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Non-coding RNAs in GI cancers: from cancer hallmarks to clinical utility


One of the most unexpected discoveries in molecular oncology, in the last decades, was the identification of a new layer of protein coding gene regulation by transcripts that do not codify for proteins, the non-coding RNAs. These represent a heterogeneous category of transcripts that interact with many types of genetic elements, including regulatory DNAs, coding and other non-coding transcripts and directly to proteins. The final outcome, in the malignant context, is the regulation of any of the cancer hallmarks. Non-coding RNAs represent the most abundant type of hormones that contribute significantly to cell-to cell communication, revealing a complex interplay between tumour cells, tumour microenvironment cells and immune cells. Consequently, profiling their abundance in bodily fluids became a mainstream of biomarker identification. Therapeutic targeting of non-coding RNAs represents a new option for clinicians that is currently under development. This review will present the biology and translational value of three of the most studied categories on non-coding RNAs, the microRNAs, the long non-coding RNAs and the circular RNAs. We will also focus on some aspirational concepts that can help in the development of clinical applications related to non-coding RNAs, including using pyknons to discover new non-coding RNAs, targeting human-specific transcripts which are expressed specifically in the tumour cell and using non-coding RNAs to increase the efficiency of immunotherapy.

  • cancer genetics
  • gastric cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • hepatocellular carcinoma

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