Access to the Janus miRNA dataset

The Cancer Registry of Norway is working on a project on producing and organizing miRNA data from serum samples, and plans to provide access to the miRNA datasets to external researchers, nationally and internationally.

MicroRNA (miRNA) are small RNAs about 22 nucleotides in length, involved in regulating protein production in the cells. The levels of miRNAs are different in cancer compared to normal cells.

miRNA is present in bodily fluids in a very stable form. miRNAs levels in the blood is likely to reflect an on-going cancer development, thus they may be used as blood biomarkers being an early indicator of cancer.

The goal of the Janus miRNA project is to produce and organize miRNA data from a comprehensive number of prediagnostic serum samples from the Janus Serum Bank, and to further explore miRNA as an early indicator for cancer.

The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway (Norges Forskningsråd), within the program Human biobanks and health data (BIOBANK).

The Janus Serum Bank collection

The Janus Serum Bank consists of blood serum from more than 318.000 persons. In addition to donating a blood sample, the donors filled in a questionnaire on lifestyle related risk factors.

The samples in Janus mainly originates from large health surveys in the Norwegian population in the 70ies, 80ies and 90ies. Some of the samples are collected from Red Cross Blood donors in Oslo and the surrounding areas.

All the samples were collected from individuals that were presumably healthy.
In total, about 74.000 of those registered in the Janus Cohort have developed cancer at some stage in their life.

More information on Janus serum bank here.

What is micro RNA (miRNA)?

• miRNA is a family of non coding RNAs – about 22 nuceotide in length
• One miRNA can regulate many mRNA by translational repression or destabilization the mRNA

• About 2000 human miRNAs are known 
• miRNAs are shown to have a central role in cancer progression
• Both up and down regulation of miRNAs are observed in cancer cells (Calin et al, Nat Rev Cancer, 2006)
• Most of the cancer related miRNA studies have used tissue samples from tumors
• Less is known about circulating miRNAs pre cancer diagnosis.

Quality of the material

To secure a high quality of the miRNA data, produced from the Janus samples, we have characterized the quality and quantity in samples with different length of storage and different handling before freezing.

These are some of the facts about the quality of our samples:
• The long term storage of serum at -25 o C for as much as 42 years does not significantly affect quantity or quality of the samples.
• The RNA quality of the samples is good enough to perform small RNA sequencing
• Differences in handling before freezing does not significantly affect the sample quality.
• On average, we are able to identify 641 different miRNAs per sample.
• Read more here:  microRNA Biomarker Discovery (Rounge et al)

How to get access to the data

The Cancer Registry of Norway plans to provide access to the miRNA datasets to external researchers, nationally and internationally.

Before the dataset can be handed out, REC (Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics) must approve the project.

Administrative costs in connection with getting access to data is likely to occur, and the costs depends on the complexity of the data extraction and the amount of time spent on coordination and linkage to other data sources in the different projects.

For more information on how to get access to the datasets, contact:
Hilde Langseth
Trine B. Rounge

What is included in the datasets?

The dataset consists of sequences from 560 persons with colon cancer, 450 persons with lung cancer and 460 healthy control persons who have not developed cancer.

What projects already exists?

• Biomarkers of Cancer: Biocomputional analysis of data from population-based biobanks and health registries, led by Hilde Langseth and Trine Rounge