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MicroRNAs: A Potential New Frontier For Medicine

March 23, 2011

Noted experts explore this topic in the April issue of Translational Research

Since their discovery in the 1990s, microRNAs have proven to play a complex role in normal and abnormal functioning of many organ systems. In the April issue of Translational Research, entitled “MicroRNAs: A Potential New Frontier for Medicine,” an international group of medical experts explores several themes related to our current understanding of microRNAs and the role they may play in the future of medicine.

A commentary by Monty Montano, Department of Medicine, Boston University, provides a general introduction to this single-topic issue. He states, “In the coming years, there is much to be learned about adaptive (and maladaptive) states by examining how the expression of miRNAs is influenced by the genetic architecture of miR genes, clusters, and mirtrons, as well as miRNA polymorphism and polymorphism in their mRNA targets”¦Current efforts to leverage knowledge of this regulatory system to diagnose, track, and attenuate disease progression represent a major new research opportunity and challenge in this rapidly growing area of translational medicine.”

KEY POINTS:

microRNA, a new paradigm for understanding immunoregulation, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases
Rujuan Dai, and S. Ansar Ahmed
The authors review in great detail the functions of microRNAs in autoimmune diseases, inflammation processes, and immune system regulation.

Integrating microRNAs into a system biology approach to acute lung injury
Tong Zhou, Joe G.N. Garcia and Wei Zhang
The authors explore the possible role of microRNAs in inflammatory lung diseases and integration into a comprehensive disease model for acute lung injury.

MicroRNAs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Kusum V. Pandit, Jadranka Milosevic and Naftali Kaminski
The authors summarize current knowledge on the role of microRNAs in idiopathic lung fibrosis (IPF), highlighting how differentially expressed microRNAs in IPF will have a significant impact on our understanding of the disease.

Involvement of microRNAs in lung cancer biology and therapy
Xi Liu, Lorenzo F. Sempere, Yongli Guo, Murray Korc, Sakari Kauppinen, Sarah J. Freemantle and Ethan Dmitrovsky
The authors review how microRNAs can accelerate or suppress lung cancers and how this knowledge might serve as a basis for developing diagnostic markers or anti-cancer therapeutic agents.

MicroRNA biomarkers in lung cancer: MiRacle or quagMiRe?
Sai Yendamuri and Robert Kratzke
The authors explore some of the difficulties facing the development of microRNAs as biomarkers for lung disease, as well as some promising areas of research.

MicroRNAs as therapeutic targets in cancer
S. Patrick Nana-Sinkam and Carlo M. Croce
The authors review the challenges of translating current knowledge on microRNAs into effective clinical therapies for many cancers or as adjuvants for enhancing chemosensitivity to traditional therapies.

MicroRNAs in cardiac disease
Gerald W. Dorn II
The author examines the use of microRNAs as both biomarkers of cardiac diseases and as potential targets for therapies.

MicroRNAs in kidney function and disease
Sanjeev Akkina and Bryan N. Becker
The authors review the role of microRNAs in understanding the pathophysiology of kidney disease and potential therapeutic uses.

microRNAs and liver disease
Thomas A. Kerr, Kevin M. Korenblat and Nicholas O. Davidson
The authors review developments in microRNA research in the areas of pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), viral hepatitis (C and B), and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), as well as the role of miRNAs as biomarkers of liver injury and HCC.

Diabetes mellitus, a microRNA-related disease?
Claudiane Guay, Elodie Roggli, Valeria Nesca, C©cile Jacovetti and Romano Regazzi
The authors review recent studies on the role of microRNAs in the pathogenesis of diabetes, including the role of several microRNAs in pancreatic beta cells and insulin-target tissues.

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