Professor Nazneen Rahman: What Genes Predict Childhood Cancer?
Most childhood cancers are due to faulty genes that run through families, leading to more than one child being affected or to a child having multiple cancers. In 2006 Professor Nazneen Rahman helped set up the international FACT (Factors Associated with Childhood Tumours) study, the largest of its kind in the world.
Her research aims to find the changes (mutations) in the genetic code that cause or increase the likelihood of childhood cancers occurring, and define the distinctive clinical features and clinical implications associated with the mutations. She hopes to take from these findings useful information and guidelines that can be used by doctors to help in the diagnosis, treatment and care of children with cancer.
“Wider diversity of funding allows us to give attention to rarer conditions for which we might otherwise struggle to attract support. Not only does this help families with these rare conditions, who often feel very isolated from the attention given to more common cancers, but research in rare conditions has the potential to reveal insights with much wider application”
Following a grant from Rosetrees Trust, her research has successfully identified 2 new genes associated with the increased risk of childhood kidney cancer and a probable new gene which causes childhood brain tumours. The genes identified through this research are being transferred through to a new clinical testing laboratory, so that they can be rapidly introduced into the clinic to help families with childhood cancer.
Further analysis may generate additional insights into underlying genetic causes for other childhood cancers. For her contribution to the field of childhood cancer, Professor Rahman was recognised as one of ten ‘game-changing’ women by BBC woman’s hour.