St. Jude scientists create a unique set of models for Wilms tumor research
January 1, 2020
WAGR patient Carol Larson visits Dr. Murphy and his lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee
By modeling a disease in the lab, researchers can test potential treatments. Clinicians can then use the most promising options in clinical trials. St. Jude scientists have created a unique set of models for Wilms tumor research.
Wilms tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children and is treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. Many patients do well, but some types of Wilms tumor have poor outcomes. Diffuse anaplasia (a specific cell makeup) is found in 6% of Wilms tumor cases but results in 50% of deaths. Bilateral Wilms tumor (in both kidneys) and relapsed Wilms tumor are also high risk.
Researchers at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, created 45 lab models based on patient Wilms tumor samples. The models include diffuse anaplasia, bilateral, and relapsed Wilms tumors. The team studied the biology of these models. They also tested them against chemotherapy. The results in the models mimicked what is seen in patients.
“Wilms tumor is usually very treatable, but there are three subgroups of patients who continue to do poorly,” said Andrew Murphy, MD, of St. Jude Surgery. “We created these models to help us test new therapies and learn more about these high-risk types.”