Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) have made an important step toward finding a target in the fight against drug-resistant neuroblastoma (NBL), the most common solid malignancy found outside of the skull in children. Led by Muller Fabbri, M.D., Ph.D., of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases and The Saban Research Institute of CHLA and published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on May 13, 2015, the study looked at how exosomic miRNAs released within the tumor environment affect resistance to chemotherapy. The article is titled” Exosome-Mediated Transfer of microRNAs Within the Tumor Microenvironment and Neuroblastoma Resistance to Chemotherapy.” Exosomes are vesicles or “envelopes” that are secreted by cells and that can deliver their cargo to other cells. This cargo can include microRNA (miRNA) – small molecules that are not translated into working proteins, but may regulate basic cellular processes. For example, miRNAs are important for regulating protein production by repressing or turning off genes. “The main reason for the recurrence of neuroblastoma – and essentially all types of cancer – is a growing resistance to treatments such as chemotherapy” said Dr. Fabbri, who is also with the Norris Cancer Center at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. “The goal of this study was to assess whether, and to what extent, exosomic miRNAs are involved in the development of drug resistance through the tumor microenvironment.” Within the tumor microenvironment, where cancers grow and acquire the ability to metastasize and develop resistance to treatment, there is a lot of cross-talk.
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