Amend: Looking for proteins and molecules released by kidney tumors into the blood and urine.
Extracting these vesicles from the blood and urine could make it possible to diagnose kidney cancer noninvasively.
Kidney cancer is the perfect disease for urinary biomarkers,” says scientist Sarah Amend, Ph.D. “These tumors arise from the filtering apparatus of the kidney, and should release proteins and molecules into both the blood and urine of patients with tumors. However, no biomarkers exist.”
Amend and Brady scientists Richard Zieran, M.D., Ph.D., and Liang Dong, Ph.D., are actively working to change this. They have focused on extracellular vesicles, “tiny bubbles carrying RNA and proteins, which contain information about the cells that secreted them: cancer cells,” says Zieran. These vesicles, adds Dong, “may transfer nucleic acids and proteins between cells, modulate a variety of cellular functions, and may be a marker of disease or disease state.”
Extracting these vesicles from the blood and urine – and decoding them to diagnose kidney cancer – could make it possible to diagnose kidney cancer noninvasively. But right now, making sense of these bubbles is a bit like not seeing the forest for the trees: These vesicles are not the only ‘bubbles’ found in blood and urine,” notes Amend. “Healthy cells also make vesicles that contain normal RNA and proteins.” Thus, the team is studying vesicles that have been taken directly from kidney cancer tissues, “creating the pathway to identify the right biomarkers in the same patients’ blood and urine.” This work was published in Medical Oncology.