Lemonade Stand grant boosts Tansey’s pediatric tumor research

William Tansey, Ph.D., professor of Cell Development and Biology and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, has been awarded a two-year, $250,000 grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to study malignant rhabdoid tumors (MRTs).

These are rare and aggressive tumors commonly found in the kidneys of young children, but can also occur in soft tissue. In the United States every year, about 25 children—most of whom are younger than age 2—are diagnosed with MRT, according to Tansey.

Tansey will use the grant to understand whether MYC, a pro-tumorigenic protein, plays a causative role in malignant rhabdoid tumors. Studies from others have revealed that mutations for these rhabdoid tumors likely are in just one gene, identified as SMARCB1. Tansey suspects that mutations in SMARCB1 lead to activation of MYC. If correct, this knowledge could lead to more effective treatments for these patients.

“I cannot overstate the importance of this grant from ALSF to our work. There are very few funding mechanisms that provide such robust support to projects such as this, that fall into the ‘high risk/high reward category.’ This funding allows us to fully test our model for MRT, and opens the door for us to expand our work in the field of pediatric cancers,” said Tansey.

– by Christina Echegaray