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Small Non-Coding RNAs as Biomarkers

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RNA interference (RNAi) pathways utilize small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) to regulate diverse biological processes in eukaryotes. Different classes of small ncRNAs function through distinct RNAi pathways and the focus of this review will be on two of these: microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). The siRNA pathway is triggered by viral infection and repetitive elements functioning as a defense system in eukaryotes. miRNAs, on the other hand, are encoded in the genome and regulate a myriad of biological processes such as embryonic development and tissue differentiation in plants and animals. These different small RNA pathways have great potential to be used as biomarkers of the biological processes they regulate. In this review, we describe the role RNAi pathways have in diverse pathological and physiological conditions and how the detection of specific small ncRNAs can be used as biomarkers for these conditions. We discuss other areas not yet explored for the use of small ncRNAs as biomarkers and review recent patents proposing to use small RNAs as biomarkers. These patents mainly include cases where changes in expression of miRNAs, individually or in groups, have been shown to correlate with disease or disease states, most commonly cancer.
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Keywords: Biomarkers; Quantitative PCR; RNA INTERFERENCE PATHWAYS; RNA fraction; RNA interference; endogenous RNAi pathways; miRNA; next-generation sequencing; non-coding RNA; siRNA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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  • Recent Patents on Biomarkers publishes review and research articles, and guest edited thematic issues on important recent patents on biomarkers. The coverage includes novel biomarkers in basic, medical, environmental, and pharmaceutical research. A selection of important and recent patents on biomarkers is also included in the journal. The journal is essential reading for all researchers involved in biomarker research and discovery. The journal also covers recent research (where patents have been registered) in fast emerging patent biomarker applications; discovery and validation are covered for drug discovery, clinical development and molecular diagnostics.
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