American Association for Cancer Research

AACR in the News

Trio of Biomarkers May Help Identify Kidney Cancer in Early Stages


March 11, 2013

Bookmark and Share

  • Biomarkers could help catch otherwise hard-to-detect cancer.
  • Three-marker assay has high sensitivity and specificity.
  • Researchers are seeking FDA approval.
PHILADELPHIA — A new immunoassay that tests for the presence of three biomarkers appears to be a valid screening method for the early detection of malignant kidney cancer, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Renal cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor arising from the kidney, is one of the most difficult forms of cancer to detect and treat properly because it remains silent until disseminating to other organs,” said Nam Hoon Cho, M.D., of the Department of Pathology at Yonsei University Health System in Seoul, Korea. “Furthermore, because imaging, which is high-cost, is seldom performed without any specific reasons, developing a blood-tumor biomarker is a great chance to detect the silent killer.”  

The new immunoassay developed by Cho and colleagues from Genomine Inc. measured the levels of three potential biomarkers for kidney cancer: nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), L-plastin (LCP1) and nonmetastatic cells 1 protein (NM23A).

Using this assay, the researchers measured concentrations of NNMT, LCP1 and NM23A in 189 plasma samples from 102 healthy controls and patients with benign tumors and 87 patients with kidney cancer. Plasma levels indicated that all three biomarkers were highly elevated in patients with kidney cancer. For example, the median level of NNMT concentration in healthy controls was 68 pg/mL compared with 420 pg/mL for patients with kidney cancer.

Next, the researchers tested the ability of the immunoassay to distinguish plasma samples from healthy controls and patients with kidney cancer using the same 189 plasma samples already tested. The results indicated that the three-marker assay was highly accurate. When it correctly identified 90 percent of the samples from healthy controls, it also correctly identified 94.4 percent of the samples from patients with kidney cancer.

To validate the accuracy of the test, the researchers blind tested an additional 100 plasma samples from 73 healthy controls and 27 patients with kidney cancer. In this analysis, 67 of the samples from the 73 healthy controls and all of the samples from patients with kidney cancer were classified correctly.

“If this biomarker is truly valid and accurate to detect renal cell carcinoma, a number of patients with renal cell carcinoma could potentially be saved through early diagnosis,” Cho said.

Cho and colleagues hope that this biomarker will soon be commercially available. They are currently working toward approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

# # #

Follow the AACR on Twitter: @aacr
Follow the AACR on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aacr.org

About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org