18 December 2017

A trap for cancer miRNAs

Oncological microRNAs "caught" with nanowires

"The Attic"

An international team of scientists has developed a test for early cancer diagnosis based on the content of cancer markers in urine. The new technique proved to be much more effective than previous approaches.

Unlike DNA, whose main and only purpose is to store genetic information, RNA molecules perform many different functions in the cell and beyond. One of its types is the so–called microRNAs (short RNA molecules only about 20 "letters" long-nucleotides) – regulates the activity of genes.

Molecules of this type were found both inside the cell and "traveling" through the body in small membrane vesicles – vesicles.

Previously, it was shown that the composition of microRNAs circulating in the blood and other biological fluids of a person can diagnose diseases at an early stage. In a new study, scientists from Japan, China and Thailand have proposed a fast and effective non-invasive test to detect cancer microRNAs in urine samples.

To "capture" microRNAs, the researchers used the force of electrostatic attraction between negatively charged vesicles and positively charged pieces of nanowire fixed on a substrate like a brush. Analyzing urine samples from healthy donors to test the technique, the researchers showed that the new approach allows identifying about 1,000 types of microRNAs in just 1 ml of urine, and faster and more sensitive than other methods.


Thanks to the study of urine of patients with cancer of the bladder, prostate, liver, lung and pancreas, scientists also found changes in the representation of certain types of microRNAs characteristic of a certain type of cancer.

The authors of the study suggest that their development can become a powerful tool for timely and effective diagnosis of cancer by the composition of microRNAs in urine. At the same time, scientists believe that an important result is that thanks to this approach, it is possible to determine not only urological types of cancer by urine analysis. The article was published in the journal Science Advances (Yasui et al., Unveiling massive numbers of cancer-related urinary-microRNA candidates via nanowires).

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