This latest review on MicroRNAs points out how they may serve as early detectors of disease; this in turn suggests that when used as biomarkers, MicroNRAs may help eradicate many forms of cancer via early (and non-invasive) detection, and not just in smokers. It's a good thing that we have tobacco scientists. While everyone else seems to be pushing evermore towards the failed ideas of prohibition and scientific McCarthyism, there appear to be some brilliant minds that have chosen to push ahead into the future instead:
A research review by scientists at British American Tobacco suggests that the regulatory functions and inherent stability of microRNAs make them suitable biomarker candidates for early detection of the molecular and genetic changes associated with smoking-related diseases (Biomarkers Med. (2012) 6(5), 671–684).
‘MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNA molecules that play key roles in regulating gene expression,’ according to a BAT press note issued yesterday. ‘They are involved in a wide range of biological processes such as cell cycle control, apoptosis and several developmental and physiological processes.
This in particular caught my attention:
‘Research shows that cigarette smoke impairs the regulatory function of a variety of miRNAs in all stages of lung cancer formation, but that resulting changes in miRNA expression only become irreversible after exposure to high doses of smoke for some time.’
I take this to mean that if caught early enough, the onset of lung cancer can be REVERSED!
I even harbor the radical notion that someday (hopefully sooner, rather than later) we smokers will have the option of choosing between several reduced risk (with risk reductions upwards of 70-90%) cigarettes. Early detection, coupled with the proliferation and marketing of reduced risk products may well serve to save millions of lives in the near future.
Of course, there will be the usual detractors who have been shouting from the mountain tops for the last 40+ years about how total abstinence provides the only one way ticket to health. Those same people also predicted a smoke-free world by the year 2000.
It's time to start behaving like we're in the 21st century, one that is rooted in real solutions for a real world devoid of unicorns and fairies. There will be no room for plain packaging in such a scenario, for we smokers will need to become more informed (rather than less) if we are to make better choices for our health.
BAT identifies promising biomarkers of smoking-related disease and prognosis : Tobacco Reporter