Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT), which affect mainly young individuals, can be divided into two main histological types: classic seminoma and nonseminomas, both derived from a common precursor cell, called carcinoma in situ (CIS).
The biology of a CIS cell
Others and we have hypothesized that CIS cells originate from arrested fetal germ cells, thus testicular cancer is a developmental disease of germ cell differentiation. Comparative micro-array studies have shown that CIS cells show a high degree of pluripotency and are indeed very similar to primordial germ cells and gonocytes. The arrest of germ cell differentiation is thus the key first event, which may be followed by malignant transformation and overt germ cell cancer later in life.
Ongoing projects in the department deals with biological aspects of CIS, as these are key factors in the understanding of the pathogenetic link of TGCTs to early gonadal development and the association of this cancer with other reproductive disorders.
Non-invasive detection of CIS
Currently, detection of CIS in a patient can only be done by invasive surgical testis biopsy. An ongoing project in the department deals with the development of a method for early non-invasive detection of CIS testis, involving detection of CIS cells in semen samples, using advanced immunocytological staining. This enables detection of CIS at an early, clinically asymptomatic stage, with consequently careful treatment involving fewer side effects. The method thereby has direct and positive implications for the andrological patients.