Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center demonstrated for the first time that a family of microRNAs — miR-200 — blocks cancer progression and metastasis by reducing a tumor’s ability to develop new blood vessels around itself. They also found that patients with lung, ovarian, kidney, and triple-negative breast cancers improved their survival rate when they have high levels of the miR-200 expression.
“Nanoparticle delivery of miR-200 blocked new blood vessel development, reduced cancer burden and inhibited metastasis in mouse models of all four cancers,” said Anil Sood, M.D., professor of Gynecologic Oncology, and senior author of the study.
The study has revealed that mi-200 targets cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8) and CXCL1 in tumor cells, and this mechanism could provide new therapeutic options against cancers. IL-8 could function as a biomarker that indicates whether the treatment benefits to the patients, according to Sood. They said that safety studies are necessary before starting clinical trials in human.
“We initially looked at miR-200 because we have an approach for targeting and delivering these molecules with nanoparticles and miR-200 is known to inhibit EMT, a cellular transition associated with cancer progression and metastasis,” Sood said in a recent press release.
In the study, Sood and colleagues analyzed hundreds of ovarian, renal, breast and lung cancer cell line samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas and expressed all five miR-200 family members in the samples.
Low miR-200 expression resulted in poor survival of cells in lung, ovarian and renal cancers, but improved survival of cells in breast cancer.
However, when they analyzed triple-negative breast cancer, high miR-200 expression improved survival of cells. Triple-negative breast cancer included the one that is hormone-receptor positive (luminal), that lack hormone receptors and that lack HER2 protein.
The researchers also identified binding sites for these genes, meaning they are direct targets of miR-200. The study used chitosan nanoparticle derived from chitin in the shells of crustaceans to deliver miR-200 demonstrated cancer metastases reduction by more than 92%.
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