Public Release: 

University of Pittsburgh researchers identify potential biomarker for renal cell carcinoma

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 - Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) have identified a potential biomarker that could lead to the early detection of renal cell carcinoma. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults and, due to the lack of a sensitive test for the disease, often goes undetected until the cancer is in an advanced stage. Results will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) and results will be published in abstract 1023 in the AUA proceedings.

Robert Getzenberg, Ph.D., and Joseph Chen, analyzed cancerous tissue from two cell lines of primary renal cell carcinomas and found a set of five nuclear matrix proteins (NMPs) common to renal cell tumors and tumor cell lines. They specifically isolated the NMP called RCCA-5 as a potential biomarker.

"As in all cancers, early detection of renal cell carcinoma is essential to the effective treatment of the disease. To this point, we don't have a test sensitive enough to detect the disease in its early stages," said Dr. Getzenberg, who is professor of urology, pathology and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program at UPCI. "Based on previous studies of bladder and prostate cancer, we have found NMPs to be an effective marker for certain urologic cancers. Being that NMPs are thought to represent the earliest stages of change in cells, an NMP like RCCA-5 may be a helpful biomarker for the early detection of renal cell carcinoma."

In future studies, the researchers plan to develop sequence and code the DNA of RCCA-5 and based on the sequence obtained, produce antibodies against RCCA-5. These antibodies will be evaluated for the ability to detect the presence of RCCA-5 in serum or urine.

Renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer that involves cancerous changes in the renal tube, affects approximately three in 10,000 people, resulting in about 31,000 new cases in the United States. Each year, about 12,000 people in the United States will die from renal cell carcinoma. Although the cause of the disease is unknown, higher incidences are seen in people who smoke, have a family history of renal cell carcinoma and are on dialysis. For patients with advanced disease, five-year survival rates are between 5 and 15 percent; when diagnosed at an early localized stage, the five-year survival rate is between 60 and 75 percent.


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