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Double whammy: RNAi enhances lung cancer therapy
Date:3/20/2012

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common form of lung cancer, is usually treated with surgery and chemotherapy. However, a small group of patients can also be helped by treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine, shows that blocking production of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) using RNAi, alongside TKI (or antibody therapy), could enhance the effect of TKI on NSCLC cell death, and slow cell growth.

There are 1.2 million new cases of lung cancer worldwide every year and about 75-85% of these are NSCLC. 10% of cases with NSCLC have a mutation in the gene responsible for making EGFR, and three quarters of these patients respond well to TKIs. However others are unresponsive, and, even for the people who responded at first, the cancer always ultimately becomes resistant to TKI therapy.

In an attempt to circumvent this problem researchers from Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, in Belgium, tested the effect of adding RNAi to standard TKI or antibody therapy in NSCLC cells. Proteins are made in the cell's cytoplasm, but DNA is stuck inside the nucleus. Consequently, in order to produce a protein, a cell must first copy the gene's DNA sequence, producing an intermediary molecule called RNA which is able to travel out of the nucleus to the cytoplasm. RNAi 'interferes' with the mechanism for producing proteins by blocking proper function of the intermediary RNA stage.

A team led by Prof De Grve and his co-worker, Gang Chen, found that the small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecule they designed was able to inhibit EGF protein production in all the NSCLC cell lines tested. It was also able to slow down cell growth and increase cell death (apoptosis) in all the cell lines although some responded better than others. When they tested siRNA alongside TKI and or monoclonal antibodies they discovered that the siRNA had an additional positive ef
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Contact: Dr. Hilary Glover
hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2370
BioMed Central
Source:Eurekalert

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