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Study describes miR-124 can prevent and treat liver cancer

May 17, 2017

HFN4? is an essential factor in formation of liver cells and their proper function. When HNF4? is suppressed, said Iliopoulos, it creates a temporary state of inflammation in the cell - a forerunner of cancer. "After only a few days, this transient inflammatory response is converted into a chronic inflammatory response by this feedback circuit that is continuously amplified," he said.

Because HNF4? and miR-124 interact with each other, the scientists hypothesized that boosting activity of miR-124 might restore normal activity in HNF4?, halting the runaway inflammatory cycle and causing tumors to stop growing.

To test this notion they administered systemically miR-124 once a week for four weeks to mice that had developed liver cancer by exposure to DEN. "We found that miR-124 suppressed more than 80 per cent of tumor growth and size" by causing the cancer cells to self-destruct, the scientists wrote. They observed no toxic effects in other essential organs, such as the kidneys, spleen, heart and lungs.

Further, they showed that giving miR-124 to mice exposed to DEN actually prevented the development of liver tumors.

"Our hope is that miR-124 potentially could be used as a preventive in patients at high risk of liver cancer because they have chronic hepatitis C or as a therapeutic agent in patients with liver cancer" said Iliopoulos.

Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute