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Cepheid microRNA Research Program

The biological challenge

The major role of known microRNA is post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression during proliferation and differentiation in eukaryotic cells. The involvement of microRNAs in mechanisms responsible for switching genes on and off has been shown to modulate expression patterns of protein-coding genes and can therefore be used to monitor different cell states (e.g. growth, differentiation).

Today it is a major challenge to identify those microRNA and better understand their regulatory functions in normal and pathological cells. This is because in contrast to early identified ubiquitous and abundant ncRNA, such as the snRNA of the spliceosome, most of the newly identified microRNA for example have low, spatial and temporal expression patterns in accordance to their main function. On top of this, they are small in size and possess no evident conserved sequence or structure motif that would characterize them as microRNA. All this makes their in silico and experimental identification a difficult task.

Referring to this difficulty and the growing interest of life science industries in microRNA, we combined our expertise in ncRNA and bioinformatics, creating the first annotated database of the non-coding part of the human genome. Our R&D pipeline is focused on the systematic high-throughput identification and validation of microRNA sequences present in the human genome, the identification of their potential targets and their regulatory mechanism in pathological cells compared to normal ones. The microRNA identified in this way will become potential biomarkers for prognosis or diagnosis and/or a new class of therapeutic targets. Our activity is based on three major work principles:

  • In silico and experimental microRNA identification and target prediction
  • microRNA expression analysis in tissue samples
  • Validation of the microRNA target and function in cellular models

The bioinformatical challenge

Cepheid works on improving microRNA identification and analysis by combining different powerful bioinformatic approaches and regularly updates its proprietary database to detect all microRNA sequence and antisense target with its in-house developed methodology to establish the corresponding regulating antisense interaction network for microRNA.

Discovery and use of microRNA in drug discovery