Publish Date: 
Friday, February 9, 2018 - 11:15

Kidney Research at TRI Gains Momentum 

Translational kidney research at TRI is gaining momentum after receiving a $648,000 Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC), a Metro South Research Project Grant for $75,000, and an international award.  

Renal cell carcinoma accounts for about 90% of kidney cancers and if diagnosed late has a poor prognosis for the patient.  However, a lot of patients are having surgery for what is later found to be a benign mass in the kidney that could have been left there.  These patients are often elderly and the impact of the surgery and additional burden on the remaining kidney, greatly impacts their quality of life.

The challenge is to be able to diagnose the type of tumour, prior to surgery, so clinicians can prescribe the most effective treatment for each patient.

To find a solution, a renal surgeon, scientists, radiologists and pathologists at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) are collaborating with the imaging research team from the Translational Research Institute (TRI) and the Centre for Kidney Disease Research (CKDR) from The University of Queensland.

The team has also started a clinically integrated biobank which stores cancer tissue, and genomic information to provide patients with the most personalised care possible.

Dr Simon Wood, Director of Urology and the Renal Transplant Surgeon at the PAH is the principal investigator in a number of clinical trials looking for ways to improve the treatment and care of patients with renal cancer.

TRI’s Professor Carolyn Mountford is co-inventor of the diagnostic protocol to monitor women at high risk for breast cancer identifying metabolic deregulations in their breast tissue that precede tumour growth. This is an extension of this program using the same technology.

UQ’s Associate Professor Glenda Gobe, co-director of the Centre for Kidney Disease Research, believes that Professor Mountford’s diagnostic protocol can also be used to identify kidney tumours enabling clinicians to make more informed decisions on treatment. 

Sharon Del Vecchio, a MD-PhD student at The University of Queensland, who is completing her thesis in this field, was awarded Best Poster at the sixth meeting of the European Association of Urology (EAU) Section of Urological Imaging meeting held in Spain in November 2017. The award was based on an abstract, podium presentation and poster explaining a significant breakthrough for the translational kidney research team.

The team is currently evaluating biopsy samples of kidney tumours from PAH patients using the pathology Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy magnet at the TRI.  The breakthrough happened when the team was able to distinguish between clear cell and non-clear cell subtypes of renal cell carcinoma.

With the announcement of the NHMRC and Metro South project grants, the team will recruit patients to undertake scans using the new PRISMA MRI clinical scanner at the PA Hospital to determine if the same information found in the biopsy specimens is available non-invasively  in vivo.

The goal is a correct diagnosis of the type of renal tumour non-invasively and prior to surgery.