Article in Oncotarget by group Dr. Jai Prakash


Article published in Oncotarget by the research team of Dr. Jai Prakash at the MIRA institute.

Researchers from the MIRA Institute of the University of Twente in collaboration with researchers from Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), Linköping University (Sweden), and Weill Cornell Medical School (NY, USA) have explored novel therapeutic targets in pancreatic tumor, the deadliest tumor type with only a survival rate of <5%. In the Netherlands, about 31% people die from cancer and 6% of total deaths are caused by pancreatic cancer.

Unlike the most researchers focusing on the malignant tumor cells, researchers in this study have shifted their focus towards the adjacent tumor tissue commonly known as “tumor stroma” which support tumor for their growth and metastasis. Tumor stroma is enriched with a crucial cell type so-called “cancer-associated fibroblasts” originate from native pancreatic stellate cells. In this study, researchers have identified new microRNA (microRNA-199a and -214) molecules in these cells isolated from patients with pancreatic cancer. MicroRNA is a special form of RNA molecules in cells, which control the function of cells by inhibiting hundreds of messenger RNAs. Messenger RNAs are responsible for the production of specific proteins in cells. The study identifies microRNA-199a and microRNA-214 as new microRNAs that are induced in cancer-associated fibroblasts isolated from patient tumors. Intriguingly, researchers show that inhibition of these microRNAs using anti-microRNA oligonucleotides strongly inhibited the tumor-inducing functions of these key target cell type in cultured cells and 3D spheroidal systems.

These data imply that blockade of microRNA-199a and -214 can re-program cancer-associated fibroblasts which can be a promising therapeutic strategy to hamper the progression of pancreatic tumor.

What’s Next:

Researchers are currently developing novel targeting system through which they aim to specifically target anti-microRNA against the identified microRNAs to cancer-associated fibroblast in order to block the function of these cells. Using such a system, they aim to develop novel therapies against pancreatic cancer by targeting the untargeted region of tumor.

This research has been published in the scientific journal as

MicroRNA-199a and -214 as potential therapeutic targets in pancreatic stellate cells in pancreatic tumor

Praneeth R. Kuninty, Linda Bojmar, Vegard Tjomsland, Marie Larsson, Gert Storm, Arne Östman, Per Sandström, and Jai Prakash