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MicroRNA pathways in translational biomedicine

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In the current scientific and biomedical fields, microRNAs (miRNAs) are a cutting-edge topic. MiRNAs are a class of highly evolutionarily conserved non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) that modulate gene expression and are far from being just transcriptional noise. Many of them show a differential expression in ...

In the current scientific and biomedical fields, microRNAs (miRNAs) are a cutting-edge topic. MiRNAs are a class of highly evolutionarily conserved non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) that modulate gene expression and are far from being just transcriptional noise. Many of them show a differential expression in differentiation and disease and possess a heretofore-unknown function.
Several studies have shown that the expression of miRNAs is deregulated in human malignancies. For miRNAs, gene-profiling studies in tumorigenic tissues, for instance, have identified significant signatures that are of both diagnostic and prognostic value. Addressing the functions of miRNAs not only gives insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie complex genetic processes, but may also elucidate novel mechanisms that contribute to early stages of tumor development, progression and metastasis. MiRNA-based novel approaches target the ncRNAome, including, for instance, miRNA expression levels, and improved designs of miRNA-mimics or more precise target-predictions prevent off-target effects of novel drugs and make miRNAs become a highly efficient class of therapeutics. For miRNA-based therapeutic studies two direct strategies are currently under investigation, viz. (i) the overexpression of given miRNAs to inhibit the expression of protein-coding genes or (ii) the inhibition of target miRNAs with antisense constructs like antagomiRs. Indirect strategies include the use of novel drugs that modulate miRNA expression levels by directly targeting their processing or transcription. Further, miRNAbased biomarkers have a significant impact on the development of both therapeutic and diagnostic agents, a concept known as theranostics and are highly relevant for drug development in translational biomedicine and personalized medicine.
This Research Topic of Frontiers in Genetics focuses on the current understanding of miRNAs and the potential for their application in cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic targets. In regard to the use of miRNAs as novel therapeutics, this issue not only discusses the state-of-the-art concepts and lessons learned so far from translational miRNA-based studies, but also explores the next steps required to advance this field and use miRNAs in clinical contexts. It comprises in-depth articles by gathering unparalleled topics of interest in miRNAs in translational biomedicine by internationally renowned experts in the field. The featured articles provide comprehensive and expert perspectives on the most common miRNA-based bench to bedside applications as well as thorough overviews of miRNAs in translational cancer medicine. They further provide an update on pioneering RNAi-based treatment approaches.
This specialized Research Topic of Frontiers in Genetics will contribute greatly to the scientific and medical community by providing the up-to-date discoveries of miRNAs and their important roles in disease pathways and translational biomedicine.


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