First Treatment for a Rare Form of Cancer Discovered

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There are presently no effective treatments for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma, a rare type of kidney cancer.

A novel treatment for a rare kind of kidney cancer has been uncovered.

There are currently no proven treatments for metastatic or irresectable chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (ChRCC), a rare type of kidney cancer.

Researchers provide the first evidence that ChRCC can be treated with ferroptosis in a study headed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers. Ferroptosis is a sort of programmed cell death that happens when excessive quantities of iron cause lipid peroxides to build up in the cell membrane.

By depriving ChRCC cells of cysteine, the team was able to induce ferroptosis, and they discovered evidence that this approach would be useful in the treatment of ChRCC.


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“Targeted therapies are urgently needed to treat chromophobe RCC,” said corresponding author Elizabeth P. Henske, MD, of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Brigham.

“Through our study, we’ve found strong evidence that ChRCC can be therapeutically targeted by taking advantage of the cells’ hypersensitivity to ferroptosis. This represents an important breakthrough in our understanding as we think about treatment for patients with this rare disease.”

Reference: “Hypersensitivity to ferroptosis in chromophobe RCC is mediated by a glutathione metabolic dependency and cystine import via solute carrier family 7 member 11” by Long Zhang, Charbel S. Hobeika, Damir Khabibullin, Deyang Yu, Harilaos Filippakis, Michel Alchoueiry, Yan Tang, Hilaire C. Lam, Peter Tsvetkov, George Georgiou, Candice Lamb, Everett Stone, Pere Puigserver, Carmen Priolo and Elizabeth P. Henske, 8 July 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was funded by the NIH/National Institutes of Health, the Tuttle Family, the van Hecke Family, the Christelis Family, and the Cohen/Levin Family. 

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