ANCHOR LEAD: A TYPE OF MESSENGER IN THE BODY CALLED MICRO RNA IS A NEW TARGET FOR INTERVENTION, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Micro RNAs are very small snippets of nucleic acid with a very important regulatory function in cells. Josh Mendell, a genetic medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, has used a micro RNA to control liver cancer.
MENDELL: We studied one particular microRNA that’s lost in liver cancer cells, and we restored expression in a mouse model of liver cancer cells using a delivery vehicle which is actually based on a virus, but a nontoxic virus that doesn’t cause any disease on its own, and when we delivered the microRNA with this virus we saw that we were able to get it into these tumor cells and it was able to shrink the tumors or prevent them from growing without causing any toxic effects in the normal liver. :29
Mendell says a single micro RNA can control a range of genes, so other effects of replacement are yet to be discerned, but he’s very encouraged by these early results in a very difficult to treat disease. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.