Cancer’s little helpers

Tiny pieces of RNA may turn cells to the dark side

By Tina Hesman Saey, 10:10 AM August 12, 2010

When tiny hairpin-shaped molecules act up, they don’t rebel loner-style like James Dean. Instead they take on the persona of Darth Vader, crushing proteins under their command and turning acquaintances to the dark side as well. In this case, though, the fight is for control not of the universe, but of the body. And a dark-side victory could end in cancer.

No one would have predicted a decade ago that these microRNAs, as the hairpins are called, were involved in cancer, because no one even k...

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