Little molecule makes big difference in bladder cancer metastasis

In order to kill, bladder cancer must metastasize, most commonly to the lung – what are the differences between bladder cancers that do and do not make this deadly transition? Research presented by the Director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 shows that one big difference is a little molecule known as hsa-miR-146a.

or mRNA carries gene blueprints to sites where the plans are read and made into proteins, and to a large degree microRNA or miRNA tells mRNA what to do. Theodorescu's work shows that in 256 samples of human bladder cancer, especially the tiny miRNA, hsa-miR-146a is overexpressed in the most . The molecule tells its mRNA partner to manufacture genes in a way that makes metastatic.

"Not only did we discover one specific molecule involved in bladder , but we discovered a host of miRNA and mRNA pairs that bear further study," says Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center and the paper's senior author.

Consider this: researchers used to data-mine tumor genomes for mutated genes that could cause cancer. Then researchers discovered that even healthy genes turned on and off or over/under-expressed at unfortunate times could cause cancer and so started looking for mRNA causes of this mis-expression. And now researchers including Theodorescu and colleagues are exploring a layer deeper to discover how miRNA affects mRNA, which affects gene expression, which causes cancer.

"You dig deep enough into these causal chains and you start to learn basic things about this disease and its progression," Theodorescu says.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team genetically sequences most common bladder cancer

Aug 11, 2011

In an article published online this week in Nature Genetics, a University of Colorado Cancer Center team in partnership with universities in China and Denmark reports the first genetic sequencing of urothelial (transitional) carcin ...

New discovery raises doubts about current bladder treatment

Mar 25, 2009

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have found that one of the genes commonly thought to promote the growth and spread of some types of cancers is in fact beneficial in bladder cancer - a major discovery ...

Recommended for you

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

2 hours ago

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

14 hours ago

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments