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Dutch researchers identify microRNA molecular markers linked with testicular cancer

Applied Biosystems : 19 October, 2007  (New Product)
Researchers at the Erasmus MC-University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Applied Biosystems have identified and analysed a set of specific microRNA molecular markers that are involved in the development of testicular tumours.
The study provides new information about the cellular events that cause testicular cancer. The findings potentially lead to earlier identification of the disease and new approaches for treating the cancer.

Although testicular cancer is relatively rare in the general population, it is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 44 years old. The study has discovered that normal and cancerous cells contain distinctly different amounts of molecules called microRNAs. The findings also showed that a tumour’s microRNA expression pattern provides vital information about the malignancy of the tumour. The finding could help clinicians to identify testicular cancer patients more quickly and more accurately.

The researchers , who included Prof Leendert Looijenga, group leader within the department of pathology at the Erasmus Medical Center, which is affiliated with the Josephine Nefkens Institute in Rotterdam, and Simone Gunther, PhD and Jon Sherlock, PhD from Applied Biosystems, profiled the expression patterns of 157 microRNA molecules in a series of different testicular tumours and normal testicular tissue samples.

To conduct this research, the scientific team deployed a high-throughput, quantitative PCR-based approach to compare the microRNA expression profiles of multiple cell tumor samples in parallel. The real-time PCR workflow comprised an Applied Biosystems 7900HT Real-Time PCR System, running a variety of chemistries that included Applied Biosystems TaqMan MicroRNA Assays configured in a panel format, and Applied Biosystems TaqMan Array Human MicroRNA Panel.

The use of this real-time PCR workflow enabled the researchers to accurately determine the relative levels of mature microRNAs across a large number of different tumour samples, including those microRNAs present at levels too low to detect and quantify using other methods.

The large dynamic range of the TaqMan Assays allowed researchers to measure, in parallel, a broad range of target microRNA levels. The RT-qPCR data were analysed using Real-Time StatMiner, a data analysis software tool designed by Integromics, Spain in collaboration with Applied Biosystems.

“These findings have provided us with a new level of information for understanding the biology of cancer and these will also be applicable to breast, lung, colon and other cancers,” said Prof Leendert Looijenga, group leader within the Department of Pathology at the Erasmus Medical Center. “The contribution from Applied Biosystems in this study was particularly important in helping us to interpret our findings in the relevant biological context, and the accuracy and sensitivity of the TaqMan chemistries gave us great confidence in our results.”

The study is to be published in the November 2007 issue of The Journal of Pathology (Vol. 213 issue 3).
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