miRdetect GmbH

Testicular germ cell cancer

Testicular germ cell cancer affects mostly men between 25 and 45 years of age and is the most frequent malignancy in this age group. During and after treatment the patients are regularly and closely controlled for metastases and relapses for at least five years since in about 28% of patients the cancer recurs.

Progress in the struggle against Testicular Cancer

This follow-up surveillance is partly based on monitoring serum biomarkers, but only 50% of all patients have elevations of these markers. Therefore, additional costly and elaborate computer tomography and X-ray examinations are carried out which expose the young men to high radiation doses. This radiation increases the risk for the development  of  secondary malignancies  which  might  be  the  reason  for  the  lack  of compliance of some patients. Additionally, in ambiguous cases or where compliance of the patient is not ensured chemotherapy with its strong adverse effects is preventively given. For all of these reasons, there is a great need for a better tumour marker.

The Centre for Human Genetics of the University of Bremen has been working on the mechanisms of tumorigenesis. We have studied the serum levels of a particular miRNA, called miR-371, belonging to a group of miRNAs associated with testicular germ cell cancer, and found that these are elevated in patients suffering from this kind of cancer and decline after the surgical removal of the tumour.

Pilot study:

Dieckmann KP, Spiekermann M, Balks T, Flor I, Löning T, Bullerdiek J, Belge G.
MicroRNAs miR-371-3 in serum as diagnostic tools in the management of testicular germ cell tumours.
British Journal of Cancer. 2012 Nov 6;107(10):1754-60

The results of our study indicate that the miRNA miR-371 could be a suitable biomarker for follow-up surveillance with a sensitivity of at least 85% and a very high specificity. With the application of this new marker the excessive use of computer tomography could be limited and for some patients a chemotherapy treatment could be avoided.