Singapore develops first genetic test kit for kidney cancer

Researchers and doctors here have developed the world's first molecular test kit that can point the way to the most appropriate treatment and predict the survival outcomes for kidney cancer patients.

The team from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) came up with an investigative procedure or assay involving extracting and testing tumour samples from patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC).

Through such an assay, patients can be divided into groups according to their likely survival and treatment outcomes. It is one of the first assays capable of predicting outcomes of anti-angiogenic therapy, a key goal for cancer care and industry entailing closing off the blood supply feeding tumours.

The team's work was recently reported in the respected urology journal, European Urology.

Jackie Y Ying, the executive director of IBN, said: "By combining our expertise in molecular diagnostics and cancer research, we have developed the first genetic test that enables doctors to prescribe the appropriate treatment for kidney cancer patients based on their tumour profile."

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers affecting men in Singapore, going by data from the Singapore Cancer Registry between 2009 and last year; among kidney cancers, the commonest is ccRCC.

Tan Min-Han, the IBN team leader, principal research scientist and a visiting consultant at the Division of Medical Oncology in NCCS, said that using the test kit enables patients and doctors to make more educated choices in their treatment options.

"Additionally, the development of such assays in Singapore demonstrates the highest levels of research, care and expertise that are available to our patients here," he said.

The test has been validated at SGH and the NCCS.

This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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