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Micro RNA clue to cancer therapy

Wednesday February 12th, 2020

A piece of microRNA could open the way for a therapy for bile duct cancer, British researchers reported today.

The team examined changes to micro RNA in bile duct cancer cells. Their work is published today (12 February), during Gallbladder & Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month.

Dr Chiara Braconi and colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK, found that a type of micro RNA called MIR1249 can alter cell signalling and allow the cancer to resist chemotherapy.

They add that drugs to block MIR1249 could overcome this resistance and make chemotherapy effective. In a similar way, other drugs could block other types of micro RNA to increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Details appear in Hepatology. Dr Braconi says: “Our study identifies MIR1249 as a potential drug target in bile duct cancers and possibly other tumour types and opens up what could be an exciting new avenue of treatment.

“It’s remarkable how such a tiny piece of RNA can play such a significant role in rewiring cancer cells so that they can resist chemotherapy. There is growing interest in the idea of developing drugs against RNA rather than against proteins, as studies like ours show the important role of micro RNA in cell signalling.”

Co-author Professor Paul Workman adds: “Bile duct cancer is becoming increasingly common around the world and survival rates are very poor, so there is an urgent need to develop better therapies for people with advanced disease whose treatment stops working.

“This new study shows the potential of targeting molecules called micro RNAs as a new form of treatment for drug-resistant cancers.

Braconi, C. et al. Hepatology 12 February 2020

Tags: Cancer | Gastroenterology | Genetics | UK News

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