In this segment, Ira talks with cancer researcher Robert Weinberg about what he calls the last frontier of cancer research. Weinberg has been instrumental in studies of oncogenes, genes that can spark the rapid cell multiplication associated with cancerous tumors. Now, in two studies published over the past month, Weinberg and colleagues present clues as to how tumors spread through the body. They found that microRNAs, small molecules that typically disrupt protein production by binding to the messenger RNAs that transmit DNA instructions for proteins, can cause tumors to metastasize. Could the research help curb the spread of cancer within people? We’ll talk about the research.
I haven’t read much on microRNAs, but I’ve increasingly heard murmurings on them in cell biology discussions in the last year. So I really can’t comment on them at the moment. But this is an interesting avenue for future cancer research.
- Ma L, Teruya-Feldstein J, Weinberg RA. Tumour invasion and metastasis initiated by microRNA-10b in breast cancer. Nature 449, 682-688 (2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06174
- MicroRNA Convicted Of Triggering Metastasis
- MIT World: How Cancer Begins
- Whitehead Insitute
- One Renegade Cell, by Robert Weinberg