MicroRNA biomarker could improve head and neck cancer outcomes
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Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found a biomarker in head and neck cancers that can predict whether a patient's tumor will be life threatening. This discovery could become a component of a new test to guide treatment of head and neck tumors. In their study, researchers took tissue samples from tumors and nearby healthy tissue of 123 head and neck cancer patients and measured levels of 736 members of a class of RNA molecules known as microRNAs. One microRNA, miR-375, stood out as the most down-regulated (i.e., expressed at low levels) in head and neck tumors. MiR-375 proved to be a highly useful biomarker for predicting disease outcome. The patients for whom the difference between their tumor and normal-tissue miR-375 levels was most extreme (i.e., the one-fourth of patients with the lowest ratios) were nearly 13 times more likely to die or 9 times more likely to have their cancer metastasis than patients with higher miR-375 ratios.
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