MiReven has announced an in vitro study in which the microRNA ‘miR-7-5p’ significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of metastatic melanoma cells, and published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) — non-coding regulatory RNA molecules with altered expression and function in cancer — have both oncogenic and tumour suppressor potential. While the function of many miRNAs in melanoma remains unclear, several reports have implicated specific miRNAs, including miR-7-5p, in the progression to metastatic disease.

‘There is considerable interest in the molecular pathogenesis of malignant melanoma and a focus on finding ways to improve survival of patients with metastatic disease. Our study shows that miR-7-5p may represent a novel therapeutic approach to prevent or limit melanoma metastasis,’ said Dr Keith Giles and Professor Peter Leedman from the WAIMR, who led the study.

In the study, miR-7-5p expression was shown to be reduced in metastatic melanoma-derived cell lines compared with primary melanoma cells. When the microRNA was reintroduced and expressed ectopically, migration and invasion of the melanoma cells was significantly inhibited in vitro. The study authors also investigated the mechanism of miR-7-5p and found that insulin receptor substrate-2 (IRS-2) is a functional target of miR-7-5p which then decreases activity in the protein kinase B (Akt) signaling pathway, a key regulator of many oncogenic processes including cell migration.

The study is now one of several demonstrating the utility of microRNAs in the treatment of cancer.