The Kidney Foundation of Canada

Dr. George Yousef

Dr. George Yousef

St. Michael's Hospital, ON

Understanding the attributes of papillary renal cell carcinoma subtypes: molecular analysis, biomarker discovery and implications to therapy

Co-applicant(s): Michelle Downes; Antonio Finelli; Kenneth R Evans

2018-2020:  $100,000 |  Biomedical Research Grants  |  Category: Cancer

Lay Summary

Renal cancer includes multiple types. Papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC), the cancer we are proposing this research for, is the second most common form of kidney cancer. However, PRCC itself is divided into 2 subtypes: PRCC type 1 and PRCC type 2. This is based upon the way they look under the microscope. Previous researchers have noted that type 2 is usually a more aggressive form of cancer than type 1. As such, patients with these cancers should be followed differently. Other studies as well as ours have found that the types have a different biology. Therefore, their response to cancer drugs is expected to be different. However, to date they are treated by doctors as one entity.
Part of the dilemma is that nearly half the cases are hard to subtype using the microscope alone. There is a need for tests (biomarker) that can help pathologists (cancer microscope doctors) distinguish between them. Our previous work identified some promising possible markers. We need to confirm these results in another set of cancer patients, which is part of our research proposal. The findings will help doctors divide patients properly in the right group for follow up and treatment.
Yet another confounding factor is that even though the types are known to have different biology, the exact nature of these changes and how they affect the cancer response to drugs is not properly understood. Our previous research shows that the cancer types should respond differently to certain cancer drugs. We propose further studying these differences and assessing the response of the cancer cells, (cancer cells made and grown for research, corresponding to our particular tumor types), to a number of current cancer medications. We will be examining that effect both in petri dishes and on mice. The results are expected to guide doctors into treating patients with the right kind of medicine for the right kind of cancer.
Lastly, we will study early kidney lesions that are thought to eventually give rise to the cancer, in the hopes that they will tell us more about how to detect these cancers and how to prevent them.