The initial events underlying Wilms Tumour are thought to arise in the embryo, when the normal pathway of kidney development is interrupted. Its causes are genetic, rather than environmental, and whilst a large number of causative DNA alterations have been identified, each one only explains a subset of cases. We remain very much in the dark about the full spectrum of genomic alterations that cause the emergence, growth and spread of this childhood tumour.
In 2019, an international team led by Sanger Institute Group Leader, Dr Sam Behjati set out to fill this knowledge gap. Funded by a grant from The Little Princess Trust, a charity which provides wigs for children who have lost their hair and funds research into better treatments for all paediatric cancers, the team wants to understand the entire genetic landscape of Wilms Tumour.