Vicki Huff, PhD

University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Assessment of a cancer preventive agent for Wilms tumor

As a scientific researcher Dr. Huff’s work is focused on tumors of the kidneys called Wilms Tumor. There is a genetic predisposition tied to Wilms Tumor and in this Powered by Pablove Research project, Dr. Huff is studying an agent she hopes will counter the effects of that genetic predisposition to prevent the growth of Wilms Tumor in the first place!

In Dr. Huff’s own words:

A significant proportion of childhood cancers are associated with underlying genetic predisposition. The strategy for managing this cancer risk in children is frequent screening for early detection. However, it would be greatly preferable to prevent cancer development in the first place.
We have identified an agent that counters the effects of a fetal growth factor, IGF2, that is frequently abnormally expressed in childhood cancers. A majority of Wilms tumors (WT), a childhood kidney tumor, display IGF2 alterations, including those tumors from children with WAGR (WT, Aniridia, Genitourinary abnormalities, Range of developmental disorders) syndrome who are at a ~50% risk of WT. We will test the ability of this compound to reduce cancer development in the Wt1-Igf2 mouse model WT. Tumors from these mice carry the same genetic alterations – including IGF2 overexpression — observed in tumors from WAGR patients, thereby making it a biologically relevant model for assessing this potential chemopreventive for WT. If this animal study is positive, the next step will be a clinical trial in WAGR children and, potentially, other cancer-predisposed children. The ability to prevent cancer would eliminate the long-term effects of chemotherapy and greatly improve the quality of life for cancer predisposed children who many times have other health challenges besides cancer.

Awarded in 2020