There are many types of kidney cancer and most current treatments were designed for the commonest type, called “clear-cell kidney cancer.” However, these therapies work less well in other types of kidney cancer. Unfortunately, because the different kinds of kidney cancer can look similar under the microscope, many kidney cancers are misdiagnosed.
One such cancer is “translocation renal cell carcinoma” (tRCC), which makes up about 5% of all kidney cancers in adults and over half of kidney cancers in children. Early and accurate diagnosis of tRCC is important for two reasons. First, this kidney cancer has a poor prognosis and it is vital that patients are accurately informed of their diagnosis. Moreover, an early diagnosis may give a patient the opportunity to cure the cancer through surgery before it spreads. Second, an accurate diagnosis can inform which is the best treatment for a patient to receive.
Although tRCC is frequently misdiagnosed under the microscope, it is unique in terms of the genes it expresses. In this project, we will develop methods to diagnose tRCC based on its distinctive pattern of gene expression. We will apply these methods to both biopsies of tumor tissue and so-called “liquid biopsies,” in which DNA from tumor cells is extracted from a routine blood draw. This work will advance the accuracy and ease with which kidney cancer is diagnosed and may lead to new ways to diagnose tRCC earlier – when it can be caught and cured before it spreads.