STANFORD, Calif. - Kidney cancer patients generally have one option for beating their disease: surgery to remove the organ.
But that could change, thanks to a new molecule found by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers that kills kidney cancer cells. Ideally, the researchers said, a drug created from this molecule would help fight the life-threatening disease while leaving patients' kidneys intact.
"You now have a potential means of going after a disease that's been difficult to treat," said Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor and director of radiation oncology and radiation biology at the medical school. His findings will be published in the journal Cancer Cell on July 8.
Giaccia said his lab focused on renal cell carcinoma, or kidney cancer, because there is no known cure for it short of removing a damaged kidney from a patient's body. "There is no effective chemotherapy to treat renal cell carcinoma," said Giaccia, also a researcher at the Stanford Cancer Center. "Patients still succumb."
Almost 54,400 people in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year, and about 13,000 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Radiotherapy, a powerful weapon used to fight cancer, has also proven to be ineffective in killing kidney cancer, in contrast to other types of cancer, Giaccia said.
This new research could lead to a treatment to save patients from losing one of their two kidneys. The organs are responsible for filtering blood, controlling blood pressure and preventing anemia, among other tasks.
Giaccia's work focuses on the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene, or VHL gene, which normally slows tumor growth in humans but does not work in 75 percent of kidney tumor cells. Giaccia's team searched for a small molecule that would kill cancer cells when this VHL gene is broken. They found their weapon in a molecule called STF-62247.
|Contact: Krista Conger|
Stanford University Medical Center