MicroRNAs as Blood-based Biomarkers of Cancer

  • Xi Chen
  • Junfeng Zhang
  • Ke Zen
  • Chen-Yu Zhang


The detection of human cancer at an early stage presents a daunting challenge due to the lack of a specific non-invasive marker. The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of non-coding RNAs that regulate target gene expression at the post-transcriptional level, has opened a new avenue for tumor diagnosis. Once thought to be unstable RNA molecules, miRNAs are now shown to be stably expressed in serum, plasma, urine, saliva, milk, and other body fluids. Results of the last 2 years establish the quantification of circulating miRNAs in serum/plasma as an extremely promising approach for cancer diagnosis, especially at an early stage. The aim of this chapter is to review the recently reported studies on the circulating miRNAs in cancer patients and to estimate their great potential as a class of highly specific and sensitive blood-based biomarkers for tumor classification and prognostication. Meanwhile, this chapter also addresses certain critical issues that hinder the wide application of the new approach. Some potential challenges for the transition of circulating miRNAs from a research setting to a clinical application are also highlighted. As a blood-based biomarker of cancer, circulating miRNAs have the potential to uncover cancer at an early stage and greatly reduce the worldwide health burden of cancer.


miRNA Expression miRNA Profile miRNA Level Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patient Solexa Sequencing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical BiotechnologySchool of Life Sciences, Jiangsu Diabetes Center, Nanjing UniversityNanjingPR China

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