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MicroRNA that blocks bone destruction could offer new therapeutic target for osteoporosis
Date:6/25/2014

DALLAS June 25, 2014 UTSouthwestern cancer researchers have identified a promising molecule that blocks bone destruction and, therefore, could provide a potential therapeutic target for osteoporosis and bone metastases of cancer.

The molecule, miR-34a, belongs to a family of small molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs) that serve as brakes to help regulate how much of a protein is made, which in turn, determines how cells respond.

UTSouthwestern researchers found that mice with higher than normal levels of miR-34a had increased bone mass and reduced bone breakdown. This outcome is achieved because miR-34a blocks the development of bone-destroying cells called osteoclasts, which make the bone less dense and prone to fracture.

"This new finding may lead to the development of miR-34a mimics as a new and better treatment for osteoporosis and cancers that metastasize to the bone," said senior author Dr. Yihong Wan, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and member of the UTSouthwestern Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center.

Her team found that injecting nanoparticles containing an artificial version, or mimic, of miR-34a into a mouse with post-menopausal osteoporosis decreased bone loss. "Interestingly, the mouse miR-34a is identical to that in humans, which means that our findings may apply to humans as well," said Dr. Wan, Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Medical Research at UTSouthwestern.

The study is published online in the journal Nature.

High levels of bone destruction and reduced bone density caused by excessive osteoclasts are characteristic of osteoporosis, a common bone disease in which bones become fragile and susceptible to fracture.
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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