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Predicting kidney failure after cancer surgery

Most patients with kidney cancer undergo surgery as part of the treatment for their disease, but for some, the loss of even part of one kidney can have significant implications for the function of the remaining kidney.

Dr Francesco Trevisani, Clinical Fellow, with the genetic analysis technology

If we could predict which patients were most likely to develop debilitating side-effects after surgery for their cancer, then we could take actions to give them better outcomes. This is a problem across the world and is why our scientists are collaborating with others in Italy to find a solution.

Two of our pioneering cancer researchers are hunting for the biological signatures which could predict how patients with kidney cancer will respond to surgery.

Dr Francesco Trevisani from the Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan is conducting a fellowship at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in Professor Nicola Valeri’s laboratory. Together, they are working with a series of patient samples to research how to identify which kidney cancer patients may suffer from kidney failure after surgery for their cancer.

Dr Trevisani says: “I came to Professor Valeri’s laboratory at the ICR so that I could learn from his expertise in microRNAs and use it to help my patients. I passionately believe that the people we treat around the world for kidney cancer could have a better quality of life if we knew in advance which ones were the most likely to develop other kidney problems after their surgery.”

Advanced digital analysis technology is being used to look for the presence of microRNAs – genetic material that has a role in the way our cells are controlled – to identify a biological signature that will allow us to predict how patients will fare after kidney surgery.

It costs £220 to sample each patient’s tissue to try and predict the development of kidney failure. Dr Trevisani needs to conduct this analysis on samples from at least 300 patients to gain enough data to be confident that a potential biological signature is accurate enough to use in further trials.

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