Mesenchymal cells, mestasticizing cancer cells: ©Georgia Tech miR-429. Remember that name, because it may become a very significant contributor to the early identification and treatment of one of the most fatal cancers -ovarian cancer.
When cancers remain centralized in tumors, treatment tends to be more centralized and effective. But once cancer metastasizes, that is, spreads to cells in other areas of the body, cancer becomes extremely difficult to control or treat. Ovarian cancer, unfortunately, is rarely discovered before it has metastasized.
But scientists at the Ovarian Center Institute Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology explored the use of miR-429, a regulatory RNA. to see if it could control the particular cells, mesenchymal cells, the very mobile cells that travel from the original tumor bringing cancer to once-healthy cells in our bodies.
The experiment was conducted using two ovarian cancer cell lines: one with a high number of mesenchymal cells, the other with epithelial cancer cells, those that tend to stick within the original tumor.
Introducing miR-429 into the mesenchymal cell line, they became "less invasive, less migratory, and more like the cancer cells associated with primary tumors," reported the Center's director John F. McDonald.
Cells treated with miR-429: ©Georgia Tech
Control cells, not treated with miR-429: ©Georgia Tech
If this success is continued in subsequent studies, miR-429 could become the catalyst that literally reverses the fate of an ovarian cancer patient. Imagine that even after the cancer has spread, miR-429 might dramatically alter the nature of the cells responsible for the spread, making them less powerful and more treatable, we hope.
That part of the research is going on right now. Tthe same researchers are studying whether cells treated with miR-429 are more responsive to chemotherapy than mesenchymal cells that are not treated with the RNA regulator.
Sources: Georgia Tech, PubMed, Genecards