Alright, it doesn’t look so simple from the above image, but on 25 January, Tottori University announced that researchers have found a method to successfully transform a cancerous tumor into non-threatening tissue. Although the research that went into it is incredibly complicated, the result is a single molecule that may be able to universally reverse cancerous cells in a relatively brief amount of time.

The announcement doesn’t hold back its enthusiasm either, proclaiming that from this discovery “the dream of the eradication of cancer is at hand.”

The bulk of this research centers on RNA. There are different types of RNA, such as messenger RNA molecules which work to send information from an organism’s DNA to the ribosomes which begin to create proteins for specialized cell production.

Also in the mix are microRNA molecules. The smaller strands connect with messenger RNA and can inhibit the production of proteins. This helps to regulate the growth of cells in our body. However, microRNA when working in a different way can also interfere with a cell’s natural destruction potentially leading to cancerous tumors.

The exact way this happens is very complex and the challenge for cancer researchers is finding which type(s) of microRNA triggers or impedes the development of cancers.

The work done at Tottori University focused on Human microRNA-520d (miR-520d) about which not a whole lot is known. Still, they suspected that it held the power to control whether cells were cancerous or not.

In various mice experiments, it was found that miR-520d indeed transformed their cancer cells into either regular tissue cells or benign tumors completely. Not only that; for undifferentiated liver cancer the transformation only took 12 hours. More complex cancers were said to take up to a month to be converted into non-cancerous matter.

Chart showing results of miR-520d versus a mock injection, 520d led to a combination of non-cancerous cells whereas the mock substance resulted in 100 percent cancer development

Experiments were also carried out on pancreatic cancer cells, brain tumors, and malignant melanoma cells. All of which were easily eliminated. The team feels confident that by the correct introduction of miR-520d all cancers can be reversed. They also feel the simplicity of such a treatment would alleviate the mental anguish of possible relapses that cancer survivors must live with.

Netizens were full of emotions at this announcement calling it “historical” and “an amazing feat of medical technology.” Others remained skeptical saying: “I’ll wait until the announcement of it actually being used.” And of course it wouldn’t be the internet without some smartass comments such as: “Oh no, more elderly people!” and, “I hope this doesn’t raise my age of retirement.”

It’s still early days, but if these results can occur in humans without any serious negative effects, miR-520d could be a remarkable game-changer for the world.

Source: Nikkei Press Release via Hachima Kiko (Japanese), Scientific Reports (English)
RNA Image: Wikipedia – Kelvinsong