New research published in the journal Nature Communications this month has identified the molecular mechanism that causes kidney cancer to resist drug treatment and recur.

Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and US Department of Veterans Affairs identified the presence of an enzyme called NOX4 within the mitochondria (energy factories) of kidney cancer cells, and identified NOX4 as a culprit in the survival of kidney cancer cells. NOX4 enzyme generates oxygen free radicals that facilitate the survival of kidney cancer cells undergoing drug treatment. However, when the researchers shut off free radical production by NOX4, the cancer cells died when exposed to drug treatment.

The researchers suggest that more research needs to be conducted to better understand the mechanism and how drugs may be used to intervene and at which stage.

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