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Identification of Proteins Involved in 5'OH microRNA Production and Protection

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Investigator(s): Graham Read,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 30) Grant #: T30DT0811 Award: $133,677
Subject Area: Cancer
Award Type: Dissertation Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Radiation therapy is a very important part of the treatment of cancer, including for cancers caused by smoking, such as cancers of the lung, head and neck, esophagus, genito-urinary system, and pancreas, etc. Radiation passes through normal and cancer tissues, like an x-ray, but has been found to damage cancer cells more than the normal surrounding tissue. This balance, between hurting the tumor, and protecting the person, is the crux of how we treat with radiation - we try to give as much radiation as we can to the tumor, to get rid of it, while not hurting the patient. While radiation helps many patients, in some cases tumors are resistant to radiation, and it does not work as well as we would like to help control their cancer. It is known that the cells in a tumor have sometimes unique ways to survive radiation, and the goal of our work is to better illuminate the ways that cells survive radiation, to find avenues to help radiation work better against cancer cells, specifically. To do this, we are applying understanding of a very recently discovered group of stress response messengers in our DNA, called, microRNAs. We found that a special microRNA, called miR-34, that is very important in the response to radiation, uses a "short-cut" to help it respond very quickly when cells are exposed to radiation. This was found in cancer cells, and we will investigate if this short-cut is used by normal cells, as well as other cancer cells. We will also determine if there are ways to prevent this short-cut specifically in cancer cells, which would help radiation work better against the bad cells, while protecting the patient.