CB 399: Non-coding RNAs and cancer

CB 399: Non-coding RNAs and cancer

This course will discuss the field of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), with particular focus on their roles in the hallmarks of cancer. It will also discuss their potential use as diagnostic and prognostic markers of cancer, and the future of miRNA-based therapies in cancer.

This course will begin with an overview of the historical milestones that led to the discovery of non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs and circular RNAs. We will then explore the biogenesis, functions of, and interactions between non-coding RNAs and how these interactions may lead to cancer. Further, we will discuss miRNAs and RNA-based therapy for clinical applications generally, and specifically the role of miRNA and cancer, including the challenge of drug delivery methods for RNA-based therapy, an overview of clinical trials and clinical implication of miRNAs for cancer and diseases, and the use of miRNA mimics and antimiR for personlized medicine. 


Class Assignments: Over the course of the second in-class session, students will prepare a mini grant proposal as a PowerPoint presentation, with Aims, Preliminary data, and Research Design. The exercise will illustrate the use of ncRNAs in scientific research and demonstrate a typical bioinformatic workflow. Students should come to class with their favorite gene or favorite ncRNA and in a few hours come up with a short proposal about how they would integrate ncRNAs into their area.

1) Students will use available online algorithms to predict gene targets of their favorite ncRNAs; or predict ncRNAs that target their favorite gene. Students could also chose to look for expression correlations between ncRNAs and their favorite gene or vice versa.
2) Workflow of ncRNAs studies: from RNA sequencing to target prediction and validation in biological systems (cell lines, organoids, mice)


Session Dates and Time
First Session: March 23; 1:00 - 4:00pm
First Session Location: TMEC 227
Second Session: March 26; 3:00 - 6:00pm
Second Session Location: TMEC 106 Learning Lab

Course Director: Frank Slack
Course Instructors: Frank Slack; Eleni Anastasiadou and Maud-Emmanuelle Gilles
Curriculum Fellow: Ryan Lee, ryan_lee@hms.harvard.edu
Auditors (Post-Docs, Faculty, or Staff) DO NOT NEED to sign up to attend the 1st session,
but please email ryan_lee@hms.harvard.edu if you are interested in auditing.