Protein is new target for kidney cancer cure

Xinhua
Researchers have found that the accumulation of certain protein may increase the growth of cancer cells in the kidneys.
Xinhua

Researchers from China, the United States, and Singapore have found that the accumulation of certain protein may increase the growth of cancer cells in the kidneys, providing a new therapeutic target, China Science Daily reported on Thursday.

Clear cell renal cell carcinoma is a common type of kidney cancer, accounting for 70 percent of all cases. More than 90 percent of patients experience a genetic change leading to the loss of the tumor suppressor gene VHL. In the study, researchers find that, without the gene, a protein called ZHX2 accumulates in cells, encouraging cancer growth.

“If you lose VHL, you will accumulate a large amount of ZHX2 protein, which will activate a signal that promotes kidney cancer,” said lead researcher Zhang Qing, also an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“This protein could be a potential therapeutic target to treat kidney cancer on its own or in combination with other treatments.”

VHL is the most important tumor suppressor to prevent the development of kidney cancer. The US has approved drugs to deal with the absence of VHL, but patients show little response or may develop resistance to them. Thus, Zhang and colleagues began to seek other targets.

They developed a screening technique, where they discovered that kidney cancer cells without VHL usually have more ZHX2 protein. After removing the protein from the laboratory model, they were able to inhibit the growth, invasion, and spread of cancer cells.

According to Zhang, further studies will focus on how to target the protein in therapy, after identifying it.

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