Research ArticleCancer

DNAzyme Targeting c-jun Suppresses Skin Cancer Growth

Science Translational Medicine  20 Jun 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 139, pp. 139ra82
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003960

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Getting Under Cancer’s Skin

Summer brings to mind barbecues, baseball, and trips to the local pool. Yet, outdoor fun can be hazardous to one’s health—too much sun exposure can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Indeed, one in three cancers worldwide is skin-related, and currently available treatments may induce scarring or other toxicities. Cai et al. now report that the DNAzyme Dz13—which targets an mRNA that encodes a cancer-associated transcription factor, c-Jun—inhibits the growth of two common types of skin cancers: basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.

DNAzymes are single-stranded, all-DNA, catalytic molecules that specifically bind and cleave their target RNAs. The authors examined the effects of Dz13, which destroys c-jun mRNA, on animal models of skin cancer. Dz13 inhibited tumor growth, blocked neovascularization, and prevented metastasis in mouse models of skin cancer—effects that were mediated, in part, through the induction of antitumor immunity. Minimal toxicity was observed in Dz13-treated cynomolgus monkeys, minipigs, and rodents, and there were no off-target effects in more than 70 in vitro bioassays. Thus, Dz13 may prove to be a safe, effective therapy for skin cancer. Nonetheless, one is advised to pack the sun block in preparation for extra innings—or a fifth set.