Because of the complexity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), brain tumors, especially the most common and aggressive primary malignant tumor type arising from the central nervous system (CNS), glioblastoma, remain an essential challenge regarding diagnostic and treatment. There are no approved circulating diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers, nor novel therapies like immune checkpoint inhibitors for glioblastoma, and chemotherapy brings only minimal survival benefits. The development of molecular biology led to the discovery of new potential diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets, offering the premise to detect patients at earlier stages and overcome the current poor prognosis.
One potential diagnostic and therapeutic breakthrough might come from microRNAs (miRNAs). It is well-known that miRNAs play a role in the initiation and development of various types of cancer, including glioblastoma. The review aims to answer the following questions concerning the role of RNA theranostics for brain tumors: (1) which miRNAs are the best candidates to become early diagnostic and prognostic circulating biomarkers?; (2) how to deliver the therapeutic agents in the CNS to overcome the BBB?; (3) which are the best methods to restore/inhibit miRNAs?
Because of the proven roles played by miRNAs in gliomagenesis and of their capacity to pass from the CNS tissue into the blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), we propose miRNAs as ideal diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. Moreover, recent advances in direct miRNA restoration (miRNA mimics) and miRNA inhibition therapy (antisense oligonucleotides, antagomirs, locked nucleic acid anti-miRNA, small molecule miRNA inhibitors) make miRNAs perfect candidates for entering clinical trials for glioblastoma treatment.