Research Highlight

Targeting tiny RNA to tame colon cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.156 Published online 23 October 2012

Researchers have synthesized imidazo-benzothiazoles, a new class of conjugate organic compounds that could inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. This could yield new therapeutic avenues to cure colon cancer.

Recent studies have shown that apart from dietary habit and smoking, tiny RNA molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs)could also trigger molecular changes leading to colon cancer. Since such RNA molecules control cell differentiation, growth and death, they represent promising drug targets given the rise of drug-defying cancers and harmful radiation therapies.

To find a novel miRNA-targeting anticancer agent, the researchers prepared imidazo-benzathiozole conjugates. The anticancer effects of these compounds were then tested in cultured human colon cancer cells and a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) model.

The study used fruit flies as they possess bantam miRNA, similar to human miR-542-5p, which regulates the balance between proliferation and apoptosis. Human miR-542-5p plays a role in colon cancer.

Studies with cultured colon cancer cells showed that the conjugate organic compounds caused the controlled death of colon cancer cells. In fruit flies, the compounds inhibited the activity of bantam miRNA.

The researchers say that these results clearly show the miRNA-inhibiting role of imidazo-benzothiazole conjugates, making them potential drug candidates for colon cancer.


  1. Pushpavalli, S. N. C. V. L. et al. Imidazo-benzothiazoles a potent microRNA modulator involved in cell proliferation. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 22, 6418-6424 (2012) | Article | PubMed |