Circulating miRNAs as Novel Biomarkers for Cancer Detection

MicroRNAs constitute a recently discovered class of non-coding RNAs that play key roles in the regulation of gene expression. Since its first discovery in human in 2001, over 2,600 different human miRNAs have been identified by scientists. Many miRNAs have essential functions in living cells and abnormal amounts of miRNA in the human body can cause diseases such as cancer.

Recently, scientists discovered that miRNAs are not confined within human cells but can be actively released into the body’s circulatory system. These so-called circulating miRNAs have been detected in body fluids such as blood, tears, saliva, and urine. Clinical studies also show that blood miRNA profiles of cancer patients are markedly different from those of healthy people because cancer cells release abnormal amounts of certain miRNAs into the bloodstream. Therefore, a person’s blood miRNA profile can reveal if he or she has cancerous cells in the body.

Based on this principle, Ark is leveraging a best-in-class miRNA quantification technology to develop non-invasive blood tests for early detection of various cancers. Our cancer detection products utilise circulating miRNAs as novel biomarkers for cancer detection. miRNAs can be more sensitive for early cancer detection than conventional protein biomarkers and other newer liquid biopsy biomarkers such as circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) and circulating tumour cells (CTCs).

Detecting miRNAs with Our Core Technology

miRNAs are hard to detect because of their small size and unique biological characteristics. Ark’s cancer detection products are built on an ultra-sensitive quantitative PCR (qPCR) technology which we have optimized to detect miRNA biomarkers with class-leading specificity.

miRNA detection assays based on qPCR are more sensitive than those built around other miRNA detection technologies like microarrays and sequencing. Our proprietary qPCR technology has been validated in research labs and clinical studies around the world.

Leveraging Big Data for Biomarker Discovery

Ark’s miRNA cancer biomarker panels are based on large-scale clinical investigations involving more than 40,000 cancer patients and healthy individuals to date. These studies were carried out in collaboration with leading oncology experts from top cancer institutes around the world.

We discovered the strongest and most robust miRNA biomarkers for blood-based detection of cancer by applying machine learning to this vast database of clinical miRNA measurements and patient information.

Backed by Stringent Quality Control and Production Standards

Ark’s liquid biopsy tests for cancer detection are backed by stringent pre-analytical quality control to ensure the best sample quality for accurate test results. Ark has also optimized research and clinical workflows to ensure that our cancer detection tests are simple and practical, yet uncompromising in quality. Our products are manufactured under ISO 13485:2016 quality standards and have been CE marked for in-vitro diagnostics (IVD).

Our Published Research

Peer-Reviewed Scientific Articles

  • Neo SH, Chung KY, Quek JM, Too HP. Trehalose significantly enhances the recovery of serum and serum exosomal miRNA from a paper-based matrix. Scientific Reports 2017 Nov 30;7(1):16686.
  • Saw WY, Tantoso E, Begum H, Zhou L, Zou R, He C, Chan SL, Tan LW, Wong LP, Xu W, Moong DKN, Lim Y, Li B, Pillai NE, Peterson TA, Bielawny T, Meikle PJ, Mundra PA, Lim WY, Luo M, Chia KS, Ong RT, Brunham LR, Khor CC, Too HP, Soong R, Wenk MR, Little P, Teo YY. Establishing multiple omics baselines for three Southeast Asian populations in the Singapore Integrative Omics Study. Nature Communications 2017 Sep 21;8(1):653.
  • Cheng H, Zhou L, Li B, Zhu M, Too HP, Choi WK. Nano-topology guided neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells is mediated by miRNAs. Nanomedicine 2014 Nov;10(8):1871-5. 
  • Low SY, Ho YK, Too HP, Yap CT, Ng WH. MicroRNA as potential modulators in chemoresistant high-grade gliomas. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 2014 Mar;21(3):395-400.
  • Ho YK, Xu WT, Too HP. Direct quantification of mRNA and miRNA from cell lysates using reverse transcription real time PCR: a multidimensional analysis of the performance of reagents and workflows. PLoS One 2013 Sep 5;8(9):e72463.
  • Wan G, Lim QE, Too HP. High-performance quantification of mature microRNAs by real-time RT-PCR using deoxyuridine-incorporated oligonucleotides and hemi-nested primers. RNA 2010 Jul;16(7):1436-45. 
  • Yoong LF, Wan G, Too HP. Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor and neurturin regulate the expressions of distinct miRNA precursors through the activation of GFRalpha2. Journal of Neurochemistry 2006 Aug;98(4):1149-58.

Scientific Conference Abstracts

  • Wong LL, Lim JY, Zhou L, Zou R, Chan MMY, Lam CSP, Too HP, Richards AM. Circulating microRNAs as diagnostic and prognostic markers for heart failure. Circulation 2018 130:A15048
  • So J, Zou R, Zhou L, Too HP, Zhu F, Teo YY, Yap CT, Rha SY, Kono K, Yoong J, Yeoh KG, Yong WP. A serum microRNA biomarker panel for detection of gastric cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2015 33:15_suppl, 4060-4060
  • Zhou L, So JB, Zou R, Feng Z, Yong WP, Teo YY, Chia KS, Yap CT, Kono K, Too HP, Yeoh KG. Identification and validation of serum microRNA biomarker for early detection of gastric cancer. Gastroenterology 2014 Volume 146 ,Issue 5 ,S-31