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Can Urol Assoc J. 2007 Jun;1(2 Suppl):S21-7.

Combining differential expression, chromosomal and pathway analyses for the molecular characterization of renal cell carcinoma.

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Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, Mich.


Using high-throughput gene-expression profiling technology, we can now gain a better understanding of the complex biology that is taking place in cancer cells. This complexity is largely dictated by the abnormal genetic makeup of the cancer cells. This abnormal genetic makeup can have profound effects on cellular activities such as cell growth, cell survival and other regulatory processes. Based on the pattern of gene expression, or molecular signatures of the tumours, we can distinguish or subclassify different types of cancers according to their cell of origin, behaviour, and the way they respond to therapeutic agents and radiation. These approaches will lead to better molecular subclassification of tumours, the basis of personalized medicine. We have, to date, done whole-genome microarray gene-expression profiling on several hundreds of kidney tumours. We adopt a combined bioinformatic approach, based on an integrative analysis of the gene-expression data. These data are used to identify both cytogenetic abnormalities and molecular pathways that are deregulated in renal cell carcinoma (RCC). For example, we have identified the deregulation of the VHL-hypoxia pathway in clear-cell RCC, as previously known, and the c-Myc pathway in aggressive papillary RCC. Besides the more common clear-cell, papillary and chromophobe RCCs, we are currently characterizing the molecular signatures of rarer forms of renal neoplasia such as carcinoma of the collecting ducts, mixed epithelial and stromal tumours, chromosome Xp11 translocations associated with papillary RCC, renal medullary carcinoma, mucinous tubular and spindle-cell carcinoma, and a group of unclassified tumours. Continued development and improvement in the field of molecular profiling will better characterize cancer and provide more accurate diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of drug response.

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