MicroRNAs — small, non-coding RNA molecules ranging from 18 to 25 nucleotides — have recently demonstrated potential as markers for diagnostic or prognostic applications due to their resilience to degradation, comprehensive annotation of more than 2,000 transcripts, and a deeper understanding of how miRNAs play a role in human disease. However, application of miRNA biomarkers has been limited by the difficulty of extracting quality product from clinically relevant sample types, the biases associated with preparing small, non-coding RNAs for next generation sequencing, and the data complexity caused by the sequencing of random fragments.
In this online seminar, panelists will discuss two projects that are seeking to optimize miRNA profiling for eventual clinical applications.
Scott Tebbutt, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, will share his team's work developing tissue- and blood-based miRNA signatures of acute heart failure. Currently, there are no well-defined response biomarkers that can be used to monitor treatment or evaluate recovery in patients with severe inotrope-dependent acute heart failure. Dr. Tebbutt will present details from a study that is characterizing miRNAs as tissue and circulating biomarkers of heart failure in these patients over the first 30 days of medical management or mechanical circulatory support. Scott Tebbutt is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He is also chief scientific officer of the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre of Excellence — a not-for-profit organization dedicated to moving research findings into health care, and focused on non-invasive biomarkers that can diagnose and/or predict organ failure (heart, lung and kidney). His responsibilities include the evaluation of new, high-performance technologies to improve biomarker discovery, as well as computational biology approaches to better deal with cell type heterogeneity, and to allow integration of different omics data sets. Dr. Tebbutt holds a BA in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of East Anglia (Cambridge Laboratory, John Innes Centre).
Don Baldwin, co-founder and chief scientific officer of MSK/dx, will discuss a project that is exploring miRNA profiling to identify biomarkers associated with bone fractures, with the goal of developing tests to help reduce the comorbidities and costs of treating complicated fracture cases. Dr. Baldwin will introduce a Latin square set of synthetic miRNAs developed by the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities that was used to demonstrate quantitative responses and specificity of the HTG EdgeSeq platform. The MSK/dx team then performed molecular profiling with the HTG EdgeSeq system to study circulating miRNAs in whole blood and serum from orthopedic trauma patients.