MicroRNAs and Neutral Lipid Emulsion – Therapeutic Approach for Lung Cancer Treatment

Monika L. Ignacak 

According to Statistics Canada lung cancer is the second most common cancer affecting Canadians. An estimated 25,300 new cases of lung cancer are expected in 2011, with 8,000 new cases diagnosed in Ontario.

Since current therapies fail to cure lung cancer, novel therapies are needed to effectively treat people.  Lately, miRNAs have emerged as promising therapeutic, but there are challenges delivering potential drug to cancer cells. In an attempt to resolve this problem, Dr. Trang and Dr. Slack from Yale University used new neutral lipid emulsion (NLE) to deliver synthetic microRNA (miRNA) mimics to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MiRNAs are small RNAs which negatively regulate gene expression in cells and are involved in many processes important for normal cell functioning. These small RNAs are often misexpressed or damaged in tumor cells. MiRNAs let-7 and miR-34a, the two oncogenesis-associated miRNAs, are lost in lung cancer. To restore the miRNAs’ function in tumor cells, scientist used neutral lipid emulsion to deliver miRNAs to the cancer cells. NLE was mixed with synthetic let-7 or miR-34a mimics and injected into genetically modified
mice developing NSCLC (K-ras autochtonous NSCLC mouse model). Scientists observed reduced cancer cell proliferation and substantial decrease in tumor size in both groups and additionally increased apoptosis in tumor cells in group treated with miR-34a.

Neutral lipid emulsion from BIO Scientific (Austin, Texas) known as MaxSuppressor in vivo RNA-LANCEr II has a unique composition based on neutral lipids, which assure efficient delivery to tissues and is less toxic in comparison to cationic lipid delivery agents. The results presented by Dr. Trang and Dr. Slack promise the new targeted therapy for lung cancer.

Journal Reference:
Systemic delivery of tumor suppressor microRNA mimics using a neutral lipid emulsion inhibits lung tumors in mice.Trang P, Wiggins JF, Daige CL, Cho C, Omotola M, Brown D, Weidhaas JB, Bader AG, Slack FJ. Mol Ther. 2011 Jun;19(6):1116-22.

Monika L. Ignacak

has Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and experience in molecular neuroscience and molecular biology of steroid hormones from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences and the University of Cincinnati. Currently she works at the RIC Center, where she is involved in developing effective data organizing system.

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