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RNA snippet suppresses spread of aggressive breast cancer
Date:6/15/2009

t metastasis, Valastyan introduced miR-31 into breast cancer cells that readily metastasize. After injecting these altered cells into mice, the mice had four to 40 times fewer metastases than mice injected with the unaltered cells.

Valastyan says that quantifying miR-31 levels in a patient's cancer cells could one day support a more accurate prognosis. Currently, breast cancers are divided into three major categories, two of which are typically associated with poor prognoses.

"This microRNA seems to be quite unique, in that it seems to provide some prognostic utility across these existing subclassifications [of cancers]," says Valastyan. A better-defined prognosis could help patients determine whether they might benefit from poorly tolerated cancer therapies.

In addition, miR-31 could be a useful target for cancer therapy. Weinberg, who is also a professor of biology at MIT, is cautiously optimistic. "At present, it's quite difficult to inhibit the action or promote the actions of a microRNA in a whole organism," he says, "but in the future, microRNAs like this one might prove to be very important in altering the clinical progression of a tumor or causing it to revert to a more benign state."

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MIT Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Harvard Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), and a DoD Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Idea Award.


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Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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