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Indian researchers find role of microRNA in tongue cancer

Chennai – Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) researchers have identified a specific microRNA (miRNAs) called ‘miR-155 that is over-expressed in tongue cancer. According to the researchers, miRNAs affect cancer growth by inhibiting or enhancing the functions of certain proteins.
Study lead researcher Devarajan Karunagaran, Head, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, said in a statement: “MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs containing 20–24 nucleotides that participate in virtually all biological pathways in animals. They have been found to play important roles in many cancers, in carcinogenesis (start of cancer), malignant transformation and metastasis the development of secondary cancer. The miRNAs associated with cancer are called ‘Oncomirs’.”
According to the researchers, many of the oncomirs affect cancer by suppressing the performance of tumour suppressing agents that can prevent growth and spread of cancer cells, although some oncomirs are also involved in preventing tumour growth itself. Another study researcher Shabir Zargar said: “While it has been long suspected that miR-155 downregulates Pdcd4, there have, hitherto, been no evidence for such interaction.” To this Karunagaran added: “Our study has shown that the restoration of Pdcd4 levels through molecular manipulation of miR-155 can lead to potential therapeutic developments for cancers, especially of tongue cancer.”

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