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Origins of seven types of kidney cancer identified in new research

Urological Malignancies programme member Tom Mitchell of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and colleagues from Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and Oncode Institute, have identified the origins of seven types of kidney cancer.

Mr Tom Mitchell

In their study, published last month in Nature Communications, Mr Mitchell and his co-authors used computational methods to analyse data from 1,300 childhood and adult kidney tumours. Using single cell mRNA reference maps of normal tissue, the researchers quantified "cellular signals" in each tumour, allowing them to investigate the origins of each cancer type.


Whereas researchers had assumed that childhood tumours have fetal origins, according to lead author Dr Matthew Young, this study confirmed this and added detail "with a precise, quantitative measurement of the cellular signals that different tumour types exhibit".


The cellular signals identified in the study have the potential for use in identifying tumour type in future, speeding up diagnosis. Indeed, researchers identified one participant's previously undiagnosed cancer type as a Wilms-like tumour using its cellular signals.


The researchers' novel approach, using computational techniques to analyse existing datasets, also provides a blueprint for future research into the behaviour and origins of all kinds of human cancer, including rare tumour types.


A summary of this study is available here.


Read the full text here: Matthew D. Young, Thomas D. Mitchell and Lars Custers et al. (2021). Single cell derived mRNA signals across human kidney tumors. Nature Communications.


This work was funded by Wellcome, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (J.C.A.), Children Cancer-free Foundation (KiKa), and Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre.

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