FolamiRs: Ligand-targeted, vehicle-free delivery of microRNAs for the treatment of cancer
MicroRNAs are small RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally. Because changes in microRNA expression can promote or maintain disease states, microRNA-based therapeutics are being evaluated extensively. Unfortunately, the therapeutic potential of microRNA replacement is limited by deficient delivery vehicles. In this work, microRNAs are delivered in the absence of a protective vehicle. The method relies on direct attachment of microRNAs to folate (FolamiR), which mediates delivery of the conjugated microRNA into cells that overexpress the folate receptor. We show that the tumor-suppressive FolamiR, FolamiR-34a, is quickly taken up both by triple-negative breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and by tumors in an autochthonous model of lung cancer and slows their progression. This method delivers microRNAs directly to tumors in vivo without the use of toxic vehicles, representing an advance in the development of nontoxic, cancer-targeted therapeutics.