Cancer drug's attraction to RNA could produce better drug delivery targets

Researchers have discovered that a commonly used chemotherapy drug quickly binds to RNA and sticks to it. The finding, by scientists at the University of Oregon and published online in the journal ACS Chemical Biology, could lead to more drug delivery options and better drug delivery targets with fewer side effects.

Scientists first took RNA-rich yeast cells and applied cisplatin, a platinum-based chemotherapy drug. After extracting DNA and RNA from the treated cells, they found that while the cisplatin was much more dense overall on DNA, it concentrated much more deeply on specific whole cells of RNA, sticking firmly to them.

More testing must be done, but scientists believe that they could improve how cisplatin is welded to reduce the size of tumors. It may be a common weapon against cancer, but patients face tinnitus, anemia, nerve damage and other toxicity problems with the drug, often requiring oncologists to stop using it, the researchers note. The theory, then, is if cisplatin is delivered and targeted to specific RNAs, it would stick better to those particular targets and accomplish the same job with fewer toxic side effects.

That may be, but finding the best, most effective way to deliver RNA-related treatments--in a pill, in a powder, or some other way--remains a challenge for researchers and drug developers alike.

Scientists' initial testing focused on how cisplatin bound to ribosomes and messenger RNA. The University of Oregon researchers plan further work on mouse cells.

- here's the release
- check out the paper abstract