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Cancer Res. 2011 Dec 15;71(24):7608-16. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-1144. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

miR-221 silencing blocks hepatocellular carcinoma and promotes survival.

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College of Pharmacy, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) face a dismal prognosis because of a lack of any effective therapies. To address this situation, we conducted a preclinical investigation of the therapeutic efficacy of oligonucleotides directed against the oncogenic microRNA miR-221, which has been implicated in HCC. Of 9 chemistries evaluated, we determined that a 2'-O-methyl phosphorothioate-modified anti-miR-221 oligonucleotide was most effective at reducing proliferation in vitro. A cholesterol-modified isoform of anti-miR-221 (chol-anti-miR-221) exhibited improved pharmacokinetics and liver tissue distribution compared with unmodified oligonucleotide. Chol-anti-miR-221 significantly reduced miR-221 levels in liver within a week of intravenous administration and in situ hybridization studies confirmed accumulation of the oligonucleotide in tumor cells in vivo. Within the same period, chol-anti-miR-221 reduced tumor cell proliferation and increased markers of apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest, elevating the tumor doubling time and increasing mouse survival. Taken together, our findings offer a preclinical proof of efficacy for chol-anti-miR-221 in a valid orthotopic mouse model of HCC, suggesting that this targeted agent could benefit treatment for patients with advanced HCC.

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