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Along with the (r)evolution of RNA sequencing technology, researchers began to understand that the transcriptome is not only composed of messenger RNA molecules that are being translated to proteins. A wide range of small and long non-coding RNAs have been detected and their gene regulatory role has been firmly documented. The latest databases provide a striking view to the complexity and extent of the human transcriptome. The complexity of an organism scales positively with the fraction of the non-coding part of the genome. The difference between a human and a worm for example is primarily explained by the large difference in number of expressed non-coding RNAs. Further, non-coding RNA genes have been shown to play an important role in various diseases.
Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) belong to an attractive intellectual property landscape, as many biomarkers or therapeutic targets are yet to be discovered. For example, there is proof-of-concept evidence for cancer-specific non-coding RNAs that function as lineage survival oncogenes. Building on this observation, non-coding RNAs can turn out to be excellent therapeutic targets. By silencing such a target, cancer cells could be selectively killed. The knockdown agent could then be further developed as therapeutic compound. And this is exactly what we are doing at Biogazelle.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are the most extensively studied class of non-coding RNAs. Mature microRNAs are short, between 21 and 23 nucleotides, and function as negative posttranscriptional regulators of protein coding genes by initiating the degradation of target mRNA molecules or by inhibiting translation of the RNA. miRNAs are quite well preserved in body fluids, likely due to their short size. In circulation, they are also more abundant than DNA as they are bound to proteins or packed in extracellular vesicles making them protected.
It has been shown that their expression levels can predict disease and correlate to patient outcome, which makes them excellent minimally-invasive diagnostic and prognostic markers.
At Biogazelle, we do not only measure the canonical mature miRNAs, we also study the sequence variants, called isomiRs; sometimes, expression levels of these variants may be much higher than their canonical type, making them specifically interesting as biomarker.
A second class of interesting non-coding RNAs are the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Also those RNA molecules have crucial functions in health and disease, including cancer. Many of these lncRNAs are active in only very specific cell types or under very specific; as such, they offer great untapped potential for developing innovative diagnostics and therapeutic application.
Biogazelle has all tools in house to measure lncRNA expression levels in a variety of sample types (including liquid biopsies) and to study the function of the lncRNAs of interest.
A combination of more than a decade of expertise in the non-coding RNA field with custom developed tools makes Biogazelle a unique partner to support all your non-coding RNA projects.