Unlocking the
Mysteries of
Extracellular RNA

Once thought to exist only inside cells, RNA is
known to travel outside of cells and play a role in newly
discovered mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication.

The Extracellular RNA Communication (ERC) Consortium Data Management and Resource Repository (DMRR) has released the latest version of the exRNA Atlas (BETA). This release contains preliminary data generated by the consortium and analyzed using the exceRpt small RNA-seq pipeline.

Key features of this release include:

  • Searches
    • Faceted search of exRNA profiles across biofluids, diseases or exRNA isolation method.
    • Drill-down subsetting of analyzed biosamples using interactive sunburst and linear tree diagrams.
    • Biosample partition grids with tabular views of biosamples collected and profiled for exRNAs from a biofluid/disease/experiment combination.

  • Summaries
    • Grid view of all studies submitted to the Data Coordination Center (DCC).
    • Barchart summaries of exRNA profiling datasets.
    • Tool usage summary grid displaying usage of exRNA profiling data analysis tools by ERC consortium members as well as other members of the scientific community.

Currently, the search and summary views in the Atlas can be accessed only by ERC Consortium members. If you are unable to login, please contact the Data Coordination Center for assistance.

A public version of the exRNA Atlas will be released next month.


Watch a video tutorial highlighting all features in the current release of the exRNA Atlas.

The National Institutes of Health Common Fund announces the FY 2016 funding opportunity for the NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards (EIA). The EIA initiative allows exceptional junior scientists to accelerate their transition to an independent research career by skipping the traditional postdoctoral training. To be eligible, candidates at time of application must be within one year (before or after) of completion of their terminal degree or clinical residency. In addition, at time of application, candidates must not be in an independent position (as defined in the FOA). Each institution (designated by a unique DUNS identifier) may submit up to two applications in response to this FOA. Letters of intent are due Dec. 29, 2015. Applications are due January 29, 2016. See the instructions in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (RFA-RM-15-006).

To facilitate the matching of prospective candidates with potential host institutions, the NIH Common Fund has created a matching portal website where institutions may indicate their interest in hosting EIA awardees and provide pertinent information. Prospective candidates will be able to use this portal to identify potential host institutions. Institutions are invited to provide information as soon as they are able. The portal will be updated on a continuing basis. Note that while registration by institutions is encouraged, it is not required and candidates may identify host institutions through other means.

Responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the Early Independence Awards initiative are available at http://commonfund.nih.gov/earlyindependence/faq.

Salivary biomarkers such as extracellular RNA (exRNA) and other omics constituents can detect the onset and presence of cancers and diseases. However, saliva collection and biomarker stability, processing and storage at ambient temperature remain as key challenges. Oasis Diagnostics and UCLA collaborated to create a technology, RNAPro•SAL, to address this unmet need.

RNA-Pro-Sal figure

RNAPro•SAL condenses and streamlines the multistep saliva collection and processing procedure into a single integrated step. This new technology releases whole saliva from a collection pad by compressing and filtering unwanted cellular debris through the bifurcated filter unit. It delivers processed saliva supernatant into the collection tubes within minutes. Its simple operation can be used in the hands of anyone and eliminates specialized equipment and personnel. RNAPro•SAL allows collection from remote locations at ambient temperature. Most existing saliva collectors target a single analyte, whereas RNAPro•SAL stores both stabilized exRNA and protein samples during transport to laboratory for downstream analysis. Results show that the RNAPro•SAL technology yields samples that are suitable for direct transcriptomic and proteomic analysis and stable up to 14 days at ambient temperature. The RNAPro•SAL system extends salivary diagnostics to areas lacking laboratory facilities and provides point-of-care utility (Chiang et al. 2015).