Researchers Discover A Molecule That Plays A Major Role In Protecting Against Cancer

According to a story from, a recent study that the reduced expression of miR-125a-5p results in an increase in the concentration of the protein TIMP-1. Prior research has associated TIMP-1 with worse outcomes in patients with cancer.

The microRNA miR-125a-5p is important in enabling apoptosis, or cell death. Studies with TIMP-1 have shown that reducing levels of the protein means that cancer cells are less capable of metastasizing, or spreading to other parts of the body. Apoptosis also happened at a higher rate as the rate of expression for miR-125a-5p increased.

Dr. Mumtaz Rojiani was the leader of this study. He says that the research provides further detail into the way that cancer exploits and alters the body’s normal activity and cyclical regulation at the molecular level in order to survive.

Although TIMP-1 can exacerbate cancer risks, the protein plays an important role in the body of a healthy person. It regulates the enzymes that allow cells to move in critical body processes, such as the healing of wounds or reproduction. Unfortunately, the same enzymes that allow cell movement in these crucial processes also allow for cancer cells to move and spread to other parts of the body. This is another example of cancer taking advantage of a normal body process.

MiR-125a-5p affects the activity of TIMP-1 and keeps the cells from moving so that cell death can occur. Specifically, the tumor suppressing agent p53 is expressed more strongly to enable cell death. For Dr. Rojiani and the rest of the team, this important understanding is just the first step before they deep dive into more research on the relationship between the TIMP-1 protein and miR-125a-5p. Additionally, they hope to investigate the possibility that other microRNA could interact with TIMP-1 as well and could possibly cause a reduction in apoptosis.

So far, TIMP-1 levels have not been used as an indicator to definitively determine a cancer patient’s prognosis. However, the relationship between high levels of TIMP-1 and poorer outcomes for cancer patients is clear. Researchers plan to investigate more thoroughly how the suppression of microRNA impacts the levels of TIMP-1.

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