The study, which is published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, also found that elevated blood levels of the genetic material after surgery may indicate a higher possibility of recurrence after thyroidectomy.
MicroRNAs are copies of very short segments of genetic material that modulate gene expression. Researchers have found that dysregulation of microRNAs may play a role in the development of cancer, and microRNA profiles or "signatures" may be used to classify different types of thyroid tumors.
By studying tumor tissue from patients with papillary thyroid cancer, the most common endocrine malignancy, PhD candidate James Lee*, MBBS, FRACS, of the Kolling Institute of Medical Research and University of Sydney in Australia, under supervision from Professor Stan Sidhu, and his colleagues found that high levels of two specific microRNAs (microRNA-222 and -146b) within tumors indicated that cancer was more likely to recur after patients' tumors were surgically removed.
"This kind of test may help doctors select which patients may need more aggressive additional treatment after surgery, or be monitored more closely after initial treatment," said Lee. "As most patients with papillary type thyroid cancer do very well with standard treatment, we are always working on ways to help us select the small group that do not fair so well so we can use our medical resources more efficiently and minimize interruptions to patients' lives."
Also, the same two microRNAs were present at high levels in the blood of thyroid cancer patients compared with healthy individuals, but after thyroid surgery, the blood levels in the patients fell to normal levels. "This suggests that we may be able to track the presence of papillary thyroid cancer by a microRNA blood test," said Lee.
Dr. Lee added that the current blood test for the detection of recurrent papillary thyroid cancer is not accurate in up to a quarter of patients either because of interference from the patients' antibodies or other cancer-related factors. "Therefore, an alternative blood test measuring microRNA levels would be a great complement to what is already available," he said. Blood levels of the microRNAs may not be a good initial diagnostic tool for papillary thyroid cancer, though, because study participants with multinodular goiter, which is a common non-cancer thyroid condition, also had elevated levels in their blood. Also, the specific threshold miRNA level at which additional treatment would be warranted remains to be clarified.
Follow-up studies are needed to see if blood levels of microRNA-222 and microRNA-146b actually do increase when cancer recurs. Also, the accuracy of both tests—performed on tumors and on blood samples—needs to be improved before the tests can become clinically useful.
*Dr. Lee is currently at the Alfred Hospital, Monash Partners Academic Health Science Center.
Amy Molnar | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences