2020 Volume 69 Issue 4 Pages 88-96
Early detection of cancer is crucial for its ultimate control and the prevention of malignant progression. In Japan, a nationwide project was conducted between 2014 and 2019 to develop novel cancer detection tools using serum microRNAs (miRNAs). Using the National Cancer Center Biobank, we collected more than 10,000 serum samples from patients with malignant diseases, including rare cancers such as ovarian cancer, gliomas, and sarcomas. Subsequently, comprehensive miRNA microarray analyses were performed for all samples. This serum miRNA database provides insights regarding miRNA biomarker candidates for each cancer type. Here, we summarize the major achievements of this national project. Notably, although circulating miRNAs packaged in extracellular vesicles are thought to be a cell-to-cell communication tool, the functional characteristics of the miRNAs listed in the project are still unknown. We hope that our findings will help elucidate the biological functions of circulating miRNAs.