Micro Molecule Does Big Things for Cancer Growth

MicroRNA101 inhibits autophagy and limits growth in cancerous cells

(RxWiki News) Cancer cells grow rapidly and use the body's normal celluar activity against itself. Scientists are looking to something very small to stop the growth of cancerous cells.

A new study has determined that microRNA-101 can reduce the growth of cancerous cells by limiting the natural system of cellular development, called autophagy. 

"Ask your oncologist about cancer treatment side effects."

Autophagy is a normal process where every human cell gets the nutrition it needs to grow. But this process can also actually promote the growth of cancer. A protein known as MicroRNA-101 regulates how genes work within the cell and can possibly slow or stop cell growth.

In the study, researchers determined that microRNA-101 inhibits autophagy. When they boosted the level of microRNA-101 in various cancer cells, autophagy was interrupted.

MicroRNA-101 may also help to reactivate cells that have become resistant to standard therapies, such as is commonly seen in breast cancer being treated with tamoxifen.

Scientists and cancer researchers have been particularly interested in microRNA molecules and their role in autophagy. Since microRNA is involved with the normal function of human cells, it may also be involved in dysfunctional cancer cells.

This research is even more compelling because it can be applied to many areas in cancer research. Researchers say more studies are needed to determine the exact role of microRNA-101 in both normal and cancerous cell growth.

This study was published in the October 2011 edition of The EMBO Journal.

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Review Date: 
October 11, 2011