From Johns Hopkins
By determining what goes missing in human cells when the gene that is most commonly mutated in pancreatic cancer gets turned on, Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered a potential strategy for therapy.
The production of a particular cluster of genetic snippets known as microRNAs is dramatically reduced in human pancreatic tumor cells compared to healthy tissue, the researchers report in a study published Dec. 15 in Genes and Development. When the team restored this tiny regulator, called miR-143/145, back to normal levels in human pancreatic cancer cells, those cells lost their ability to form tumors.
“Our finding that these specific microRNAs are downstream of the most important oncogene in pancreatic cancer sets the stage for developing methods to deliver them to tumors,” says Josh Mendell, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and an early career scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “When we restore microRNAs to cancer cells in which their levels are repressed, the cells no longer are tumorigenic. We have every reason to believe that the efficient delivery of miR-143/145, if achievable, would be therapeutically beneficial.”
Kent OA, Chivukula RR, Mullendore M, Wentzel EA, Feldmann G, Lee KH, Liu S, Leach SD, Maitra A, Mendell JT. (2010) Repression of the miR-143/145 cluster by oncogenic Ras initiates a tumor-promoting feed-forward pathway. Genes Dev 24(24), 2754-59. [abstract]
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