ACKC Campaign for Research Funding 2014

Kidney Cancer Research Projects – What have we accomplished?

One of ACKC’s principal objectives is to raise funds for kidney cancer research in order to find a cure for this disease. To that end, we raise funds privately, awarding grants to promising, innovative researchers, and,  we lobby Congress every year  requesting an appropriation targeted for kidney cancer research. From the Federal Fiscal Year 2006 through FY 2012, we have been successful in having kidney cancer included as a disease eligible to receive grants from the Department of Defense’s cancer research program. Due to our efforts, the DoD has so far awarded $6.3 million in grants for FY2006 thru FY2012 – see list of recipients an a brief description of their work below.

All this has been made possible by you – our supporters sending letters to their members of Congress urging them to sign on to this important request.

We are again lobbying this year, asking for a $15 million appropriation targeted for kidney cancer. If we are to be successful it is imperative that you join us in this effort by clicking on Send a Letter below to send a letter to your Representative and Senators.

To send a letter to your elected senators and representative, click here Send a Letter.


Project: Identification of Genes in Kidney Cancer Oncogenesis

FY2006 $932,900
Maria F. Czyzyk-Krzeska
University of Cincinnati
Project: Identification of genes involved in the causation of clear cell kidney cancer, which could then be targeted by therapy.


Project: The Role of RASSF1A Tumor Suppressor in Kidney Cancer

FY2008 $721,800
Geoffrey Clark
University of Louisville
Project: Create kidney cancer in a mouse (rather than implanting human cancer in a mouse) to develop an exceptionally useful tool for cancer researchers. Also will determine the role of RASSF1A, a cancer suppressor gene, which is silenced in clear cell kidney cancer.



Project: Tissue and Metabolic Markers for Recurrent Kidney Cancer

FY2009 $602,700
Alexander Parker
Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville


Jointly with


FY2009 $503,600
Richard Drake
Eastern Virginia Medical College

Project: Identification of kidney cancer markers that could predict for aggressive or recurrent disease, which could then inform therapeutic options. The implication of this is that those patients at high risk of recurrence can be advised to have adjuvant therapy and those at low risk can be advised to further spread out their follow-up radiological exams, thus reducing their radiation exposure.


Project: Targeted Nanoparticles for Kidney Cancer Therapy

FY2009 $599,933
Suzy Torti
Wake Forest University
Project: Develop nanoparticles (1/1000 size of human hair) that will target and bind to kidney cancer tumors and metastases, which then will be illuminated and destroyed by infrared radiation that is directed only to the cancer cells thus preserving normal cells and reducing toxicity.




Project: Use of MRSI to Investigate Tumors

FY2010  $115,875

Zhen Jane Wang


Project:  A new non-invasive imaging technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) can be used to determine the metabolic consistency of tumors. This project will investigate whether MRSI can determine kidney cancer tumor aggressiveness. If possible, MRSI could be used to diagnose small, indolent (slow growing) tumors that may not need invasive surgery. This technique has been successful in brain and prostate cancers.




Project: Development of Kidney Cancer Blood Test

FY2010  $1,004,018

Maneesh Tewari

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center



Jointly with

FY2010  $202,197

Allan Pantuck


Project: Clear cell kidney cancer tumors generate specific minute particles that are released into the blood. This project will determine if the presence and density of these particles can be used to generate a simple blood test that would diagnose kidney cancer at an early stage. Eventually, want to develop a similar test to determine aggressiveness of the cancer.



Project: Nanotechnology to Develop Urine Test for Kidney Cancer


FY2010   $454,900

Srikanth Singamaneni

Washington University

Project: Based on previous research, two specific proteins are found at much higher concentrations in the urine of people with clear cell and papillary kidney cancer than in healthy people. However, testing for these proteins is expensive and cumbersome. Project will develop an efficient and inexpensive test using nanotechnology to identify whether these proteins exist in the urine and thus to diagnose kidney cancer via a simple urine test.


Project: Role of Grainyhead in Kidney Cancer

FY2011   $296,000

Steven Frisch

West Virginia University

Project: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), where cells change their behavior, is an important determinant of tumor progression. Inhibition of EMT may decrease tumor invasion and metastasis, and an increase in EMT may accelerate tumor progression. The “grainyhead” gene suppresses EMT. In this project, the grainyhead gene’sexpression will be enhanced, and if it acts as a tumor suppressor, a therapy will be developed to help prevent recurrence of kidney cancer after initial diagnosis/treatment.


Project: Using MRI to Diagnose Tumor Aggressiveness

FY2011  $240,000

Renuka Sriram

University of California, San Francisco

This project tests the hypothesis that the aggressiveness of a kidney tumor can be measured by the metabolism of the cancer cells, which the researcher will measure by the use of a non-invasive MRI to calibrate the production of lactate, a byproduct of metabolism. This would allow one to differentiate the tumors as being benign, low-grade, or metastatic. If successful, one could clinically determine whether nephrectomy is required for a kidney tumor without having to do an invasive biopsy of the tumor.


Project: Kidney Cancer Immunologically Enhanced Vaccine

Li Shen web siteFY2012 $381,000

Li Shen

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Vaccines have the promise of inducing a long-lasting immune response in metastatic kidney cancer, however, they are modulated by regulatory T-cells (Tregs), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), all of which inhibit an anti-tumor response. This project, in a pre-clinical setting, will incorporate, with the vaccine, Foxp3 to deplete Tregs and tasquinimod to target MDSCs and TAMs in order to generate an enhanced anti-tumor response with the goal of transferring this combination into a clinical trial.


Project: Enhancing mTOR Responsiveness

FYNo Photo Available web site2012 $364,000

Bhavani Krishnan

University of North Carolina

Although nTOR inhibitors extend life of metastatic kidney cancer patients, they do not shrink tumors significantly, generating mostly stable disease. Project will identify those kinases (proteins) that are up-regulated under m-TOR treatment and target them, in a pre-clinical setting, with known kinase inhibitors that can be combined with mTOR to kill the tumors cells thus increasing overall response.



Final Comment

Dr. Maneesh Tewari from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center indicated to us that he would not have been able to pursue his idea to develop a blood test to diagnose kidney cancer if ACKC had not succeeded in having kidney cancer included as an eligible disease in the Department of Defense’s cancer research budget. He added that the DoD has a unique mechanism whereby a researcher can propose a project that can really break new ground. Their grant review process leads to cutting edge, innovative research being funded, so please Send a Letter to keep this funding source open to kidney cancer researchers.

To send a letter to your elected senators and representative, click here Send a Letter.