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Applied Biosystems expand microRNA assay range

By Wai Lang Chu , 09-Jun-2006

Applied Biosystems (AB) make available a wider range of microRNA assays, expanding the selection to 300 individual assays that are ideal for cell differentiation, developmental biology, stem cell and cancer research.

AB's TaqMan microRNA Assays are offered for the detection and quantitation of mature human microRNA (miRNA) expression levels. These assays allow discrimination between mature miRNA and its precursor form.

Small starting sample requirements (1-10 nanograms of RNA or equivalent) conserve samples and simplify the analytical process.

 

Available as pre-designed and validated probe and primer sets with a flexible format, the assays accommodate both large initial screening panels (many miRNAs in parallel) and further screening to determine differential expression levels of specific miRNAs.

 

"We have been using the TaqMan MicroRNA Assays to study different types of brain tumours," said Victor Ambros of Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire, and the original discoverer of microRNA molecules.

 

"Our studies show these assays to be the most reliable and quantitative way to screen for microRNA biomarkers that distinguish tumour types."

 

MicroRNAs are a recently discovered class of small RNA molecules known to play a powerful regulatory role in cell differentiation, developmental biology, and diseases such as cancer.

 

The assays are based on a simple two-step process using AB's stem-loop technology for reverse transcription (RT) of the mature microRNA followed by quantitative real-time PCR. The assays are additionally able to discriminate between highly homologous microRNAs, and the precursor and mature microRNAs.

 

It is perhaps cancer that microRNA's are most closely associated with. A study of mice altered to produce excess c-myc, a protein implicated in several cancers, demonstrated that miRNA affected cancer development.

 

Mice that produced excess miRNA found in lymphoma cells developed the disease within 50 days and died two weeks later. Mice without the surplus miRNA lived over 100 days.

 

By measuring activity among 217 genes encoding miRNA, patterns of gene activity that can distinguish types of cancers can be discerned. miRNA signatures may enable classification of cancer.

 

This will allow doctors to determine the original tissue type which spawned a cancer and to be able to target a treatment course based on the original tissue type. miRNA profiling has already been able to determine whether patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia had slow growing or aggressive forms of the cancer.

 

More information about the kits can be obtained on AB's >website.