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Keywords:

  • lung cancer treatment;
  • siRNA;
  • ERBB3;
  • AKT2;
  • in vivo xenograft

Abstract

The use of siRNAs against specific molecular targets has potential for cancer therapy but has been thought to be limited by the need for formulation to improve cellular uptake. Lung adenocarcinoma cells are markedly suppressed in culture by siRNAs to the receptor ERBB3 or its downstream signaling partner AKT2. We now demonstrate that naked, unformulated siRNAs to ERBB3 or AKT2, administered i.v. as saline solutions, 2 μg/g five times per week for 3 weeks (total dose 30 μg/g), were effective suppressors of growth of A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cell xenografts in athymic mice, 12 mice per group, in four different experiments. ERBB3 and AKT2 siRNAs each inhibited growth by 70–90% on average, compared to saline-treated or untreated controls; a nonsilencing siRNA was without significant effect. Lesser but significant effects were noted with a total dose of 12 μg/g. With the higher dose, effects persisted for several weeks after the end of treatment. Expected reductions of ERBB3 and AKT2 mRNAs and proteins occurred and correlated with decrease in tumor volume. There were no significant changes in serum cytokines. These results show that naked siRNAs to ERBB3 or AKT2 may have potential for lung cancer therapy.