Pharma Focus Asia
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Purdue University Discovered First-in-class Targeted MicroRNA Therapy

Purdue University researchers have discovered a new cancer therapy that uses microRNA to slow or stop division of cancer cells.

In a 21-day study, treated tumours remained stable, while untreated tumours tripled in size. MicroRNA-34a is a short double-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule. It consists of a chain of ribonucleic acids arranged like the teeth of a zipper along a sugar-phosphate backbone.

In this structure, one of the RNA strands serves as a guide to direct a protein complex to specific locations within the cell, while the other RNA strand is selectively degraded or destroyed.

Cancer is a disease that can originate in various tissues throughout the human body. These rogue cells often defy signals that would normally prompt them to undergo programmed cell death or halt their rapid division.

In experimental studies using mouse models, scientists have developed an innovative therapy that combines a precision delivery system with a modified version of microRNA-34a (miR-34a), often likened to the brakes of a car, slowing or stopping cell division.

The targeted microRNA-34a therapy not only inhibits tumour growth but also effectively represses the activity of three pivotal cancer-driving genes: MET, CD44, and AXL. These genes are not only implicated in cancer development but are also associated with resistance to conventional cancer treatments.

This breakthrough, focused on leveraging microRNA to combat cancer, holds the potential to serve as a standalone treatment and a valuable addition to existing therapies, particularly in cases where cancers have developed resistance to conventional drugs.

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