The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs), a new class of negative regulator that represses gene expression by pairing with their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs), has revealed a natural pathway for controlling gene expression. There are hundreds of miRNAs encoded in the human genome and thousands of target mRNAs, which illustrates the important regulatory roles of miRNAs in cell developmental, differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis pathways. In this scenario, it is not surprising that deregulated miRNAs have been involved in the pathogenesis of many human diseases. The recent development of technologies and compounds to identify and modulate miRNAs has opened new avenues for diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic applications. Here, we summarize most of the recent patents related to the detection and profiling of miRNAs from pathological samples and to miRNA modulators used as new therapies for disease, including cancer and viral infections, as well as methods for their delivery.
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