MicroRNA: An all-around tool to end breast cancer

“Breast cancer now has become the most common form of cancer worldwide”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in February of this year.
According to statistics, breast cancer with the highest incidence rate (11.7%), followed by lung cancer in second place (11.4%) and colorectal cancer in third place. Globally, 2.3 million women have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 2020 years. By the end of the year, only 7.8 million women had survived a breast cancer diagnosis in the past five years, making breast cancer the world's most prevalent cancer. There are more lost disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by women to breast cancer than to any other type of cancer.
With the advancement of imaging tools and public health screening policies, breast cancer patients can be diagnosed at an early stage. Also, with the advancement of surgery, radiation therapy, and the development of new drug treatments, breast cancer patients are being treated more effectively. However, even with medical advances, breast cancer is still the most prevalent cancer, and there are still unanswered questions.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, approximately 19-23 nucleotides non-coding RNAs, and negatively regulate gene expression of specific mRNA targets by pairing with target mRNA bases to degrade mRNAs or block their translation through RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISC). The first miRNA, lin-4, was discovered in 1995 and since then, lots of researches are showing the miRNAs control gene expression in a variety of physiological and developmental processes, thus having a critical role in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in a broad range of biological systems. More important, numerous studies have revealed that the miRNA may play a critical role in breast cancer progression. By miRNAs to end breast cancer has become a goal pursued by scientists.

MicroRNA as a Diagnostic Biomarker
Effective management of breast cancer depends on early diagnosis and proper monitoring of patient response to treatment. Therefore, finding a specific and sensitive biomarker is a direct and necessary tool. Because of their role in tumor formation and stability in body fluids, circulating miRNAs are considered to be useful tools for early breast cancer diagnosis.
In recent years, several papers have suggested that changes in the expression of circulating miRNAs present in body fluids, such as hsa-miR-221-3p, hsa-miR-30e-5p, hsa-miR-192-5p, hsa-miR-22-3p, hsa-miR-451a and hsa-miR-23a-3p in blood plasma, can be used as early breast cancer diagnostic indicators. The expression changes of hsa-miR-22-3p, hsa-miR-451a and hsa-miR-23a-3p can be used as diagnostic indicators for early breast cancer. In addition, hsa-miR-10b-5p, hsa-miR-107 and hsa-miR-135b-5p can be considered as early detection indicators for the most difficult and aggressive triple-negative form of breast cancer. In addition, abnormal expression of miR-148b-3p, miR-190b and miR-429, as well as hsa-miR-199b-5p and hsa-miR-133a-3p were also found to be associated with breast cancer development. The detection of hsa-miR-425-5p and hsa-let-7b-5p, hsa-miR-30b-5p, hsa-miR-181a-3p, hsa-miR-455-3p, hsa-miR-4793-3p, and hsa-miR-25-3p in serum was also found to be indicative of early breast cancer diagnosis.
The identification of dysregulated miRNAs in breast cancer patients' body fluids, as revealed by various studies, may provide strong evidence for circulating miRNAs as early detection tools for breast cancer. In addition, because of the high heterogeneity of breast cancer, more studies are needed to identify and generalize miRNA markers for different types of breast cancer.

MicroRNA as a Prognostic Indicator
Due to medical advances, the mortality rate of breast cancer has been decreasing year by year, but more than 90% of breast cancer deaths are still attributed to high recurrence and metastasis. If biological indicators can be used to monitor the prognosis and the likelihood of metastasis, early intervention can be made to prevent the disease from deteriorating again.
MicroRNAs can be used as diagnostic indicators of breast cancer development, also as early detection tools for changes in the expression of specific miRNAs in body fluids during tumor recurrence and metastasis. In the past literature, various miRNAs, such as hsa-miR-132-3p, hsa-miR-141-3p, hsa-miR-340-5p, hsa-miR-644a, hsa-miR-765, hsa-mir-204-3p, hsa-mir-409-3p, hsa-miR-506-3p, etc., were involved in the metastasis-related mechanism of breast cancer. If the metastasis possibility can be determined by detecting their manifestations at an early stage, they can be regarded as a preventive measure and achieve good prognosis monitoring.
In summary, the role of miRNA in the development of breast cancer is not only as a tool for early diagnosis, but also as a next-generation therapeutic drug and, importantly, as a prognostic indicator. Such an all-around tool is certainly the hottest research topic in the future.
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To see the full list of TOOLS miRNA assay and related products, please click TOOLS Life Science Reagents -‎.
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