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Molecular Diagnostics

Non-coding RNAs as liquid biopsy biomarkers in cancer

Subjects

Abstract

Although non-coding RNAs have long been considered as non-functional “junk” RNAs, accumulating evidence in the past decade indicates that they play a critical role in pathogenesis of various cancers. In addition to their biological significance, the recognition that their expression levels are frequently dysregulated in multiple cancers have fueled the interest for exploiting their clinical potential as cancer biomarkers. In particular, microRNAs (miRNAs), a subclass of small non-coding RNAs that epigenetically modulate gene-transcription, have become one of the most well-studied substrates for the development of liquid biopsy biomarkers for cancer patients. The emergence of high-throughput sequencing technologies has enabled comprehensive molecular characterisation of various non-coding RNA expression profiles in multiple cancers. Furthermore, technological advances for quantifying lowly expressed RNAs in the circulation have facilitated robust identification of previously unrecognised and undetectable biomarkers in cancer patients. Here we summarise the latest progress on the utilisation of non-coding RNAs as non-invasive cancer biomarkers. We evaluated the suitability of multiple non-coding RNA types as blood-based cancer biomarkers and examined the impact of recent technological breakthroughs on the development of non-invasive molecular biomarkers in cancer.

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Fig. 1: An overview of blood-based noncoding RNA cancer biomarker development.
Fig. 2: Molecular biomarker types in cancer.

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Acknowledgements

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The present work was supported by the grants CA72851, CA181572, CA184792, CA187956 and CA202797 from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to AG.

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The review article was conceived and wrote by ST and AG.

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Correspondence to Ajay Goel.

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Toden, S., Goel, A. Non-coding RNAs as liquid biopsy biomarkers in cancer. Br J Cancer 126, 351–360 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01672-8

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