A cluster of patients poisoned by herbal medicine in the 1990s revealed that aristolochic acid (AA) causes kidney failure and upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). Recent research demonstrated that this was not an isolated incident; on the contrary, AA exposure is widespread in East Asia. This editorial highlights research by Lu and colleagues that investigates clinical characteristics of AA and non-AA UTUCs from 90 patients in Beijing based on the AA mutational signature. The study also detected AA mutations in non-tumor tissue of AA exposed patients and showed that AA mutations can be detected in urine, which might form the basis for non-invasive tests for AA exposure.
Theranostics. 2020 Apr 21*** epublish ***
Arnoud Boot, Nanhai Jiang, Steven G Rozen
Duke-NUS Centre for Computational Biology,Duke-NUS Medical School, 8 College Road, 169857 Singapore.