A novel way to inject cancer-fighting molecules in the bloodstream and inhibit tumour growth has been uncovered by scientists from University of Iowa.
Small interfering RNA (siRNA), a type of genetic material, are known to block potentially harmful activity in cells, such as tumour cell growth.
But delivering siRNA successfully to specific cells without adversely affecting other cells has been challenging.
In the new study, the researchers have modified siRNA so that it can be injected into the bloodstream and impact targeted cells while producing fewer side effects.
The findings, which were based on animal models of prostate cancer, also could make it easier to create large amounts of targeted therapeutic siRNAs for treating cancer and other diseases.
"Our goal was to make siRNA deliverable through the bloodstream and make it more specific to the genes that are over expressed in cancer," Nature quoted Dr Paloma Giangrande, assistant professor of internal medicine and a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Centre as saying.
Previous studies have shown that a compound called an aptamer can be combined with siRNA to target certain genes.
However, in the new study, the researchers trimmed the size of a prostate cancer-specific aptamer and modified the siRNA to increase its activity.
After injecting it into the bloodstream, the combination triggered tumour regression without affecting normal tissues.
Giangrande said making the aptamer-siRNA combination smaller akes it easier to produce large amounts of it synthetically,
The study results appeared in journal Nature Biotechnology.