New Gene Discovered in Kidney Cancer

Sprycel could block Src gene in renal cancers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Kidney cancer is one of the forms of the disease that's usually fairly advanced by the time it's diagnosed. Now there may be new hope for treating patients who don't respond to conventional therapies.

Researchers have identified a gene called Src that drives the growth of certain kidney cancers. This discovery may help offer more effective and personalized treatments for patients, says George Thomas, M.D., the study's senior author and a surgical pathologist at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute.

"Ask your oncologist if you could benefit from genetic drug therapy."

Dr. Thomas says that his research has found that patients who have high levels of Src in their tumors have a worse survival rates than those with weaker levels of the gene. He concludes that Src plays a role in kidney cancer and is a therapeutic target that should be explored.

Kidney cancer strikes about 60 million Americans each year and causes some 13,000 deaths. In about one-quarter of the patients, the disease has already spread to other areas of the body (metastisized) by the time it's diagnosed.

Today, treating kidney cancer focuses on blocking new blood vessels from forming. These blood vessels feed the cancer and its growth. These therapies only work for a short time, though, and a number of patients don't benefit at all.

This preclinical study found cancer cells that have more of the new gene - Src - appear to be more sensitive to a drug that has already received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval - Sprycel (dasatinib). This drug blocked (inhibited) the Src in cancer cell cultures and in mice.

The research team went on to develop a panel of markers that may be used to select patients who could most likely benefit from the Src inhibitors.

The next step will be to look at the role of Src in tumor tissues from patients who had had their kidney cancers removed.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Review Date: 
June 24, 2011
Last Updated:
June 25, 2011