Researchers discover a substance against the 'dark genome' of cancer

Feb 28, 2011

A research study coordinated by Manel Esteller, researcher at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) has identified a substance that inhibits cancer growth by activating the so‑called "dark genome" (or non‑coding DNA) and micro‑RNA molecules. The study appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Human body cells have a genome (the set of our DNA) encoding our proteins such as keratin in the skin or haemoglobin in blood. This genome with encoding DNA represents only the 5% of our genetic material. The remaining 95% is called the 'dark genome' or non-coding DNA and its role is largely unknown. Part of this DNA produces small charged molecules called micro-RNAs that activate or deactivate genes. In recent years it has been shown that alterations in these molecules are related to tumour onset.

Researchers have shown that a small-molecule called enoxacin, used in antibacterial compounds, binds to the protein that builds micro-RNA and stimulates their inhibitory activity of the tumour growth. According to researcher Manel Esteller, that "is like if we have a second hand car and we put on a new engine".

The molecule has been tested both in laboratory cells and in animal models and now its behaviour should be studied in humans. Esteller stresses that the advantage of this compound is that we know its metabolism and its human security. Esteller adds that "although the use of this molecule may not be approved in treatment, this finding opens the door to design new drugs that use microRNA as a therapeutic target. We show the pharmaceutical industry a new direction where to direct their efforts in anti-tumour therapy."

Explore further: Study pinpoints microRNA tied to colon cancer tumor growth

More information: Sonia Melo, Alberto Villanueva, Catia Moutinho, Verónica Davalos, Ricardo Spizzo, Cristina Ivan , Simona Rossi, Fernando Setien, Oriol Casanovas, Laia Sio-Riudalbas, Javier Carmona, Jordi Carrere, August Vidal, Álvaro Aytes, Sara Puertas, Santiagio Ropero, Raghu Kalluri, Carlo M. Croce, George A. Calin, Manel Esteller. The small molecule enoxacin is a cancer-specific growth inhibitor that acts by enhancing TRBP-mediated microRNA processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA (PNAS), Early Edition, February 28th 2011.

Provided by IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Quiet revolution' may herald new RNA therapeutics

Jan 21, 2007

Scientists at the University of Oxford have identified a surprising way of switching off a gene involved in cell division. The mechanism involves a form of RNA, a chemical found in cell nuclei, whose role was previously unknown, ...

Human cells can copy not only DNA, but also RNA

Aug 10, 2010

Single-molecule sequencing technology has detected and quantified novel small RNAs in human cells that represent entirely new classes of the gene-translating molecules, confirming a long-held but unproven hypothesis that ...

Recommended for you

Study pinpoints microRNA tied to colon cancer tumor growth

9 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have identified microRNAs that may cause colon polyps from turning cancerous. The finding could help physicians provide more specialized, and earlier, treatment before colon cancer ...

Obesity tied to higher cancer risk for CRC survivors

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Colorectal cancer (CRC) patients who are overweight or obese when diagnosed appear to face a slightly higher risk for developing a second weight-related cancer, according to research published ...

User comments : 0