MicroRNAs are potential biomarkers for heart disease, cancer

Researchers are working on better biomarkers to detect heart disease and cancer, the number-one and number-two killers in developed countries. Chris Hebel, of genomics and proteomics company LC Sciences, writes that research has increasingly turned to the study of microRNA (miRNA) as possible biomarkers. "Microarrays combined with quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) validation are proving to be valuable tools for miRNA expression profiling and are predicted to play a crucial role in biomarker discovery and detection," Hebel writes. Although it should be taken into account that Hebel works for a company that provides these services, the article is nonetheless informative.

"An important but challenging part of combating tough diseases like cancer and heart disease is the identification of key biomarkers at early stages of the disease from samples that are easily obtained by the least invasive methods," Hebel writes "miRNAs are showing great potential as biomarkers as their control over cellular biological processes and contributions to the pathogenesis of diseases is slowly elucidated."

Hebel mentions a couple of studies in which researchers use miRNA microarray analysis to discover sequences unique to certain diseases--one in Toronto for renal carcinoma and another performed by his own company, LC Sciences in Houston, to detect early stages of acute myocardial infarction.

"The teaming of miRNA microarray analysis with qRT-PCR validation is proving to be a very powerful tool in the identification and detection of biomarkers," Hebel concludes.

- read Hebel's article in Kidney Cancer