New Therapy May Halt Prostate Cancer

RNA-based treatment inhibits prostate-cancer stem cells from reproducing

(RxWiki News) A new RNA therapy has been shown to prevent prostate-cancer stem cells from replicating, thanks to new research from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Researchers identified a small slice of RNA that stifles a protein found on prostate cancer stem cells. RNA (ribonucleic acid) acts as one of three major macromolecules, along with DNA and proteins.

In response to this exciting discovery, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center has teamed with Mirna Therapeutics, Inc., to develop the microRNA miR-34a as a treatment for cancer patients.

Lead study author Dean Tang, professor at MD Anderson’s Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis, said the findings are the first to profile a microRNA expression pattern in prostate-cancer stem cells that also provides a strong rationale for developing miR-34a as a treatment. (MicroRNAs regulate RNA, which is expressed by genes to create a protein.)

Tang said there are challenges facing microRNA-based drugs in trying to deliver miRNAs, "but the field is moving fast through the preclinical stage."

The study findings indicate that systemic delivery of a miR-34 mimic inmpedes tumor growth and metastasis in mice with prostate tumors, bearing out similar results to previous studies in which a miR-34 mimic can inhibited tumor growth in mouse models of lung cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, after skin cancer, affecting an estimated 217,730 men last year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Review Date: 
January 19, 2011