Recently, researchers are focusing on microRNAs (miRNAs) circulating in the bloodstream as potential biomarkers for the detection and diagnosis of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). miRNA may also be used as a targeted therapy for ccRCC.

“We know what genes are responsible for RCC, or at least many cases of RCC,” said Farhad R. Danesh, MD, chief of the division of nephrology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. “We have more or less well established what should be the targets. It is just a question of how can we change the behaviour of these genes. And one way to do that is through manipulating the miRNAs that regulate these genes.”

A paper published in the International Journal of Cancer last month noted: “aberrant expression of miRNAs is an established feature of human malignancy and has been associated with oncogenesis and tumour progression…Given their ease of access and stability, circulating miRNAs show great promise as novel minimally invasive biomarkers.”

This paper showed that levels of miRNA in the blood could distinguish between late-stage RCC and controls. However, miRNA could not definitively identify early-stage RCC.

“Advanced tumours of stage III and IV showed specific miRNA profiles that significantly differ from both controls and cases at stage I and II, suggesting that our ability to detect ccRCC from circulating miRNA expression levels depends on the advancement of the disease”, the authors stated.

They concluded that the results “contribute evidence that circulating miRNAs are associated with the progression of renal carcinoma. Plasma miRNA signatures specifically associated with late-stage disease may yield further insights into ccRCC pathogenesis and contribute to disease monitoring.”

Read more about this exciting research here