SAN DIEGO – A new study has discovered that two microRNAs could be used to develop the first-ever blood test for kidney cancer as well as novel treatments for this condition. These findings were presented today at the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in San Diego.


As with most cancers, the later a kidney tumor is found, the more dramatically the survival rate declines. 81% of patients with stage I kidney cancer live for at least 5 years after diagnosis, but this number drops to 53% for stage III kidney cancer, and 8% for stage IV. Kidney cancer is usually caught because of the symptoms a patient develops, but it is also possible for kidney cancer to be asymptomatic, with tumors growing quite large before causing pain or other noticeable problems. Patients with these asymptomatic tumors are at the highest risk of not having their cancer detected until it has reached a more advanced stage. A blood test for kidney cancer—which currently does not exist—could improve screening for this disease and help ensure that asymptomatic patients are diagnosed while their cancer is still treatable.


A team of researchers led by Chunni Zhang, PhD, of Jinling Hospital in Nanjing, China, set out to determine if microRNAs—molecules that regulate gene expression—could be used to develop such a test. To start, they measured the concentrations of 754 different microRNAs in blood samples from 33 patients with the most common type of kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) and 33 healthy individuals. They found that blood levels of eight microRNAs were either significantly increased or decreased in the kidney cancer patients compared with the healthy controls. Of these eight microRNAs, statistical analysis revealed that the two known as miR-651 and miR-708—which decreased in the kidney cancer patients—exhibited the largest areas under the curve (0.888 and 0.832, respectively). This means that a test for these microRNAs could diagnose renal cell carcinoma with relatively high accuracy.


The researchers also investigated the functions of miR-651 and miR-708 and found evidence suggesting they act as tumor suppressors. A therapeutic that increases levels of miR-651 and miR-708 could therefore potentially serve as a new treatment for renal cell carcinoma.


“The mechanisms involved in renal cell carcinoma development and progression are unclear, and there is no standard serological biomarker to facilitate diagnosis in patients with [this disease],” said Zhang. “miR-651 and miR-708 may potentially serve as novel biomarkers for renal cell carcinoma and may act as tumor suppressors. Our findings indicate that targeting miR-651 and miR-708 by a genetic approach may provide a novel strategy for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma.”



Session Information

AACC Annual Scientific Meeting registration is free for members of the media. Reporters can register online here:


Abstract A-012: Clinical Implications and Multiple Antitumor Effects of miR-651 and miR-708 in Renal Cell Carcinoma will be presented during:


Scientific Poster Session

Tuesday, August 1

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (presenting authors in attendance from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.)

Sails Pavilion, Upper Level

San Diego Convention Center

San Diego, California


About the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo

The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting offers 5 days packed with opportunities to learn about exciting science from July 30–August 3. Plenary sessions feature the latest research on CRISPR biology, preserving fertility for cancer patients, new applications for DNA sequencing, the challenges of antibiotic resistance, and effective care for substance abuse disorders.


At the AACC Clinical Lab Expo, more than 750 exhibitors will fill the show floor of the San Diego Convention Center, with displays of the latest diagnostic technology, including but not limited to mobile health, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, point-of-care, and automation.

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit