Scientists show that a microRNA can reduce lung cancer growth

March 20, 2008
Scientists show that a microRNA can reduce lung cancer growth
Sections from lungs of mice with tumors that were untreated (c, d) or treated (a, b) with intranasal dosing of let-7 miRNA. Points indicate tumor mass. Statistic show mice treated with let-7 had substantially reduced tumor load. Credit: Kerscher-Slack/Yale

A small RNA molecule, known as let-7 microRNA (miRNA), substantially reduced cancer growth in multiple mouse models of lung cancer, according to work by researchers at Yale University and Asuragen, Inc., published in the journal Cell Cycle.

Cancer afflicts 1.5 million people a year in the United States alone, and lung cancer is the most common and deadly form of cancer worldwide. This study indicates a direct role for a miRNA in cancer progression and introduces a new paradigm of using miRNAs as effective therapeutic agents to treat human cancer.

“We believe this is the first report of a miRNA being used to a beneficial effect on any cancer, let alone lung cancers, the deadliest of all cancers worldwide,” said senior author Frank Slack, associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale.

Slack’s research group initially discovered the let-7 miRNA in C. elegans, a tiny worm used as a model system for studying how organisms develop, grow and age. They went on to show that in humans, let-7 negatively regulates a well-known determinant of human lung cancers, the RAS oncogene.

In collaboration with scientists at Asuragen, the Slack lab has studied the tumor suppressor activity of this small RNA. Their work revealed that let-7 is commonly present at substantially reduced levels in lung tumors — and that reduced levels of let-7 likely contribute to the development of the tumors. These discoveries focused public attention and research efforts to understand the potential use of naturally occurring microRNAs like let-7 to combat cancer.

This new work demonstrates that let-7 inhibits the growth of lung cancer cells in culture and in lung tumors in mice. They also showed that let-7 can be applied as an intranasal drug to reduce tumor formation in a RAS mouse model lung cancer.

“We believe that our studies provide the first direct evidence in mammals, that let-7 functions as a tumor suppressor gene,” said Slack. “Because multiple cell lines and mouse models of lung cancer were used, it appears that therapeutic application of let-7 may provide benefits to a broad group of lung cancer patients.”

“This has been a very productive industry-academic collaboration between Yale and Asuragen scientists” commented Matt Winkler CEO of Asuragen. “This work provides further evidence of the importance of miRNAs in the development of cancer and provides additional support for miRNA replacement therapy as an important component of effective cancer treatment regimens of the future.”

Source: Yale University

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death

February 20, 2018
To stop the spread of cancer, cancer cells must die. Unfortunately, many types of cancer cells seem to use innate mechanisms that block cancer cell death, therefore allowing the cancer to metastasize. While seeking to further ...

Stem cell vaccine immunizes lab mice against multiple cancers

February 15, 2018
Stanford University researchers report that injecting mice with inactivated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) launched a strong immune response against breast, lung, and skin cancers. The vaccine also prevented relapses ...

Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine, researchers say

February 15, 2018
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine. Outside the body, they can be coaxed to become many different types of cells and tissues that can help repair damage due to trauma or ...

Team paves the way to the use of immunotherapy to treat aggressive colon tumors

February 15, 2018
In a short space of time, immunotherapy against cancer cells has become a powerful approach to treat cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, to date, most colon tumours appeared to be unresponsive to this kind ...

Can our genes help predict how women respond to ovarian cancer treatment?

February 15, 2018
Research has identified gene variants that play a significant role in how women with ovarian cancer process chemotherapy.

First comparison of common breast cancer tests finds varied accuracy of predictions

February 15, 2018
Commercially-available prognostic breast cancer tests show significant variation in their abilities to predict disease recurrence, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London of nearly 800 postmenopausal women.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.