This report describes technologies to identify and quantify microRNAs (miRNAs) as potential cancer biomarkers, using breast cancer as an example. Most breast cancer patients are not diagnosed until the disease has advanced to later stages, which decreases overall survival rates. Specific miRNAs are up- or downregulated in breast cancer patients at various stages, can be detected in plasma and serum, and have shown promising preliminary clinical sensitivity and specificity for early cancer diagnosis or staging. Nucleic acid testing methods to determine relative concentrations of selected miRNAs include reverse transcription, followed by quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), microarrays, and next-generation sequencing (NGS). Of these methods, NGS is the most powerful approach for miRNA biomarker discovery, whereas RT-qPCR shows the most promise for eventual clinical diagnostic applications.
© 2014 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening.