A cause of the most frequent type of childhood kidney cancer has been discovered by scientists funded by AICR. Wilms' tumours, found mainly amongst the under fives, are the fourth most common type of cancer amongst children. The loss of several different genes, which normally prevent kidney cells from becoming cancerous, has already been linked to the disease. However, now an American team has identified the loss of another gene not previously associated with this type of cancer.
Currently around 90% of the youngsters who receive treatment survive. The study, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, raises hope that treatments might be further improved, leading to an even higher rate of survival.
The researchers analysed samples from more than 200 children with Wilms' tumours and were able to identify important genetic alterations. They found that two genes were lost in these youngsters with the tumour and additional evidence pointed to one in particular - miR-562 - as the cause of the condition when missing. Their study suggests that the loss of this gene contributes to 4% of cases of Wilms' tumour.
Dr Micheala Aldred, from the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, who led the group said: “There is still much work to be done before our work will benefit patients but our findings are exciting and we hope that ultimately they will help save lives.”
Dr Mark Matfield added: “Understanding the genetic causes of cancer is crucial if we are to diagnose them correctly and develop effective treatments. With this discovery, we have made a vital step towards helping children who get this type of kidney cancer.”