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MicroRNAs are novel biomarkers of colorectal cancer

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Recent studies have identified unique small ribonucleic acids called microRNAs (miRNAs) in colonic tumour tissue and blood that may accurately diagnose the presence of colorectal cancer and help predict disease recurrence. This review explores the potential role of these biomarkers.


A literature search identified studies describing miRNAs in colorectal cancers. The outcomes of interest included diagnosis, progression and recurrence of disease, and future therapy.


Overexpression and silencing of specific miRNAs are associated with the development and progression of colorectal cancer. Such a role in oncogenesis suggest that miRNAs may be important targets for gene therapies. Differential expression of specific miRNAs in tissues and blood offers the prospect of their use in early detection and screening for colorectal cancer. MiRNAs are implicated in metastasis and cytotoxic drug resistance. Their manipulation has potential in both prevention of recurrence and palliation.


The miRNAs expression profile in tissue and blood has potential for their use in the detection, screening and surveillance of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, miRNAs may be targeted by gene therapy to treat colorectal cancer. Copyright © 2009 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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