Diet-derived microRNAs: Unicorn or silver bullet?

Kenneth W. Witwer, Chen Yu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In ancient lore, a bullet cast from silver is the only effective weapon against monsters. The uptake of active diet-derived microRNAs (miRNAs) in consumers may be the silver bullet long sought after in nutrition and oral therapeutics. However, the majority of scientists consider the transfer and regulation of consumer’s gene activity by these diet-derived miRNAs to be a fantasy akin to spotting a unicorn. Nevertheless, groups like Dr. Chen-Yu Zhang’s lab in Nanjing University have stockpiled breathtaking amounts of data to shoot down these naysayers. Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Witwer at John Hopkins has steadfastly cautioned the field to beware of fallacies caused by contamination, technical artifacts, and confirmation bias. Here, Dr. Witwer and Dr. Zhang share their realities of dietary miRNAs by answering five questions related to this controversial field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 22 2017


  • Biotechnology
  • Cross-kingdom
  • Diet
  • Genetically engineered
  • Microbiome
  • Plan
  • miRNA
  • miRNA
  • sRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Genetics


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