Douglas Grossman, MD, PhD

Nick Valvano Translational Research Grant*

Basal (BCC) and squamous cell (SCC) carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer. If diagnosis is delayed, the tumors may require surgery that is more extensive. These tumors may be superficial, which are slow-growing, confined to the outer skin layers, and can usually be treated without surgery. Alternatively, they may be invasive, penetrating the deeper skin layers to destroy these tissues, often requiring surgery that can be costly and painful. While these skin cancers often may be diagnosed with the naked eye, it is difficult to tell whether they are superficial or invasive. Thus, there is a clear need for a new diagnostic approach that can inform patients and their physicians whether a particular lesion should be biopsied, and whether evaluation is urgent if the lesion is likely to be invasive. Currently there is no non-invasive (without biopsy) to accomplish this. Here, we propose to develop a new test based on micro-RNAs (miRNAs) that can be recovered simply on adhesive tape from suspicious skin lesions. We believe these miRNAs can be used to identify non-melanoma skin cancers and their subtypes as a new non-invasive way to decide whether (and how urgent) a biopsy needs to be performed. First, we will determine which miRNAs are most associated with superficial and invasive skin cancers by analyzing miRNAs in previously biopsied tissues. Second, we will validate this technique on a group of patients who come to clinic with a suspicious skin lesion.

Location: Huntsman Cancer Institute - Utah
Proposal: Non-invasive method for detection of skin cancers

*The Translational research project that receives one of the highest ratings by the Scientific Advisory Committee is annually designated as the Nick Valvano Translational Research Grant. Nick Valvano, Jim Valvano’s brother, served as CEO for 13 years and has been a V Foundation Board Member since 1993.
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