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The NANOMOL group collaborates with the VHIR in the developement of a new nanomedicine for the treatment of a childhood cancer

Within the MOTHER project (Molecule-based materials and supramolecular organizations for therapy, diagnosis and tissue engineering), the NANOMOL group from ICMAB collaborates with the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR), on the developement of a new nanomedicine for the treatment of high risk neuroblastoma, one of the most typical childhood cancers. Now, researchers from VHIR have identified new microRNAs that reduce the progression of this type of cancer.

The NANOMOL group participation, as experts in nanoparticles and nanovesciles for nanomedicine, is on the synthesis of the adequate nanocapsules to protect, stabilize and direct this microRNAs molecules to the cancer tumours. The near future goal is to be able to administer the identified microRNAs for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma. 

Press release by VHIR: 

VHIR researchers identify a new therapeutic tool based on microRNAs against a childhool cancer

The researchers from the Translational Research Group for Cancer in Children and Teenagers at Vall d'Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) have identified new microRNAs capable of reducing the growth of neuroblastoma tumor cells, a type of childhood cancer. The results of this work published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences provide a basis for the development of new therapies based on microRNA for the treatment of more aggressive neuroblastomas.

In Europe, about 15,000 new cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed annually, and about 10 % correspond to neuroblastoma, a sympathetic nervous system embryonic tumor. Group coordinators Soledad Gallego and Josep Sánchez de Toledo underline that "survival is excellent in patients with low-risk neuroblastoma but is below 50 % among high-risk patients and therefore new therapies are needed.

"One of the main lines of a group study led by Miguel Segura is its main goal to develop epigenetic therapies that are geared towards modulation of gene expression but without altering the sequence of the genome.

In this emerging field, particular attention is being paid to the therapeutic use of microRNA, small RNA molecules capable of regulating multiple genes and signaling pathways simultaneously, minimizing the emergence of mechanisms of resistance to therapy.

In order to identify the most potent therapeutic neurobodies in neuroblastoma, the investigators conducted a high throughput screening by restoring the expression of 2048 microRNAs in the neuroblastoma tumor cells. According to the main authors of the study, Aroa Soriano and Marc Masanas, this strategy allows the identification of miR-323a-5p and miR-342-5p as suppressors of tumor growth in cell and animal models.

"The results of our study provide evidence of the usefulness of this type of therapeutic strategy based on the restoration of microRNA expression as a new treatment for neuroblastoma as well as other cancers in childhood," said Soriano.

The next step in this study is to make the reality of the microRNA based therapy: "One barrier we find is that the use of these new treatments is limited by the lack of adequate clinical formulations that protect, stabilize and direct these molecules. tumors, "says Segura, the group's principal investigator. For this reason, researchers are working in a multidisciplinary way with nanoparticle experts (NANOMOL group at ICMAB-CSIC) to be able to administer, in a near future, the microRNAs identified in this study, for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma. 

The study was funded by the Carlos III Institute; the Marie Curie program of the European Community; The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport; the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) and the Acunapatata and Asociación NEN Associations.

Reference project at ICMAB-CSIC:

Project: MINECO MAT2016-80826-R (2016-2019) and CIBER-BBN
Involved researchers: Miguel Segrua (IP, VHIR), Jaume Veciana (IP, ICMAB), Nora Ventosa (IP, ICMAB), Adriana Boloix (PhD fellow)
In a collaboration with the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR), the NANOMOL group at ICMAB is working on the developement of a new nanomedicine for the treatment of high risk neuroblastoma, one of the most typical childhood cancers. 

Reference article:

Functional high-throughput screening reveals miR-323a-5p and miR-342-5p as new tumor-suppressive microRNA for neuroblastoma. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (CMLS). February 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-019-03041-4.0.1007/s00018-019-03041-4.

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Image: VHIR

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