Bio-markers pave way for new diagnostic tool

September 4th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 4 (IANS) Serum microRNAs can serve as biomarkers for the detection of cancer and diabetes, potentially paving the way for a revolutionary non-invasive diagnostic tool. microRNAs or miRNAs are naturally occurring, single stranded RNA molecules that regulate gene expression and have also been linked with cancer development.

Chen-Yu Zhang of Nanjing University School of Life Sciences in China and colleagues are the first to characterise entire blood miRNA profiles of healthy subjects and patients with lung cancer, colorectal cancer and diabetes, ruling out contamination.

They proposed that the specific serum miRNA expression profiles they identified constitute ‘fingerprints’ for cancer and other diseases.

Although tumour markers greatly improve diagnosis, current diagnostic techniques are prohibitively invasive, limiting clinical application.

The new approach is non-invasive and has the potential to transform the clinical management of various cancers and diseases through improving disease diagnosis, cancer classification, prognosis estimation, prediction of therapeutic efficacy, etc.

The new technique will also be useful to pharmacological companies in identifying population subgroups who are responsive to drugs that have failed in phase III clinical trials.

The study was published online this week in Cell Research.

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