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Study shows promise for new cancer-stopping therapy
Date:6/11/2009

Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins University have discovered that delivering a small molecule that is highly expressed in normal tissues but lost in diseased cells can result in tumor suppression.

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are a class of small RNA molecules that are highly expressed in normal tissues and are critical in gene expression and in maintaining normal cell development and cell balance. Dysfunction of miRNAs has been linked to multiple human diseases including schizophrenia, autism and cancer.

"The pattern of expression of miRNAs has emerged as critically useful information for understanding cancer development and could be used to establish prognosis and treatment responses," said Janaiah Kota, PhD, a postdoctoral scientist from Nationwide Children's.

In a study reported in Cell (June 12, 2009), the team of researchers employed a novel strategy to treat an important form of cancer. Studies targeted hepatocellular (liver) cancer (HCC), the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. HCC is commonly associated with underlying liver abnormalities, such as hepatitis B and C infections and cirrhosis. HCC is difficult to treat since it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and because its biologic composition makes the tumor highly resistant to current drug therapies. However, the research reported in Cell suggests that miRNA gene delivery may be a clinically viable therapy when delivered by a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV).

HCC expresses a reduced number of miRNAs, including miR-26a. By combining miRNA technology developed at Johns Hopkins University with the gene delivery expertise of Nationwide Children's Hospital, scientists were able to successfully deliver AAV carrying miR-26a to a mouse with established HCC. This gene therapy strategy inhibited growth of cancer cells and led to tumor reduction and cell death, without causing toxic side effects to the remai
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Contact: Mary Ellen Peacock
MaryEllen.Peacock@nationwidechildrens.org
614-355-0495
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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