MicroRNA database (miRBase)
University researchers have developed a database of a class of genes called microRNAs that has become an essential resource in academia and the pharmaceutical industry.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are non-protein-coding genes that regulate the expression of protein-coding mRNAs in animals and plants.
It is predicted that over half of all human genes are regulated by microRNAs, yet they were essentially undiscovered until 2001.
Commercial organisations have been quick to adopt microRNA research programmes to exploit their potential as regulators and biomarkers of disease.
The miRBase is now the central global repository for all published microRNA sequences and annotation. Its production, development, and availability therefore impacts research on a global scale.
The database was created by Dr Sam Griffiths-Jones at The University of Manchester. The primary use of data comes via the website, which consistently receives between 40,000 and 50,000 visits per month.
The data enables the production of experimental kits and resources that underpin experimental microRNA research across academic and industrial settings, benefiting product development, drug discovery, and clinical research.
miRBase's impact on the pharmaceutical industry has been considerable. It has led to new products and significant research gains.
MicroRNAs have been implicated in a wide range of disease processes and shown to act as biomarkers for cancer types and stages, disease prognosis, and drug performance.
Pharmaceutical companies have active research streams investigating the use of microRNAs as biomarkers. Drugs that target microRNAs are also showing clinical promise for conditions such as chronic heart failure and cardiometabolic disease.
"Everyone in the miRNA research community considers the miRNA content of miRBase to represent the golden standard miRNA repository."Dr Peter Mouritzen / Vice President for Research and Development, Exiqon