New York: In what could lead to new strategy to treat kidney cancer, researchers have discovered that a gene known to control brain growth and development is heavily involved in promoting clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer.
The gene NPTX2 is not only active in kidney cancer, but it is also over-expressed in any human cancer, the findings showed.
"We found that a gene known to play a role in the healthy brain is also the No. 1 gene associated with this most lethal of all urological cancers," said molecular biologist John Copland from Mayo Clinic in the US.
"We don't know why NPTX2 is expressed in kidney cancer, but we now know what it is doing and how it contributes to cancer progression," Copland added.
Because the NPTX2 gene is not expressed in normal kidney tissue, a drug designed to target its protein would provide a highly focused treatment, he said.
For the study, researchers used genomic profiling of nearly 100 kidney cancer patient samples to identify genes that were either over-expressed or under-expressed as compared to patient matched normal kidney tissue samples.
They found that NPTX2 was expressed in all stages of kidney cancer, especially metastasis, which suggests it plays an important role in tumour development and progression.
The study appeared in the journal Cancer Research.