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Non-coding RNAs: a key to future personalized molecular therapy?

Marco Galasso1, Maria Elena Sana1 and Stefano Volinia123*

Author Affiliations

1 Data Mining for Analysis of Microarrays, Department of Morphology and Embryology, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

2 Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

3 Biomedical Informatics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

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Genome Medicine 2010, 2:12  doi:10.1186/gm133

Published: 18 February 2010


Continual discoveries on non-coding RNA (ncRNA) have changed the landscape of human genetics and molecular biology. Over the past ten years it has become clear that ncRNAs are involved in many physiological cellular processes and contribute to molecular alterations in pathological conditions. Several classes of ncRNAs, such as small interfering RNAs, microRNAs, PIWI-associated RNAs, small nucleolar RNAs and transcribed ultra-conserved regions, are implicated in cancer, heart diseases, immune disorders, and neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. ncRNAs have a fundamental role in gene regulation and, given their molecular nature, they are thus both emerging therapeutic targets and innovative intervention tools. Next-generation sequencing technologies (for example SOLiD or Genome Analyzer) are having a substantial role in the high-throughput detection of ncRNAs. Tools for non-invasive diagnostics now include monitoring body fluid concentrations of ncRNAs, and new clinical opportunities include silencing and inhibition of ncRNAs or their replacement and re-activation. Here we review recent progress on our understanding of the biological functions of human ncRNAs and their clinical potential.