New genetic clue to kidney cancer

London, Jan 20 (ANI): A group of researchers from three continents have identified a gene that is mutated in 1 in 3 patients with the most common form of renal cancer.

The gene - called PBRM1 - was found to be mutated in 88 cases out of 257 clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC) analysed, making it the most prevalent to be identified in renal cancer in 20 years.

The identification of a frequently mutated gene provides new insights into the biology of the disease, which will be critical in the continued effort to improve treatment for renal cancer.

Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK), the National Cancer Centre of Singapore, and Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) of Grand Rapids, Michigan conducted the study.

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) accounts for 9 out of 10 kidney cancers, and ccRCC is the most common subtype, accounting for 8 out of 10 RCC cases.

Survival rates for early-detected ccRCC tumors can be as high as 95 percent, but that prognosis falls over time as tumors develop. Diagnosis is complicated by the fact that tumors can grow in the kidney for some time without presenting symptoms.

Importantly, the newly discovered gene, PBRM1, functions as part of a protein complex called SWI-SNF, which also acts to alter the structure of chromatin - further pointing to the importance of genome regulation in renal cancer.

"Our work provides evidence that PBRM1 may affect the processes of cell division in renal cells. Therefore, a defect in this gene could lead to abnormal cellular growth," said Kyle Furge, Head of VARI's Laboratory of Computational Biology.

The study has been published today in the journal Nature. (ANI)

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