The promise of miRNA-targeted cancer nanotherapy

 Zdravka Medarova, Assistant Professor in Radiology, Harvard Medical School

indexPresently, chemotherapy is the mainstay therapy for metastatic cancer. However, considering the disadvantages of standard chemotherapy, e.g. non-specific delivery, toxicity to healthy tissues, and the potential for chemoresistance, we envision a future in which chemotherapy is complemented or replaced by alternative approaches. In response to this vision, we designed a nanodrug consisting of magnetic nanoparticles conjugated to miR-inhibiting oligonucleotides (MN-anti-miR) for the specific inhibition of selected miRNAs in primary tumors and metastases. In our short-term earlier studies, we demonstrated that intravenous injection of MN-anti-miR10b led to inhibition of the well-known metastamir miR-10b in the primary tumors and lymph node metastases in a murine model of metastatic breast cancer. We also showed that, whereas delivery to the primary tumor resulted in complete prevention of tumor cell dissemination to secondary organs, delivery to the lymph nodes arrested metastatic progression. We also performed longitudinal studies to further expand the therapeutic relevance of miR-10b by combining low-dose doxorubicin (Dox) and the MN-anti-miR10b nanodrug for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. We showed that, by merging the pro-senescence trigger provided by low-dose doxorubicin and the anti-metastatic, pro-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects of the nanodrug, it is possible to achieve complete and persistent regression of metastatic disease..

Zdravka Medarova, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant in Neuroimaging at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Her research interests include: microRNA, magnetic resonance imaging, breast cancer, and tumor metastasis.

Time & Location: 121 Snell Library, 4:30pm, November 18