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To date, a reliable biomarker is yet to be discovered for the response of kidney cancer patients to treatment or for prognosis. In this review paper, Dr Robert Motzer and his research group from Memorial Sloan Kettering in the USA identified a set of 26 genes whose activity correlated with progression-free survival in the combination of avelumab plus axitinib. They called this the “Renal 101 Immuno signature.” They also identified mutations in 11 other genes that were associated with differences in progression-free survival in patients treated with the combination.
Likewise, in the patients who were treated with sunitinib, the researchers found a specific pattern of genes that correlated with longer progression-free survival. Because the genes are mostly involved in generating new blood vessels (angiogenesis), they called this the “Renal 101 Angio signature.”
By testing for these specific biomarkers in tumours, doctors could potentially personalise treatments for patients based on whether they are more or less likely to respond to avelumab plus axitinib or sunitinib.