What is miRNA ?
Cells and tissues of higher organisms, including mammals, contain many non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which do not code for proteins, unlike conventional RNAs (messenger RNAs), which code for proteins involved in life phenomena. Among these are single-stranded short RNAs called micro RNAs (miRNAs), which have a length of approximately 20 to 25 nucleotides. It has been elucidated that miRNAs play important roles in the tissue development and cell differentiation processes as well as disease etiology. Basic research on the mechanism of action of miRNAs and their involvement in life phenomena is progressing.
In recent years, attempts have actively been made to measure miRNAs as biomarkers for use in diagnosis of disease status and decisions regarding drug use, as well as in drug development, including pharmacology and toxicity evaluation.
Unlike messenger RNAs (mRNAs), miRNAs attract attention due to their possible use as biomarkers based on the following reasons:
- Analysis of miRNAs is simpler than that of mRNAs, because there are about only 2,000 types of miRNA in humans.
- A miRNA has a short chain length and is resistant to degradation; therefore, the detected data is stable.
- Interpretation of results can be simple because there is no variant.
- New (unknown) biomarkers may be obtained.
- Sequence homology between species is high, and results of animal experiments can be easily extrapolated to human study.
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