Molecule may allow kidney cancer to spread

December 1, 2005

Mayo Clinic researchers say they have discovered that a molecule known as B7-H1 may serve as a "molecular armor," protecting kidney cancer by allowing it to grow and spread.

Mayo Clinic researchers say they have discovered that a molecule known as B7-H1 may serve as a “molecular armor,” protecting kidney cancer by allowing it to grow and spread. The team reported 26 cases of surgically examined metastatic renal cell carcinomas and, of these, 54% showed elevated levels of the molecule, compared with 44% of primary tumor sites with elevated levels.

The same research team had previously reported that renal cell carcinoma patients with high levels of B7-H1 in their tumors were nearly five times more likely to die from the disease. The most recent finding concerning B7-H1 suggests new therapeutic strategies, including development of a drug to block B7-H1 to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy, use of B7-H1 as a biomarker to determine prognosis, and as an aid to help physicians select the best therapy.

The study findings appear in the current online edition of Cancer.