Specific inhibition of autophagy may represent a new concept for treatment of kidney cancer

April 16, 2012

New research at the University of Cincinnati (UC) suggests that kidney cancer growth depends on autophagy, a complex process that can provide cells with nutrients from intracellular sources. Researchers say in certain circumstances autophagy can protect tumor cells from chemotherapy, allowing them to survive for long periods of time in a hidden, dormant, metastatic state.

In this newly published data, researchers identify two distinct autophagy regulated pathways downstream from the von Hippel-Lindau , or VHL. This specific tumor suppressor is lost in the majority of renal .

UC researchers report these findings in the April 16, 2012, issue of Cancer Cell.

Maria Czyzyk-Krzeska, MD, PHD, corresponding author of the study, says the discoveries could guide researchers to more effective treatment approaches for kidney cancer, particularly metastatic disease, based on knowledge of these specific autophagic processes. UC collaborators in this study include David Plas, PhD, assistant professor of cancer and cell biology, and Jarek Meller, PhD, associate professor of environmental health.

"VHL has emerged as a master controller of access to intracellular nutrients through autophagy and to extracellular nutrients through formation of blood vessels. Our work shows that there are different autophagic programs—pro-and anti-oncogenic. Drugs that inhibit the final stages of autophagy non-specifically, such as derivatives of chloroquine, may not be as beneficial as hoped," explains Czyzyk-Krzeska, a professor of cancer and cell biology at the UC College of Medicine and researcher with the UC Cancer Institute.

She says the challenge is to understand the molecular mechanisms of these diverse autophagic pathways and identify targets that are specific to the pro-oncogenic pathway but not affecting tumor-suppressing pathways.

"Current drugs for metastatic kidney cancer target angiogenesis—blocking the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor—but they typically only increase survival by a matter of months," says Czyzyk-Krzeska. "We hope this new body of evidence can help pave a new path to more effective treatment options for this disease."

According to the American Cancer Society, incidence rates of are increasing steadily by 2 to 3 percent each year. The disease is curable when it is identified early and isolated to the kidney. Treatment options for metastatic disease are limited.

Related Stories

Cancer-seeking 'smart bombs' target kidney cancer cells

June 6, 2011

Researchers are halting kidney cancer with a novel form of radioimmunotherapy that zeroes in on antigens associated with renal cell carcinoma. Patients with progressive kidney cancer receiving up to three doses of the therapy ...

Recommended for you

Strange circular DNA may offer new way to detect cancers

July 30, 2015

Strange rings of DNA that exist outside chromosomes are distinct to the cell types that mistakenly produced them, researchers have discovered. The finding raises the tantalizing possibility that the rings could be used as ...

New treatment options for a fatal leukemia

July 27, 2015

In industrialized countries like in Europe, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children. An international research consortium lead by pediatric oncologists from the Universities of Zurich and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.