Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No More Skin Biopsies????

Imagine going to your dermatologists office and instead of getting biopsied for your funny looking mole, the dermatologist places a little sticker on the mark.

He sends it off in the mail and later that week you are told that it is just a mole....phew......

That is the promise of a new technique called EGIR or epidermal genetic information retrieval. A new company called DermTech has just developed the technique. So what is the technique and how does it work?

The tape collects RNA from the skin sample. The sample then was amplified as cDNA and a microarray checked for the 117 gene analysis. This technique was studied and a 5 gene profile was adopted and accurately differentiated melanoma from benign skin changes. This technique is being evaluated at University of California San Francisco.

The Sherpa Says: In general only 3-10% of suspicious lesions are actually melanomas. The traditional method to detect includes a scalpel excision.....Tape......Scalpel... You decide. However, this is only a small study that determined proof of concept. There is a replication study underway and despite being great for the patient, the dermatologist can't exactly bill for RNA extraction. They do get paid very nicely for skin biopsies though. Not quite for prime time, but it does demonstrate how ubiquitous genetic soon will be in the office.

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