The causes of damaging changes to DNA are many…As a result, scientists began to consider RNA. If DNA were a musical score, RNA would be the orchestral arrangement.
…[O]bservations from our study suggest that, at the RNA level, aged cells and tumoral cells are quite different. Indeed a cell may be old, but not cancerous or likely to be.
Regardless of one’s DNA, particular alternatively spliced RNA variants may help us distinguish “normal” aged cells from pre-cancerous and cancerous ones. That will lead to potential new therapeutic strategies, as well as to the ability to detect early signs of aging and to selectively target senescent cells, cells that irreversibly stopped dividing.
The benefit is that unique RNA splicing variants that distinguish normal aged cells from malignant ones provide targets that do not require to change a cell’s blueprint. Several RNA-based therapies are currently under clinical investigation for a range of diseases, including cancer and infections, and even the adaptation of the cutting-edge DNA-editing CRISPR/Cas9 system is in the works to target RNAs in mammalian cells.
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