Background and aim

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Annually, about 34,000 Norwegians are diagnosed with cancer and it is the leading cause of death in Norway.

Colon cancer is one of the most common cancer types in Norway and the number of yearly diagnosis has increased rapidly since the 1960s for both men and women. Symptoms of colon cancer often occurs at a late stage, when prognosis is uncertain or poor.

Similarly, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death for both men and women. Even though the number of smokers are declining, the yearly occurrences are still increasing. Due to lack of efficient strategies for screening or early diagnosis, the prognosis is generally poor.

Prostate and breast cancers are the most frequently occurring cancer types among men and women, respectively and accounts for 30% of all cancer cases.

Cancer survival depends on how early the disease is diagnosed and treatment can commence. For further key numbers from the Norwegian Cancer Registry:


Serum contain many types of RNA molecules such as protein-coding messenger RNAs (mRNAs), miRNAs, piRNAs, transfer RNAs (tRNAs) and other non-coding RNA molecules. Regulatory RNAs have been implicated in cancer and many other diseases and are thus promising biomarkers of cancer.

We have initiated and are leading several large projects studying RNA as cancer biomarkers and RNAs role in cancer development. We have a close collaboration with the Norwegian Sequencing Center (NSC) at Oslo University Hospital (OUS), bioinformatics core facilities at the University of Oslo and several . In addition, several international collaborators are involved in this project.

Our study uses pre-diagnostic samples from the large population-based Janus Serum Bank, the Cancer Registry detailed information on cancer diagnosis, and epidemiological data from national health surveys. This provides us with a unique dataset to investigate early biomarkers of cancer.

This project is financed by the Research Council of Norway, Norwegian Cancer Society and EU Horizon 2020.

Aim of research

The overall research aim is to discover RNAs as early detection biomarkers of cancer. The long-term goal is to exploit such biomarkers in cancer screening.