Cancer Detection Using an Artificial Secretable MicroRNA Found in Blood and Urine

Pei Wei Shueng, Kuang Chung Shih, Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, Deng Yu Kuo*, Hui Yen Chuang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Biomarkers can potentially help in the detection and prognosis of diseases such as cancer, its recurrence, predicting response to therapy, and monitoring of response during and/or after treat-ment. Endogenous tumor blood biomarkers suffer from low concentrations that are not distinguish-able from background noise and, if identified, the localization of the biomarker production site is not known. The use of exogenously introduced or artificial biomarkers can eliminate these issues. In this study, we show that cancer cells can be made to produce an artificial secreted microRNA (Sec-miR) that can be detected in media from cells in culture, and from both blood and urine in living mice. In culture, we show that chaining a number of Sec-miR sequences in a plasmid and transfecting cells with the plasmids could increase Sec-miR secretion as the number of sequences increases. Tumor induction in mice with a stably transfected HeLa cell line shows the presence and significant increase in the Sec-miR with time and tumor growth in plasma (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.5542). The relative half-life of the Sec-miR was seen to be 1.2 h in the plasma of living mice and was seen to appear in urine within 12 h. The transgene for the Sec-miR within a minicircle was introduced via the tail-vein into subcutaneous tumor-bearing mice. As the tumor growth increased with time, further in vivo transfection of the Sec-miR minicircles showed an increase in Sec-miR in both plasma and urine (R2 = 0.4546). This study demonstrated that an exogenous Sec-miR biomarker would al-low for early tumor detection using in vitro diagnostics techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number621
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Early cancer detection
  • Liquid biopsy
  • MiRNA
  • Tumor-activatable


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