Research from the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India suggests that gene editing could be an effective way to slow the progression of brain tumours.
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA pieces that are vital in the regulation of gene expression. It is believed that these tiny molecules might be responsible for editing about 30 percent of protein-coding genes in mammals.
This editing changes the information that is encoded by the genome. This change in information leads to added complexity within the gene regulatory networks.
One of the most common types of microRNA editing is when adenosine is changed to inosine, this is called 'A-to-I editing'. This editing is essential for cell development and maintaining homeostasis.
Researchers observed mechanisms of microRNA editing in brain tissue and glioblastoma multiforme tumour samples. They found that there is lower instances of A-to-I editing in the brain tumour samples when compared to the healthy brain tissue samples.
It appears that when the microRNA editing is disrupted it ultimately leads to genetic changes. These genetic changes then affect how the brain cells grow and develop.
The team of scientist state they "have been able to show that in both healthy and diseased state, microRNA editing is an important layer of information with specific sequence and structural preferences – especially in the human brain".
Like the with the CRISPR technique, scientists could potentially use gene editing techniques to repair microRNA editing problems.
There is hope that these editing techniques could inhibit the cells that initiate cancer and therefore could prevent tumours from growing.