Developing therapeutic microRNAs for cancer

Gene Ther. 2011 Dec;18(12):1121-6. doi: 10.1038/gt.2011.79. Epub 2011 Jun 2.


Despite substantial progress in understanding the cancer-signaling network, effective therapies remain scarce due to insufficient disruption of oncogenic pathways, drug resistance and drug-induced toxicity. This complexity of cancer defines an urgent goal for researchers and clinicians to develop novel therapeutic strategies. The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) provides new hope for accomplishing this task. Supported by solid evidence for a critical role in cancer and bolstered by a unique mechanism of action, miRNAs are likely to yield a new class of targeted therapeutics. In contrast to current cancer medicines, miRNA-based therapies function by subtle repression of gene expression on a yet large number of oncogenic factors and are, therefore, anticipated to be highly efficacious. After the completion of target validation for several candidates, the development of therapeutic miRNAs is now moving to a new stage that involves pharmacological drug delivery, preclinical toxicology and regulatory guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Gene Targeting
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / administration & dosage
  • MicroRNAs* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • MicroRNAs* / therapeutic use
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • MicroRNAs