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Mol Ther. 2013 May;21(5):986-94. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.35. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Targeting miR-21 for the therapy of pancreatic cancer.

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INSERM U1037, Cancer Research Center of Toulouse, Toulouse, France.


Despite tremendous efforts worldwide from clinicians and cancer scientists, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) remains a deadly disease for which no cure is available. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as key actors in carcinogenesis and we demonstrated that microRNA-21 (miR-21), oncomiR is expressed early during PDA. In the present study, we asked whether targeting miR-21 in human PDA-derived cell lines using lentiviral vectors (LVs) may impede tumor growth. We demonstrated that LVs-transduced human PDA efficiently downregulated miR-21 expression, both in vitro and in vivo. Consequently, cell proliferation was strongly inhibited and PDA-derived cell lines died by apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway. In vivo, miR-21 depletion stopped the progression of a very aggressive model of PDA, to induce cell death by apoptosis; furthermore, combining miR-21 targeting and chemotherapeutic treatment provoked tumor regression. We demonstrate herein for the first time that targeting oncogenic miRNA strongly inhibit pancreatic cancer tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. Because miR-21 is overexpressed in most human tumors; therapeutic delivery of miR-21 antagonists may still be beneficial for a large number of cancers for which no cure is available.

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