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MicroRNAs Are Regulators and Biomarkers of Bone Cancer Metastasis

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 30 Oct 2013
Image: Researchers at Princeton University have found that microRNAs may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis. In this image, breast cancer cells (right) spread toward the hindlimb bone (left), using the host's own osteoclasts to continue their advance (Photo courtesy of Dr. Yibin Kang, Princeton University).
Image: Researchers at Princeton University have found that microRNAs may serve as both therapeutic targets and predictors of metastasis. In this image, breast cancer cells (right) spread toward the hindlimb bone (left), using the host's own osteoclasts to continue their advance (Photo courtesy of Dr. Yibin Kang, Princeton University).
Different groups of microRNAs (miRNAs) have been found to either inhibit or promote metastasis of cancer in the bone, which occurs in about 70% of patients with late-stage cancer.

Investigators at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA) reported in the October 14, 2013, edition of the journal Cancer Cell that miR-141 and miR-219 inhibited metastasis by targeting osteoclast genes. Intravenous delivery of these miRNAs in vivo inhibited osteoclast activity and reduced osteolytic bone metastasis.

In contrast, serum levels of sICAM1 (soluble intracellular adhesion molecule) and two osteoclast miRNAs, miR-16 and miR-378, which were elevated in osteoclast differentiation, correlated with increased bone metastasis in mouse models.

"The tumor uses the osteoclasts as forced labor," said senior author Dr. Yibin Kang, professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. "We ultimately hope to extend mice experimentation to clinical trials. In the end, we want to help the patients."

The authors suggested that the findings published in the Cancer Cell paper establish miRNAs as potential therapeutic targets and clinical biomarkers of bone metastasis.

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