Stanford team finds new molecule for kidney cancer

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers say they have found a new molecule that kills kidney cancer cells. Ideally, the researchers said, a drug created from this molecule would be able to fight the disease without forcing doctors to remove the diseased organ--a standard treatment method in use today.

Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor and director of radiation oncology and radiation biology at the medical school, focused on the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene, or VHL gene, which normally slows tumor growth in humans but does not work in 75 percent of kidney tumor cells. Giaccia's team searched for a small molecule that would kill cancer cells when this VHL gene is broken. They found their weapon in a molecule called STF-62247.

"You now have a potential means of going after a disease that's been difficult to treat," said Giacci, who believes that clinical trials could start in a couple of years. His findings will be published in the journal Cancer Cell on July 8.

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