According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer cases are expected to increase globally by 57% over the coming two decades. A critical factor in the management of cancer is early detection using highly sensitive diagnostic techniques. RNAs play a vital role in cancer pathogenesis. The detection of aberrant and/or abnormally expressed RNA has been reported in several cancers. Nanoparticle-based assays have been shown to have enhanced specificity and sensitivity as compared with conventional methods. In addition, nanoparticles have enabled the development of new diagnostic strategies. This review covers nanoparticle-based techniques used for the detection of mRNA and micro-RNA associated to different cancers.

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Conflict of interest: Hassan Azzazy is an author of patent applications describing the use of nanoparticles for detection of disease biomarkers. He is the co-founder and chief scientist of D-Kimia, an L.L.C., which develops nanodiagnostic assays.