The NIH Common Fundinitiated Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium (ERCC) has a mandate to study RNA circulating in the body outside of cells. It turns out that extracellular RNAs (exRNA) are often functional, and can be used as biomarkers to diagnose diseases and track their progression. The ERCC has characterized the RNA profile of a range of biofluids. Saliva is unique in having a large fraction of exogenous exRNA, coming not from remote organs and tissues, but from the oral microbiome.
Many researchers and clinicians are still unaware that RNA communication between cells occurs and can be leveraged into a diagnostic tool. This symposium, to be held at IADR2018, the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research, will provide an overview of extracellular RNA and the ERC consortium, highlighting the data and analysis software available in the exRNA Atlas.
There follows a use case showing how salivary exRNA can provide information about systemic disease. Extracellular RNA collected from the saliva of patients with head trauma had higher levels of Alzheimer’s-related message compared to controls, providing a potential biomarker for brain injury.
The final talk highlights new discoveries about oral exRNA biology and explaining how to tailor the analysis of RNA sequencing data from saliva to account for its high fraction of exogenous RNA.
The symposium will end with an open-ended discussion between interested clinicians and basic scientists to strategize about how to integrate “big data” on both RNA and proteins to improve research and practice.