Researchers at Princeton University have found that microRNAs — small bits of genetic material capable of repressing the expression of certain genes — may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis, or a cancer's spread from its initial site to other parts of the body. The research was published in the journal Cancer Cell.
Researchers at Princeton University have found that microRNAs -- small bits of genetic material capable of repressing the expression of certain genes -- may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis, or a cancer's spread from its initial site to other parts of the body. In this image, breast cancer cells (right) spread toward the hindlimb bone (left), using the host's own bone-destroying cells (osteoclasts) to continue their advance.
Credit: (Image courtesy of Yibin Kang, Department of Molecular Biology)
MicroRNAs are specifically useful for tackling bone metastasis, which occurs in about 70 percent of patients with late-stage cancer, said senior author Yibin Kang, Princeton's Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology. During bone metastasis, tumors invade the bone and take over the cells known as osteoclasts that normally break down old bone material as new material grows. These cells then go into overdrive and dissolve the bone far more quickly than they would during normal bone turnover, which leads to bone lesions, bone fracture, nerve compression and extreme pain.
"The tumor uses the osteoclasts as forced labor," explained Kang, who is a member of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and adviser to Brian Ell, a graduate student in the Princeton Department of Molecular Biology and first author on the study. Kang and Ell worked with scientists at the IRCCS Scientific Institute of Romagna for the Study and Treatment of Cancer in Meldola, Italy, and the University Cancer Center in Hamburg, Germany. In this video, Ell describes his research on using small RNAs for treating and monitoring bone metastasis.
MicroRNAs can reduce that forced labor by inhibiting osteoclast proteins and thus limiting the number of osteoclasts present. Ell and his colleagues observed that bones exhibiting metastasis developed significantly fewer lesions when injected with microRNAs. Their findings suggest that microRNAs could be effective treatment targets for tackling bone metastasis — and also may help doctors detect the cancer's spread to the bone, Kang said. Samples collected from human patients revealed a strong correlation between elevated levels of another group of microRNAs and the occurrence of bone metastasis, the researchers found.
In a commentary accompanying the study in Cancer Cell, researchers who were not associated with the work wrote, "This [study] represents significant insight into our understanding of the organ-specific function and pathological activity of miRNAs, which could lead to improvements in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of bone metastases and elucidates a unique aspect of the bone microenvironment to support tumor growth in bone." The commentary was authored by David Waning, Khalid Mohammad and Theresa Guise of Indiana University in Indianapolis.
Kang said he ultimately hopes to extend mice experimentation to clinical trials. "In the end, we want to help the patients," he said.
[Images can be seen at http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/18/50A40. To obtain high-res images, contact Princeton science writer Morgan Kelly, (609) 258-5729, email@example.com]
The research was supported by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, grant BC123187 from the U. S. Department of Defense, grants R01CA134519 and R01CA141062 from the National Institutes of Health, and the Brewster Foundation. The research was also supported by the Preclinical Imaging and Flow Cytometry Shared Resources of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey (P30CA072720). Collaborators were supported by the Champalimaud Foundation, the European Research Council, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the German Minister of Education and Research.
Morgan Kelly | EurekAlert!
In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins
12.11.2018 | Technische Universität Berlin
How to produce fluorescent nanoparticles for medical applications in a nuclear reactor
09.11.2018 | Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague)
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.
Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy