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WISTAR INSTITUTE RESEARCHERS DISCOVER GENE WHICH PROMOTES GROWTH OF WILMS TUMOR, A PEDIATRIC KIDNEY CANCER

/NOTE: WISTAR ORIGINALLY MAILED OUT THE FOLLOWING AUG. 31, 1992. IT IS BEING RE-ISSUED TODAY IN LIGHT OF RECENT INTEREST IN THE CANCER./
 PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Institute at the University of Chicago, have identified a gene (IGF-II) which stimulates the growth of Wilms Tumor, a kidney cancer affecting children.
 Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children between the ages of 3 and 14. Wilms Tumor is one of the most common pediatric solid tumors. While survival rates for Wilms Tumor patients have improved to 90 percent, many children develop multiple recurrences and ultimately die from this disease.
 Frank Rauscher III, Ph.D., program leader of Molecular Oncology at Wistar, and colleagues report in the July 31, 1992, issue of Science that a specific gene (IGF-II) is expressed at a much higher level in Wilms Tumors when compared to normal kidney tissue levels. They show that overexpression of the IGF-II gene in Wilms Tumors is due to mutation of another gene (WT1) which controls IGF-II levels.
 In normal kidneys, WT1 functions to suppress the IGF-II gene. When the WT1 gene is mutated, IGF-II is no longer suppressed. The fact that IGF-II stimulates Wilms Tumor growth suggests that overexpression of this gene plays a major role in tumor formation.
 Potentially, this discovery could lead researchers to investigate clinical methods for stopping tumor growth, possibly by using antibodies which could lower IGF-II levels and, thereby, inhibit tumor growth.
 "The finding that the tumor suppressor gene (WT1) normally suppresses IGF-II suggests a very simple model for Wilms Tumor development," said Rauscher. "Next, it will be important to determine whether growth factors like IGF-II are overexpressed in other types of tumors, such as colon and breast cancer, and whether this overexpression can be traced back to mutation of a specific suppressor gene."
 The Wistar Institute is one of the nation's oldest biomedical research centers, with programs in cancer therapeutics, molecular oncology and genetics, cell and developmental biology, immunology, structural biology and virology.
 In 1970, Wistar was designated a Specialized Cancer Research Center by the National Cancer Institute. Nearly 70 percent of laboratory space at Wistar currently is devoted to cancer research.
 /delval/
 -0- 8/31/93
 /CONTACT: Martha Lubell, media relations manager, of The Wistar Institute, 215-898-3717/


CO: The Wistar Institute ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:

JM-LJ -- PH014 -- 7486 08/31/93 12:07 EDT
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Date:Aug 31, 1993
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