Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Blood Vessel Blocker

A micro RNA that inhibits blood vessel growth in tumours, preventing their growth

12 June 2019

Blood Vessel Blocker

As a tumour grows its need for a blood supply drives certain cells in the tumour to form blood vessels. Now, researchers have found a microRNA – a tiny RNA that regulates gene activity – that inhibits such vascularisation and might therefore help prevent tumour growth. These images show endothelial cells (red) – the type that line blood vessels – growing on fibrous protein beads (for support) in culture. On the left, the cells are growing normally, with some of the cells forming sprouting structures equivalent to developing blood vessels. On the right, however, the cells have been treated with the microRNA and sprouting is suppressed. In tumours, high levels of this RNA was associated with better patient outcome, while in mice, boosting levels of the RNA prevented tumour growth. These results pave the way for further development of this tiny molecule and its potential addition to the oncologists’ treatment toolbox.

Written by Ruth Williams

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