Circulating microRNA Biomarkers as Liquid Biopsy for Cancer Patients: Pros and Cons of Current Assays.

An increasing number of studies have focused on circulating microRNAs (cmiRNA) in cancer patients’ blood for their potential as minimally-invasive biomarkers. Studies have reported the utility of assessing specific miRNAs in blood as diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers; however, the methodologies are not validated or standardized across laboratories. Unfortunately, there is often minimum limited overlap in techniques between results reported even in similar type studies on the same cancer. This hampers interpretation and reliability of cmiRNA as potential cancer biomarkers. Blood collection and processing, cmiRNA extractions, quality and quantity control of assays, defined patient population assessment, reproducibility, and reference standards all affect the cmiRNA assay results. To date, there is no reported definitive method to assess cmiRNAs. Therefore, appropriate and reliable methodologies are highly necessary in order for cmiRNAs to be used in regulated clinical diagnostic laboratories. In this review, we summarize the developments made over the past decade towards cmiRNA detection and discuss the pros and cons of the assays.

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