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May 2, 2007

Translating MicroRNA Discovery Into Clinical Biomarkers in Cancer

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa (Dr Waldman); and Departments of Medicine, Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, and Medical Genetics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn (Dr Terzic).

JAMA. 2007;297(17):1923-1925. doi:10.1001/jama.297.17.1923

In the United States, cancer is the second leading cause of death, exceeded only by cardiovascular disease, and an estimated 500 000 patients with cancer will die this year.1,2 After cardiovascular and infectious diseases, cancer is the third leading cause of mortality worldwide.3 However, the field of clinical oncology is poised for unprecedented innovation, reflecting the confluence of breakthroughs in decoding disease pathobiology in the context of high-throughput enabling technologies.4 Harnessing the full potential of transformative advances is predicated on defining biomarkers that promote targeted cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of individual patients and populations.4,5 A new generation of molecular technologies, including genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic mapping, hold the promise of translating into practice the use of biomarker panels for increased diagnostic and therapeutic sensitivity and specificity.2,4 Yet essential elements have resisted definition in developing mechanism-based molecular markers for individualized management of cancer. In particular, the hierarchically organized integrated epigenetic, genetic, and postgenetic circuitry that dictates developmental restriction of cell destiny and underlies tumorigenesis when dysregulated has so far remained poorly understood.

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