Researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center (image) and the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, have made significant progress in defining new genetic causes of Wilms tumor, a type of kidney cancer found only in children. Wilms tumor is the most common childhood genitourinary tract cancer and the third most common solid tumor of childhood. “While most children with Wilms tumor are thankfully cured, those with more aggressive tumors do poorly, and we are increasingly concerned about the long-term adverse side effects of chemotherapy in Wilms tumor patients. We wanted to know – what are the genetic causes of Wilms tumor in children and what are the opportunities for targeted therapies? To answer these questions, you have to identify genes that are mutated in the cancer,” said Dr. James Amatruda, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Biology, and Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern and senior author for the study. The new findings were published online on September 5, 2014 in Nature Communications. Collaborating with Dr. Amatruda on the study were UT Southwestern faculty members Dr. Dinesh Rakheja, Associate Professor of Pathology and Pediatrics; Dr. Kenneth S. Chen, Assistant Instructor in Pediatrics; and Dr. Joshua T. Mendell, Professor of Molecular Biology. Dr. Jonathan Wickiser, Associate Professor in Pediatrics, and Dr. James Malter, Chair of Pathology, are also co-authors. Previous research has identified one or two mutant genes in Wilms tumors, but only about one-third of Wilms tumors had these mutations. “We wanted to know what genes were mutated in the other two-thirds. To accomplish this goal, we sequenced the DNA of 44 tumors and identified several new mutated genes,” said Dr.
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