Fiona Freeman, PhD, on Investigating miRNA-29b in Osteosarcoma Models


The assistant professor at University College Dublin discussed challenges and different approaches to using microRNA in preclinical models of osteosarcoma.

“When we delivered it to the human mesenchymal stromal cells, they significantly increased their production of alkaline phosphatase, which is one of the key markers for cells to undergo osteogenesis. And what was interesting was it also significantly reduced the mesenchymal stromal cells releasing VEGF which is which is the growth factor of revascularisation. So, it has this pro-osteogenic, anti-angiogenic effect in healthy cells, and then it has this pro-osteogenic effect in diseased cancer cells.”

MicroRNA (miR)-29b may suppress tumor growth and promote bone remodeling, according to new preclinical findings published in Advanced Materials. The research comes out of University College Dublin and demonstrated miR-29b's potential in animal models of osteosarcoma. When miR-29b was delivered along with systemic chemotherapy, mice had a significant decrease in tumor burden, an increase in survival, and a significant decrease in osteolysis compared to chemotherapy alone.

CGTLive spoke with Fiona Freeman, PhD, assistant professor, University College Dublin, the study’s first author, to learn more about the new research and its findings. She walked us through the different steps of the research, the challenges that arose, and the adaptations the team made to address these. Among these challenges, she touched on the challenge of delivering miR-29b and the different approaches they investigated. She emphasized the promising finding of miR-29b's pro-osteogenic, anti-angiogenic effect in healthy cells and pro-osteogenic effect in cancer cells.

Freeman FE, Dosta P, Shanley LC, et al. Localized nanoparticle-mediated delivery of miR-29b normalizes the dysregulation of bone homeostasis caused by osteosarcoma whilst simultaneously inhibiting tumor growth. Adv. Mater. 2023; 35(23):2207877. doi: 10.1002/adma.202207877
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