Conference summaries

In April, a previous blog post summarised the various conferences we had attended, and how the data presented could be applied to BHD research. More recently, we have reviewed the scientific content and the patient and family sessions of the Third BHD Symposium, which this year was held in Maastricht in The Netherlands. In this post, we would like to provide a synopsis of the meetings we have attended in the meantime.

In early May, the Kidney Cancer Association hosted the Sixth European International Kidney Cancer Symposium in Warsaw, Poland. This Symposium concentrated on both the clinical and scientific aspects of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and was attended by doctors, nurses, surgeons and researchers. In particular, the development of new agents for clinical trials was discussed, such as a number of vaccines, immunotherapies, chemotherapies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Additionally, Professor Giampaolo Tortora (University of Verona) and Dr James Larkin (Royal Marsden Hospital, London) spoke about the need for reliable biomarkers to better guide treatment selection. Many speakers, such as Dr Michael B. Atkins (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Boston) and Dr Othon Iliopoulos (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston), also emphasised the importance of HIF signalling in kidney cancer, which is of particular interest as work by Preston et al. (2010) showed that this pathway also plays a role in BHD syndrome (as discussed in a previous post).

Later in May, the British Association for Cancer Research hosted a cancer epigenetics meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. As described in an earlier blog post, mutations in a variety of epigenetic modifiers have recently been associated with the development of RCC. During the meeting, Dr James Flanagan (Imperial College, London) and Professor Eamonn Maher (University of Birmingham) stated that effective epigenetic biomarkers are also required for better tumour detection, monitoring and treatment. Additionally, Professor Bryan Turner (University of Birmingham) and Professor Nick La Thangue (University of Oxford) discussed the use of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as a cancer therapy. This is of relevance to BHD syndrome as work by Cash et al. (2011) showed that a HDAC inhibitor called TSA restored the expression of a number of genes in a FLCN-null embryonic stem cell line.

Conferences provide an excellent environment for researchers from all over the world to meet and discuss work and collaborations – so do look at our regularly updated Conferences and Events page for more information on upcoming meetings that are relevant to BHD researchers and families.


  • Cash TP, Gruber JJ, Hartman TR, Henske EP, & Simon MC (2011). Loss of the Birt-Hogg-Dubé tumor suppressor results in apoptotic resistance due to aberrant TGFβ-mediated transcription. Oncogene, 30 (22), 2534-46 PMID: 21258407
  • Preston RS, Philp A, Claessens T, Gijezen L, Dydensborg AB, Dunlop EA, Harper KT, Brinkhuizen T, Menko FH, Davies DM, Land SC, Pause A, Baar K, van Steensel MA, & Tee AR (2011). Absence of the Birt-Hogg-Dubé gene product is associated with increased hypoxia-inducible factor transcriptional activity and a loss of metabolic flexibility. Oncogene, 30 (10), 1159-73 PMID: 21057536

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