Washington: Researchers have developed a new therapy that targets cancer cells with a modified strand of microRNA that naturally blocks cell division, ultimately slowing down tumour growth.
The therapy, developed by Purdue University researchers, attacks tumours by tricking cancer cells into absorbing a snippet of RNA that naturally blocks cell division.
Tumours treated with the new therapy did not increase in size over the course of a 21-day study, while untreated tumours tripled in size over the same time period, reported the study published in the journal Oncogene.
“The therapy tested in mouse models, combines a delivery system that targets cancer cells with modified version of microRNA-34a, a molecule that acts ‘like the brakes on a car’ slowing or stopping cell division,” said Andrea Kasinski, lead author and Associate Professor of biological sciences at Purdue University.
The targeted microRNA-34a strongly suppressed the activity of at least three genes-MET, CD44 and AXL — known to drive cancer and resistance to other cancer therapies, for at least 120 hours.
The results indicate that the therapy could be effective on its own and in combination with existing drugs when used against cancers that have built drug resistance.
The targeted specificity of the therapy reduces the amount of the compound that must be administered to be effective, which in turn reduces potential toxicity, side effects and cost.
The team also aims to prepare a separate version, which targets a different cell surface receptor, for prostate cancer cells, which do not produce excessive folate receptors.