Blood test could guide kidney cancer treatment

Researchers have found that a simple blood test for a common enzyme called lactate dehydrogenase could predict how patients with kidney cancer will respond to treatment, as well as their overall survival. According to the researchers, this could be the first blood test to determine the best treatment for late-stage kidney cancer. The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lactate dehydrogenase is an enzyme found throughout the body, but particularly high levels are linked with aggressive disease and poor chances of survival in renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. The researchers from Duke Cancer Institute looked at the levels of this enzyme in 404 patients with renal cell cancer who were being treated with Wyeth's Torisel (temsirolimus, which is an mTOR inhibitor) or interferon alfa as part of a Phase III trial. Results of the trial have shown that temsirolimus can extend the life of patients with advanced metastatic kidney cancer--even those with high levels of lactate dehydrogenase.

According to the researchers' analysis, patients with high levels of lactate dehydrogenase survived longer on temsirolimus than on interferon alfa, with almost three times as many alive at 12 months (34.3% vs. 12.7%). Patients with low levels of the enzyme showed similar responses to the two drugs.

More studies are needed to confirm these results, and to check to see if levels of lactate dehydrogenase can predict responses to other drugs.

"Being able to direct these patients to a treatment we know will help them would be a major advancement in their care," said Andrew Armstrong, lead author of the study. "At the same time, patients who would not benefit from the treatment would be spared from undergoing a drug regimen with potential side effects that could diminish their quality of life."

- read the press release
- see the abstract

Special Report: Torisel - 2007 FDA approvals

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