Researchers to investigate skin test for prostate cancer

September 7, 2005

Researchers at the Moores University of San Diego Cancer Center said they will begin research on a skin test to detect prostate cancer.

Researchers at the Moores University of San Diego Cancer Center said they will begin research on a skin test to detect prostate cancer.

The research will use technology known as Epidermal Genetic Information Retrieval (EGIR), a noninvasive technique for collecting a sample of surface skin cells with an adhesive film that allows the recovery and analysis of RNA for genetic profiling of the site in question. EGIR has been shown to detect specific changes in gene expression in the skin for certain dermatologic conditions and can discriminate between allergic and irritant skin reactions at the molecular level.

Recent research in the laboratory of principal investigator William Wachsman, MD, PhD, showed that prostate cancer cells influence other types of noncancerous cells within the prostate. This finding led him to hypothesize that these cancer cells might influence other tissues outside of the prostate.

"Prostate cancer cells produce many factors that can affect the properties of other organs and tissues, including the skin," Dr. Wachsman said. "We are asking whether prostate cancer causes a change in the skin that is not noticeable by simple visual inspection but that can be detected at a molecular level by using this highly sensitive technology."

The study will compare the gene expression profiles of skin from men with and without the disease to create a set of representative biomarkers that can be used as a tool to screen for prostate cancer. EGIR may also aid in determining prognoses by allowing researchers to identify a pattern of biomarkers that predict the clinical behavior of prostate cancer, researchers say.