New data, generated by Hongbing Shen and colleagues, at the Cancer Center of Nanjing Medical University, People’s Republic of China, has identified a genetic variation that seems to help predict survival in individuals with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
A systematic screen of the DNA carrying the information for generating regulatory RNA molecules known as a microRNAs identified a specific genetic variant that was associated with decreased survival in individuals with NSCLC. The specific genetic variation resulted in increased levels of expression of the functional miRNA molecule. This was not because more of the miRNA was made but because more of the precursor form of the functional molecule was processed to become functional. The functional miRNA molecule generated by the genetic variation also had different functional properties. The authors hope that further characterization of genetic variations that modify miRNA expression and/or function will uncover other indicators of survival and opportunities for developing new therapeutics.