miRNA Biomarker for Detecting Increased Risk of Brain Metastasis in NSCLC Patients


Through a collaboration of TGen, Honor Health, and Arizona State University, a method for classifying a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patient as having an increased risk of brain metastasis by detecting a microRNA (miRNA) biomarker in a sample was developed.  Through the ability to stratify NSCLC patients with a high risk for brain metastasis, clinicians can better select and implement a prophylactic treatment for these patients while saving patients at a low risk of brain metastasis from unnecessary treatment side effects.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and about 80% of patients with lung malignancy have NSCLCs, such as adenocarcinomas, large cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas of the lung.  Brain metastasis can effect up to 35% of these patients during their lifetime.  In small cell lung cancer patients, prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) is offered to patients with early stage disease that are stable as a mitigation treatment for brain metastasis, but PCI treatment comes with side effects such as hair loss, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and weight loss.  Using available methods, characterization of NSCLC patients with a high risk of developing brain metastasis has been challenging and thus stratifying patients for such targeted mitigation treatments has not been effective.


The method of using miRNA as a biomarker to classify the brain metastasis risk in NSCLC patients was developed through comprehensive miRNA expression profiling, validation of the miRNA targets with quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), and correlation of the validated miRNA targets with imaging features such as positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) and CT scan through statistical analysis.  The ability to collect a serum or biopsy sample for use in the method to detect miRNA expression allows the method to be readily implemented by clinicians.


Link to US Issued Patent 8,911,940

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Katie Bray
Intellectual Property Counsel
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
Glen Weiss
Seungchan Kim
Sara Nasser