A ground-breaking treatment that could be the first to stop cancer cells from functioning by suppressing the actions of Midkine, a protein that is associated with the growth of cancers.
Roquefort Therapeutics has just revealed results of its research into the use of a new splice-switching RNA drug that can change the messenger RNA of Midkine. This weakens the Midkine and also creates a kind of non-functioning shortened Midkine, impairing its capacity to help cells grow.
The results of the work have been presented at the 29th European Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ESGCT) in Edinburgh.
Chief executive officer at Roquefort Alan Reginald said: “For the first time, an RNA medicine has been shown to switch-off functional Midkine production in cancer cells.”
He added: “This proof-of-concept study highlights the potential for a new class of medicines blocking Midkine production to target some of the most difficult to treat cancers.”
Patients seeking private cancer treatment may be keen to see if they can access drugs to carry out this function. Although any new treatment will need to be trialled and approved for use in the UK by bodies like the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, some may be keen to speak to an oncologist about the possibility at the earliest opportunity.
In the case of Roquefort’s RNA therapy, the pre-trials were completed with promising results earlier this year, with a matter of patent application being submitted in March.
Previous research has highlighted the importance of the link between RNA and cancer, establishing that RNA suppression can impede cancer cell growth. However, while there have been various attempts to develop drugs that produce this effect over the past decade, until now these have not been successful.
Among the benefits of using RNA treatments in this way is that it will be a lot less toxic than cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.