New Genetic Screening Method Predicts Behaviour Of Wilms’ Tumour In Children

Researchers in this week’s issue of The Lancet have developed a new method that can accurately predict how tumours will behave by the genes they express.

Dr Kathy Pritchard-Jones and her colleagues, from the Institute of Cancer Research, UK, studied children who had the commonest form of Wilms’ tumour with favourable histology. Overall, these children have a good chance of survival, but little is know about the genetic alterations that determine their outcome.

The group used a new method they have developed—called comparative expressed sequence hybridisation—to look at individual chromosomes to see if there was any pattern of gene expression in the tumours of children with Wilms’ tumour. They then assessed whether this pattern could predict if the tumour would relapse or remain in remission.

Genes on the long arm of chromosome 1 (1q) were overexpressed in all tumours that relapsed, but in none of those remaining in remission. Kathy Pritchard-Jones comments: “Many more children [with Wilms’ tumour] could be cured without the risk of long term side effects of treatment if we could identify at presentation subgroups of those who could safely avoid treatment with cardiotoxic chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy. Conversely, poor survival of those who relapse might be improved by early treatment intensification.”

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