Pavlos Msaouel, MD, PhD

Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is a rare but deadly kidney cancer that mainly occurs in young individuals of African descent that carry a blood disorder called sickle cell trait. Most people carrying the sickle cell trait never develop any symptoms. Many do not even know that they have it. Approximately 1 in 14 African Americans have the sickle cell trait and are at risk for developing RMC at an average age of 28 years old. RMC is also an under-recognized global health challenge because the sickle cell trait is found in ~300 million individuals around the world, mainly in Africa. Almost every patient with RMC is diagnosed late, when the cancer has already spread to other organs. Less than 5% of these patients survive beyond 3 years. Furthermore, many patients with RMC are initially misdiagnosed and lose precious time while being treated with the wrong therapies. The chances of a cure considerably increase when RMC is diagnosed and treated early. With the help of our patient advocates, we have established the largest collection of blood and tissue samples from patients with RMC worldwide. Using these samples, we have found evidence that patients with RMC have antibodies against unique proteins found only in cancer. We have developed a novel technology that allows the detection of more than 400,000 of these antibodies using only a drop of blood, quickly (within 3 days) and affordably. Our proposal aims to investigate and develop this new approach for the early diagnosis of RMC.

Location: MD Anderson Cancer Center - Texas
Proposal: Harnessing cancer-specific frameshift neoantigens for the early detection of renal medullary carcinoma
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