It has been found that accumulation of a certain protein in kidneys can boost cancer cell growth which can serve as a target. The research has been conducted by researchers from the United States, China and Singapore and the report has been published in China Science Daily.
Seventy percent of kidney cases pertain to clear cell renal cell carcinoma. 90% of these patients suffer from loss of the tumor suppressor gene VHL induced by a genetic change. In the absence of this tumor suppressor, a protein named ZHX2 accumulates in the cell, which increases cancer growth. The US has taken an initiative to approve drugs for battling the absence of VHL but so far patients show resistance to these alternatives or little response. Therefore, other targets are being sought after by the researchers.
According to the lead researcher, Zhang Qing, from University of North Carolina School of Medicine, loss of VHL leads to a large amount of ZHX2 protein accumulation, that triggers the signal which promotes kidney cancer. He regards it as a potential therapeutic target that can treat kidney cancer. It can do so on its own or it can be combined with other treatments.
The researchers used a screening technique through which they discovered that kidney cancer cells lacking VHL have more ZHX2 protein in most of the cases. Hence, when this protein was removed from the laboratory model, it led to the inhibition of growth of cancer cells, their invasion capability and the spread of cancer cells.
VHL is a very important suppressor of tumor that can serve crucially in preventing kidney cancers. Hence, to find more targets and also to enhance ways to target protein in therapy, has become a priority. Zhang reveals that further studies are going to focus on these very objectives.