Our research area relates to detecting brain cancer in a subject. The research also relates to methods of predicting a clinical outcome in a patient with brain cancer, methods of monitoring the progression of brain cancer in a patient and methods of grading a patient’s brain cancer.
The technique researched involves the use of a panel of select microRNAs which can be used as biomarkers for brain tumours. These microRNAs are isolated from the serum and/or CSF and/or tissue of individuals using RNA extraction techniques and subsequently measured using qRT-PCR.
In 2010, there were 9,156 new cases of brain cancer in the UK alone (Cancer Research UK). Worldwide it is estimated that there are 445,000 new cases of brain cancer every year (Cancer Research UK). As the population grows every year, so the incidence of brain cancer will follow, highlighting the need for improved diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of response to treatment. The results from our work have the potential to fulfil this need both in the UK and worldwide.
Current diagnosis of glioma involves imaging with MRI and histological analysis by neuropathology. In some cases MRI scans are not accurate enough to definitively diagnose an individual, following this histological analysis is required. Histological analysis can only be performed following removal of tumour tissue during surgery and it is extremely subjective depending on the interpretations of individual pathologists. A risky and invasive procedure for patients, especially as there is a high incidence of glioma in older individuals who present a higher risk when undergoing surgery.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs which play a role in post-transcriptional regulation of gene and protein expression. MiRNAs exhibit disease specific expression, which can be used to provide information about a particular biological state, such as glioma. Changes in miRNA expression in gliomas can be measured following the isolation of glioma specific exosomes released into the circulation. The aim of this study is to identify a panel of miRNAs which have an altered expression in glioma and can be used for diagnosis, prognosis and the prediction of response to treatment.
- A major benefit of the methods of the invention is that they can be performed without the need for surgery as with histological techniques. They are also able to improve the accuracy of diagnosis, compared to MRI. There is also potential for earlier diagnosis when the tumour may be present but not identifiable by imaging, allowing for prompt treatment and potentially an improved prognosis.
- The measurement of the microRNA expression in the serum and/or CSF could overcome the limitations of current diagnostic techniques. By improving accuracy through the analysis of microRNAs but at the same time being non-invasive by the taking of a blood samples rather than surgery.
- The invention provides a method of detecting brain cancer in a subject.
- The inventors believe that the panel of miRNA biomarkers identified herein may be of benefit in the grading of brain cancers such as gliomas.