Researchers at Southern Medical University have discovered a molecule that can help clinicians predict survival time of people afflicted with gastric cancer, a significant health problem in developing countries which is typically associated with late-stage diagnosis and high mortality.
Patients whose primary gastric cancer lesions express high levels of microRNA 506 have significantly longer survival times compared to patients with low miR-506 expression, the findings showed.
In addition, miR-506 suppresses tumor growth, blood vessel formation, and metastasis or cancer spread, the study noted.
"Our study suggests that miR-506 acts as a tumor suppressor in gastric cancer," explained lead investigator Xin Song from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.
"Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process that enables cancer cells to invade their surroundings and to metastasize," Song said.
"Our study presents evidence that miR-506 is a potent inhibitor of EMT," Song noted.
The study involved 84 patients who had undergone cancer surgery.
When samples were divided into groups with miR-506 levels above and below the mean, survival was found to be significantly longer in patients with high miR-506 expression.
The investigators next examined miR-506 expression in cells from seven gastric cancer cell lines.
They found that gastric cancer cells had lower levels of miR-506 than normal stomach tissue.
The findings appeared in The American Journal of Pathology