FlexmiR Select, a new assay designed by Luminex, will allow researchers to improve their analysis of microRNAs (miRNA) – single-stranded RNA molecules which regulate gene expression. FlexmiR Select allows researchers to create customized miRNA panels for more focused miRNA analysis. More than 200 microRNAs have been identified in humans, though the precise function of these regulatory, non-coding RNAs remains largely obscure. Some studies have linked miRNAs with cancer and heart disease. Patrick Balthrop, President and CEO, of Luminex believes the next step in microRNA research will be more concentrated analyses of small sets of miRNAs, "FlexmiR Select is the ideal tool for this [small set] research as it allows researchers to custom order panels consisting only of the miRNAs in which they are interested." Until now, miRNA expression studies have been conducted on a global scale resulting in “data overload”. Extensive expression studies have repeatedly shown that miRNA expression is specific to various experimental systems including tissues and cellular pathways. Application-specific subsets of miRNAs, which usually consist of fewer than 50 miRNAs, can be used to analyze larger numbers of samples to further investigate or validate potential miRNA markers. Dr. Winston Patrick Kuo, at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, has been using FlexmiR to generate data for craniofacial bone development studies. He reports that FlexmiR takes less time compared to other technologies currently in use. "The ability to custom design our own assays will accelerate our research by allowing us to focus on bone-specific miRNAs that are relevant to our study," said Kuo. Unlike conventional miRNA test methods, FlexmiR miRNA assays do not require enrichment or amplification; researchers find them to be simpler, faster and more reproducible than competing technologies. Luminex offers the only miRNA platform designed for both broad panel screens and smaller target validations. Rising research and development spending by biotechnology companies continues to drive the growth of the bioassay industry. Laboratories are increasingly looking for options to reduce the cost of this testing. Health care systems are looking to maximize the effectiveness of therapeutics using diagnostic assays.