In the past decade or so, several molecularly-targeted therapies and immunotherapies have led to substantial advances in the treatment of kidney cancer. However, therapies that can target novel signaling pathways largely responsible for driving cancerous growth have seen few useful developments. Identifying these pathways forms a key determinant of targeted cancer therapies for patients especially with metastatic disease. A new discovery on therapeutic target sheds light on a potentially effective cancer-driving pathway in one of the most common popular types of kidney cancer–clear cell renal cell carcinoma. An overwhelmingly large percentage of patients with this type of kidney cancer witnesses genetic change characterized by the loss of tumor suppressor gene called Von Hippel–Lindau (VHL). Scientists at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center) found a protein that promotes oncogenesis and feeds tumor cells in the kidney cancer. The scientists concluded that targeting these proteins can lead to more efficacious treatments for the kidney cancer, which is not possible presently.
Study Focused on New Signaling Pathways driving Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma
Patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma witness proliferation of blood cells due to loss of VHL caused by mutations or alterations in genes. It is a well-established fact that the tumor suppressor gene is a key determinant in the initiation, tumor progression, and metastasis stages of the cancer. As a result, cancerous cells accumulate signals responsible for the proliferation of blood vessels that help promote tumor.
Present FDA-Approved Treatments and Therapies may fall Short of Making Effect in Patients
The study using a screening technique revealed that as the kidney cancer progresses a protein called ZHX2 grow in abundance in the cells. The protein accelerates oncogenesis, which if effectively targeted can pave way for novel therapies, contend the researchers. Indeed, they were successful in retarding the growth of the cancerous cells by eliminating the protein in the lab model, confirming its role in kidney cancer signaling pathways.
Presently there are numerous drugs and even treatments approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for standard of care for this type of kidney cancer. However, researchers opine that the patients developing resistance to these drugs is a genuine concern. The discovery of new therapeutic targets, hence, is considered a breakthrough.