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Biomarker miR-10b for Pancreatic Cancer: earlier diagnosis and/or therapeutic target?

As alluded to in another recent blog entry, the study of microRNA has been a source of great interest as to the possible development of biomarkers that may screen or aid on the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas).  MicroRNAs (or sometimes abbreviated miR) are small (18 to 25 nucleotide) non-coding RNA molecules that are involved in genetic regulation – that were first discovered and better characterized in the decade of the 1990s and since.

A number of microRNAs appear to be overexpressed in pancreatic cancer including miR-10b, miR-21, miR-196a, miR-203, miR-155, miR-210 and miR-221. But at an approximately four-fold increase noted by the authors, in this and earlier research by the researchers in the present study (below) hold that microRNA-10b is one of the most frequently overexpressed microRNAs in pancreatic cancer.

We addressed this area of biomarker research involving miR-27a-3p by Chinese researchers in our June 17 Pancreatica Blog posting. And now comes further interesting research on the subject as published by Korc and colleagues from the University of Indiana as E-published on October 7, 2013 in the journal Oncogene.  The authors again verify that miR-10-b is overexpressed in adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, correlate increasing levels of 10-b with increased aggressiveness of cancer activity, and better characterize some of 10-b’s biochemical and growth pathway role and interactions.

Thus interestingly, the authors point to miR-10b’s potential as both a possible biomarker for pancreatic cancer, and as a possible therapeutic target.

This is provocative thoughtful research that represents early work in the promising area.

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Dale O’Brien, MD