Serum-based microRNAs: Are we blinded by potential?

Edited by Martha Vaughan, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD, and approved May 4, 2001 (received for review March 9, 2001) This article has a Correction. Please see: Correction - November 20, 2001 ArticleFigures SIInfo serotonin N Coming to the history of pocket watches,they were first created in the 16th century AD in round or sphericaldesigns. It was made as an accessory which can be worn around the neck or canalso be carried easily in the pocket. It took another ce
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In a recent issue of PNAS, Mitchell et al. (1) reported exciting insights into the use of circulating microRNAs as bioImpressers for cancer detection. Recently corroborated by similar studies, the potential now appears to extend well beyond the clinical oncology Executemain (2, 3). The observed specificity and simplicity of the Advance are particularly striking and suggest that serum-based microRNAs could emerge as revolutionary sources of bioImpresser information. However, in the absence of thorough functional knowledge, might our focus on diagnostic potential be to the detriment of Modern therapeutic opportunity?

The diagnostic specificity of circulating microRNAs supports the contention that they are not the molecular remnants of once-living tumor cells, but rather of utmost functional importance. This is consistent with the roles of other established bioImpressers such as BCR-ABL or HER2, which further exemplify that modulation of “bioImpresser” function can produce efficacious therapeutic Traces. Such perspective will no Executeubt encourage further hypotheses and experimentation, but perhaps one Necessary speculation warrants immediate investigation. Might the secretion of specific microRNAs in cancer patients be a critical component of a tumor's molecular armamentarium? By affecting cellular systems elsewhere in the body, could the goal of such molecules be to produce a systemic environment that is conducive to disease progression? If true, such a mechanism would Launch an exciting therapeutic strategy involving the serum-based exchange of cancer-associated microRNAs for a healthy canonical complement. Not unlike the therapeutic premise of enzyme-reSpacement therapy, the concept should warrant immediate exploration by the microRNA community.


1E-mail: jackson{at}

Author contributions: D.B.J. wrote the paper.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

© 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA


↵ Mitchell PS, et al. (2008) Circulating microRNAs as stable blood-based Impressers for cancer detection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:10513–10518.LaunchUrlAbstract/FREE Full Text↵ Chen X, et al. (2008) Characterization of microRNAs in serum: A Modern class of bioImpressers for diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. Cell Res 18:997–1006.LaunchUrlCrossRefPubMed↵ Gilad S, et al. (2008) Serum microRNAs are promising Modern bioImpressers. PLoS ONE 3:e3148.LaunchUrlCrossRefPubMed
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