Researchers identify proteins that indicate which kidney tumours are most likely to spread
Toronto, December 5, 2012
By Leslie Shepherd
Dr. George Yousef
Researchers at St. Michael’s hospital have identified 29 proteins that are likely to be involved in the spread of kidney cancer. The discovery will help physicians recognize which tumours are going to behave more aggressively and provide those patients with more intensive treatment and closer followup.
“Metastatic renal cell carcinoma is one of the most treatment-resistant malignancies and patients have dismal prognosis,” said Dr. George M. Yousef, a laboratory pathologist. “Identification of markers that can predict the potential of metastases will have a great impact on improvement patient outcomes.
Dr. Yousef’s research appears online in the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.
Kidney cancer in general is very aggressive and has a high chance of metastasis, or spreading to other organs. The five-year survival rate for metastasized kidney cancer is less than 10 per cent. Although imaging technology has led to increased detection of kidney tumours, 25 to 30 per cent have already spread by the time they are found.
Using a mass spectrometer, Dr. Yousef identified 29 proteins that change when cancer cells spread from the original site of the kidney tumour. All 29 proteins have been previously been linked to other malignancies.
Dr. Yousef said if physicians can determine which kidney tumours have those proteins, and are likely to spread, they can monitor and treat those patients more aggressively. Patients who don’t have those proteins and biomarkers might not have to undergo costly and intensive treatment or surgery.
The next steps would be to find ways to stop the proteins from turning on and triggering the metastasis. This study was supported by grants from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Cancer Research Society.
About St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.