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Researchers identify a novel therapeutic approach for liver cancer
Date:12/9/2011

BOSTON Cancer of the liver rare in the United States but the third-leading cause of cancer death worldwide can result from environmental exposures or infections like chronic hepatitis, but the link is poorly understood.

Now, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified a mechanism in mice that triggers inflammation in the liver and transforms normal cells into cancerous ones. In addition, they demonstrated in a mouse model that a particular micro-RNA (miR-124) - a member of a recently discovered class of molecular regulators could be harnessed to treat or even prevent liver cancer.

"In this study we are describing for the first time a micro-RNA that is able to prevent and treat liver cancer," said Dimitrios Iliopoulos, of Dana-Farber's Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS. The findings are being published today in the journal Cell.

The authors said they plan to start a phase I clinical trial using miR-124 in liver cancer patients in 2012.

Iliopoulos and his colleagues found that in mice given a carcinogenic chemical, DEN, liver cancer is initiated by the activation of a molecular circuit that sets up an inflammatory state in the cells, leading to cancer. Once this inflammatory circuit is turned on even for a few days, it becomes permanent, sustaining its activity through a never-ending feedback loop a "snowball effect," as Iliopoulos termed it.

Iliopoulos previously identified a similar feedback circuit implicated in the development of breast cancer.

One element of the circuit is a micro-RNA called miR-124, the Dana-Farber team reported.

Micro-RNAs are extremely short lengths of RNA a messenger molecule that helps the cell build proteins according to DNA instructions - which are not translated into proteins. MiRNAs have been recently implicated in the pathogenesis of human diseases including different types of cancer. The Dana-Farber team found that miR-124 and ano
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Contact: Teresa Herbert
teresa_herbert@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5665
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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