Food Affects Your Genes and Your Jeans

Liver cancer in mice stands down to antisense

(RxWiki News) MicroRNA are molecules that control genes - particularly the expression (presence) of genes. Recent research illustrates that a microRNA  involved in liver cancer might be a new way to treat the disease.

Cancer researchers zeroed in on microRNA-221 (miR--221) that's seen in very high levels in liver cancer. They found an extraordinarily clever way to overpower this bad guy by creating essentially a mirror molecule that served to block the miR-221 from doing its evil deeds.

"What you eat does affect your health."

The animal study was conducted by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) and Mayo Clinic.

Researchers designed a second molecule called antisense oligonucleotide. This molecule homed in on the miR-221 and deactivated it in mice that had been injected with human liver cancer cells.

Getting the evil twin under control boosted the activity of tumor-suppressing genes.

So what was the result of all these genetic gymnastics? The mice lived longer.

Principal investigator, Thomas Schmittgen, associate professor and chair of pharmaceutics at Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy and a member of the OSUCCC – James Experimental Therapeutics program, says this work is significant because liver cancer is a tough one, "so we badly need new treatment strategies.”

Schmittgen concludes that these findings provide "proof-of-principle for further development of microRNA-targeted therapies for hepatocellular carcinomas.”

This research was published in the journal Cancer Research in January, 2012.

Other researchers who participated in this study include: Jong-Kook Park, Jinmai Jiang, Lei He, Ji Hye Kim, Mitch A. Phelps, Tracey L. Papenfuss and Carlo M. Croce of Ohio State; Takayuki Kogure and Tushar Patel of Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida; and Gerard J. Nuovo.

Funding from the National Cancer Institute and from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases supported this research.

Review Date: 
January 3, 2012