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NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Sharanjot Saini, PhD

Research Scientist, Medical Research Service, SFVAHCS
Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSF

The Role of microRNA Genes in Prostate Cancer

A major clinical challenge in prostate cancer is the elucidation of pathways of tumor progression, recurrence and metastasis, which could lead to the design of better diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against the disease. Dr. Saini’s research is primarily focused on understanding the molecular basis of progression and metastasis of prostate cancer. She is interested in studying the role of microRNA (miRNA) genes located at frequently deleted genomic regions in prostate cancer epithelial-to mesenchymal transition (EMT), recurrence and metastasis. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) constitute an evolutionarily conserved class of small RNAs that suppress gene expression posttranscriptionally via sequence-specific interactions with the 3’- untranslated regions (UTRs) of cognate mRNA targets. A role for miRNAs that affects EMT and progression and metastasis of human cancers has begun to emerge. In prostate cancer, the role of miRNAs in EMT is only beginning to be explored and there are very few published studies. Prominent examples are the miR-200 family and miR-205 that regulates EMT through direct targeting of ZEB1, ZEB2. Dr. Saini’s research provided initial evidence that miR-203 regulates EMT by directly targeting ZEB2 and other EMT regulators, that in turn regulates PCa invasion and metastasis. Her recent research has identified additional novel miRNAs in prostate cancer that play an important role in prostate cancer EMT, recurrence and metastasis. These findings have high transformative potential that can potentially aid in development of novel agents for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of advanced prostate cancer.

Dr. Saini is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urology at UCSF/SFVAMC. Dr. Saini completed her post-doctoral training at University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)/SFVAMC. She currently holds a NCI RO1 Grant from the NIH and has authored over 42 peer reviewed papers and 4 book chapters. She is a reviewer and editor for major oncology journals.

To see Dr. Saini on PubMed, click here.