Pitt team unveils two new classes of RNAs for cancer drug R&D

Investigators at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says they have ID'd two new classes of RNAs that could play a significant role in cancer drug R&D.

The team noted that levels of human Y-box binding protein 1, or YB-1, correlate to drug resistance and poor outcomes. And senior investigator Bino John, an adjunct professor at Pitt School of Medicine, says that the biomarker is also linked to particular RNAs, opening up a potential new pathway for cancer drug researchers to pursue.

The RNAs were grouped into two classes: YB-1 associated short noncoding RNAs, or shyRNAs, and their smaller counterparts, dubbed YB-1 associated small RNAs, or smyRNAs.

"Many small RNAs known as microRNAs already have been shown to correlate with different grades of prostate cancer and could potentially serve as biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment," Dr. John said in a statement. "We did this study after computer models led us to hypothesize that there was a connection between YB-1 and microRNAs. What started out as a curiosity-driven experiment ended up being an exhilarating treasure hunt over four years, culminating in the discovery of two big molecular finds from human cells."

"We conducted functional assays on one of these RNAs, and found that it had the ability to suppress cancer cell growth when it interacted with YB-1," said co-senior author Donald DeFranco, professor of pharmacology and chemical biology, Pitt School of Medicine. Now the team plans to do more work to determine how shyRNAs interact to influence cancer progression as well as other diseases.

- here's the release