New potential prognostic biomarkers for lung cancer: circulating exosomal microRNAs

The lung cancer is the major cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Moreover, one subtype is the most common: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The NSCLC generates about 80% of all cases of lung cancer, but there are new therapies that improved the outcomes of patients with NSCLC. Even though it has been the most common in recent years, is difficult to diagnose. Normally, doctors used conventional predictors for prognosis of NSCLC, such as clinical factors, which includes age, tumor stage, histological type and treatment modality.

There are many traditional methods to diagnose lung cancer, such as blood-based biomarkers, giving also accurate results. However, the lung cancer is diagnosed in late stages, because it can be confused with other pathologies with similar symptoms, that’s why is important to find more effective ways to diagnose this dangerous disease in early stages.

One innovative approach has been proposed: Exosomal miRNAs as excellent candidate biomarkers for clinical application. Exosomes are membrane-enclosed extracellular vesicles (EVs), with a diameter of 30-100nm, they are small, lipid-bound particles containing nucleic acid and protein cargo which are excreted from cells under a variety of normal and pathological conditions. EVs have gained substantial research interest in recent years, due to their potential utility as circulating biomarkers for a variety of diseases, including a wide variety of types of cancer. Is little known about their potential roles as prognostic biomarkers, but is expected that they can help to detect cancer in early stages and be clinical predictors.

A group of researchers (Liu, Yu, et al 2017) analyzed the prognostic value of plasma exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) for non-Small cell lung cancer. Using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) array panel, they analyzed 84 plasma exosomal miRNAs in 10 lung adenocarcinoma patients and used 10 healthy controls. They analyzed their expression levels and obtained promising results. Plasma exosomal miR-23b-3p, miR-10b-5p and miR-21-5p were independent prognostic biomarkers of NSCLC; their expression levels provided a significantly improved survival prediction for NSCLC beyond conventional clinical predictors. However, more studies need to be done, to validate possible application of these exosomal miRNAs for survival prediction.

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