MicroRNAs—the minute noncoding negative regulators of gene expression—could be intimately involved in the development of cancer, according to a trio of papers published in the June 9 Nature.

Todd Golub at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard and coauthors report that they could accurately classify human cancers with an novel assay that they say could become a powerful diagnostic tool. In a second paper, the groups of Gregory Hannon at Cold Spring Harbor and Scott Hammond at the University of North Carolina describe elevated levels of miRNAs in human lymphoma samples and cell lines. Experimental overexpression of those miRNAs caused cancer in a mouse model.

The highly conserved miRNAs and their link to cancer has been in people's minds for many years, Paul Meltzer at the National Human Genome Research Institute told The Scientist. "Previous works...

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