Israeli researchers have identified a metabolic process common to many types of cancer cells that can be used to hinder the growth of cancerous cells and even revert them to a healthy and normal functioning state. The researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev identified the mitochondrial protein, VDAC1, as responsible for the metabolic processes common to many types of cancer cells. The researchers then used this understanding to develop the siRNA molecule, designed to prevent the VDAC1 reproduction and impede the mitochondria’s production of energy and communication with other cells. In studies, the application of the siRNA molecule to mice with tumors demonstrated a reduction in the size of the tumors to 10% of their original size and reset the remaining cells to revert back to a non-cancerous state. Thus they demonstrated a new paradigm: reversing oncogenic properties via VDAC1 cell depletion.
Notably, VDAC1 is not as integral to healthy cell function as it is to that of cancerous cells, so the encounter of siRNA with noncancerous cells in the vicinity of a targeted tumor does not pose any risk. The researchers dispatched the siRNA to target tumors related to brain, lung, and breast cancer in rodents during initial trials, and they hope to do parallel tests on humans in the near future. The University and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev are working to help bring this molecule to market.