Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf, Germany
mOne of the major challenges towards an improved treatment of human diseases is the identification of appropriate markers for an early detection of diseases as well as for monitoring disease progression and patients’ response to therapy. Cell-free nucleic acids circulating in human blood were first described in 1948. However, it was not until 1994 that the importance of circulating nucleic acid (CNA) was recognized. Today, the detection of diverse type of CNA in blood and other body fluids is a valuable resource in the search for novel biomarker. Recently, cell-free miRNA have been isolated and measured in the blood. The existence of a population of circulating miRNAs (CiMs) in the blood of healthy as well as diseased individuals have raised the possibility that disease-associated CiM signatures may serve as biomarker in the diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction of therapeutics response of patients. Importantly, CiM can be detected by using different experimental approaches including quantitative real-time PCR, microarray and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). With this premise, circulating miRNAs have been ‘tagged’ by the biomedical community as easily accessible biomarkers for the screening of patients. To ensure a reliable and reproducible measurement of CiM in human blood, we have established optimized isolation protocols, which can be directly implemented in clinical settings. Our current research work in this field focuses on the identification of CiM specifically associated to viral hepatitis, leukemia and asthma, and on the correlation of CiM-signatures with the severity of the disease.
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