Abstract: Recent progress in microRNA (miRNA) therapeutics has been strongly dependent on multiple seminal discoveries in the area of miRNA biology during the past two decades. In this review, we focus on the historical discoveries that collectively led to transitioning miRNAs into the clinic. We highlight the pivotal studies that identified the first miRNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans to the more recent reports that have fueled the quest to understand the use of miRNAs as markers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. In addition, we provide insights as to how unraveling basic miRNA biology has provided a solid foundation for advancing miRNAs, such as miR-34a, therapeutically. We conclude with a brief examination of the current challenges that still need to be addressed to accelerate the path of miRNAs to the clinic: including delivery vehicles, miRNA- and delivery-associated toxicity, dosage, and off target effects.
Abstract: A tremendous amount of information was published over the past decades in relation to the role of vitamins in various neoplastic diseases. In particular, several studies showed an inverse relationship between selected vitamins intake and cancer risk. In this review we will focus on the role played by vitamins in melanoma with particular regard to vitamin A, D, K, E and C. Given that vitamin supplementation is easy, convenient, and readily accepted by patients, in the future the use of vitamins in chemoprevention and therapy of melanoma could be encouraged if supported by pre-clinical and clinical evidence.
Abstract: T-cadherin is a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored member of the cadherin superfamily involved in the guidance of migrating cells. We have previously shown that in vivo T-cadherin overexpression leads to increased melanoma primary tumor growth due to the recruitment of mesenchymal stromal cells as well as the enhanced metastasis. Since tumor progression is highly dependent upon cell migration and invasion, the aim of the present study was to elucidate the mechanisms of T-cadherin participation in these processes. Herein we show that T-cadherin expression results in the increased invasive potential due to the upregulated expression of pro-oncogenic integrins, chemokines, adhesion molecules and extracellular matrix components. The detected increase in chemokine expression could be responsible for the stromal cell recruitment. At the same time our previous data demonstrated that T-cadherin expression inhibited neoangiogenesis in the primary tumors. We demonstrate molecules and reduction in pro-angiogenic factors. Thus, T-cadherin plays a dual role in melanoma growth and progression: T-cadherin expression results in anti-angiogenic effects in melanoma, however, this also stimulates transcription of genes responsible for migration and invasion of melanoma cells.
Abstract: Defined cellular mechanisms have evolved that recognize and repair DNA to protect the integrity of its structure and sequence when encountering assaults from endogenous and exogenous sources. There are five major DNA repair pathways: mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, direct repair, base excision repair and DNA double strand break repair (including non-homologous end joining and homologous recombination repair). Aberrant activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is a feature of many cancer types. The Hh pathway has been documented to be indispensable for epithelial-mesenchymal transition, invasion and metastasis, cancer stemness, and chemoresistance. The functional transcription activators of the Hh pathway include the GLI proteins. Inhibition of the activity of GLI can interfere with almost all DNA repair types in human cancer, indicating that Hh/GLI functions may play an important role in enabling tumor cells to survive lethal types of DNA damage induced by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Thus, Hh signaling presents an important therapeutic target to overcome DNA repair-enabled multi-drug resistance and consequently increase chemotherapeutic response in the treatment of cancer.
Abstract: The molecular characterization of tumors using next generation sequencing (NGS) is an emerging diagnostic tool that is quickly becoming an integral part of clinical decision making. Cancer genomic profiling involves significant challenges including DNA quality and quantity, tumor heterogeneity, and the need to detect a wide variety of complex genetic mutations. Most available comprehensive diagnostic tests rely on primer based amplification or probe based capture methods coupled with NGS to detect hotspot mutation sites or whole regions implicated in disease. These tumor panels utilize highly customized bioinformatics pipelines to perform the difficult task of accurately calling cancer relevant alterations such as single nucleotide variations, small indels or large genomic alterations from the NGS data. In this review, we will discuss the challenges of solid tumor assay design/analysis and report a case study that highlights the need to include complementary technologies (i.e., arrays) and germline analysis in tumor testing to reliably identify copy number alterations and actionable variants.
Abstract: The tumor microenvironment is known to play a pivotal role in driving cancer progression and governing response to therapy. This is of significance in pancreatic cancer where the unique pancreatic tumor microenvironment, characterized by its pronounced desmoplasia and fibrosis, drives early stages of tumor progression and dissemination, and contributes to its associated low survival rates. Several molecular factors that regulate interactions between pancreatic tumors and their surrounding stroma are beginning to be identified. Yet broader physiological factors that influence these interactions remain unclear. Here, we discuss a series of preclinical and mechanistic studies that highlight the important role chronic stress plays as a physiological regulator of neural-tumor interactions in driving the progression of pancreatic cancer. These studies propose several approaches to target stress signaling via the β-adrenergic signaling pathway in order to slow pancreatic tumor growth and metastasis. They also provide evidence to support the use of β-blockers as a novel therapeutic intervention to complement current clinical strategies to improve cancer outcome in patients with pancreatic cancer.