoît Vanderperre, Danny Bergeron, Cyntia Bissonnette, Catherine Lapointe, and Solène Vanderperre and research professionals Guillaume Tremblay and Julie Motard.
This is the second consecutive year that research at the Université de Sherbrooke has been given this recognition by readers of Quebec Science. Last year, the title of Discovery of the Year was awarded to the team of Jean-Sébastien Plante and Martin Brouillette in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
"Bravo to Professor Roucou's entire team and our heartfelt thanks for making such an impressive contribution to the University's mission," stated Professor Luce Samoisette, President of the Université de Sherbrooke. The results of this fundamental research are being immediately transferred to applied research at the CHUS research center. That stands is another example of the highly beneficial collaboration between our two institutions."
"The CHUS uses research as a spearhead in achieving continuous improvement in the quality of care offered to patients," pointed out Dr. Stéphane Tremblay, Acting General Director of the CHUS. "In following the example of Xavier Roucou, fundamental researchers enable the CHUS to transpose and then transfer knowledge from bench to bedside. By working together on research and sharing our resources—human and financial—as well is our technological facilities and equipment," Tremblay went on, "the University and the CHUS produce results that invariably lead to improved medical practices, patient care, and population health."
About the Université de Sherbrooke
The Université de Sherbrooke lies at the center of one of Quebec's three major research hubs. Recognized for its sense of innovation, the Université de Sherbrooke is a key partner of senior and regional governments to promote social, cultural, and economic development. Moreover, the university stands out because of the significant growth in its research activities in recent years, its technology-transfer successes, and its entrepreneurial and open-innovation initiatives in collaboration with industry and social communities.
About the CRCHUS
The Centre de recherche du CHUS (CRCHUS) stands out for its approach integrating fundamental, clinical, epidemiological, and evaluative research. Some 220 high-caliber researchers and their teams work on six research thrusts that respond to major health concerns: Cancer: biology, prognosis, and diagnosis; diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular complications; medical imagery; inflammation-pain; mother-child research; health: population, organization, practices. The CRCHUS provides cutting-edge scientific and technological leadership nationally and internationally. Its breakthroughs invariably result in improved care and services.
SOURCE: Université de Sherbrooke
For further information: Marie Gendron, Communications Officer, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences | Université de Sherbrooke, 819-821-8000, extension 72581, Marie.Gendron@USherbrooke.ca; For more details: Sherbrooke.ca/decouverte2013; Visit our Web site: USherbrooke.ca/medias