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Tuesday 16th January 2018

Child cancer breakthrough

20th April 2007

A research team in Edinburgh have made an important advance which could help treat a rare kidney cancer.


The cancer, named Wilms' Tumour after the German surgeon Dr Max Wilms, mainly affects children. Around 70 young children are diagnosed with the cancer each year in the UK.

Researchers working at Edinburgh University found out how to stop the activity of a specific gene, which is understood to have a function in the advancement of the cancer.

Previous research had shown that damage to a specific gene during foetal development was connected to the cancer. Scientists had not been able to use standard genetic techniques to investigate tumour formation and the cancer’s treatment.

The work was funded by the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR). Dr Jamie Davies, the team’s head, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that their research had allowed them to discover the precise time the cancer began and to watch its development in the laboratory.

Dr Davies’ team were able to determine a critical time during kidney development, where loss of WT1 gene activity caused cells to multiply in an uncontrolled way. Dr Davies said: "This suggested that loss of WT1 on its own is enough to start a tumour developing, if it happens during this key development stage.?

He concluded: "What we now want to see is if we can treat and reverse the changes."

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