Killing cancer before it begins

July 25, 2016
Jaeyub Chung Aliso Niguel High School 12th Grade

Jaeyub Chung
Aliso Niguel High School 12th Grade

Cancer has always been a fatal issue in regards to humanity. Every year, more than 500,000 peo- ple die from this seemingly incurable disease.

However, it is very possible that a permanent solution will soon be within our grasp. With a burgeoning scientific sphere, a new generation has been born in which a vast number of new scientific discoveries have occurred. One of these discoveries is miRNA, a post transcriptional gene regulator.

Through biotechnology, miRNA can be utilized to serve our needs and possibly cure the world of cancer. Even now, miRNA-based drugs are under- going clinical trials. With such a promising present, the future can only hold great things.

In order to comprehend the magnitude of miR- NA, it is first necessary to understand the mecha- nisms of cancer and why conventional drugs have such limited success. Cancer originates from muta- tions in our DNA that promote uncontrolled cell divisions.

However, there are many fail safes in our body that prevent tumor developments. As such, cancer can only occur if various mutations take place. This is why current treatments are not very effec- give. There are two main approaches chemotherapy, which kills myriad normal cells in the hopes of eliminating cancer cells, and tumor specific drugs that target only cancer cells. Chemotherapy, un- derstandably, is very inefficient and results in many negative side effects, as normal cells are killed indiscriminately. On the other hand, specific drugs are often ineffective, since cancer is not caused by one specific mutation. It is very difficult and expensive to create a drug that will target all the different mutant proteins.

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This is precisely why miRNA may be revolu- tionary in treating cancer. Rather than targeting individual proteins, miRNA targets the mutant RNA. This would stop the protein before it is even made. Doing so would avoid the problem of hav- ing to design drugs specific to each protein. It is far easier to target the RNA rather than the protein.

There are already clinical trials currently and they show very promising results. Perhaps in the future, we will be able to be rid of cancer com- pletely.

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