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Circulating microRNAs in cancer

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It is believed that microRNAs have potential as circulating biomarkers of disease; however, successful clinical implementation remains a challenge. This chapter highlights broad variations in approaches to microRNA analysis where whole blood, serum and plasma have each been employed as viable sources. Further discrepancies in approaches are seen in endogenous controls and extraction methods utilized. This has resulted in contradictory publications, even when the same microRNA is targeted in the same disease setting. Analysis of blood samples highlighted the impact of both collection method and storage, on the microRNA profile. Analysis of a panel of microRNAs across whole blood, serum, and plasma originating from the same individual emphasized the impact of starting material on microRNA profile. This is a highly topical field of research with immense potential for translation into the clinical setting. Standardization of sample harvesting, processing and analysis will be key to this translation. Methods of sample harvesting, preservation, and analysis are outlined, with important mitigating factors highlighted.




O’Brien, K. P., Ramphul, E., Howard, L., Gallagher, W. M., Malone, C., Kerin, M. J., & Dwyer, R. M. (2017). Circulating microRNAs in cancer. In Methods in Molecular Biology (Vol. 1509, pp. 123–139). Humana Press Inc.

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