The finding can pave the way for an innovative non-invasive diagnostic tool.
According to recent studies, individual miRNAs as diagnostic biomarkers of specific cancers could not do away with the chances that these miRNAs appeared as a result of contamination.
Chen-Yu Zhang and colleagues are the first to comprehensively characterize entire blood miRNA profiles of healthy subjects and patients with lung cancer, colorectal cancer and diabetes, ruling out contamination.
They suggested that the specific serum miRNA expression profiles they identified make up for 'fingerprints' for cancer and disease.
While tumour markers do improve diagnosis to a large extent, current diagnostic techniques are prohibitively invasive and thus have limited clinical application.
The new approach is non-invasive and has the potential to transform the clinical management of various cancers and diseases through improving disease diagnosis, cancer classification, prognosis estimation, prediction of therapeutic efficacy, maintenance of surveillance following surgery, and the ability to forecast disease recurrence.
The technique will also be useful to pharmacological companies in identifying population subgroups who are responsive to drugs that have failed in phase III clinical trials.
The study is published online this week in Cell Research.