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Exploring Wilms tumor race disparity

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Wilms tumor (WT) – the most common childhood kidney cancer worldwide – varies in incidence and severity according to race. Children of black African ancestry appear to have a heritable predisposition to develop WT, but the biologic basis for this cancer health disparity is not clear.

Harold Lovvorn III, M.D., and colleagues used mass spectrometry proteomics tools to probe WT specimens provided by the Children’s Oncology Group and by the Kenyan Wilms Tumor Consortium. They determined peptide profiles for WT specimens from North American white and black children and from Kenyan children. The peptide profiles – “molecular fingerprints” – distinguished WT specimens according to race group and disease characteristics (such as treatment failure and stage). Significant peptides were used to sequence proteins, which revealed cellular signaling pathways important in WT.

The findings, reported in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, suggest that unique molecular fingerprints could explain this disparity in WT incidence and point to novel, race-specific therapeutic targets.

This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA155946, CA106183).

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