STUDY SAYS TINY MOLECULE CAN TREAT CHILDHOOD BRAIN CANCER
Modern medicine keeps on advancing, and its making a huge difference even from smallest discoveries.
In an article, a new study by researchers from UT Health San Antonio found that a molecule thousands times smaller than a gene has the ability to kill medulloblastoma – the most common childhood brain cancer.
This tiny molecule, named MiR-584-5p, is quite efficient in its action. MiR-584-5p sensitizes the cancer to chemotherapy and radiation, making it plausible to treat the tumors with one-tenth the dose that is currently required, says study senior author Manjeet Rao, Ph.D., associate professor of cell systems and anatomy at UT Health San Antonio and a member of the university’s Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute.
MiR-584-5p is at very low levels or absent altogether in medulloblastoma. Increasing it to the amount found in healthy cells robs the cancer of mechanisms it uses to survive, studies show. “This can serve as a potent therapeutic for treating cancer,” Dr. Rao said.
The other excitement about MiR-584-5p is that it is normally present at high levels in brain cells and not so in other tissues, Dr. Rao said. Therefore, when it is used in the brain as therapy to kill tumors, it will have negligible effects on the healthy cells because those cells have seen it before. “They may not treat the molecule as something foreign,” Dr. Rao explained. A future therapy based on the molecule should be well-tolerated, he said.
A big challenge for treating brain cancer patients is the inability of cancer drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier, a protective mechanism that holds up brain cancer therapies. Because it is so petite, MiR-584-5p may be able to cross this barrier, which is leaky in some medulloblastoma patients. In the future, Dr. Rao said, the molecule may be delivered using a nanoparticle carrier.
Aside from medulloblastoma, the properties of MiR-584-5p make it an excellent drug candidate for treatment of glioblastoma, an aggressive and lethal adult brain cancer, Dr. Rao furtherly added.
Erudite Nursing Institute™ salutes researchers from UT Health San Antonio in making this huge discovery. The institute hopes for further development regarding treatments for childhood and adult cancer.
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