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Int J Oncol. 2016 Jul;49(1):5-32. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3503. Epub 2016 May 4.

Targeting oncomiRNAs and mimicking tumor suppressor miRNAs: Νew trends in the development of miRNA therapeutic strategies in oncology (Review).

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Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology and Biotechnology Center, Ferrara University, Ferrara, Italy.
Laboratory of Clinical Virology, University of Crete School of Medicine, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


MicroRNA (miRNA or miR) therapeutics in cancer are based on targeting or mimicking miRNAs involved in cancer onset, progression, angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis. Several studies conclusively have demonstrated that miRNAs are deeply involved in tumor onset and progression, either behaving as tumor-promoting miRNAs (oncomiRNAs and metastamiRNAs) or as tumor suppressor miRNAs. This review focuses on the most promising examples potentially leading to the development of anticancer, miRNA-based therapeutic protocols. The inhibition of miRNA activity can be readily achieved by the use of miRNA inhibitors and oligomers, including RNA, DNA and DNA analogues (miRNA antisense therapy), small molecule inhibitors, miRNA sponges or through miRNA masking. On the contrary, the enhancement of miRNA function (miRNA replacement therapy) can be achieved by the use of modified miRNA mimetics, such as plasmid or lentiviral vectors carrying miRNA sequences. Combination strategies have been recently developed based on the observation that i) the combined administration of different antagomiR molecules induces greater antitumor effects and ii) some anti-miR molecules can sensitize drug-resistant tumor cell lines to therapeutic drugs. In this review, we discuss two additional issues: i) the combination of miRNA replacement therapy with drug administration and ii) the combination of antagomiR and miRNA replacement therapy. One of the solid results emerging from different independent studies is that miRNA replacement therapy can enhance the antitumor effects of the antitumor drugs. The second important conclusion of the reviewed studies is that the combination of anti-miRNA and miRNA replacement strategies may lead to excellent results, in terms of antitumor effects.

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