While testicular cancer is relatively rare (about 8,500 cases in the US annually) it accounts for the most common solid tumor type in men aged 15 to 35. The vast majority (95%) are germ cell tumors, of which about half are called seminomas. These are usually slow growing and when discovered early are often treatable. The other half are called nonseminomas, are often more aggressive and can metastasize to other locations in the body.
The malignant nonseminomas are further classified into four main types (embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac tumor, choriocarcinoma and teratoma) and the existing protein-based serum markers alfafetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are only related to two of the four types (yolk sac tumor and choriocarcinoma).
Recently the embryonic stem cell microRNA clusters miR-371-2-3 and miR-302/367 have been associated with germ cell tumors.
The authors published prior work that used the TaqMan® miRNA ABC Purifiation Kit to quantitate serum miRNA. The senior author of this paper, Dr. Leendert Looijenga at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, conducted this video interview about the importance of this kit in the success of their work.
The entire TSmiR protocol is a quality-controlled pipeline, and when tested to five independent series of research samples achieved an overall sensitivity of 98%, outperforming the existing AFP/hCG markers. (The existing markers have a reported sensitivity 36% and 57% respectively.)
This group’s most recent work used the TaqMan® Array Card 3.0 platform to examine a panel of 750 miRs on both 14 seminoma and 10 non-seminoma samples in order to independently identify candidate biomarkers for these germ cell carcinomas research. Published recently, “Identification of known and novel germ cell cancer-specific (embryonic) miRs in serum by high-throughput profiling” (Rijlaarsdam and Looinjenga et al. Andrology 2014) confirmed miRs 371 and 372 to be elevated in serum from germ cell carcinoma research samples, and identified several novel miRs with discriminatory power between the samples and the controls.
If you are quantifying microRNAs in serum, the TaqMan® miRNA ABC Purification Kit is worth looking into.