The potential of circulating cell free RNA as a biomarker in cancer

Ka Wan Emily Cheung, Sin yu Rachel Choi, Lok Ting Claire Lee, Nga Lam Ella Lee, Hin Fung Tsang, Yin Tung Cheng, William Chi Shing Cho, Elaine Yue Ling Wong, Sze Chuen Cesar Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: It is now clear that circulating cell-free ribonucleic acids (ccfRNAs), including messenger RNA (mRNA) and miRNA, are potential cancer biomarkers. As ccfmiRNA is relatively more stable than ccfmRNA, research should concentrate on developing novel methods to preserve the stability of ccfmRNA and standardization of the protocol which includes extraction, detection, and multicenter validation. Areas covered: This literature review concentrates on the potential of ccfRNA being used as a biomarker in cancer, with special focus on mRNAs and microRNAs (miRNAs). Expert opinion: With the advancement of high-throughput technologies such as RNA sequencing, a panel of biomarkers will be used for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic monitoring of cancer patients. In order to achieve this important target, bioinformatics education to pathologists, scientists, and technologists in molecular diagnostic laboratories is essential. Moreover, the panel of these new ccfRNAs biomarkers has to obtain approval or clearance from an authority such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the standard of utilizing these new protocols has to be recognized via accreditation exercise. Therefore, there is still a long way to go before an extensively use of ccfRNA biomarkers in cancer patients can be realized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-590
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number7
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • cancer biomarkers
  • Circulating cell-free RNA
  • messenger RNAs
  • microRNAs
  • molecular diagnosis
  • noninvasive cancer screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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