UT Southwestern Medical Center is one of two academic centers in the nation to receive a grant to help discover the first-ever early detection test for kidney cancer.
The National Cancer Institute on Thursday announced that UTSW would receive an $11 million SPORE award, or the Specialized Program of Research Excellence, to further research into finding biomarkers that will tip off the development of cancerous tumors in a patient’s kidney. The university has already discovered a key protein involved in the formation of kidney cancer, which Peloton Therapeutics has used to develop a drug therapy that’s currently in clinical trials at UT Southwestern.
The SPORE money will help researchers identify the traits of kidney tumors that will most likely respond to the drug and also discover ways it will attempt to evade its impact. It will go toward research into cancer metabolism to identify aggressive and less active tumors. It will also go toward testing pediatric kidney cancer by learning more about a tumor subtype.
This is the first time a SPORE grant has gone to fund research into kidney cancer, of which more than 400,000 Americans are currently living with. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects another 60,000 to be diagnosed this year alone. The money will go toward funding four disease and clinical research teams for both adult and pediatric kidney cancer, a patient advocate group, a developmental research program, a career enhancement program, and facilities for data analysis, imaging, and a tissue repository.
“This extraordinary award from the NCI supports the extensive kidney cancer research program built by our faculty over the past several years,” read a statement from Dr. Melanie Cobb, the interim director of the Simmons Cancer Center, Professor of Pharmacology, and holder of the Jane and Bill Browning, Jr. Chair in Medical Science. “Sixteen distinguished research leaders – each nationally recognized in their field of expertise – will lead the team of more than 40 scientists that will focus on developing new approaches toward this disease which is particularly deadly.”
Harvard won the other SPORE award.