As scientists continue to unravel the complexity of the human genome and to uncover vital elements that play a role in both normal physiology and disease, one particular class of elements called noncoding RNAs is gaining a lot of attention. Guest Editor Tom Cech, PhD and Executive Editor Fintan Steele, PhD explore the enormous potential value of this rapidly advancing research area in their Editorial " The (Noncoding) RNA World." (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/nat.2013.1501) The authors introduce a special research section on noncoding RNAs published in the current issue of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers (http://www.liebertpub.com). The Editorial is available free on the Nucleic Acid Therapeutics website (http://www.liebertpub.com/nat).
Dr. Cech, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and the Director of The BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, notes in the Editorial that the special section on noncoding RNAs illustrates the exciting progress being made, particularly related to the potential for research advances to lead to the development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic interventions.
Yolanda Sánchez and Maite Huarte, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, provide an overview of the role of long noncoding RNAs in various diseases. In "Long Non-Coding RNAs: Challenges for Diagnosis and Therapies," (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/nat.2012.0414) the authors also discuss the potential for targeting these RNAs for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Maitri Shah and George Calin, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, explore the emerging concept that noncoding microRNAs in the circulation might function as hormones. What role these microRNAs might play in disease is also examined in "The Mix of Two Worlds: Non-Coding RNAs and Hormones." (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/nat.2012.0375) Marc Weinberg and Kevin Morris, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, describe current understanding of the regulatory function of long noncoding RNAs and how it might be used to create an entirely new area of pharmacology in "Long Non-Coding RNA Targeting and Transcriptional De-Repression." (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/nat.2012.0412)
"The astoundingly diverse roles of noncoding RNAs across many areas of biology and disease are among the most exciting areas of current research," says Executive Editor Fintan Steele, PhD, SomaLogic, Inc., Boulder, CO. "It is increasingly clear that as our knowledge of these molecules improves, so will potential therapeutic applications that take advantage of their unique biological properties."