Researchers at the UC Davis Cancer Center have discovered a way of sensitizing muscle-invasive bladder cancer cells so that they succumb to the toxic effects of chemotherapy. The finding adds to mounting evidence that tiny strands of RNA — called microRNA — play key roles in some of the deadliest types of cancer.
In the current study, published online June 28 in International Journal of Cancer, researchers boosted the production of a microRNA found in bladder cancer cell lines — encoded for by the gene miR-34a — and found that this resulted in more of the cells being killed by cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug used to treat many types of cancer.
"When we took the bladder cancer cell lines and activated miR-34a, they were more responsive to chemotherapy," said Ralph deVere White, UC Davis Cancer Center director and professor of urology.
The study establishes, for the first time, a link between sensitivity of bladder cancer cells to chemotherapy and the expression of miR-34a. It suggests that miR-34a may be used as a predictor of response to chemotherapy, as well as a target for new drugs.
Currently, about 50 percent of patients with advanced bladder cancer will survive five years after diagnosis. Although clinical trials have demonstrated that chemotherapy before surgery can improve survival rates, it is rarely used because fewer than 50 percent of patients will respond favorably. Without knowing which patients will improve as a result of chemotherapy, physicians are generally reluctant to use a treatment that can cause their patients to suffer significant side effects.
"So, now we have to prove that it works to predict chemotherapy response in patients," deVere White said. To that end, UC Davis has entered into a partnership with Israel-based Rosetta Genomics to develop a microRNA profile for muscle-invasive bladder cancer that may be used to predict response to chemotherapy.
As part of the current study, deVere White and his colleagues studied 27 patients and found that many who expressed lower levels of miR-34a subsequently did not respond to the combined chemotherapy-surgery treatment. Because the finding was not statistically significant, however, further work in this area is needed.
The team also studied tumor samples taken from eight of the patients who did not respond to chemotherapy. They compared the expression of miR-34a before and after chemotherapy.
"We wanted to see, if you looked at the patient's tissue before chemotherapy, were there differentially expressed microRNAs in the patients who responded to the drugs versus those that didn't respond," deVere White explained.
The team found that expression of miR-34a increased after treatment in only two of the eight cases, suggesting that gene expression levels remained low during treatment and confirming the link between low gene expression and failure to respond to treatment.
"The combined data indicate that the elevation of miR-34a expression levels prior to chemotherapy would be of benefit to muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients, particularly in a setting of low mi-R-34a expression," the authors write.
Since their discovery in 1993, microRNAs have been found to be involved in a number of types of cancer, heart disease and diseases of the nervous system. In 2007, deVere White was part of a team that identified miR-125b, a gene that encodes for a microRNA that jump starts prostate cancer cell growth midway through the disease process, eventually causing it to become fatal.
The microRNA studied here was also recently found to play a role in medulloblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer. MicroRNAs, which are usually 22 to 33 nucleotides in length, are known as post-transcriptional regulators. That means they work by turning genes on or off during the part of the protein synthesis process that involves making a strand of RNA from a DNA template. The human genome encodes for an estimated 1,000 microRNAs.
According to the authors, future studies involving miR-34a will focus on testing its ability to increase sensitivity to chemotherapy and analysis of miR-34a expression in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer. With the currently low chemotherapy success rate and poor five-year survival rate for patients with this disease, "such studies are clearly warranted," the authors write.
"If we can prove what is causing chemotherapy resistance in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer, American ingenuity will come up with ways to overcome it," predicted deVere White.
Additional authors of the study included Ruth Vinall, Alexandra Z. Ripoll, Sisi Wang and Chong-xian Pan; all with UC Davis at the time of the study.About UC Davis Cancer Center
Its innovative research program includes more than 280 scientists at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The unique partnership, the first between a major cancer center and national laboratory, has resulted in the discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis is collaborating with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout Northern California to offer the latest cancer-care services. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.
Karen Finney | EurekAlert!
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
New antibody analysis accelerates rational vaccine design
09.08.2018 | Scripps Research Institute
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy