May 27, 2010
Individualized Cancer Therapy Via Gene Silencing
In a major cancer-research breakthrough, researchers at the McGill University, Department of Biochemistry have discovered that a small segment of a protein that interacts with RNA can control the normal expression of genes "“ including those that are active in cancer.
The research, published online on May 26, 2010 by the prestigious journal Nature, has important immediate applications for laboratory research and is another step toward the kind of individualized cancer therapies researchers are pursuing vigorously around the world.
In doing so, the team has discovered that Argonaute proteins can potentially be exploited to enhance gene silencing. "RNA interference could be used as a viable therapeutic approach for inhibiting specific genes that are aberrantly active in diseases such as cancer", Nagar said. "We now have a handle on being able to rationally modify micro RNAs to make them more efficient and possibly into therapeutic drugs."
While therapeutic applications are many years away, this new insight provides an avenue to specifically control the production of proteins, which in cancer cells for example, are abnormal.
"This is fantastic news," said Dr. David Thomas, Chair of McGill's Department of Biochemistry. "You've seen stories lately about how we may see the end of chemotherapy? Well, this is part of that path in developing genetically based therapies that can be tailored to individual patients' particular illnesses. It's a great step forward."
The research received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Human Frontier's Science Program and supported by the FRSQ Groupe de Recherche Ax© sur la Structure des Prot©ines (GRASP).
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