Dicer can be used to identify whether tumors are present within the body based on the expression level of the enzyme. A study showed that many patients that had cancer had decreased expression levels of Dicer. The same study showed that lower Dicer expression correlated with lower patient survival length. Along with being a diagnostic tool, Dicer can be used for treating patients by injecting foreign siRNA intravenously to cause gene silencing.
The siRNA was shown to be delivered in two ways in mammalian species such as mice. One way would be to directly inject into the system, which would not require Dicer function. Another way would be to introduce it by plasmids that encode for short hairpin RNA, which are cleaved by Dicer into siRNA.
One of the advantages of using Dicer to produce siRNA therapeutically would be the specificity and diversity of targets it can affect compared to what is currently being used such as antibodies or small molecular inhibitors. In general, small molecular inhibitors are difficult in terms of specificity along with unendurable side effects. Antibodies are as specific as siRNA, but it is limited by only being able to be used against ligands or surface receptors. On the other hand, low efficiency of intracellular uptake is the main obstacle of injection of siRNA. Injected SiRNA has poor stability in blood and causes stimulations of non-specific immunity. Also, producing miRNA therapeutically lacks in specificity because only 6-8 nucleotide base pairing is required for miRNA to attach to mRNA.