The American Association for Cancer Research has released a new report regarding the role of microRNA biomarkers in progression of pre-cancerous conditions like Barrett’s esophagus to esophageal adenocarcinoma. The researchers at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have been successful in isolating the set of genes that can be used as potential biomarker in susceptible individuals.
The report published in Cancer Prevention Research outlines a breakthrough that is expected to decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with esophageal cancer deaths. The overall incidence of Esophageal adenocarcinoma has increased tremendously in the past 3 decades from less than 5% of all esophageal cancers to over 80% of all esophageal cancers (an overall 6 times increase in incidence).
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Xifeng Wu, Head of Department of Epidemiology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences) and his associates identified microRNA as the regulator of numerous genes associated with malignancy. Abnormal expression of genes is responsible for the pathogenesis of cancers. Wu suggested that these genes can be used as active biomarkers that may help in tracking and assessing the progression of a pre- malignant lesion into malignant ones.
Wu and his associates identified microRNA miR-375 downregulation (marked by low levels) and high levels of miR-17-92 (5 microRNA) in a patient of Barrett’s esophagus as isolated event that are specific to the progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Prompt identification and tight surveillance along with management and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus can help in decreasing the risk of malignancy and using the microRNA as potential therapeutic and preventive agent.