BioPerspectives

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Jun 14, 2007

microRNAs and Cancer Susceptibility

  • New evidence indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) might influence cancer susceptibility. Differences in certain miRNAs may predispose some individuals to develop cancer, according to researchers collaborating in a joint study at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

    To see if miRNAs could affect cancer risk, Linda Siracusa, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and colleagues compared the mouse chromosome locations of genes known to affect cancer susceptibility – or "susceptibility loci" – in eight different types of tumors to the locations of mouse miRNAs. Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team showed that overall, miRNAs were found 1.5 times more likely to be in susceptibility regions than in non-susceptibility regions.

    During this week's GEN podcast Dr. Siracusa discusses what initially led her to believe that there was a microRNA-cancer link. She describes in detail the research that she and and her collaborators carried out to see if microRNAs could affect cancer risk. Dr. Siracusa talks about the next step in her research, which will be be to examine microRNA expression levels in mice. Dr. Siracusa also explains how this research involving microRNAs will ultimately improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in humans.

    Be sure to listen to this provocative and timely podcast then return to the blog and give your thoughts on the following question:

    How do you think research on microRNAs will ultimately improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in humans?