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Scientists develop the first model for investigating the origins of testicular cancer in humans
Date:8/3/2010

s gestation. The women gave consent in accordance with national guidelines. None of the terminations were related to foetal abnormalities.

Testicular tissue cannot be studied in a test tube because it does not survive and develop normally. So the researchers grafted the tissue under the skin of a naturally occurring strain of mice that do not reject tissue grafts because their immune systems do not work normally.

"We found that the testicular graft grows and develops normally over a six-week period; in particular, the foetal germ cells develop normally," said Prof Sharpe. "This means that we have developed a viable system in which we can now test what factors might interfere with this normal germ cell development and push it down the cancer path. For example, we are investigating if exposure to common environmental chemicals, to which human foetuses are exposed in the womb, can cause any such changes in the foetal testis grafts by treating the mouse hosts with these chemicals, an aspect that simply cannot be studied otherwise."

The mouse model may also enable the researchers to study disorders of sexual development (DSDs) in humans, which occur because of abnormal testis development. "DSDs can result from genetic abnormalities involving the sex chromosomes or genes involved in the development of the testes and several of these disorders, such as Frasier or Denys-Drash syndrome [2], are also associated with a high risk of TGCC," said Prof Sharpe. "In the future, it should be possible to modify our mouse model so that we can introduce genes that either promote or disrupt normal testicular development and so provide a living model of these conditions. This, in turn, should help us to develop treatments or early interventions for these disorders."


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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
Source:Eurekalert

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