New Concepts in Cancer Biomarkers: Circulating miRNAs in Liquid Biopsies.

The effective and efficient management of cancer patients relies upon early diagnosis and/or the monitoring of treatment, something that is often difficult to achieve using standard tissue biopsy techniques. Biological fluids such as blood hold great possibilities as a source of non-invasive cancer biomarkers that can act as surrogate markers to biopsy-based sampling. The non-invasive nature of these “liquid biopsies” ultimately means that cancer detection may be earlier and that the ability to monitor disease progression and/or treatment response represents a paradigm shift in the treatment of cancer patients. Below, we review one of the most promising classes of circulating cancer biomarkers: microRNAs (miRNAs). In particular, we will consider their history, the controversy surrounding their origin and biology, and, most importantly, the hurdles that remain to be overcome if they are really to become part of future clinical practice.

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