Cancer is a result of mutations in the genes of healthy cells. The
transition to cancer cells involves a fundamental transformation of
their metabolism, the way that they use nourishment and energy. The
uninhibited growth of cancer cells is based on their particular
The Chalmers researchers have explored the metabolism
associated with ten types of cancer cells. When analyzing regulation of
metabolism by healthy cells after having become malignant, the
researchers made an unexpected discovery.
"One type of cancer
stood out from all the rest," says Professor Jens Nielsen, who headed up
the team. "Cells affected by kidney cancer reprogram their metabolism
in a very special way, which is the weak link in the disease. What
fascinated us most was that we can potentially measure this
vulnerability by taking a simple blood sample."
Clinical trial and a possible drug
order to look more closely at possible methods of using metabolism to
diagnose renal cell carcinoma – the most common type of kidney cancer –
the Chalmers team has begun collaborating with researchers at a hospital
in Padua, Italy.
"To determine whether our predictions are
valid," Professor Nielsen says, "the hospital will conduct a clinical
trial to analyze blood samples and urine specimens from kidney cancer
patients. We anticipate that a simple method of deciding whether someone
has kidney cancer will be available within a few years."
detection of kidney cancer significantly improves its prognosis. Surgery
to prevent the malignancy from metastasizing can still be successful at
that point. The study also suggests that a feasible long-term goal is
the ability to destroy cancer cells by changing their metabolism.
kidney cancer cells metabolize abnormally, they have to fight for their
survival," says Francesco Gatto, who constructed the cell models. "As a
result, it should be possible to customize a way of taking advantage of
their vulnerabilities so as to kill them without damaging healthy
With that idea in mind, the Chalmers team is also
collaborating with British researchers to identify the mechanisms
decisive to destroying kidney cancer cells. The objective is to discover
and develop drugs that can attack renal cell carcinoma.
The study is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Read the article: Chromosome 3p loss of heterozygosity is associated with a unique metabolic network in clear cell renal carcinoma
Facts about the study
regulation of metabolism in renal cell carcinoma differs significantly
from other forms of cancer. The network of reactions that constitute
metabolism contains a number of unique vulnerabilities. Kidney cancer
cells tend to inadequately synthesize lipids and DNA, both of which are
crucial to their life-cycle. The findings open the door to new methods
of detecting kidney cancer at an early stage through the use of
biomarkers, as well as fresh approaches to interrupting their life-cycle
by altering the same component of metabolism. This work was sponsored
by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Chalmers Foundation.
Facts about kidney cancer
• Approximately 1,000 Swedes are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year.
• Men are 1.5-2 times as likely to develop the disease as women.
• Kidney cancer is often asymptomatic, detected during assessments that have been undertaken for other indications.
The number of new cases has declined over the past 20 years in Sweden.
Most patients are age 60 or older when first diagnosed. In unusual
cases, the patient may be under 40.
• While bilateral renal cancer is rare, the assessment must ensure that the other kidney is functioning properly.
For more information please contact:
Francesco Gatto, Chalmers University of Technology, +46 76 407 1929, firstname.lastname@example.org