Detection of miRNAs and proteins helps in determing the association of oncogenic protein expression to those miRNAs involved in the regulation of the mRNA species responsible for protein production.

Ventana Medical Systems pathologist and founder Thomas Grogan said with the new technology, the company can now judge with a standard light microscope the link between miRNA and associated proteins in full cellular context.

"It will now reveal matters like message/protein dysfunction and heterogeneity," Grogan added.

"This then will add greatly to our understanding of the mechanisms of cancer biology and help direct new better informed targeted therapies."

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center radiology department assistant professor James Welsh said the center believes that the new technology could eventually work as a companion diagnostic tool for future miRNA pathway targeting drugs.

"In lung cancer, we’ve begun to identify pairs of miRNAs and proteins that we believe play a role in treatment resistance and metastasis; utilizing this new protocol will hopefully allow us to better understand the correlation between the two," Welsh added.