The researchers at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela, have recently discovered an alternative therapeutic molecule, piRNA, a small non-coding RNA, which has demonstrated the ability to curb the growth of cancer.
The small RNA molecule of about only 29 bases long surprisingly also showed a ‘macro effect’ and enhanced the effectiveness of a widely used chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin.
Professor Bibekanand Mallick, the lead scientist of this pioneering work who is also Head of Department of Life Science, says, "Cancer is a major public health concern, which is regarded as one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. The cancer burden in India is also increasing day by day. Cancer cells have the potential to originate at one place but spread over to other places in the body, the property known as metastasis that makes them more lethal and difficult to diagnose and control their growth. Since days chemotherapy is being used to get rid of notorious cancer by stopping the uncontrolled growth. However, cancer often comes back again after a period of remission, termed as ‘recurrence’ in spite of chemotherapy. Further, the effectiveness of the chemotherapeutic drugs are not enough and often associated with several side effects such as cardiotoxicity, renal impairment, and many more.”
Dr Mallick further informed, "The small RNA therapeutics via RNAi mechanisms is quite promising and the need of the hour is safe and cost-effective treatment compared to chemotherapy. These RNA molecules are produced in our body and we are harnessing them for cancer therapy."
Another Researcher Jyoti Roy and Neha Jain say, "Chemotherapy treats many types of cancer effectively. But like other treatments, it often causes side effects. The side effects of chemotherapy are different for each person. They depend on the type of cancer, location, drugs and dose, and your general health."
‘’The small piRNA regulate some key genes which are previously reported to have potential for cancer treatment and hence could be a promising therapeutic molecule for treating the malignancy,’’ says Basudeb Das, the research student of the RNAi team. PhD student Das worked on the project with Professor Mallick.