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.

Explore further: Cancer-seeking 'smart bombs' target kidney cancer cells

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

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

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.