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Research Team Says New MicroRNA Target May Inhibit Mesothelioma

During their search for new diagnostic and therapeutic targets for mesothelioma, researchers at Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (HPIMR) say “the small but powerful gene regulators microRNA (miRNA) have become of interest,” in the diagnosis and treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). In 2009, miRNA were first suggested to have biological roles in MPM by Guled and colleagues. The team had identified a number of miRNA that were “expressed significantly different between MPM tissue and normal pericardium and the three MPM subtypes.”

In their research, the Guled team explained that “miRNA were predicted to target some of the more commonly affected genes in MPM including cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDNK2A), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), jun oncogene, hepatocyte growth factor and platelet derived growth factor. The miRNA were also located in chromosomal areas known to be deleted or gained in MPM.”

“A number of miRNA have now been identified as aberrantly expressed in MPM with a select few shown to regulate cell activity.”

MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNA molecules, which target genes and regulate gene expression and function. Explains the HIPMR team, “miRNA can function as oncogenes and/or tumor suppressors and they also have characteristics that make them “attractive biomarkers” including being stably expressed in fluid and tissue and “easily measurable using techniques such as quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR).”

Mesothelioma is an often-fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Diagnosis often occurs decades after exposure, when the disease has already reached an advanced stage, making many current treatments ineffective. Due to the long latency period, patients often have a very poor prognosis and a reduced quality of life.  In a Newswise report, Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) noted, “the incidence of this disease is increasing as exposure to asbestos still occurs. A new wave of cases is a real concern.”

“Abnormal expression of miRNA plays a relevant role in cancer biology and they are therefore a potential target for the development of innovative cures,” notes SHRO. The HPIMR team adds, “with the advancement of technology and an increase in collaborative efforts, novel miRNA diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for mesothelioma can be developed.”

An effort is already underway in the lung cancer field with researchers “performing a series of tests to optimize miRNA quantification in serum from a cohort of more than 1000 patients,” notes the HPIMR team. “Variables such as patient fasting, haemolysis, RNA isolation protocol and data normalization approaches were identified and controlled for and a standardized method for the analysis of miRNA in serum was suggested.”

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to your doctor today about newer treatments and clinical trials that could be useful in helping treat your specific type of mesothelioma.



Birnie, Kimberly A., Cecilia M. Prete and Phillip J. Thompson. "Targeting microRNA to improve diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for malignant mesothelioma." U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 29 Sep. 2017. Web. 24 Sep. 2018.

Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO). "New MicroRNA Target May Inhibit Mesothelioma and Unveils Method to Identify Potential Treatments." Newswise. Newswise, Inc., 24 Aug. 2018. Web. 24 Sep. 2018.