MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding
RNAs that regulate diverse cellular processes through epigenetic,
transcriptional, translational and posttranslational controls. Dysregulation of
miRNAs has been connected to various human diseases including cancer, heart
disease, metabolic disease, infectious disease, autoimmune disease,
neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric disorders among others. Methods to
control the levels of chosen miRNAs not only enable researcher to dissect the
roles of miRNAs in human disease but also directly contribute to the
development of novel miRNA targeting therapies.
Current miRNA regulation methods, such as using antisense
oligonucleotides, generally suffer from off-target inhibition. For research
purposes, it typically requires scientists to use multiple antisense molecules
for the same target to pinpoint the direct effects from off target effects. For
therapeutic application, off-target inhibition causes unwanted side effects
that can be devastating. In addition, the specific functions of miRNAs
typically depend on the cellular contexts, which varied at different time and
from cells to cells and may be miRNA-gene specific. Most of current methods are
unable to provide precise spatiotemporal and gene-specific controls against chosen
miRNAs. Therefore, novel miRNA regulating methods that address the above
critical issues are highly desired.
Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a
novel miRNA regulating system to overcome current limitations. This system would
consist of customizable modular
miRNA regulating molecules whose activities are controlled by light. The
structure of this innovation will address the off-target inhibition problems
and provide desired spatiotemporal and gene-specific miRNA regulatory controls,
with the end goal applications being long-reaching. It is envisioned that this
innovation will provide for an easy customization to generate new regulators to
control any miRNA of interest for biological research to elucidate the roles of
miRNAs in cellular processes and human diseases, which will accelerate the
development of more efficient therapies. The modular miRNA regulators would
also potentially become novel therapeutic agents for different human diseases.
STC has filed intellectual property on this exciting new technology and is currently exploring commercialization options. If you are interested in information about this or other technologies, please contact Arlene Mirabal at email@example.com or 505-272-7886.