The development of minimally invasive tests for the detection and monitoring of cancers could greatly reduce
the worldwide health burden of cancer. Recent discovery of a new class of small (22mer) non-coding RNA (miRNAs)
opened up new perspectives in biomarker research. Since miRNA are directly involved in the regulation of almost all key
cellular processes, including development, differentiation, proliferation, cell death and metabolism, they may prove to be
powerful cancer biomarkers. Unlike other types of biomarkers, miRNAs in the circulation are protected within lipoprotein
vesicles and thus are remarkably stable, making them robust and reliable biomarkers of cancer. In this review, we provide
an overview on circulating miRNAs and their great potential as highly specific and sensitive biomarkers for tumor classification
and prognostication. We discuss exosomal origin of the circulating miRNAs and additionally, address some recent
findings in the new and upcoming area of exosomal miRNAs from cell culture supernatant and their potential in biomarkers
discovery. We also review a selected number of recent patents relevant to the area of exosomal miRNAs relevant
to biomarker discovery.
Keywords: Biomarker, cancer, circulation, discovery, exosomes, microRNA, patent, cell culture, miRNA analysis technology, prognostic indicators.
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Published on: 16 August, 2012
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