BioScience Trends. 2017;11(1):105-109. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2016.01249)

Progress of research on microRNAs with diagnostic value in asbestos exposure: A call for method standardization.

Micolucci L, Rippo MR, Olivieri F, Procopio AD


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an insidious, lethal asbestos-related cancer that is poorly responsive to current treatments. Specific and sensitive biomarkers providing early MM diagnosis in exposed subjects, who are at high-risk of developing it, are sorely needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, non-coding, small RNAs with a well-established diagnostic role in cancer and pollution exposure. In a recent systematic review and qualitative meta-analysis followed by a functional investigation, we examined all the available data on the miRNA biomarkers involved in asbestos exposure and MM pathways. This invited commentary aims to provide an insightful critique into the state of the art of the research into clinically relevant miRNA biomarkers, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of current research efforts in this field. It also reviews the suggestions advanced to improve biomarker development productivity and the translation of research results into clinical practice, stressing that multicenter multidisciplinary studies adopting standardized methods and protocol sharing are the key to move from the workbench to the clinic.

KEYWORDS: Asbestos, mesothelioma, microRNA, mesomiRs, molecular pathological epidemiology

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