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Treatment With MicroRNA Linked to Liver Cancer Benefit

Administration of microRNA miR-26a in mice resulted in apoptosis, less cancer proliferation

THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- The systemic delivery of miR-26a, a microRNA, using adeno-associated virus was associated with protection from hepatocellular carcinoma progression in a mouse model of the disease, according to research published in the June 12 issue of Cell.

Janaiah Kota, Ph.D., of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues discuss their experiments with miR-26a, which is highly expressed in normal adult liver but has low expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma and tumors from a mouse model of the disease.

The researchers found that three weeks after treatment with the virus -- at a point in their development when Tet-o-MYC; LAP-tTA mice usually have multiple tumors -- 75 percent of mice treated with control virus demonstrated that the majority of their livers were replaced with tumor. However, 80 percent of mice given the miR-26a had only small tumors or complete absence of tumors. The use of this miRNA was associated with inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and induction of tumor-specific apoptosis.

"Although miR-26a delivery confers dramatic tumor protection, it is likely that many equally or more effective miRNAs with therapeutic potential remain to be functionally characterized. While there clearly remains significant work to be done both in identifying such miRNAs and optimizing their controlled delivery, our findings highlight the therapeutic promise of this approach," the authors conclude.

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